History and Theory in Anthropology

Topics: Anthropology, Sociology, Social sciences Pages: 282 (95135 words) Published: February 1, 2013

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History and Theory in Anthropology

Anthropology is a discipline very conscious of its history, and Alan Barnard has written a clear, balanced, and judicious textbook that surveys the historical contexts of the great debates in the discipline, tracing the genealogies of theories and schools of thought and considering the problems involved in assessing these theories. The book covers the precursors of anthropology; evolutionism in all its guises; diVusionism and culture area theories, functionalism and structuralfunctionalism; action-centred theories; processual and Marxist perspectives; the many faces of relativism, structuralism and post-structuralism; and recent interpretive and postmodernist viewpoints. al a n b a r n ar d is Reader in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. His previous books include Research Practices in the Study of Kinship (with Anthony Good, 1984), Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa (1992), and, edited with Jonathan Spencer, Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (1996).


History and Theory in Anthropology
Alan Barnard
University of Edinburgh

          The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom    The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia Ruiz de Alarcón 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa http://www.cambridge.org © Alan Barnard 2004 First published in printed format 2000 ISBN 0-511-03464-4 eBook (Adobe Reader) ISBN 0-521-77333-4 hardback ISBN 0-521-77432-2 paperback

For Joy



List of Wgures List of tables Preface 1 Visions of anthropology 2 Precursors of the anthropological tradition 3 Changing perspectives on evolution 4 DiVusionist and culture-area theories 5 Functionalism and structural-functionalism 6 Action-centred, processual, and Marxist perspectives 7 From relativism to cognitive science 8 Structuralism, from linguistics to anthropology 9 Poststructuralists, feminists, and (other) mavericks 10 Interpretive and postmodernist approaches 11 Conclusions Appendix 1: Dates of birth and death of individuals mentioned in the text Appendix 2: Glossary References Index

page viii ix xi 1 15 27 47 61 80 99 120 139 158 178

185 192 215 236



5.1 5.2 6.1 6.2 6.3 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 9.1 9.2 11.1

The organic analogy: society is like an organism Relations between kinship terminology and social facts The liminal phase as both ‘A’ and ‘not A’ Marital alliance between Kachin lineages Relations between Kachin and their ancestral spirits InXuences on Levi-Strauss until about 1960 ´ Levi-Strauss’ classiWcation of kinship systems ´ The culinary triangle Kin relations among characters in the Oedipus myth The grid and group axes The grid and group boxes Three traditions

63 74 87 93 94 126 129 131 133 153 154 179



1.1 Diachronic, synchronic, and interactive perspectives 1.2 Perspectives on society and on culture 3.1 Evolution (Maine, Morgan, and others) versus revolution (Rousseau, Freud, Knight, and others.) 5.1 Malinowski’s seven basic needs and their cultural responses 7.1 Approximate correspondences between words for ‘tree’, ‘woods’, and ‘forest’ in Danish, German, and French 7.2 Two componential analyses of English consanguineal kin term usage 8.1 English voiced and unvoiced stops 8.2 Levi-Strauss’ analysis of the Oedipus myth ´ 9.1 Bateson’s solution to a problem of national character

9 11 44 69 113 116 124 134 151




This book began life as a set of lecture notes for a course in anthropological theory, but it has evolved into something very diVerent. In struggling through several drafts, I have toyed with arguments for regarding anthropological theory in terms...
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