American Anthropology and Company
Publication Year: 2013
In American Anthropology and Company, linguist and sociologist Stephen O. Murray explores the connections between anthropology, linguistics, sociology, psychology, and history, in broad-ranging essays on the history of anthropology and allied disciplines. On subjects ranging from Native American linguistics to the pitfalls of American, Latin American, and East Asian fieldwork, among other topics, American Anthropology and Company presents the views of a historian of anthropology interested in the theoretical and institutional connections between disciplines that have always been in conversation with anthropology. Recurring characters include Edward Sapir, Alfred Kroeber, Robert Redfield, W. I. and Dorothy Thomas, and William Ogburn.
While histories of anthropology rarely cross disciplinary boundaries, Murray moves in essay after essay toward an examination of the institutions, theories, and social networks of scholars as never before, maintaining a healthy skepticism toward anthropologists’ views of their own methods and theories.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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I have known Steve Murray since he was a University of Toronto sociol-ogy graduate student starting a network analysis of anthropological lin-guists. From research on anthropological linguists and linguistics—which culminated in his magisterial 1994 book Theory Groups and the Study of Language in North America—and without any institutional support, he ...
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Collecting some of my writings about research on the history of Ameri-can anthropology and its social science neighbors (history, linguistics, psychology, and at greatest length, sociology) provides the opportunity to reflect on how they came about and to see some relationships between a range of research projects aiming to answer questions about some ...
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Though the chapters in this book do not form a teleology or test any spe-cific theory, some readers might find the particular topics addressed as beginning in medias res and/or readers may lack background in the pre-history of academic American anthropology—a process that began in the last years of the nineteenth century. In addition to recommending ...
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Particularly under the stimulus of Jan Vansina (1965, 1986), the possi-bility of using oral traditions to draw historical inferences regained le-gitimacy within anthropology (see, for instance, K. Brown and Roberts 1980). The earlier debate in which consideration of any historical value in such data shows a lack of agreement with the Boasian “band of sons,” ...
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The human intellect, from its peculiar nature, easily supposes a greater order and equality in things than it actually finds, and while there are many things in Nature unique, and quite irregular, still it feigns parallels, corre-The observer who sets out to study a strange language or a local dialect often gets data from his informants only to find them using entirely differ-...
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Approval of those outside the specialist group is a negative value or none at all. . . . Scientists who attempt to find a wider audience for professional No other ethnographer has ever been so widely read and publicly visible as Margaret Mead (1902–78) was. Untold throngs of those dismayed with how life is lived in these United States and/or intrigued with how ...
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The peasant is an immemorial figure on the world social landscape, but —CLIFFORD GEERTZ, “Studies of Peasant Life: Community and Society” After the First World War, American anthropologists’ focus on the dis-tribution of aboriginal cultural traits faded and they gradually withdrew from salvaging memories of prereservation life from aging Native Amer-...
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Before undertaking the research for this chapter, I accepted too easily the conventional view (“folklore” in the pejorative sense) that American anthropologists’ turn away from studying Native North American peo-ples began with Margaret Mead in Samoa and Robert Redfield in Mex-ico during the late 1920s, became more general with the importation ...
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University of California (Berkeley) dissertation defenses during the 1930s had programs that provided very visible genealogies. Georges Devereux (né Gyorgy Dobo in Lugos, Transylvania, 1906–85), who defended his dissertation on December 9, 1935, had a particularly stellar one. After completing his baccalaureate at Turnu-Severein in Rumania in 1926, he ...
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The origins of anthropology at Berkeley—Franz Boas’s patron, Harvard’s Frederic Ward Putnam, being in nominal charge of the collection of an-tiquities Phoebe Apperson Hearst gave to the University of California —and how Boas’s first Columbia PhD, Alfred Louis Kroeber, went to California and began teaching anthropology at Berkeley—have been ...
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Taiwan is a small, densely populated, and now highly industrialized is-land on which American social science research on “Chinese” culture and society was concentrated from the late 1950s through the late 1970s, at the same time as Taiwan was rapidly industrializing. Japanese and Chinese anthropologists working on Taiwan prior to the 1950s studied ...
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Considering that the Rockefeller-endowed University of Chicago looms large in part 2 and that the focus herein remains on the initially porous boundary between sociology and anthropology, there is less need to elab-orate on the intellectual and institutional bases of early American soci-ology than there was for the compressed tour of pre-Columbia history ...
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W. I. Thomas’s role in pioneering the kind of empirical research that is identified as “the Chicago school of sociology” is well recognized (see Bulmer 1984; R. Faris 1967; Kurtz 1984). That most of his writings were intended as contributions to ethnology has been forgotten by later gen-erations of sociologists and anthropologists, and even by historians of ...
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An academic discipline is at once a group of men in persisting social rela-tions and a method of investigation. . . . The two kinds of relations, social and methodological, are mutually influential, but neither determines the —ROBERT REDFIELD, “Relations of Anthropology to the Social Sciences In launching the sociology of science from the rostrum of an American ...
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During the 1940s American sociologists began to express in print their misgivings about the reliability and validity of observations by cultural anthropologists. This is later than one with a focus on boundary disputes (Kuklick 1980) might expect, but nearly four decades before Derek Free-man (1983) contended that he first “discovered” that there were weak-...
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In a classic 1938 article Robert Merton described common ownership of the products of science as one of the four institutional norms of science: “The substantive findings of science are a product of social collabora-tion and are assigned to the community. They constitute a common her-itage in which the equity of the individual producer is severely limited. ...
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Around the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States, so-ciology “was institutionalized before it had a distinctive intellectual con-tent, a distinctive method, or even a point of view,” in Anthony Oberschall’s (1972:189) characterization. Institutionalization was made possible in part by the zeitgeist of reform of that time. Existing institu-...
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Over the course of the twentieth century, formal citations of others’ work has become more common in social sciences, including anthropology. Franz Boas and his early students cited others’ work rarely in compari-son to the numerous citations in a current anthropology journal article. Prominent sociologists such as Robert Park, also German-trained, cited ...
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Those who have come along through explorations of the historical con-nections I have made in the preceding chapters are unlikely to expect a conclusion that proclaims the Truth that anthropology or human sci-ences more generally should be pursuing or has discovered. Instead, I want to draw on my experience of questioning “just-so” stories about ...
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Revisiting these works on particular historical subjects reminds me of many debts of gratitude. One that jumps out at me is to journal editors who encouraged my historical work by accepting multiple pieces for publication: Jonathan Benthall (Anthropology Today), Russ Bernard (Amer-ican Anthropologist), Konrad Koerner (Historiographia Linguistica and ...
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Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 3 figures, 10 tables
Publication Year: 2013