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American Anthropology and Company

Historical Explorations

Stephen O. Murray

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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pp. C-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Series Editor’s Introduction

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pp. xi-xiv

I have known Steve Murray since he was a University of Toronto sociology graduate student starting a network analysis of anthropological linguists. 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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pp. xv-xxvi

Collecting some of my writings about research on the history of American 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 ...

Part 1: Anthropology and Some of Its Companions

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Introduction: Before the Boasians

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pp. 3-14

Though the chapters in this book do not form a teleology or test any specific theory, some readers might find the particular topics addressed as beginning in medias res and/or readers may lack background in the prehistory of academic American anthropology—a process that began in the last years of the nineteenth century. In addition to recommending ...

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Chapter 1: Historical Inferences from Ethnohistorical Data: Boasian Views

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pp. 15-21

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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Chapter 2: The Manufacture of Linguistic Structure

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pp. 22-30

Classic sociolinguistic work on variation and the permeability of speech community boundaries (Gumperz 1962, Labov 1972) made comprehensible what earlier generations of linguists regarded as “error” deviating from clearly delineated structures of a language. To properly use texts elicited and recorded by hand—in many cases the only records of languages...

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Chapter 3:Margaret Mead and the Professional Unpopularity of Popularizers

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pp. 31-51

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 life is lived elsewhere followed her vivid accounts of her voyages of discovery...

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Chapter 4: American Anthropologists Discover Peasants

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pp. 52-87

After the First World War, American anthropologists’ focus on the distribution of aboriginal cultural traits faded and they gradually withdrew from salvaging memories of prereservation life from aging Native Americans (see Darnell 1977, 2001; S. Cole 2003). Anthropologists, particularly...

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Chapter 5: The Non-eclipse of Americanist Anthropology during the 1930s and 1940s

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pp. 88-101

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 peoples began with Margaret Mead in Samoa and Robert Redfield in Mexico during the late 1920s, became more general with the importation...

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Chapter 6: The Pre-Freudian Georges Devereux, the Post- Freudian Alfred Kroeber, and Mohave Sexuality

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pp. 102-113

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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Chapter 7: University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology during the 1950s

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pp. 114-121

The origins of anthropology at Berkeley—Franz Boas’s patron, Harvard’s Frederic Ward Putnam, being in nominal charge of the collection of antiquities 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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Chapter 8: American Anthropologists Looking through Taiwan to See “Traditional” China, 1950–1990

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pp. 122-154

Taiwan is a small, densely populated, and now highly industrialized island 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...

Part 2: Sociology’s Increasingly Uneasy Relations with Anthropology

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pp. 157-160

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 elaborate on the intellectual and institutional bases of early American sociology than there was for the compressed tour of pre-Columbia history ...

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Chapter 9: W. I. Thomas, Behaviorist Ethnologist

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pp. 161-171

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 generations of sociologists and anthropologists, and even by historians of...

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Chapter 10: The Postmaturity of Sociolinguistics: Edward Sapir and Personality Studies in the Chicago Department of Sociology

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pp. 172-193

In launching the sociology of science from the rostrum of an American Sociological Association (ASA) presidential address in 1957, Robert Merton focused the specialty on the timing of discoveries. Merton’s earlier discussions of the sociology of knowledge (e.g., 1941, 1945) had drawn out implications of the notion of zeitgeist, and still earlier work with Sorokin...

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Chapter 11: The Reception of Anthropological Work in American Sociology, 1921–1951

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pp. 194-210

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 Freeman (1983) contended that he first “discovered” that there were weaknesses...

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Chapter 12: The Rights of Research Assistants and the Rhetoric of Political Suppression: Morton Grodzins and the University of California Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement Study

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pp. 211-245

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 collaboration and are assigned to the community. They constitute a common heritage in which the equity of the individual producer is severely limited....

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Chapter 13: Resistance to Sociology at Berkeley

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pp. 246-263

Around the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States, sociology “was institutionalized before it had a distinctive intellectual content, 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 institutions...

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Chapter 14: Does Editing Core Anthropology and Sociology Journals Increase Citations to the Editor?

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pp. 264-272

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 comparison to the numerous citations in a current anthropology journal article. Prominent sociologists such as Robert Park, also German-trained, cited...

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Conclusion: Doing History of Anthropology

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pp. 273-288

Those who have come along through explorations of the historical connections I have made in the preceding chapters are unlikely to expect a conclusion that proclaims the Truth that anthropology or human sciences 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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pp. 289-294


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pp. 295-316


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pp. 317-362


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pp. 363-372

E-ISBN-13: 9780803246393
E-ISBN-10: 0803246390
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803243958

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 3 figures, 10 tables
Publication Year: 2013