ANTHROPOLOGY


ANTHROPOLOGY
ANTHROPOLOGY, literally "an account of man," is the comparative study of human societies and cultures. Anthropology has four major subfields: archaeology , the study of past cultures through an examination of material remains; biological (physical) anthropology, the study of humankind from a biological and evolutionary perspective; cultural anthropology, the study of contemporary cultures and societies and the study of human behavior that is learned rather than genetically transmitted; and linguistic anthropology, the study of human languages and the relationship between culture and communication. Due to the diversity of its subfields and the various approaches to its study, anthropology is variously considered a science, a social science, or a part of the humanities. Anthropology as a field of study in universities began in the latter part of the 19th century. Jews played a significant role in the founding and development of cultural anthropology. An early Jewish name in anthropology is that of the Frenchman, marcel mauss (1872–1950), who became the leading figure in French sociology after his uncle, emile durkheim , a sociologist by training who was a powerful influence in anthropology. He helped Durkheim in the establishment of the journal L'Année Sociologique and contributed important articles to it. Mauss' main interest was in comparative religion or the sociology of religion. His most influential work is The Gift, written in 1925, which focused on his theory of "gift exchange" and explored the religious, legal, economic, mythological, and other aspects of giving, receiving, and repaying in different cultures. Another French Jew and a colleague of Durkheim's at the Sorbonne was Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (1857–1939) who wrote a series of ethnological works on various aspects of preliterate culture, the purpose of which was to demonstrate the nature of "primitive" mentality or "how natives think." In his post-humously published notebooks, he retracted his evolutionary interpretation of native thought. He came to realize that so-called prelogical thought was not limited to preliterate societies but was rather characteristic of human thought which did not exclude logical thought to meet the practical demands of the natural environment. Lévy-Bruhl's interpretation of native thought was especially influential in the fields of literary and art criticism. The most influential Jewish anthropologist was franz boas , who played a key role in the establishment of anthropology as an academic discipline in the United States. Popularly considered to be the "father of American anthropology," Boas trained most of the first generation of American anthropologists   including Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. Boas was born in Germany in 1858, moved to the United States in 1886, and became professor of anthropology at Columbia (New York City) in 1899. He did extensive field research in North America rather than "armchair" anthropology and helped to make "fieldwork" a hallmark of anthropology. His theory of Historical Particularism stresses the biological and "psychic unity" of man and explains cultural diversity by appealing to specific culture histories and environments. He rejected the theories of the 19th-century cultural evolutionists and instead introduced the concept of cultural relativism which holds that cultures cannot be evaluated on an evolutionary scale. Cultures are equal and cultural characteristics should be examined in relation to the culture in which they are found. His "Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology" was the first exposition of cultural relativism, a concept that continues to be a powerful concept in anthropology. With the rise of Hitler, Boas spoke out forcefully against racism and intolerance and wrote and lectured widely in opposition to the Nazis. Boas trained many outstanding American teachers and researchers in anthropology. Most of his students specialized in cultural anthropology, though a few became linguists, physical anthropologists, and archaeologists. One of his disciples, robert h. lowie , was one of the best ethnographers and ethnologists of his day and did extensive field work among a great variety of Indian tribes. Another of Boas' pupils, alexander a. goldenweiser , was not interested in field work and made only one trip to the Northern Iroquois of Canada. His major interest was in social theory and in theoretical aspects of ethnology, such as issues related to totemism, evolution, diffusion, and culture history. He was a significant figure in the development of anthropological thought in America during the first quarter of the 20th century. leslie spier was also deeply influenced by Boas' canons of scientific method and the conviction that the understanding of culture depended upon an inquiry into historical antecedents. In his extensive writing he manifested his belief in the essential unity of anthropology as a general science of humankind. edward sapir was perhaps the most creative and brilliant of Boas' students. He did major linguistic and ethnographic work among the Indians of the Canadian Northwest and Vancouver Island. Toward the end of his life he became interested in the ethnological and linguistic study of the Talmud. The research of Paul Radin, who was also a student of Boas, lay predominantly in ethnology, and within this area, in religion and mythology. His principal field work was done among the Winnebago Indians of Wisconsin. melville j. herskovits completed his doctorate under Boas with a dissertation on "The Cattle Complex in East Africa." He was the recognized dean of African studies in the United States and trained most of the Africanists in that country. He made Northwestern University virtually the center of African studies in the United States and stimulated widespread interest in Africa among American anthropologists. ruth bunzel (1898–1990), among the earliest of American Jewish women to receive a doctorate in anthropology (1929), worked as a secretary for Boas. With the encouragement of Boas and Ruth Benedict, Bunzel received her Ph.D. from Columbia, where she later taught. Her many books, including The Pueblo Potter (1929) and Zuni (1935), focused on Zuni ceremonialism. Another student of Boas and Benedict was ruth landes (1903–1991). The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Landes did pioneering work on race and gender, issues that define central current concerns in anthropology. Her field research among the Ojibwa resulted in her masterpiece study, The Ojibwa Woman (1938). Her field research in Brazil resulted in her landmark The City of Women (1947). In Britain, Jews have played a role predominately in social/cultural anthropology. meyer fortes (1906–1983), professor of social anthropology at Cambridge University, immigrated to England from South Africa. He worked among the Tallensi and Ashanti in Africa and his major contributions were in lineage theory, studies of religion, and ancestor worship. His 1940 seminal work (with Evans-Pritchard), African Political Systems, influenced a generation of anthropologists. max gluckman also went to England from South Africa, where he had done a great deal of field work among the Zulu and Barotse of Africa and shorter surveys of Rhodesian tribes. Gluckman was a political activist. Publicly anti-colonial, he wrote and lectured about the abuses of colonialism and racism. A.L. Epstein did research on problems of urbanization and social change in emerging urban communities in Northern Rhodesia, Central Africa, and Melanesia. Maurice Freedman specialized in the social anthropology of Southeast Asia and China. hortense powdermaker (1896–1970), although born and raised in the U.S., studied anthropology at the London School of Economics with the influential Bronislaw Malinowski, receiving her Ph.D. in 1928. Her books include Life in Lesu (1933), After Freedom (1939), Copper Town (1962), and Stranger and Friend: The Way of an Anthropologist (1966). Claude Lévi-Strauss , born in 1908 in Brussels, was the most distinguished social anthropologist in 20th-century France. His most original and significant contribution is his theory of structural anthropology which is heavily influenced by linguistics and assumes that the most effective way to understand human societies is to investigate the structures, rather than the content, of its organization. Among his strongest early influences were Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx. His The Elementary Structures of Kinship, published in 1949, quickly came to be regarded as one of the most important works on anthropological kinships. Lévi-Strauss was elected to the Académie Française in 1973, France's highest honor for academics and intellectuals. He was a prolific writer and his works include Tristes Tropiques (1955), The Savage Mind (1962), Totemism (1962), Structural Anthropology, (2 vol., 1958–73), The Raw and the Cooked (1964), From Honey to Ashes (1967), The Origin of Table Manners (1968), The Naked Man (1971), The View from Afar (1983), and The Jealous Potter (1985). Other Jewish anthropologists of France included Paul Levy, who was director of studies at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne) and specialized in the culture of India and   Southeast Asia. David Cohen was attaché, Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique in Paris. He specialized in the social anthropology of North Africa and the Near East. marcel cohen was honorary professor at the École des Langues Orientales in the Sorbonne and was an authority on Ethiopian and Hamito-Semitic linguistics. Simone Dreyfus was also connected with the Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique in Paris and pursued research in ethnomusicology and among the Indians of Brazil. In East Germany, Heinz Israel was connected with the Museum fuer Voelkerkunde of Dresden. He was a specialist on the ethnology and archaeology of the circumpolar peoples, especially the Eskimo of Canada, Alaska, and the peoples of North Siberia. Robert Heine-Geldern taught ethnology, prehistory, and art history of Asia at the University of Vienna. His main publications dealt with ethnology, archaeology, and the art of Southeast Asia and Oceania. He was especially concerned with problems of ancient Asiatic influences on America. In Soviet Russia, M.G. Levin was deputy director of the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences and head of its section for physical anthropology. He co-edited with L.P. Potapov the monumental Historical and Ethnographic Atlas of Siberia (Russ., 1961). He authored Principles of Physical Anthropology (Russ., 1955) and Ethnic Origins of the Peoples of Northeastern Asia (Engl., 1963) and was one of the editors and principal authors of Peoples of Siberia (Russ., 1956). In South Africa, phillip v. tobias specialized in physical anthropology and prehistory and was closely associated with L.S.B. Leakey in connection with the discoveries of fossil man in Tanganyika. moshe stekelis taught prehistoric archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He carried out extensive and important field research on the prehistoric archaeology of Israel. Henry Rosenfeld, who also taught at the Hebrew University, did research on the Bedouin and on village and urban Arabs. Among Jewish psychoanalysts in the United States who have taken an active role in promoting the integration of psychology and cultural anthropology, Géza Róheim , abram kardiner , theodor reik , and erich fromm distinguished themselves. Modern studies of personality and culture owe much to their pioneering research. Róheim's The Eternal Ones of the Dream (1945) was a psychoanalytical interpretation of the origin and meaning of Australian myths and rituals. Abram Kardiner's The Individual and His Society (1939) was a pioneer theoretical analysis of the relation of the individual to his culture from a psychological point of view. Reik wrote works on the psychoanalytical interpretations of myths and rituals. Erich Fromm discussed the relation of psychology to current problems of religion and ethics. Fromm, in particular, was concerned with the problem of freedom and responsibility and the hard facts of individual alienation in contemporary culture. Marvin K. Opler published Culture, Psychiatry and Human Values (1956), which treated personality differences in various cultures. Iago Galdston edited and participated in a series of symposia on the interrelations of medicine and anthropology. Among contemporary Jewish cultural anthropologists in America, sol tax was president of the American Anthropological Association. David Bidney of Indiana University published Theoretical Anthropology (1953), which was a pioneer work dedicated to basic theory in the history of anthropological thought. Morris Opler of Cornell University was president of the American Anthropological Association and did extensive field work among North American Indians and in rural India. harry l. shapiro was chairman of the department of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History and professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Alexander Spoehr of the University of Pittsburgh was another Jew who served as president of the American Anthropological Association. oscar lewis published studies of life in a Mexican village, in northern India, and of a family in Puerto Rico and New York. barbara myerhoff (1935–1985) was a renowned scholar, popular professor, prolific writer, and filmmaker, whose influences extended beyond the academy. Her works include Peyote Hunt (1974), Number Our Days (1978), and the autobiographical film In Her Own Time (1985). Sherry Ortner (1941– ) of Columbia University has focused her work among the Sherpa people of Nepal and, more recently, in the United States. She helped establish the sub-discipline of feminist anthropology and has made significant contributions to social, cultural, and feminist theory. She is a prolific writer whose works include Sherpas Through Their Rituals (1978), Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture (1996), Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering (1999), and New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture and the Class of '58 (2003). Jules Henry of Washington University in St. Louis published Culture Against Man (1963), a critical analysis of contemporary American culture with special reference to the interconnections among American institutions, values, and personal character among adolescents. Melville Jacobs taught anthropology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He specialized in the folklore of the North American Indians. In the field of anthropological linguistics there was a distinguished group of Jewish scholars. Joseph Greenberg, of Stanford University, specialized in the linguistics of African peoples and wrote numerous articles on linguistic theory. Zellig S. Harris of the University of Pennsylvania published Methods in Structural Linguistics (1951). Stanley Newman of the University of New Mexico specialized in the languages of North American Indians. George L. Trager of the University of Buffalo was a well-known specialist in American Indian languages. Wolf Leslau, professor of Semitic and Ethiopic linguistics at the University of California at Los Angeles, did field research in Ethiopia. Roman Jakobson of Harvard University was the recognized dean of contemporary linguists in   America and was a distinguished authority on Russian language and folk literature. M.F. Ashley Montagu was a prolific writer who did much to popularize anthropology in the English-speaking world. While specializing in physical anthropology, he also published a number of popular books on cultural anthropology. raphael patai published a number of ethnological works on the Near East. James S. Slotkin (d. 1958) was professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago. His study of Peyote religion was the result of active participation in the native Indian church. Rena Lederman of Columbia University does research in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, focusing on the political economy of gift exchange, on inequality and leadership, on gender roles and ideologies. Her books include What Gifts Engender (1986). Karin Brodkin of UCLA explores gender, race, work, kinship, and migration in contemporary North American Jews. Her book, How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America (1999), examines the relationships among Jewishness, gender, and class in the structuring of social identity. Riv-Ellen Prell's research also focuses on Jews in the U.S., with an emphasis on community, gender relations, and religious life. She is the author of Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender and the Anxiety of Assimilation (1999) and Prayer and Community: The Havura in American Judaism (1989). Ruth Behar of the University of Michigan was born in Havana, Cuba. She has explored her Jewish identity and its relationship with her anthropological research. She is a prolific writer, essayist, poet, and filmmaker. Among her best-known works are Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's Story (2003) and The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart (1997). Sandra Morgen is professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon. Her books include Into Our Own Hands: The Women's Health Movement in the U.S. 1969–1990 (2002). (David Bidney / Diane Baxter (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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