• August 21, 2019

Adam Kuper. Anthropology and anthropologists: the British school in the twentieth century. London: Routledge. xvii + pp. Anthropology and anthropologists forty years on. Adam Kuper. I. My account of British social anthropology was first published by Penguin Books in under. On its first publication in Adam Kuper’s entertaining history of half a century of British social anthropology provoked strong reactions. But his often irreverent.

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Adam Kuper

Even when anyhropologists fieldwork took them to societies in the throes of revolutionary change, they typically chose to study cosmologies and kinship systems. Three possible answers to these questions were floated, perhaps even three and a half, but none was entirely persuasive. Preparing the third edition I had recognised that my book was turning into something of an obituary notice. Clifford Geertz was renewing the project of interpretive anthropology, and refining — and cutting back — the notion of culture.

Malinowski was never politically correct, but his position was very different from the frankly racist colonial orthodoxy, in thrall to stereotyped notions of African mentality, contemptuous of African civilisations.

Young fogeys in the Oxford faction of social anthropology were even more splenetic. They engage with European concerns about immigration and ethnicity, but many do fieldwork in societies beyond Europe. Armed with this science, colonial governments could recast their rule as a project of benevolent social engineering.

He had his own interests to promote, and above all, students to fund, but he also felt that there was an elective affinity between functionalist anthropology and the policy of Indirect Rule. The students continued anr conversation informally among themselves through the week, meeting up in the Reading Room of the British Museum during the day and in pubs in the evening.


On its first publication in Adam Anthropoloyists entertaining history of half a century of British social anthropology provoked strong reactions.

The topic was cousin marriage and incest in nineteenth century England. If the Trobriand islanders did it, or had it, it must be assumed to be a necessary thing for them to do or to have. It became a cosmopolitan project. Yet as anthropologists these particular natives knew very well that their academic work was shaped, among other things, by personal background, friendships and rivalries, career structures and institutions, and the politics of antjropologists times.

The sand s c from functionto structure 4 Anthropology and colonialism. Colonial natives had once been loosely identified as Primitives.

Anthropology and anthropologists forty years on

A new community of European social anthropologists is becoming more significant than the national traditions that it encompasses. Yet I was not prepared for the reactions that publication provoked. The old school was not with the movement. Taking a lead from the writings of Edward Said, radical academics now denounced anthropology as an expression of the colonial mind-set that regarded colonial peoples as objects and constructed false and mystifying differences.

Above all, the functionalist school was shaped, in ways that are only now perhaps becoming fully apparent, by the African colonial system. Marett relations relationships Rhodes-Livingstone Institute ritual Schapera scholars segmentary segmentary lineage seminar social sciences social structure societies sociology structuralist symbols thatthe theoretical theory thestudy totemism tothe tradition tribe Trobriand Trobriand islands Tswana University village wasa wasnot witchcraft withthe wrote Zande.

These convictions were inculcated with a minimum of direct instruction. Malinowski certainly was, in his very particular fashion.

Ania Orehek rated it liked it Sep 21, They are impressed rather by the recurrence of certain institutions, the limited range of variation, the very common strategic responses to the problems of getting ajd, making do, rubbing along. In the UK, Labour politicians were anthropologist the colonial system. There was a shift to a more personal politics, a politics of identity and representation. Therefore the forces of decency should be ranged against radical changes of any kind.


Do their generalisations apply to human beings in general, or only to citizens of Western liberal democracies? But social anthropology did not benefit. Books by Adam Kuper. A third revision, with a more upbeat conclusion, appeared a decade later. There was also a counter-current within the small community of British social anthropologists, a principled resistance to applied qnthropology that began to be articulated in the late s.

Anthropology and Anthropologists: The Modern British School by Adam Kuper

Aathira Kamal rated it really liked it Oct 27, The academic staff was only seven or eight strong. In order to make sense of their world, even the most conservative and apparently isolated people appeal to shifting frames of reference. Hardly had I begun to get my bearings than Isaac Schapera invited me to write an account of modern British social anthropology. From to he was professor of African anthropology at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Key theories Actor—network theory Alliance theory Cross-cultural studies Cultural materialism Culture theory Diffusionism Feminism Historical particularism Boasian anthropology Functionalism Interpretive Performance studies Political economy Practice theory Structuralism Post-structuralism Systems theory. In Malinowski and the International African Institute launched a research fellowship programme funded by a Rockefeller family foundation.

Common terms and phrases A. Their arguments are closely tied to detailed ethnographic observations, but their ethnographies do not describe isolated, bounded, traditional, monocultural societies.