History of Theory and Method in Anthropology


History of Theory and Method in Anthropology

Regna Darnell

Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology Series

348 pages
4 photographs, 4 tables, index


June 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart

June 2022


$99.00 Add to Cart
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June 2022


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About the Book

Regna Darnell offers a critical reexamination of the theoretical orientation of the Americanist tradition, centered on the work of Franz Boas, and the professionalization of anthropology as an academic discipline in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. History of Theory and Method in Anthropology reveals the theory schools, institutions, and social networks of scholars and fieldworkers primarily interested in the ethnography of North American Indigenous peoples. Darnell’s fifty-year career entails foundational writings in the four fields of the discipline: cultural anthropology, ethnography, linguistics, and physical anthropology.

Leading researchers, theorists, and fieldwork subjects include Claude Lévi-Strauss, Franz Boas, Benjamin Lee Whorf, John Wesley Powell, Frederica de Laguna, Dell Hymes, George Stocking Jr., and Anthony F. C. Wallace, as well as nineteenth-century Native language classifications, ethnography, ethnohistory, social psychology, structuralism, rationalism, biologism, mentalism, race science, human nature and cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, standpoint-based epistemology, collaborative research, and applied anthropology. History of Theory and Method in Anthropology is an essential volume for scholars and undergraduate and graduate students to enter into the history of the inductive theory schools and methodologies of the Americanist tradition and its legacies.

Author Bio

Regna Darnell is Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario. She is the coeditor of The Franz Boas Papers, Volume 1: Franz Boas as Public Intellectual—Theory, Ethnography, Activism (Nebraska, 2015), author of The History of Anthropology: A Critical Window on the Discipline in North America (Nebraska, 2021), and author or editor of many other works. Darnell is the recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the American Anthropological Association.


“Assessing and reassessing the field with fifty years of experience and skill allows Darnell to produce sage insights and demonstrate her progressive thinking on critical anthropological themes, such as the effects of social networks on theory.”—N. J. Parezo, Choice
“Regna Darnell invites the reader to listen in on the intimate, collaborative, and frequently contentious conversations that formed the basis for North American anthropology. We are gifted with a clearly written and revelatory unpacking of the connections, alliances, and discordant moments of an anthropology practice grounded in humanistic and scholarly precepts. This timely critical history promises to reintroduce anthropology as a fundamentally humanistic scholarly endeavor whose practitioners continue the long tradition of scholarship in the service of social justice.”—Bernard Perley, author of Defying Maliseet Language Death: Emergent Vitalities of Language, Culture, and Identity in Eastern Canada

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Editorial Method
List of Abbreviations
1. What Is History? An Anthropologist’s Eye View
2. Applied Anthropology: Disciplinary Oxymoron?
3. The Anthropological Concept of Culture at the End of the Boasian Century
4. Calibrating Discourses across Cultures in Search of Common Ground
5. “Keeping the Faith”: A Legacy of Native American Ethnography, Ethnohistory, and Psychology
6. Anthropological Approaches to Human Nature, Cultural Relativism, and Ethnocentrism
7. Text, Symbol, and Tradition in Northwest Coast Ethnology from Franz Boas to Claude Lévi-Strauss
8. Mind, Body, and the Native Point of View: Boasian Theory at the Centennial of The Mind of Primitive Man
9. Franz Boas as Theorist: A Mentalist Paradigm for the Study of Mind, Body, Environment, and Culture
10. The Powell Classification of American Indian Languages
11. The Revision of the Powell Classification
12. Désveaux, Two Traditions of Anthropology in Mirror: American Geologisms and French Biologism
13. Rationalism, the (Sapir-)Whorf Hypothesis, and Assassination by Anachronism
14. The Structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss
15. Obituary for Frederica de Laguna (1906–2004)
16. Obituary for Dell Hathaway Hymes (1927–2009)
17. Obituary for George W. Stocking Jr. (1928–2013)
18. Review of Glimpses into My Own Black Box: An Exercise in Self-Deconstruction, by George W. Stocking Jr.
19. Obituary for Anthony F. C. Wallace (1923–2015)

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