Development of Anthropology as a Discipline in the United States

1580 Words 7 Pages
Development of Anthropology as a Discipline in the United States

I. Early History of Anthropology in the United States 1870-1900

“The roots of anthropology lie in the eye-witness accounts of travelers who have journeyed to lands on the margins of state-based societies and described their cultures and in the efforts of individuals who have analyzed the information collected. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a number of anthropologists recognized that the practice of anthropology was intimately linked to commerce and colonial expansion.” (Patterson 1)

There were essentially three “schools” of anthropological thinking by the First World War and after. The first, cultural determinism, maintained by Franz Boas and his students,
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The second point, however, also deals with the fact that anthropology in it’s beginning was used for strategic information, which would latter be used in an attempt to justify the eugenicist’s ideological standpoint, but initially was used practically to more efficiently displace those standing in the way of manifest destiny. It is certainly easier to subjugate a person if you know something about them.

A. Eugenics and Racial Determinism

In the 1870s issues such as the progress of man and the development of civilization became important questions for contemplation. The 1880s was a period of intense discrimination against marginalized groups, based on gender, race, and socio-economic status. America had just emerged victorious from the Indian Wars and the Civil War is recent history, Western Samoa was annexed, and Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba were recently annexed, but along with these imperialist ventures came widespread classism, racism, sexism and xenophobia, well documented in newspapers and other media from the time period.

There were two events, according to anthropologist Thomas C. Patterson, which
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