Historical Transformation in American Anthropology

671 Words Jan 12th, 2018 3 Pages
Fox argues that this method differs from the comparative method used by nineteenth-century evolutionists to study anthropology. The "historical transformation" method used by American anthropologists instead focuses on the histories of cultures in terms of their development from earlier times. In other words, the study focuses on how historical events interact with existing cultural structures to lead to a variety of outcomes for the culture being studied. In other words, the author, and indeed American anthropologists, is concerned with the dynamic process involved in the development of cultures rather than comparing cultures in a supposedly static way, which is the aim of the comparative method. Fox supports his point with a study of the way in which the historical transformation method has developed in American anthropology. He starts his discussion with Franz Boas and his critique of the comparative method. The main argument in this critique is that there is a basic flaw in the assumption that comparable cultural phenomena existing in the present must have a common historical origin. According to Boaz, this assumption is proven incorrect by empirical study. Fox bases his argument upon similar findings, one of which found that comparable totemic clans do not have a common origin; some of them originated from a…
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