History of Anthropology in the United States Essay

History of Anthropology in the United States Essay

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During the 20th century, anthropology has developed following influential people such as Boas. The four subfields existed for a long time as separate fields, but with the direction of examining human culture within the United States, it became important to be holistic. Each subfield contributed greatly as no one field can study the entire breadth or depth of culture and behavior. However, there are forces that are contributing to each field going in its own direction that can lead to a break-up in the future. First, the emphasis on the profession have lead others to concentrate and specialized in their own perspective. Each field also has an increased difficulty to be well versed in all four subfields when there are alliances to other disciplines that relate more specifically to their specialization. Finally, there always seems to be a divide between the science and humanities which has lead to a constant tension within anthropology, which sits on the border.
One reason for the creation of the four-field approach in anthropology is the study of Native Americans, which were seen as disappearing (Darnell 2002:1). John Powell, as an example, has been studying Native Americans through ethnological and linguistic means, and later created a Division of Mound Exploration (Patterson 2001:37, 39). Powell was also influenced by Spencer’s and Darwin’s evolutionism as he studied Native Americans, and then influenced a large part of professional anthropology through publications of field investigations and researchers from different fields (Patterson 2001:40). However, the actual development of anthropology as a four field approach comes during Boas’s time and when anthropology became a profession.
Anthropology became a professio...


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..., Bloomington.

Little, Michael A.
2010 Franz Boas’s Place in American Physical Anthropology and Its Institutions. In Histories of American Physical Anthropology in the Twentieth Century, edited by Michael Little and Kenneth Kennedy. Lexington Books, Lanham, MD.

Little, Michael A., and Kenneth A.R. Kennedy
2010 Introduction to the History of American Physical Anthropology. In Histories of American Physical Anthropology in the Twentieth Century, edited by Michael Little and Kenneth Kennedy. Lexington Books, Lanham, MD.

Moore, Jerry
2012 Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. 4th ed. Altamira Press, Lanham, MD.

Patterson, Thomas
2001 A Social History of Anthropology in the United States. Berg, Oxford.

Trigger, Bruce
2006 A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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