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Pathways of PowerBuilding an Anthropology of the Modern World$
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Eric Wolf

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223332

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223332.001.0001

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Anthropology among the Powers

Anthropology among the Powers

(p.63) 5 Anthropology among the Powers
Pathways of Power

Eric R. Wolf

University of California Press

Anthropology at its best is analytic, comparative, integrative, and critical, all at the same time. This chapter is concerned with anthropology in relation to society and culture, and discusses ways in which it came to be built up and shaped within the wider field of relations that accompanied its birth and its subsequent transformations. It provides an understanding of the history of social anthropology in terms of the sociopolitical environment that was generated by powerful forces of capitalism, colonial expansion, and national rivalry. Anthropology came of age in a time of European expansion, which was closely connected with the rise of capitalism and with the proliferation of competing nation-states. The great transformation wrought by capitalism troubled existing social and cultural arrangements. Within anthropology, evolutionism gave way to diffusionism, and these two perspectives were seen as polar opposites. Anthropology is an integrative science—a rarity today—one that crosses the boundaries of different domains and resists the dismemberment of relations and contexts.

Keywords:   anthropology, capitalism, colonial expansion, evolutionism, diffusionism

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