Against the Anthropological Grain

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"Readers can benefit from exposure to a cross-grained critic, especially one who write well and accessibly as Washburn does." — Choice Washburn critically examines key anthropological beliefs, especially the importance of cultural relativism and Western colonialism's harmful effects on Third World cultures. He turns the tables on theorists from the discipline. The questions raised force us to rethink our entrenched assumptions about the human condition, national identity and the...

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Overview

"Readers can benefit from exposure to a cross-grained critic, especially one who write well and accessibly as Washburn does." — Choice Washburn critically examines key anthropological beliefs, especially the importance of cultural relativism and Western colonialism's harmful effects on Third World cultures. He turns the tables on theorists from the discipline. The questions raised force us to rethink our entrenched assumptions about the human condition, national identity and the future of anthropology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This volume is a selection of essays written between 1967 and 1996. Washburn argues that anthropology lost credibility after WW II when it abandoned history and scientific objectivity on the one hand, and adopted ideologies of collectivism and political action on the other.,. [R]eaders can benefit from exposure to a cross-grained critic.” —R. Berleant-Schiller, Choice
Booknews
In this collection of 15 previously published essays, the late historian of the Smithsonian questions the scientific credibility of anthropology, noting the degree to which the discipline is colored by an ideological cast. He addresses such questions as whether anthropologists should involve themselves in intertribal conflicts, whether anthropology ignores the rights of the individual within the group, and whether museums should return so-called sacred objects from their collections. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560003366
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1998
  • Pages: 211
  • Product dimensions: 6.23 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Does Anthropology Have a Creditable Past? 17
2 The Promise of Cultural Relativism: Why Did It Fail? 35
3 What Are Anthropological Ethics? 45
4 Should Anthropologists Involve Themselves in the Politics of Individual Tribes? 63
5 Should Anthropologists Involve Themselves in Intertribal Conflicts? 81
6 Should Anthropologists Try to Influence Public Policy? 93
7 Do Ideology and Archaeology Mix? 109
8 Should Museums Collect Information or Objects? 113
9 Do Museums Provide Adequate Care of their Anthropological Collections? The Frobisher Relics 123
10 Should Museums Return "Sacred" Objects from Their Collections? 133
11 Is There a Museum "Science"? 141
12 Is There a Museum "Profession"? 149
13 How Have Museums Changed in the Past Twenty Years? 167
14 Is Anthropology Continuing to Ignore the Rights of the Individual Within the Group? 175
15 Does Anthropology Have a Future? 187
Sources of Original Essays 203
Index 205
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