Synopses & Reviews
In this study the history of anthropology has been divided into three phases: building the scientific foundation of the discipline, patching the cracks that eventually emerged, and demolition and reconstruction - essentially knocking down the original foundation and starting over again. The first phase began in the late part of the nineteenth century and ended in the 1950s, when the colonial world began to disintegrate. The second phase centred around the 1960s, as new theories sprang up and methods were refined in order to cope with doubts that a scientific study of culture had been established, and with the recognition that change and conflict were as prevalent as stability and harmony. The third phase began in the 1970s and continues today, dominated by postmodernism and feminist anthropology. One of my central arguments will be that beginning in phase two, and growing rapidly during phase three, a gap has emerged between our theories and our methods. For most of the history of anthropology, our methods have talked the language of science. In recent decades, however, our theories have repudiated science, in the process pushing us ever closer to the humanities.
This is the first book to provide an overview of theory and method in anthropology which is specifically aimed at students. Starting with anthropology's foundations in the late nineteenth century, Stanley R. Barrett brings the reader up to date on such topics as the influence of postmodern and feminist criticism, changes in ethnographic style, and the shift from scientific to humanistic discourse. He discusses the power relationships between anthropologists and their subjects, from the era of colonialism through that of contemporary cultural pluralism. Barrett shows that, in recent decades, a serious gap has emerged between theory and method - a gap that will ultimately have to be addressed by today's students.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -263) and index.