Leslie A. White


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(1900–75) [Bi]

American anthropologist well known for promoting evolutionary thinking in archaeology and anthropology. He viewed culture as a system and saw the development of societies as being related to the need to capture ever greater amounts of energy in order to sustain themselves. In this, White ignored the influence of environment and one culture on another, emphasizing instead the long‐term nature of cultural development and the fact that if human groups did not stay ahead they were subsumed by other groups. As a result his perception of cultural change was materialistic and rather deterministic, but it was an approach that contributed much to the development of processual archaeology. White published two important general accounts of his work: in 1949 as The science of culture: a study of man and civilization (New York: Strand), and in 1959 as The evolution of culture (New York: McGraw‐Hill).


American Anthropologist, 78 (1976), 612–29

Subjects: Archaeology.

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