Kroeber Revisited

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
Kroeber Revisited

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This chapter is devoted to a reconsideration of the work of Alfred L. Kroeber, long the doyen of American anthropology, who, throughout his life, retained an interest in the observation of insect and animal existence. Kroeber wrote a great deal and contributed to all the subfields of anthropology. The topics range from Romance glottochronology to California Indian basket designs and Zuni clans, from the novel in Europe and Asia to changes in women's dress over a period of one hundred years. Kroeber combined his superorganic nonindividualistic and structuralist conception of culture with further parallels drawn from linguistics, laced this time with methodological injunctions derived from the neo-Kantian philosophical repertoire. The study suggests that some aspects of culture may be generated without specific utility or cause, which provides an antidote to the utilitarianism of adaptionists.

Keywords: American anthropology; Kroeber; Romance glottochronology; linguistics; superorganic nonindividualistic

Chapter.  6144 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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