Chapter

Perilous Ideas

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520223332.003.0029
Perilous Ideas

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This chapter raises questions about the provenience of the key anthropological ideas of race, culture, and peoplehood or ethnicity, as well as about their conceptual reach and continued efficacy in changing times, focusing on the concept of race, because it remains a major source of demonology in this country. It also considers the concept of culture, especially the idea that humans depend heavily on behavior which is learned, not inborn, and that this capacity for learning has fostered the proliferation of quite varied bodies of thought and action. The study briefly discusses the notion of peoples, envisaged these days as social entities—ethnic groups or nationalities—that are conscious of themselves as owners of distinctive cultural traditions passed on along the lines of shared descent. The relation between professional dialect and more general discourse needs to be understood as part of the wider interplay between anthropology and other kinds of public understanding.

Keywords: race; culture; ethnicity; social entities; professional dialect; anthropology

Chapter.  6153 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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