History Without Humanism: Culture-Historical Anthropology and the Triumph of the Museum

in Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226983417
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983462 | DOI:
History Without Humanism: Culture-Historical Anthropology and the Triumph of the Museum

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In the twentieth century, anthropologists asserted that nature and natural peoples were also historical, thus claiming the study of historical change for their discipline. Anthropologists preserved, however, their methodological assault on history, for they still presented themselves as natural scientists studying objective evidence, superior to humanists interpreting subjective documents. By undoing the conceptual divisions that had allowed their discipline to emerge, anthropologists pushed forward their attempt to displace the humanistic disciplines. Culture-historical anthropology allowed the discipline to exploit its massive growth and its development from an amateur hobby to a museum-based profession. Thus, while in one sense historicist anthropology and the related acceptance of Darwinism undermined nearly every theoretical position held by anthropology's nineteenth-century founders, in a more important sense it realized the project of anthropology as a posthumanist human science, suited to the conditions of mass culture and the new imperialism.

Keywords: culture-historical anthropology; posthumanist human science; mass culture; imperialism; museum-based profession; Darwinism

Chapter.  6660 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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