Email this review


The latest of a series of antitexts offers many good intentions and sound criticisms of current academic anthropology but only a few essays of genuine distinction. The editor's introduction invokes an anthropological tradition which is older and broader than departmental anthropology; the latter may only be a ""stage"" toward the ""study of mankind by mankind."" Under the rubric ""The Root Is Man,"" two articles offer generalities about the ""malaise in anthropology"" and ""the task of radical anthropology."" The section ""Studying Dominated Cultures"" has as its general theme the distortions and limitations of ""detached study"" of ""isolated pre-industrial"" peoples without attention to imperialistic impact on indigenous cultures and on anthropological assumptions themselves. William S. Willis, Jr. contributes a valuable critique of the relativism of Franz Boas which replaced colonialist theories of ""racial determinism,"" and Mina Davis Caulfield fuzzily develops the notion that imperialist exploitation most significantly manifests itself as cultural exploitation. In the section on ""Cultures of Power,"" neither the concept of ""culture"" nor of ""power"" is sufficiently analyzed by the writers, nor do they try for the most part to strike a synthesis with the best of sociological theory. This is true of Eric Wolf, whose essay is well below his best work, also of Laura Nader's summons to study American institutions, and even of Norman Klein's interesting study of how the ""counterculture"" has been ""co-opted."" Under ""Critical Traditions"" Bob Scholte calls for a selfconscious, self-critical anthropology on the order of Alvin Gouldner's sociology, and Stanley Diamond provides the only effort in the book to come to terms with Levi-Strauss and with Marxism. Assured of attention, the collection is germane but less inspiring than one might have hoped.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1972
Publisher: Pantheon