Anthropologists and the Rediscovery of America, 1886-1965

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9780511779558: Anthropologists and the Rediscovery of America, 1886-1965

This book examines the intersection of cultural anthropology and American cultural nationalism from 1886, when Franz Boas left Germany for the United States, until 1965, when the National Endowment for the Humanities was established. Five chapters trace the development within academic anthropology of the concepts of culture, social class, national character, value, and civilization, and their dissemination to non-anthropologists. As Americans came to think of culture anthropologically, as a "complex whole" far broader and more inclusive than Matthew Arnold's "the best which has been thought and said," so, too, did they come to see American communities as stratified into social classes distinguished by their subcultures; to attribute the making of the American character to socialization rather than birth; to locate the distinctiveness of American culture in its unconscious canons of choice; and to view American culture and civilization in a global perspective.

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Book Description:

This book is about how a small group of anthropologists shaped American thought from the late nineteenth century until the mid-1960s by democratizing the American conception of culture, putting class analysis on the agenda of American social science, rehabilitating the American character for use in history and American studies, studying American values scientifically, and reconciling American culture and civilization. It focuses, in particular, on the intersection between anthropologists' campaign to make Americans culture-conscious and American cultural nationalism.

About the Author:

John S. Gilkeson is Associate Professor of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies at Arizona State University, where his teaching focuses on history and American studies. He has been Visiting Professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. He is the author of Middle-Class Providence, 1820-1940.

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