anthropology

Ruth Benedict and Cultural Anthropology

Ruth Benedict and Cultural Anthropology

On June 5, 1887, American anthropologist and folklorist Ruth Fulton Benedict was born. Benedict’s theories had a profound influence on cultural anthropology, especially in the area of culture and personality. Her major contribution to anthropology, compares Zuñi, Dobu, and Kwakiutl cultures in order to demonstrate how small a portion of the possible range of human behaviour is incorporated into any one culture. Ruth Fulton Benedict first attended lectures at the New…
The Native American studies of Horatio Hale

The Native American studies of Horatio Hale

On May 3, 1817, American-Canadian ethnologist, philologist and businessman Horatio Hale was born. Hale studied language as a key for classifying ancient peoples and being able to trace their migrations. He was the first to discover that the Tutelo language of Virginia belonged to the Siouan family, and to identify the Cherokee language as a member of the Iroquoian family of languages. Horatio Hale attended Harvard College and in 1834,…
Bronisław Malinowski and Social Anthropology

Bronisław Malinowski and Social Anthropology

On April 7, 1884, Polish anthropologist Bronisław Kasper Malinowski was born. Malinowski is widely recognized as the founder of social anthropology and often considered one of the most important 20th-century anthropologists. Bronisław Malinowski earned his doctorate in philosophy from Kraków’s Jagiellonian University in 1908. Malinowski began reading James Frazer’s The Golden Bough which inspired him to focus his research towards ethnology. Malinowski attended the University of Leipzig and studied under economist Karl Bücher…
Ales Hrdlicka and the Origin of the Americans

Ales Hrdlicka and the Origin of the Americans

On March 29, 1869, Czech anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka was born. Hrdlicka is known for his studies of Neanderthal man and his theory of the migration of American Indians from Asia. He was the one of the first scientists to argue the Americans originated in Asia and came across the Bering Strait, and participated in numerous archeological expeditions which contributed a great amount of information and physical evidence. Aleš Hrdlička was…
The Discovery of the Taung Child

The Discovery of the Taung Child

On November 28, 1924, workers at the Buxton Limeworks near Taung, South Africa, showed a fossilised primate skull to Raymond Dart, an Australian anatomist and anthropologist, who described it as a new species in the journal Nature in 1925. The fossil was soon nicknamed the Taung Child and the new species was named Australopithecus africanus – the “southern ape from Africa” – and described by Dart as “an extinct race…
The Social Theories of Lewis Henry Morgan

The Social Theories of Lewis Henry Morgan

On November 21, 1818, pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist Lewis Henry Morgan was born. Morgan is best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois. Interested in what holds societies together, he proposed the concept that the earliest human domestic institution was the matrilineal clan, not the patriarchal family. During the 1840s, Lewis Henry Morgan befriended Ely…
Alfred Kroeber and the Nature of Culture

Alfred Kroeber and the Nature of Culture

On June 11, 1876, American cultural anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber was born. His primary concern was to understand the nature of culture and its processes. He developed the concept of cultures as patterned wholes, each with its own style, and each undergoing a growth process analogous to that of a biological organism. Kroeber also made valuable contributions to the archaeology of New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru. Alfred Kroeber grew up…
Eugene Dubois and the Java Man

Eugene Dubois and the Java Man

On January 28, 1858, Dutch paleoanthropologist and geologist Marie Eugène François Thomas Dubois was born. Dubois earned worldwide fame for his discovery of Pithecanthropus erectus (later redesignated Homo erectus), or Java Man. Although hominid fossils had been found and studied before, Dubois was the first anthropologist to embark upon a purposeful search for them. Eugene Dubois was born in Eijsden, Netherlands. He is said to have been fascinated by natural…
Claude Lévi-Strauss and Structural Anthropology

Claude Lévi-Strauss and Structural Anthropology

On November 28, 1908, French anthropologist and ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss was born. Lévi-Strauss’ work was key in the development of the theory of structuralism and structural anthropology. He argued that the “savage” mind had the same structures as the “civilized” mind and that human characteristics are the same everywhere. Claude Lévi-Strauss grew up in Paris, living on a street of the upscale 16th arrondissement named after the artist Claude Lorrain,…
Knud Rasmussen – the Father of Eskimonology

Knud Rasmussen – the Father of Eskimonology

On June 7, 1879, Danish polar explorer and anthropologist Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen was born. He has been called the “father of Eskimology” and was the first European to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled. He remains well known in Greenland, Denmark and among Canadian Inuit. Rasmussen was born in Ilulissat, Greenland, as one of three children of a Danish missionary, the vicar Christian Rasmussen, who had been in Greenland…
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