ethnology

The Expeditions of John Wesley Powell

The Expeditions of John Wesley Powell

On March 24, 1834, American geologist and ethnologist John Wesley Powell was born. He published the first classification of American Indian languages and was the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology. He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers, including the first known passage through the Grand Canyon. “Economy in speech is the force by which its development has…
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Leo Frobenius and the Theory of Cultural Morphology

Leo Frobenius and the Theory of Cultural Morphology

On June 29, 1873, German ethnologist and archaeologist Leo Viktor Frobenius was born. He proposed a theory that culture evolves through stages of youth, maturity, and age. He helped to spread knowledge of West African art and culture throughout Europe. He made a series of twelve major expeditions throughout Africa, gathering knowledge of art and culture, travelling across the deserts, savannahs and rain forests of Africa and South Africa, the River Nile and…
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Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

On June 23, 1668, Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist Giambattista Vico was born. An apologist of classical antiquity, Vico is best known for his magnum opus, the Scienza Nuova of 1725, often published in English as The New Science, in which he attempted to bring about the convergence of history, from the one side, and the more systematic social sciences, from the other, so that their interpenetration could form a single…
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John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

On April 30, 1834, banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury was born. He was a banker and worked with his family’s company, but also made significant contributions in archaeology, ethnography, and several branches of biology. He helped establish archaeology as a scientific discipline, and was also influential in nineteenth-century debates concerning evolutionary theory. John Lubbock also coined the terms Neolithic and Paleolithic. “In this world we do…
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Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

On April 14, 1832, English army officer, ethnologist, and archaeologist Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers was born. He is often called the “father of British archaeology”, who stressed the need for total excavation of sites, through stratigraphic observation and recording, and prompt and complete publication. Like Sir Flinders Petrie, Pitt-Rivers adopted a sociological approach to the study of excavated objects and emphasized the instructional value of common artifacts.[4] “Tedious as it may…
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Georg Forster – Naturalist and Revolutionary

Georg Forster – Naturalist and Revolutionary

On November 27, 1754, German naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist, and revolutionary Georg Forster was born. At an early age, he accompanied his father on several scientific expeditions, including James Cook‘s second voyage to the Pacific.[3] His most famous work ‘A Voyage Round the World‘ is considered as the beginning of modern scientific travel literature, which also made him a member of the famous Royal Society. “Poor human race! What abysses have you…
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Robert Redfield and the Folk-Urban Continuum

Robert Redfield and the Folk-Urban Continuum

On December 4, 1897, American anthropologist and ethnolinguist Robert Redfield was born. Redfield‘s ethnographic work in Tepoztlán, Mexico is considered a landmark Latin American ethnography. From his studies of Mexican communities, Redfield developed a theory (1956) of a folk-urban continuum, to account for the differences between folk society and urban society. Early Years Robert Redfield was the son-in-law of University of Chicago sociologist Robert E. Park. In 1923 he and his wife…
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Colin Turnbull and the Forest People

Colin Turnbull and the Forest People

On November 23, 1924, British-American anthropologist Colin Turnbull was born. Turnbull came to public attention with the popular books The Forest People on the Mbuti Pygmies of Zaire and The Mountain People on the Ik people of Uganda, and one of the first anthropologists to work in the field of ethnomusicology. Early Years Colin Turnbull was born in the London borough of Harrow His parents were Helen Dorothy Wellesley Chapman (1894-1977) and John Rutherford…
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Clark Wissler and the Normative Aspect of Culture

Clark Wissler and the Normative Aspect of Culture

On September 18, 1870, American anthropologist Clark David Wissler was born. Wissler devised the age-area concept which held that the age of cultural traits could be found by correlating the diffusion of those traits throughout their associated area. He was the first anthropologist to perceive the normative aspect of culture, to define it as learned behavior, and to describe it as a complex of ideas, all characteristics of culture that are today…
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Gustav Nachtigal and the Explorations in Africa

Gustav Nachtigal and the Explorations in Africa

On February 23, 1834, German Africa Explorer Gustav Nachtigal was born. He is further known as the German Empire’s consul-general for Tunisia and Commissioner for West Africa. His mission as commissioner resulted in Togoland and Kamerun becoming the first colonies of a German colonial empire. making him a key figure in German colonial propaganda Early Years Gustav Nachtigal’s father, the priest Carl Friedrich Nachtigal, died of lung consumption as early as 1839. After his…
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