chapter
Prehistory: from Herder to Boas
Pages 3

We have already mentioned the proliferation of definitions of culture in mid-century American anthropology. Many of these definitions were collected in an extraordinary survey published by †Kroeber and †Kluckhohn in 1952 (Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1952). This invaluable book collected and analysed dozens of definitions, as well as examining non-anthropological usage in English, German and French. What emerged was a particular story. According to Kroeber and Kluckhohn, the anthropological sense of the word was estab lished by †E.B.Tylor at the very start of his Primitive Culture (Tylor 1871), but then languished for another thirty years at least before gaining any wider anthropological currency. This view was resoundingly challenged by George Stocking in two essays from the 1960s (Stocking 1968a, 1968b). In these he argued that not only was Tylor’s celebrated definition less ‘anthropological’ than it looked, but in fact the real roots of the modern anthropological concept lay scattered in somewhat incomplete form through the writings of Boas.