chapter  4
Was Anthropology the Child, the Tool, or the Handmaiden of Colonialism?
ByHerbert S. Lewis
Pages 33

This chapter focuses on the question of anthropology's role in colonial rule. It explores that the historical background presented will add some reality to a discourse that is usually carried on as a gloss on the writings of famous postmodern and postcolonial thinkers. The trope of anthropology as the child of colonialism sounded great in 1968. The origins of American anthropology as a professional discipline can be dated to the years after 1896, when Franz Boas founded a one-man department at Columbia University and began turning out students with PhDs. The relationship of British anthropology to colonialism is more complicated than that of American anthropology. At the beginning of the twentieth century Great Britain had the most far-flung empire, in every part of the world, controlling territories as vast as the Indian subcontinent and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and as teeny as the Maldives and the British Virgin Islands.