chapter  5
45 Pages

Anthropology: Ships That Crash in the Night

WithMarvin Harris

This chapter is concerned with the principal paradigmatic options that are currently represented primarily in the work of sociocultural and archaeological anthropologists. Anthropology in the closing years of the twentieth century is a complex and fractious collection of disciplines and subdisciplines. Historically, the most fundamental schism in anthropology is that between materialist and idealist paradigms. The rhetoric of postmodern literary criticism is not confined to cultural anthropology. A recurrent claim of both socio-cultural interpretationists and post-processual archaeologists is that positivist anthropology deservedly collapsed because of its failure to produce a coherent body of scientific knowledge about society and culture. Feminist anthropology is a distinct intellectual tradition that seeks to establish a balance between androcentric and gynocentric perspectives, theories, and data bases. Cultural materialist theories of the causes of matrilineality and patrilineality are not predicated on a calculus of reproductive success through inclusive fitness.