[Marxism] The anthropology wars

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Dec 30 07:57:52 MST 2012


The Anthropology Wars
by Eliza Jane Darling

David Price, Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in the Service of 
the Militarized State (AK Press, 2011), 208 pages, $15.95, paperback.

In 1929 Bronislaw Malinowski, the primogenitor of twentieth-century 
anthropology, published an article extolling the merits of his science 
in the process of colonial administration. “My own opinion, as that of 
all competent anthropologists, is that indirect or dependent rule is 
infinitely preferable,” he held. “In fact, if we define dependent rule 
as the control of Natives through the medium of their own organization, 
it is clear that only dependent rule can succeed. For the government of 
any race consists rather in implanting in them ideas of right, of law 
and order, and making them obey such ideas.”1 Malinowski’s piece, 
entitled “Practical Anthropology,” appeared in the journal of the 
International African Institute. It was essentially a fundraising pitch 
for the Institute, which was seeking a subsidy from the Rockefeller 
Foundation by demonstrating the workaday virtues of what was until then 
an obscure discipline with little apparent importance to the vast powers 
stretching outward from the heart of capitalism to envelope the world.


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