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Theories of the mind and the disciplining of anthropology, c.1875-1914


Type

Thesis

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Authors

Mann, Valentina I 

Abstract

This thesis revises key assumptions concerning the organisation of knowledge into social science disciplines at the turn of the twentieth century, taking anthropology as its main case study. Historians of anthropology have approached their subject in a fragmentary manner that centres on national traditions, with special attention paid to institutions and practices. Concurrently, they have nevertheless assumed a fixed set of theoretical turning points in terms of which to identify anthropology and assess its trajectory. These are often stark shifts between conceptual opposites: from race to culture, evolutionary hierarchy to cultural relativism. Neither set of heuristics is warranted by the historical sources. Drawing on material from Germany, France, Britain, and the United States, this research recovers lost transnational debates concerning the human mind and the limits of science that formed the background to competing projects termed ‘anthropology’. These questions were fostered and widely circulated through book translations and new scientific journals, and haunted scholars for the next six decades. Ultimately, by recovering the contingency and compromise of conceptual change, as well as its lost projects, this thesis provides an alternative to a simple, politically triumphant story of disciplinary founding.

Description

Date

2021-02-08

Advisors

Mandler, Peter

Keywords

anthropology, Franz Boas, psychology, science, Gabriel Tarde, evolution, culture, mind

Qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Sponsorship
AHRC (1796899)
AHRC (AH/L503897/1)

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