One Discipline, Four Ways British, German, French, and American Anthropology
by Fredrik Barth, Andre Gingrich, Robert Parkin and Sydel Silverman
University of Chicago Press, 2005
Cloth: 978-0-226-03828-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-03829-2 | Electronic: 978-0-226-03827-8


One Discipline, Four Ways offers the first book-length introduction to the history of each of the four major traditions in anthropology—British, German, French, and American. The result of lectures given by distinguished anthropologists Fredrik Barth, Andre Gingrich, Robert Parkin, and Sydel Silverman to mark the foundation of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, this volume not only traces the development of each tradition but considers their impact on one another and assesses their future potentials.

Moving from E. B. Taylor all the way through the development of modern fieldwork, Barth reveals the repressive tendencies that prevented Britain from developing a variety of anthropological practices until the late 1960s. Gingrich, meanwhile, articulates the development of German anthropology, paying particular attention to the Nazi period, of which surprisingly little analysis has been offered until now. Parkin then assesses the French tradition and, in particular, its separation of theory and ethnographic practice. Finally, Silverman traces the formative influence of Franz Boas, the expansion of the discipline after World War II, and the "fault lines" and promises of contemporary anthropology in the United States.


Fredrik Barth is research fellow at the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and professor of anthropology at Boston University. Andre Gingrich is professor in the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna and head of the Anthropology Unit at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Robert Parkin is departmental lecturer in social anthropology at Oxford University. Sydel Silverman is president emerita of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and professor emerita of anthropology at the City University of New York.


"This is an absorbing and much needed volume that has considerable potential as a teaching tool. It is the first cross national review of history of anthropology in its Euro-American experience. This is an excellent source for anyone who might want to know how anthropology arose in different settings, where it has been, and where it might be going."
— George Marcus, George Marcus

"The history of anthropology is the central arena in which debates about theory are clarified and thrashed out. One Discipline, Four Ways explores the development of anthropology's richest national traditions, and will advance the development of a truly cosmopolitan discipline."
— Adam Kuper, Adam Kuper

Choice "Outstanding Academic Title" 2006
— Choice

"A substantial resource (with extensive bibliographies and further reading references) for students and enthusiasts of anthropology today."
— Emilie Bickerton, Times Literary Supplement

"The book's originality is immediately apparent: this is the first work to present compact and readable analyses of these rich national traditions side by side. This approach not only allows for illuminating comparisons, it also widens the scope of inquiry by including anthropological traditions usually ignored in general histories of the discipline. . . . A significant and original volume that contributes to our understanding of anthropology's past, and possibly its future."
— Andrew D. Evans, Journal of Anthropological Research

"A monumental contribution to understanding some key moments in the shaping of anthropology, as well as points where it might proceed in the future. Also, it is presented here as a series of stories, in the best narrative tradition of scholars who know how to address a general public. . . . A true jewel of the anthropological scholarship--provocative for practitioners and informative for students."
— Aleksander Boskovic, Anthropos


Foreword / Chris Hann

Britain and the Commonwealth / Fredrik Barth

1. The Rise of Anthropology in Britain, 1830–1898

2. From the Torres Straits to the Argonauts, 1898–1922

3. Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown, 1920–1945

4. The Golden Age, 1945–1970

5. Enduring Legacies of the British Tradition, 1970–2000

The German-Speaking Countries / Andre Gingrich

1. Prelude and Overture: From Early Travelogues to German Enlightenment

2. From the Nationalist Birth of Volkskunde to the Establishment of Academic Diffusionism: Branching Off from the International Mainstream

3. From the Late Imperial Era to the End of the Republican Interlude: Creative Subaltern Tendencies, Larger and Smaller Schools of Anthropology

4. German Anthropology during the Nazi Period: Complex Scenarios of Collaboration, Persecution, and Competition

5. Anthropology in Four German-Speaking Countries: Key Elements of Post–World War II Developments to 1989

The French-Speaking Countries / Robert Parkin

1. Pre-Durkheimian Origins

2. Durkheim and His Era

3. Mauss, Other Durkheimians, and Interwar Developments

4. Structuralism and Marxism

5. Practice, Hierarchy, and Postmodernism

The United States / Sydel Silverman

1. The Boasians and the Invention of Cultural Anthropology

2. Postwar Expansion, Materialisms, and Mentalisms

3. Bringing Anthropology into the Modern World

4. Rebellions and Reinventions

5. American Anthropology at the End of the Century