THESE MAJOR TRENDS EXPLAIN WHERE ANTHROPOLOGY CAME FROM AND WHAT IT’S ABOUT …
Progressivism: the identification of human cultural history with progress on an upward escalator from “nasty and brutish” to the modern West that is always on top whenever you pick up the story.
Primitivism: the reverse idea, including nostalgia for primitive simplicity and the idea of degeneration, humankind marching downhill from the beginning, though some are saved by civilization.
Natural law: not recurrent behaviour but codes, behavioural prescriptions and restrictions common to all peoples and part of nature’s (i.e., biological in origin) or God’s (i.e., moral and cultural in origin) plan.
German idealism: based on the dualistic separation of mind (the substance of history) and matter (the substance of nature).
“Indianology”: both popular ideology about American Indians – especially of the Noble Savage variety – and a major field of study centring on the otherness of the Other.