Thomas C. Patterson. A Social History of Anthropology in the United States. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2021. 240 pp., bibl., index.

Twenty years after its first release, Thomas Patterson, a UC Riverside anthropologist, brings us the second edition of his book on the history of US anthropology. The material from the first edition has been revised and updated, and the new edition contains an additional chapter which deals with the most recent developments in US anthropology.

The book narrates a history of US anthropology in six chapters. It begins in the early modern period and ends in the year 2019. This temporal frame suggests that Patterson does not view anthropology as a discipline that began with its professionalization in the twentieth century. Instead, he takes anthropology to encompass a broader set of intellectual practices that have sought to understand otherness. This allows Patterson to discuss the ideas of Franz Boas, Eric Wolf, and Eleanor Leacock on a par with those of Enlightenment philosophers, early modern naturalists, and the Founding Fathers—meaning his history of US anthropology includes anthropological ideas circulating in North America well before the United States came into being.

Continue reading