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GENERAL A N D THEORETICAL

Whatever one may think of the wisdom of the


undertaking, I can report that the book does
contain much of the lore of the graduate student and young faculty subculture of the early
postwar years, and not a little of the affect that
arose in seminars on anthropological theory in
those days. But these are retrospective
ments, of course, and while the portraits reveal
some blemishes and unsightly pores, for the
most part they are rather serene likenema. instantly recognizable. As for the nonpersonal side
of things, there are no revelations of the sort
that will require revision of the many texts in
the history of anthropology.
Alexander Lemr offers an adulatory account
of Franz Boas as the architect of modem anthropology and its one great theorist, a citizenscientist, and a natural historian and empiricist.
Most students will find that the discussion of
Boas as citizen-scientist contains the material
with which they are least familiar.
For Eric Wolf, like myself, Alfred Louis
Kroeber was the 1iving.embodimentof American anthropology (p. 36). Wolf distilla the
essential Kroeber, a natural historian in the preDarwinian RIM, as well as a natural historian
of the superorganic. Unlike Boas, he was not a
citizen-scientist, and Wolf offers abundant
evidence of Kroebers contempt for politics and
his refusal to become involved in the hues of his
day.
Stanley Diamonds portrait of Paul Radin is a
work of love. The legendary quality of the man
and his extraordinary c a m r are rightly emphasized, and for those who did not know him, Diamond has provided an eloquent panegyric to a
man who was in many ways a victim (p. 97).
The discussion that followa this article contains
a remarkable exchange between Lesser and
Diamond that makes one wish for some clarification of the relationship between the former
and Radin.
Raymond Firths amcmment of Bronislaw
Malinowski, the least biographical of the eight
pieces. concentrates mainly on his theories. It
covers much familiar ground, but it is difficult
to think of another place in which so admirably
succinct a presentation of Malinowslris manifold contributions to our field can be found.
Sidney Mintz accomplishes the well-nigh impossible task of saying something new about
Ruth Benedict. In the coum of his examination
of the many ways in which she saw clearly what
more than SO yearn later still acema problematic
to many-such as the relationship between the
study of c l w and culture, for example-he
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719

carefully avoida a trap into which the editor has


fallen in her biographical sketch. Benedict was
not a student of national character; she was,
aa Mintz observes, a study of national cultures.
Robert Murphys article on Julian Steward is
the best of the lot. To be sure, he has some advantage over the other contributors in that
Steward has not been written to death by a
generation of survey-history writers. I learned
more about the man than I knew before, and
Murphy has exercised a sure hand in placing
Stewards ambiguous career in proper context.
Robert Carneiro, Leslie Whites student.
gives us a thoughtful appraisal of his teacher
and a rather poignant picture of his last years.
Carneiro and I are the same age, and it was with
particular interest that I read of the feeling of
Whites students that he spent too much time in
spirited e x c h a n p with those who challenged
his views. Most of us who were students of
Whites opponents, as Carneiro calls them,
felt exactly the same way. That our ancestors
leave their mark is demonstrated with great
clarity in the 40 footnotes to this paper, far
more than all the other footnotes in the book
combined. How Leslie White would have enjoyed reading thisl
Nathaniel Tarns piece on Robert Redfield is
unlike all the others, and it is difficult for me to
guess what todays students will be able to make
of Redfield when they have read it. They may
well find the Poet more interesting than the
Professor.
That concludes this brief summary of the
celebration of the ancestral rites for some of the
great and near-great of our profession. The
totem never make an appearance. The proportion of living anthropologists who knew all of
these people is surely very small, and it is only
they who know what has been omitted and what
distorted. Only the very large number who knew
none of them can finally judge the success of
this undertaking to make the eight manifest as
human beings whwe anthropology was shaped
by their life experiences and the society and
times in which they lived.

Edward EvanePritehard. Mary D o u g h . New


York: Viking Press, 1980. x + 151 pp. $12.95
(cloth),
David M. Schneider
University of Chicago
This book purpom to present a brief account

720

AMERICAN A NTHR 0POL OCIS T

of why Evans-Pritchard is held in high esteem


by showing his contributions and their relevance
to contemporary intellectual problem. It takes
its stand firmly on the ground that objectivity b
possible, that this was one of Evans-Pritchardb
guiding commitments. The problem that the
book presents to the reviewer is whether it is in
any ordinary acme of the term an objective
statement of what Evans-Pritchard wrote and its
significance.
On the accond and third p a w we are told
that

[83, 19811

vances that can be built upon his work.


Douglas then adds with disarming, charming
naivete, The reader will have no difficulty, I
hope, in distinguishing the masters original
work from the pupils presentation (p. 2). Here
the point is that if this book is a personal
reconstruction and that one of EvansPritcharda major contributions was so illformulated that Douglas had to find a name for
it, thereby concentrating the idea, then Douglas
herself has produced just the same deeply interpreted account of what can only be deemed
a fictional text as she m fiercely decries.
many scholars . . . have been tempted to
Douglas says that moral and social accountgive up striving for objectivity and to shift
ability
is one of the central concern in Evanstheir own writing into a mystical mode, inPritchards
work and that his contribution lay in
dulgent to their own subjectivity. . . . In adas
a guiding theme in t e r n of which
taking
this
vance of this critical juncture Evansto
conduct
his
fieldwork and report his ethnogPritchard felt the dilemma keenly. . . . he
did not abandon the wkh for objective com- raphy. She em to me to imply that the idea
parison . . . there are ways of getting valid was largely original with Evans-Pritchard
(though she had to give it its name). I find this
evidence. . . .
difficult to accept. Durkheim spent much of his
This same position is repeated on the last page, intellectual output demonstrating that society
thus bracketing the entire work. At this time, was a moral aystem, that constraint could not be
younger anthropologists, beset by philwphical understood in strictly utilitarian terms, so that for
quandaries from which they see no =ape, are Douglas to fail to indicate that Durkheim was
content to treat the best understanding they can one of the most important murces of this idea
report as well-obrerved, deeply interpreted fic- puzzles me.
tional texts (p. 135). At this point there is a
There is one interesting difference between
footnote to Ceertz. Back on page 2, Douglas Durkheims treatment of morality and its conproceeds by suggmting that objectivity was an straining features and Evans-Pritchards. For
important value for Evans-Pritchard and im- Evans-Pritchard, Douglas telb us, there is the
plies that it is for her too. But on the same acc- important component of individual initiative:
ond page we learn that It is only right to say Society is compcwed not of ciphers but of active
that this is not a straight summary and mme- agencies endowed with intelligence and will. Inthing different from a synthesis. I have made a tentions create and sustain institutions . . .
personal reconstruction upon the writings, forc- (p. 4). Although Durkheim certainly (as I read
ing them into closer confrontation with prob- those texts) located the main force of social conl e m that were evidently present to Evans-Prit- straint (or moral accountability) within the inchard. . . So, after blating the doubters, the dividual too, perhaps he did not stress as strongwriters of interpretation, we learn that it is ly as Douglas does the element of will.
perfectly all right for Mary D o u g h to do a Whether Evans-Pritchard was so clear on this
pemonal reconstruction (a deeply inter- point as Douglas, is not clear to me.
A crucial methodological device which Evanspreted text, that M) but that younger anthropoiogists like Geertz (who M not that much Pritchard is said by D o u g h to have uacd is that
younger than Douglas) should not.
of the response to mbfortune. My reading of
Let us consider one such act of objectivity. this may be suspect, of course, since it is m difOne of the main themes of the book is that a ficult to interpret texts such as Douglass. But as
central problem to which Evans-Pritchard I understand her account, Evans-Pritchard took
devoted his attention was that of moral (some- the fact that all human beings must somehow
times social) accountability, But Evans- come to t e r n with misfortune an the pivot of his
Pritchard nowhere IWS this terml I realized comparative work. Closely associated, of course,
that a name for his method was missing. A is the problem of moral accountability, for one
name b a powerful concentrator of ideas. By of the questions that mbfortune nececsarily
naming a theory of social accountability, I can raises is that of how to explain it and where the
ahow more cogently the methodological ad- final accountability rests- with a malicious
.I

GENERAL AND THEORETICAL

neighbor whose witchcraft has brought about


the misfortune, with divine providence of some
sort, or elsewhere. And here again it is made to
seem as if this idea was first born fully formed in
the head of Evans-Pritchard.
Yet one can imagine that the idea was not so
far different from what Malinowski and other
functionalism were doing at the time, though
Douglas hardly mentions Malinowski and certainly not as a significant influence on EvansPritchards thinking. These functionalists, like
Durkheim and the French School. looked to the
invariant conditions of social existence as the
foci for comparative study. For some, like
Malinowski, this meant such simple things as
eating and sexual activity. For others, the foci
were those having to do with the maintenance
of the social system. Moreover, though Douglas
does not say anything on the subject, it is said
that Evans-Pritchard could not abide Marx or
Weber. Yet surely the ideas of these men were
very much in the air at the time, and EvansPritchards concern with misfortune as a pivot
on which his comparative work turns sounds
very much like Webers concern with ultimate
values, for example, with the universal problem
of why, as someone said, the good die young
and the evil flourish like the green bay tree. And
Marx was certainly concerned with the misfortunes of the working clam
Let me put the matter simply. An I read this
book, Douglas t a l b about Bartlett as having
had some influence on Evans-Pritchards thinking. Even s u p p i n g that this were m, which I
personally doubt, I find it hard to understand
her almost total neglect of the intellectual context of the times in which Evans-Pritchard
worked. Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown are
barely mentioned; Durkheim is merged with the
French school and there are mainly vague
references to them. The specific lines of influence on Evans-Pritchardb thought are
seldom clearly delineated. Was Evans-Pritchard
really sui generis, his whole lifework clearly laid
out in three papers published in 1933,1934 and
1936 as Douglas claims (p. 25))
Not only does Douglas present Evans-Pritchard as if he managed to do all his own thinking almost without reference to anyone e k
around, but nowhere d o a she raise so much as a
vague question of doubt. In boldly retailing
Evans-Pritchards silly equation of incest prohibitions with exogamy (p. 80ff.) as p p e l and
in failing to note fiis inept attempts to account
for the stability of Nuer mamage, to cite but
two examples, she surely does the man a great

721

disservice. He was quite human after all, by no


means infallible, and had his frailties both intellectual as well as penonal. His capacity for
rudeness was monumental and his scathing
tongue did not endear him to all.
In sum, this book is a very penonal interpretation of Evans-Pritchards principal works. It
omits almost all penonal details of his life, even
those events that might be closely related to his
work. In my opinion, as an interpretation of
what was of value in Evam-Pritchards work, it
is one with which few will agree. The interested
reader should see the reviews of this book by
Beidelman and Leach, respectively, in the
Times Literary Supplement (December 12.
1980) and the London Review of Boohs(4)
(December 17, 1980), as well as Beidelmans
short biography in the new 18th volume of the
Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences for other interpretations.

Soviet and Watcrn Anthropology. Ernest


Gellner, ed. New York: Columbia University
Press, 1980. vii + 285 pp. $37.50 (cloth).
Steve Rayner
R u ~ c l Sage
l
Foundation
This collection of essays originated from a
conference in 1976 at which the Wenner-Gren
Foundation made the bold move of bringing
together nine prominent Soviet and ten Western
anthropologists. The tenns of reference of that
conference, chaired by Ernest Gellner. focused
on the relationship of anthropology to other
human sciences.
As may be expected, the Soviet participants
present a more homogeneous approach than
their Watern counterparts, who reflect a wider
range of interests and theoretical backgrounds.
Whereas the Soviets adhere quite meticulously
to their brief in presenting an oveMew of Soviet
anthropology, the Western papers tend to
reflect the more specialized fields of their
authors. The only statements of general theory
from the West arc Pouillons attempt to clarify
the definition of structuralism and Godeliers
review of the major kues in the development of
French Manrist anthropology. All of the Soviet
papers, on the ocher hand, highlight the two
theoretical mainstays of Soviet anthropology,