In this article, I focus on different strategies of anthropological engagement with government and potential funders. I do so by considering the diverse nature of Alfred Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski’s encounters with South African authorities, between 1919 and 1934. I suggest that Radcliffe-Brown saw South Africa as an integrated society in which segregation was impossible, and advocated the sympathetic scientific understanding of cultural difference within this context. By contrast, Malinowski was committed to a romantic vision of holistic cultures, collaborated directly with colonial authorities, and argued for a policy of effective cultural and territorial segregation. The strategies had important longterm consequences and costs, calculable only from the privileged vantage point of history.
Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski’s South African engagements, 1919–1934
George E. Marcus
For me, since the 1980s, the distinctive event in the recent history of social and cultural anthropology in the United States has been a profound cutting of the discipline (or rather of this influential component of the four-field disciplinary organisation of general anthropology) from moorings that defined it through much of the twentieth century. Certainly the discipline is still wedded functionally to certain aspects of the institutional model which has shaped the identity of social and cultural anthropologists, as pioneered through the works of such figures as Bronislaw Malinowski in England and Franz Boas in the United States. Most anthropologists still begin their careers with a geographical area specialisation outside the U.S. However, few receive the intensive areas studies education that was available and encouraged in the U.S. during the 1950s through to the 1970s when, in the atmosphere of the Cold War and development studies, there was a huge investment in such interdisciplinary programmes that has since waned.