Lawrence Rosen

William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar


Romancing the Tribe: The History of an Anthropological Problem

Lawrence RosenLawrence Rosen2012 William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer ScholarLawrence Rosen2012 William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar

Anthropologists have long tested their most foundational theories against the exemplary case of tribal structures. Whether it is to measure the scope of kinship as it affects the political, to assess the implications of patterns of marital alliance, or to ascertain the boundaries of group identity through dialect or territory, the tribe has been the archetypal form that could sustain or alter one’s approach to the issue regarded as central to human society. The current book project will trace the history of the anthropological “romance of the tribe” not only for its impact on the discipline itself, but for the practical effects that changing theories have had on legal, political, and military decisions. The goal is to show that as the views of the tribe have changed, so have our views of humankind and the policies applied by Western nations in many parts of the world.

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor, Department of Anthropology, Princeton University

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