One discipline or many?
David Shankland (Royal Anthropological Institute)
Examination Schools Room 11
Start time:
21 September, 2018 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel invites consideration of how and when anthropology has appeared to have divided into sub-disciplines, and whether such sub-divisions are still relevant today. Submissions are welcome from the historical, methodological, or theoretical point of view.

Long abstract:

For much of its history, anthropology was regarded by its practitioners as a single discipline. By the second half of the twentieth century, this conception of a unified subject appears to have been very much weakened. When, however, and why did this internal separation take place? Was it triggered by any one factor, or were there multiple causes which gradually led to a mutual drifting apart? Were the same factors operative, for instance, in the separation of biological anthropology from social anthropology as there were in separating anthropology from archaeology? Perhaps it may be possible to argue that the subjects were never as close as all that, and a unified discipline was never more than a convenient heuristic device? Yet, it does also seem the case that in certain ways anthropology today can be brought together again, and there have been notable rapprochements between different sub-parts of the discipline. Papers are invited that consider any aspect of this fascinating conundrum, whether from the historical, methodological, contemporary or even future point of view. Detailed case studies of particular events, periods or lives are welcome, as are wider overviews.