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Anthropology after GluckmanThe Manchester School, colonial and postcolonial transformations$
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Richard Werbner

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526138002

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526138019

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 31 July 2021



(p.302) Conclusion
Anthropology after Gluckman

Richard Werbner

Manchester University Press

In the conclusion the point is made that taking others’ origin myths with a pinch of salt is customary among anthropologists. Yet a myth of our own still gets naive rehearsal, that is, that apparently in the 1920s and 1930s, an original generation of ancestors, primarily Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski, made headway by studying ‘the underside of modernity’ found in timeless, isolated, small-scale, homogeneous, self-reproducing societies. This rehearsal can appear authoritative, despite the facts to the contrary found in highly influential contributions by the ‘founding fathers’. This conclusion shows that whereas this origin myth evokes nostalgia for a Golden Age, it is the shock of recognition that anthropologists have to experience, looking back at social anthropology’s survival through times, such as the present, of turmoil. Encountering fascism, the Second World War, the End of Empire, challenges to racial domination, the last gasps of settler societies, and much instability in scientific thought – all this demanded the Manchester School’s turn to experiment and transformative projects. The School’s distinctiveness and distinction speak to our times in the active force of creative difference in cutting-edge ideas, interdisciplinary approaches, and travelling theories of the intimate circle around Max Gluckman.

Keywords:   origin myth, nostalgia, cosmopolitan project, troubled times, intellectual history, social anthropology, social biography, One Society thesis, Radcliffe-Brown, Malinowski

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