Anthropology and Politics in Studies of National Character

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

The object of this article is to analyze certain dimensions of this chapter in the history of anthropology, which unfolded in the United States in the frame of the school of culture and personality in the period approximately between the beginning of the Second World War and the start of the Cold War. Contrary to current representations of studies of national character, which for the most part are limited to accusations of theoretical "poverty"or "ideological" flaws, we think that the examination of the conditions under which these studies were formulated, and of the content of their theoretical and methodological proposals, can serve as a contribution to some important debates in contemporary anthropology: the analysis of the rise of nations and international relations as objects of anthropological study; the discussion of the possibilities of and limitations on anthropological knowledge of our own societies; and the debate about the place of the history of anthropological thought within the present-day framework of the discipline. (Neiburg, Goldman, Gow, 56)

About the Author

Federico Neiburg is professor of Social Anthropology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (National Museum), and principal investigator at the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq).

In recent years his investigations have been concerned with the relationships between the economic sciences and the economic cultures, and the social and cultural history of inflation in Brazil and Argentina. He has published articles on that subject in journals as Comparative Studies in Society and History, Anthropological Theory, Actes de la Recherche en sciences sociales, Genèse, sciences sociales et histoire, and Mana. Estudos de Antropologia Social. He is Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.  Since 2007  he is leading a collective ethnographical research project, based in the Republic of Haiti, on the popular economy, the anthropology of money and markets. In 2010 he has delivered the Sidney Mintz Lecture at Johns Hopkins University. He is also head of the research group on economy and culture (NuCEC,

Marcio Goldman is a Professor at the Museu Nacional de Mexico.

Peter Gow is a Professor at the University of St. Andrews. His research interests are: myth, history, kinship, aesthetics and the anthropology of art in Amazonia. 


Posted By Marcio Goldman

Marcio Goldman is Professor of Social Anthropology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (National Museum), Brazil, and researcher at the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq). His present research deals with the connection between religion, politics and culture in an African-Brazilian context in the town of Ilheus, State of Bahia, Northeastern Brazil.

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