However, in the theoretical sense, Kroeber’s biggest contribution is the re- formulation of Spencer’s concept of the superorganic which Kroeber. The idea of “The superorganic” is associated with Alfred Kroeber, an American anthropologist writing in the first half of the twentieth century. A. L. KROEBER. University of California. Search for more papers by this author. First published: April‐June

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Kroeber sees the organic and the mental as being very closely connected — indeed, he argues that intelligence may be genetically determined. Kroeber early became familiar with Greek and Latin and attributed his enduring interest in linguistics to his childhood contact with four languages. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, and Prehistory.

No longer will you be shackled to Victor Turner now that you can read Kroeber, Sapir, and Goldenweiser!

Most critics of the superorganic, said Kaplan, have in mind psychological questions, although psychological theories cannot krleber most cultural phenomena. Many of his recurring scholarly interests and viewpoints are related to his own experience and were established at an early age.

Rex, allow me to recommend one of the very first articles I read in anthropology and one to whose lessons, I now realise, I find myself returning all the time. Similarly, the dog, if seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it. He reviewed most of the important books about race appearing over a quarter of a century, missing no chance to attack racist interpretations. Each culture to some degree shares aspects of content and pattern with other cultures, and if several adjacent cultures are surveyed from a sufficient distance, regional patternings emerge.

“The Superorganic,” or Kroeber’s hidden agenda.

Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. His interpretative superorganic in archeology are primarily the extension of theoretical viewpoints he had developed in ethnology, while his analytical categories are derived from the humanities. American Anthropologist New Series If you separate the dog or tree into its separate elements, it dies.

When it comes to speaking for a contemporary audience, then, Kroeber is his own worst enemy. This elaboration links humans together into communities and societies. He returned to some groups, such as the Yurok and Mohave, time and again over almost a lifetime. If borrowing is postulated, particularly of isolated traits without continuous geographic distributions, then absences or failures to borrow must also be considered and explained.


When indigenous groups make clear efforts to avoid contact, it seems perfectly justifiable, indeed necessary, for governments and indigenous rights organizations to do all they can to respect this choice. In the s, when, for the first time, the Bureau of Indian Affairsunder John Collier superorganlco, employed anthropologists, a step widely hailed by young and unemployed anthropologists, Kroeber disapproved and even refused to recommend students to Collier.

This controversy has been reviewed recently by David Kaplanwho has argued forcefully in favor of the Superorganic by moving the discussion from the ontological to the methodological arena. And if a culture is ready for an innovation, then anyone with above average intelligence may be able to invent it.

Savage Mind’s new occasional paper series: first up, The Superorganic | Savage Minds

Porno basketryfor example, is dealt with in the context of California basketry, superirganico Porno culture; Yurok kin-term systems are described and compared with those of their neighbors b.

In a few cases I have altered verbs and nouns for agreement when deleting text caused them to disagree.

For a complete bibliography, see Stewardpp. In both anthropology and biology geographical continuity of distribution strengthens the case for diffusion, and their age—area interpretations are subject to restraints. What articles come to mind? It is also important to emphasize that in asking this question, Kroeber clearly sees the importance of biological anthropology and human evolutionary history to cultural anthropology.

The problems of independence in research and freedom of publication for government-employed anthropologists which he anticipated continue to preoccupy the professional associations.

Since language is a cultural phenomenon, similar units should be discoverable in other aspects of culture. To this development Kroeber contributed greatly.

Kroeber, Alfred L.

Most of his some seventy papers on California ethnography deal with ethnological problems, utilizing his ethnographic data. The dissection of features of a particular culture and their analysis apart from the total context, he felt, would yield limited and perhaps misleading results. In any case, the culture element distribution studies supeeorganico much less than Kroeber hoped for, and he himself made little use of them.


Gibson and John H. American Anthropological Association, Memoirs 2: The notable exception is The Nature of Culture, published in The Mashco-Piro and the dilemmas of isolation and contact Cantor and Smith: At the same time, Kroeber reacted as strongly against simplistic evolutionary explanations and the excesses of the Kulturkreise and the heliolithic schools as did the British social anthropologists. His life span almost coincides with the rise of supeforganico anthropology in the United States and with its emergence as a professionalized field of scholarly investigation.

Many of his earlier theoretical interests concerned kinds of problems that are no longer central. Much of his work stemmed from his research in California, but he also wrote on the relationships among Australian languagesand he suggested several Middle American language groupings.

He simply expected his students to become knowledgeable through the literature and the diverse problems they encountered, always recognizing that each situation requires special adaptations. Finally, Kroeber argues that the legitimacy of anthropology or history, these terms are used interchangeably in a way that modern superorgankco may find strange is tied to the existence of culture.

Throughout his life Kroeber maintained liberal political and social viewpoints, but these were expressed mainly in an enormous interest in and sympathy with people. His statistical approach set in motion a still expanding use of statistics in archeology. This is of course a highly ambiguous situation, in essence forcing people to live in imposed isolation. A botanist will not infer the relative age of pines and grasses from their distribution; the anthropologist must not compare textile arts with a religious cult.

Koreber arrangement makes them alive. The regard in which Kroeber was held and the kroebr for his eminence rest on several characteristics. Superorgxnico any given case a selection between alternative explanations can be made only after weighing probabilities in the light of certain principles.

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