Anthropology in 1973

Jennifer Cash


  1. University of California, Berkeley (4)
  2. SUNY, Buffalo (4)
  3. Sarah Lawrence College (3)
  4. University of Connecticut (3)
  5. University of Virginia (3)


  1. University of Stockholm (3)
  2. University of Pittsburgh (3)



Social Organization/Kinship (22) Social Organization/Kinship (9)
Conflict (11) Economic aspects/pressures/change (9)
Economic aspects/pressures/change (11) Psychological aspects /acculturation/identity/socialization (5)
Critiques (11) Political actions and reactions (5)
Psychological aspects
acculturation/identity/socialization (10)
Religion (5)
Political actions and reactions (9) Conflict (4)
Symbols (8) Symbols (3)
Cognition /belief systems/taxonomies (8) Social/cultural Evolution (3)
Ecological pressures (7) Ecological pressures (3)
Narrative analysis myth/ritual speech (6) Culture change (2)

by affiliation of Authors in 3 major Journals

1 Psychological and psycho-analytic anthropology (10)

2 Political anthropology (8)

3 Economic anthropology (7)

4 Cultural ecology (5)

5 Urban anthropology (5)
6 Linguistics and linguistic anthropology (5)

7 Anthropology of religion (5)
8 Symbolic anthropology (4)
9 Applied anthropology (4)
10 Math anthropology (4)


Notes to the above lists:

Each of the above lists contains several ties, and the next places in each category were also tied. I think this represents the diversity of interests, approaches, and scholars in anthropology in the early 1970s. It is worth noting, however that several universities tied for sixth place (i.e. third place) representation in mainstream publications with two articles: Northwestern; SUNY, New Paltz; California State University, Hayward; University of California, Santa Cruz; UCLA; Columbia; University of Missouri, Columbia; San Francisco State College; Michigan State University; University of Pennsylvania; Washington University, St. Louis; Oxford; and University of Utrecht.

Overview of themes in 1973:

Articles surveyed were published in three journals at the center of American socio-cultural anthropology, American Anthropologist, Current Anthropology, and Man, and in three on the margins, Anthropologica, Ethnology, and Ethnos. These works represent the issues and approaches in use by many anthropologists in a variety of institutions in the early 1970s. Only two individuals – Sherry Ortner and Richard Sipes – published twice in 1973. Otherwise, authors of socio-cultural and linguistic anthropology articles represented 84 institutions (59 in the United States and 25 abroad). Only ten institutions were represented in both the mainstream and the margins: University of California, Berkeley; Northwestern; Harvard; SUNY, Stony Brook; Arizona State University; Carleton University; University of Illinois, Urbana; University of London; Cornell; and University of Kansas.


Based on the dates articles were accepted by Current Anthropology and American Anthropologist, it appears that most articles published in 1973 actually represent anthropological thought and writing as of 1970-71. Most articles were published within two years of acceptance, but only a few were published within a year. Articles in the American Anthropologist were generally published within one and a half years, probably because they were not peer reviewed like the articles published in Current Anthropology. Judging from the citation dates in all six journals, it is fair to assume that the lag between acceptance and publication for Man, Anthropologica, Ethnology, and Ethnos was also generally less than two years, and never greater than three years.

As the list of ten major themes indicates, anthropologists publishing in the mainstream and at the margins were interested in similar issues. It is clear that anthropologists in the early 1970s were interested in social organization and kinship. Half as frequently, they were trying to understand conflict within and between individuals, sub-divisions of cultures/societies, and whole cultures/societies. In these articles, conflict is associated with ideas of change (cultural, political, economic, ecological, and demographic), and is manifested in aggression, war, alcoholism, political assassination, political factions, and the atomization of individuals. Some aspects of conflict have psychological origins or consequences, and there is some interest in socialization and education. Where conflict is conceived of in more political terms, there is an interest in power, resistance, and colonialism, but these topics are secondary. Articles in both the mainstream and the margins investigate ways that conflict is resolved – in several instances religion or the supernatural has a role – but there is a difference between the mainstream and the margins. Articles in the margin are a little more concerned with demonstrating that change in some arenas of life have not changed the culture, and that conflict is the exception rather than the rule. This difference may be related to the ethnographic and research-in-progress character of articles published in the margins, which tend to have fewer citations and shorter reference lists than those published in the mainstream.


Despite the many similar topics in both sets of journals, “critiques” are conspicuously absent at the margins. These critiques actually attack several things: western prejudices in anthropological theories and methods; claims that anthropology is unique to a western intellectual tradition; anthropology’s purposes; definitions of “culture”; empiricism and structuralism; and biases in data selection and analysis. Even among the critiques only one article refers to a “crisis,” and it is my impression that anthropology in 1973 was not yet in a state of crisis. Narrative analysis (especially of myth, but also of ritual rhetoric and gossip) is the eleventh most frequent theme in the mainstream journals, but this interest does not translate into an interest in the production (or deconstruction) of anthropological texts. Nor does the interest in economic and ecological change and pressure translate into a concern for the systematic exploitation of others. The success or failure of development projects is occasionally addressed, but again, there are no implications that either the projects cause harm even when they fail. The four sub-field approach, however, is seriously lacking. Archaeology, linguistic and biological anthropology are under-represented in five of the six journals, and only Current Anthropology consistently includes articles that address multiple sub-fields.

From this quick survey of six journals, it is difficult to tell whether under-represented themes were beginning or ending trends in 1973. It is interesting to note, however, that twelve authors of articles in the mainstream journals moved to different institutions within ten years, suggesting that they were part of a young and untenured group of anthropologists when they published in 1973. The main subdisciplines represented by these anthropologists – perhaps marking rising trends – include cultural ecology, urban, applied, psychological and educational anthropology, and to a lesser extent, political anthropology, cultural evolution, history of anthropology, and the anthropology of religion and gender.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *