History and Ethnology


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[Formerly] the aim of the anthropologist was to work out a scheme of human progress according to which language, social organization, religion, and material arts had developed through the action of certain principles or laws. It was assumed that the manifold peoples of the earth represented stages in this process of evolution, and it was supposed that by the comparative study of the culture of these different peoples it would be possible to formulate the laws by which the process of evolution had been directed and governed. It was assumed that the time order of different elements of culture had been everywhere the same; that if matrilineal institutions preceded patrilineal in Europe and Asia, this must also have been the ease in Oceania and America; that if cremation is later than inhumation in India, it has also been later everywhere else. This assumption was fortified by attempts to show that there were reasons, usually psychological in nature, according to which there was something in the universal constitution of the human mind, or in some condition of the environment, or inherent in the constitution of human society, which made it necessary that patrilineal institutions should have grown out of matrilineal, and that inhumation should be earlier than cremation.2

2Rivers, W.H. R.n/an/an/an/a, , 3–4 (The Macmillan Company. By permission).


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Chicago: "History and Ethnology," History and Ethnology in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=A3DYWJ64WF32G2F.

MLA: . "History and Ethnology." History and Ethnology, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=A3DYWJ64WF32G2F.

Harvard: , 'History and Ethnology' in History and Ethnology. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=A3DYWJ64WF32G2F.