2nd Edition

A Social History of Anthropology in the United States

By Thomas C. Patterson Copyright 2021
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book offers a comprehensive introduction to the social history of anthropology in the United States, examining the circumstances that gave rise to the discipline and illuminating the role of anthropology in the modern world.

    Thomas C. Patterson considers the shifting social and political-economic conditions in which anthropological knowledge has been produced and deployed, the appearance of practices focused on particular regions or groups, the place of anthropology in structures of power, and the role of the educator in forging, perpetuating, and changing representations of past and contemporary peoples. The book addresses the negative reputation that anthropology took on as an offspring of imperialism, and provides fascinating insight into the social history of America.

    In this second edition, the material has been revised and updated, including a new chapter that covers anthropological theory and practice during the turmoil created by multiple ongoing crises at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This is valuable reading for students and scholars interested in the origins, development, and theory of anthropology.


    1. Nation-Building on the Edge of Empires, 1600-1877

    2. Anthropology in the Age of the Robber Barons, 1860-1929

    3. Anthropology and the Search for Social Order, 1929-1945

    4. Decolonization, The Cold War, and McCarthyism, 1945-1973

    5. Crises, Neoliberalism, and Globalization, 1973-2000

    6. Anthropology in the New Gilded Age, 1990-2018


    Thomas C. Patterson is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at the University of California, Riverside.

    It is critically important to understand how anthropology was shaped by American nation building, and the role of anthropological efforts in that project. This is why Tom Patterson’s concise and accessible book is essential reading for graduates and advanced undergraduates in anthropology.

    Juris M. Milestone, Department of Anthropology, Temple University, United States

    Tom Patterson has done it again! Far, far more than a narrow intellectual history of anthropology, A Social History of Anthropology in the United States is a clear and penetrating analysis of the changing social and political contexts — and conflicts — that shaped anthropology’s history and intellectual development. The depth and breadth of scholarship in this book will surely make it an authoritative text for a new generation of scholars who are invested in moving past anthropology’s liberal suppositions and in aligning the discipline more closely with anti-imperial, -capitalist, and -colonial social movements. 

    Jeff Maskovsky, The CUNY Graduate Center, United States