A History of Research on Warfare in Anthropology

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Keith F. Otterbein, 1999 (Dec), " A History of Research on Warfare in Anthropology, " American Anthropologist 101(4):794-805. Otterbein is a long-time and major student of the anthropology of war, especially cross-cultural studies, but also a monograph on Montenegro based on fieldwork. Since 1973 he has published several reviews of the history of the anthropology of war which are still very useful. [Also see books by Bonta, Ferguson, and Otterbein]. WWII and the Vietnam War each stimulated increased interest in the study of warfare by anthropologists. Otterbein identifies four major periods in the history of the anthropological study of war and the most salient characteristics of each. Foundation (1850-1920) 1. Ethnographic data develop 2. Cultural evolutionism Several early anthropologists were morally opposed to war or pacifists (Tylor, Boas, etc.) Classical (1920-1960) 1. Myth of the peaceful "savage" (Otterbein derives from cultural evolutionism and relativism, but Keeley
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Unformatted text preview: from Rousseau) Golden Age (1960-1980) 1. Sharp increase in publications, theoretical and ethnographic classics (Dani, Maring, Yanomami) 2. Two sides develop around whether bands and tribes are warlike or peaceful Recent (1980- ) 1. Trend toward a single theoretical model of causes and consequences of war [?] 2. Two sides develop around whether human nature is warlike or peaceful (hawks vs. doves) - myth of the peaceful "savage" and the myth of the Hobbesian "savage" (neither ideal type supported by evidence of cultural diversity, critical of Keeley) Recent trends include books on origin of war by primatologists and archaeologists, research on ethnic war and genocide, and world systems theory (tribal zone). Otterbein stresses need to examine tremendous cross-cultural variation in warfare. Different typologies of warfare are mentioned (pp. 796,797, 799). Tables are very useful (pp. 798, 800)....
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