Anthropologists and the ‘Depopulation’ Problem September 6, 2016Posted by Christopher Donohue in Uncategorized.
A familiar trope in both American and European anthropology was the discussion of the ‘extinction’ of the savage tribes. It was taken as a kind of gospel that while civilized races in the modern world would increase, “savage” and “primitive” races would diminish and decline over time. Of course, there were those who believed that modernity was not beneficial to modern man, but even though who considered modern conditions to be degenerate, also underscored that “savage” tribes were quickly declining. For the emerging social sciences, the true problem in the early years of the 20th century was not the existence of the decline, but its causes.
In the early 20th century, the decline of savage peoples was bound in theories of population generally, which, as with most turn of the century anthropology, has not invited critical commentary. Everyone had a theory concerning the decline of “savages” “primitives” or “natives.” Friedrich…
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