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Michael J. Francisconi & Michael J. Francisconi

In: 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 45: Theoretical Anthropology

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Theoretical Anthropology
Theoretical anthropology
Michael J.FrancisconiUniversity of Montana Western

To understand the history of anthropology, it must be remembered that anthropology occurred as a response to twin events. First, it became apparent that Europeans were not alone on earth; and second, their initial theological view of humanity could not answer all questions about the “other.” This questioning accelerated during a period of time we call the Enlightenment, from around 1689 to 1789.

In the 1500s, the European awareness of the “other” greatly expanded. Travelers told of distant, radically different and exotic peoples. The first question was whether these surprising, remote, and alien peoples were, in fact, people. People had souls and could become Christian, from the European viewpoint. Europeans wondered if they were indeed people, then how could ...

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