Die Lage der marxistischen Ethnologie im Jahr 2020

Authors: Neveling, P.

Journal: Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie

Volume: 144

Pages: 93-132

ISSN: 0044-2666


The upheaval of the 2007/8 financial crisis and its aftermath have had significant impact on the social sciences and humanities. In social anthropology this amplified empirical attention for escalating global inequalities. Critical political economy paradigms and historical materialist theories are now prominent in the discipline. These developments inform this article’s review of the historical and present-day relationship between mainstream anthropology and Marxian anthropology. The first section establishes some paradigms of Marxian anthropology with reference to Marx and Engels’ analysis of the so-called original accumulation of capital. Their critique of mainstream political economy’s essentialist conceptions of human nature is applied to Max Weber’s understanding of capitalism’s historical emergence. Based on these findings, two sections juxtapose the development of Marxian anthropology and mainstream anthropology before and after the Second World War. Whereas Marxian anthropologists were excluded from university employment prior to 1945, their entry into US, British, French and other university settings in capitalist nations was shaped by anti-communist prosecutions during the Cold War. Despite those pressures, Marxian anthropologists pioneered an internationalist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist and decolonial anthropology. Not in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), however, which was shaped by unfinished denazification until the 1970s, only to undergo a belated modernisation that imported exoticist mainstream anthropology from Britain and the US. The articulation approach developed at Bielefeld University is a notable exception in an FRG-setting that otherwise opened up to historical materialist approaches in the 2000s only. The concluding section highlights the recent importance of Marxian anthropology for an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist and decolonial turn of the discipline.

Source: Scopus