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  1. Deward E. Walker

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0065

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Walker, D. E. 2010. Anthropology. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Colorado at Boulder

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Anthropology is an outgrowth of the sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century European discoveries of the remains of ancient civilizations and fossil ancestors, as well as European encounters with contemporary cultures that differed greatly from those of Europe. The need to explain, understand, and deal with these discoveries as a means of better understanding their own cultures gave rise to anthropology as an academic and museum discipline. It was not until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, that a coherent intellectual structure emerged for the discipline. In the United States Franz Boas, of Columbia University, helped combine four subfields into what we now see in most major United States university departments of anthropology: cultural anthropology, archaeology, anthropological linguistics, and physical (biological) anthropology. Together, research in these four subfields has achieved a broad coverage of human biological and cultural evolution in its study of the world's cultures, past and present, which is the most distinguishing feature of anthropology. The concept of culture has become the unifying theoretical framework that allows the subdisciplines of the field to interact in research and teaching.