A Laboratory for Anthropology: Science and Romanticism in the American Southwest, 1846-1930

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University of Utah Press, 2010 - Social Science - 497 pages
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Don D. Fowler
Foreword by Brian Fagan

Anthropology and Archaeology

Initially published in 2000, this beautiful paperback reprint of respected archaeologist Don Fowler’s A Laboratory for Anthropology tells the sweeping history tells of an idea, “The Southwest,” through the development of American anthropology and archaeology.

For eighty years following the end of the Mexican-American War, anthropologists described the people, culture, and land of the American Southwest to cultural tastemakers and consumers on the East Coast. Digging deeply into public and private historical records, the author uses biographical vignettes to recreate the men and women who pioneered American anthropology and archaeology in the Southwest. He explores institutions such as the Smithsonian, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the School of American Research, and the American Museum of Natural History, which influenced the southwestern research agenda, published results, and exhibited artifacts. Equally influential in this popular movement were the “Yearners”—novelists, poets, painters, photographers, and others—such as Alice Corbin, Oliver La Farge, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Laura Adams Armer, whose literature and art incorporated southwestern ethnography, sought the essence of the Indian and Hispano world, and substantially shaped the cultural impression of the Southwest for the American public. Fowler brings this history to a close on the eve of the New Deal, which dramatically restructured the practice of anthropology and archaeology in the United States.

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About the author (2010)


Don Fowler is Mamie Kleberg Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Historic Preservation Emeritus, University of Nevada, Reno. He is the author of more than 120 scholarly publications in archaeology, historic preservation, Western exploration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the history of American anthropology.

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