Latest Issue

Culture comes home

Anthropology began life in the colonial era as the "science of difference." Does it still have a place now that difference is celebrated and everything has a "culture"? Its new role may be to act as a a counterweight to evolutionary psychology's stress on the fixity of human nature.

By Nancy Hynes   March 1999

In 1898, seven men left the British Isles with a ship full of the latest scientific equipment. They set out to record a changing culture, and to determine whether Torres Strait Islanders experienced the world in the same way as someone in the shires of England. They tested colour perception, recorded genealogies and took photographs. Several of them returned home to become founding figures in the social sciences: Alfred Haddon in anthropology at Cambridge, and WHR Rivers in experimental psychology. Through their work, British social anthropology was born.

Today, a century later, the voyage which seemed so long and risky…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect