Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diffusionism in Anthropology

Diffusion is the transmission of things from one culture,people or place to another.The essence of diffusion is contact and interaction.The biblical framework of explanation,developed vigorously in the 16th and 17th centuries is diffusionist.The dispersion of mankind with the fall of the tower of Babel provides a genealogical that is biological and social diffusionary connection between all people.Diffusion also underpins the development of language studies especially in the work of Orientalist Sir William Jones on the Indo-European language group and of the German Max Muller who worked on comparative philology but was a proponent of the idea that all humanity shares the same mentality.


Diffusionism is also major theme in the work of Fredrich Ratzel who was the first to divide the world into culture areas.His work influenced Tylor.The work of Leo Frobenius (1873-1938) and Fritz Graebner (1877-1934) on the concept of Kulturkreise or culture circles was an important influence on Boas.

In Britain high diffusionism was promoted by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith ( 1871-1937) and William Perry (1887-1949) in their book Children of the Sun.They put forward  the theory that the sun-worshiped Ancient Egyptians were the origin of all civilization.Smith and Perry substituted Egypt for the biblical and Hebrew patriarchs as the cradle of originality.They advanced diffusion as a rearguard action against evolutionism.

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