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A Hostile Tribe Made Him Their Chief: Edwin W. Smith (1876-1957) and Anthropology 1

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This paper offers a brief account of the rise of British anthropology followed by a survey of the writings of Edwin W. Smith (1876-1957) on the subject. Smith from a Primitive Methodist background is the only missionary of any denomination to be President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. From an Africanist perspective Smith promoted applied anthropology as a tool for mission and development and encouraged anthropological research in a changing Africa. His contribution and approach will be evaluated in the context of modern reflections on anthropology and mission in the imperial era. Résumé Cet article propose un bref aperçu de l’essor de l’anthropologie britannique, suivi d’une étude sur les écrits d’Edwin W. Smith (1876-1957). Issu du Primitive Methodism, Smith est le seul missionnaire, toutes confessions confondues, à avoir été président de l’Institut Royal d’Anthropologie. Dans une perspective africaniste, Smith promut l’anthropologie appliquée comme un outil pour la mission et le développement, et a encouragé la recherche anthropologique dans une Afrique en pleine évolution. Sa contribution et son approche seront évaluées dans le cadre des réflexions menées actuellement sur l’anthropologie et la mission à l’époque impériale.

Affiliations: 1: Independent scholar, Wellington, Somerset, UK


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