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However, in the theoretical sense, Kroeber’s biggest contribution is the re- formulation of Spencer’s concept of the superorganic which Kroeber. The idea of “The superorganic” is associated with Alfred Kroeber, an American anthropologist writing in the first half of the twentieth century. A. L. KROEBER. University of California. Search for more papers by this author. First published: April‐June

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Over time I would like to work on the British side of the tradition, since that was actually how I was trained as well at least in undergrad. Difficulty of access supports them. Iroeber any case, the culture element distribution studies produced much less than Kroeber hoped for, and he himself made little use of them.

Such measures of relationship could also be used, sueprorganico his view, to establish historical depth, both for relationships ssuperorganico for traits or trait complexes. Later, inhe wrote that culture areas are really not areas but kinds of cultures which are geographically limited.

But much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Kroeber himself. They have been taken to task recently by John H.

American Anthropologist New Series His statistical approach set in motion a still expanding use of statistics in archeology. He explained the appearance and recognition of genius and the flourishing of civilizations in cultural terms. Humans have thoughts and behaviour. The essay is clearly written and structured, but there is little explicit signposting. This preoccupation was reinforced by, but antedated, the development of such basic units as phonemes and morphemes in linguistics.


At the same time he pioneered studies of dialect surveys among aboriginal American Indians, publishing significant material as early as and I want to give my students early 20th Century essays by Anthros, on the value of oral history as indigenous interpretation of their past. To superorvanico development Kroeber contributed greatly.

Savage Mind’s new occasional paper series: first up, The Superorganic | Savage Minds

They have developed communications between themselves to an elaborate degree, much more sophisticated than other animals. He did not, however, teach ethnographic methodology to his students as, indeed, he had never taught archeological methodology.

Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. If we start with the superogganico, it is the physical universe, all the atoms of elements without life. If borrowing is postulated, particularly of isolated traits without continuous geographic distributions, then absences or failures to borrow must also be considered and explained.

Detailed structural similarities do strengthen the case for borrowing, but the principle of limited possibilities must be borne in mind.

The regard in which Kroeber was held and the reasons for his eminence rest on several characteristics.

The second level of complexity is composed of living things. These, in conjunction with the trait lists, provide a rich body of material.

Kroeber, Alfred L.

In any given case a selection between alternative explanations can be made only after weighing kroebsr in the light of certain principles. To this task Kroeber devoted part of his energies, particularly in his earlier years.


Kroeber explained cultural processes diachronically: He believed that political and activist commitments prevent objectivity and he espoused no causes until the s, when he became involved with the California Indians in the land claims cases.

This position anticipates current krosber on culture as an emergent phenomena. There is today a tremendous amount of material which is open access. But in doing so, he argues, we miss the cultural dimension of conduct that makes human lives so unique.

The original essay is around 19, words. But if the organic causes the mental, the mental does superoragnico, then, cause the cultural. Do not anthropomorphise culture.

American Anthropological Association, Memoirs 2: Kroeber was concerned primarily with historical relationships within and between languages, but he also published some essentially analytical papers concerned with such problems as incorporation or noun composition.

They are rarely presented as theory in the grand style, but rather as interesting hypotheses. He developed one of the major university-affiliated anthropological museums, in San Francisco now in Berkeleyone of the early departments of anthropology—at the University of California —and a major monographic publication series.