Edward Westermarck, an anthropologist of Finnish origin, marks the transition to modern anthropology. Often forgotten, or reduced to the status of Malinowski’s master at the London School of Economics, he combines an evolutionary sensibility of Darwinian influence with bold views on a number of subjects, such as marriage, feminism and sexuality, including homosexuality. Among other major works, including several monographs on Morocco, resulting from his intensive field work, he published his magnum opus, Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas between 1906 and 1908. His legacy, particularly as an unexpected precursor to ethical relativism, has been the subject of several reappraisals.
“A Revolutionary Anthropologist Before His Time: Intellectual Biography of Edward Westermarck”
Andrew Lyons, 2018
Anthropologists write from time to time about ancestor worship among peoples they study, but they are selective with respect to their own cult. In the texts that cover the history of our discipline, certain names take pride of place (e.g. Tylor, Mauss, Boas, Evans-Pritchard, Steward, Geertz and Turner) and others are neglected. Edward Westermarck is still neglected by the authors of most student texts and readers in the history of (...)