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Culture in the Melting-Pot by Edward Sapir, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub

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Title: Culture in the Melting-Pot by Edward Sapir, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
Authors: Sapir, Edward
Golub, Alex
Keywords: culture
United States
John Dewey
LC Subject Headings: Ethnology
Sapir, Edward, 1884-1939
Issue Date: 09 Dec 2013
Series/Report no.: Savage Minds Occasional Papers No. 6
Abstract: What would it mean to have a uniquely, authentically American culture? One free from its roots in Europe and anchored in the lived reality of Americans? This is just as pressing a question when Edward Sapir addressed it in 1916 as it is in today’s era of reactionary conservatism. But in truth, the points raised in Sapir’s brief comment are relevant to any settler colony, and hence is of interest far beyond the United States. “Culture in the Melting-Pot” is hardly Sapir’s definitive answer to this question. Rather, his full treatment of this topic is his paper “Culture, Genuine and Spurious” (SMOPS #5). Instead, “Culture in the Melting-Pot” is one Sapir’s earliest attempts to combine anthropology with cultural criticism. In it, he responds to a piece by John Dewey (a leading thinker and philosopher of education) which itself deals with these topics. I’ve chosen to republish this short piece because it is difficult to find (it has been reprinted only once since 1916, in the very important but prohibitively expensive Collected Works of Edward Sapir); it is a lovely little piece that deserves a wider readership; and finally, because Sapir demonstrates the relevance of Boasian anthropology to contemporary political debates, he provides a nice illustration of the main ‘theoretical moves’ that Boasians make.
Pages/Duration: 8
Rights: This original work is copyright by Alex Golub, 2013. The author has issued the work under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. You are free to share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work; to remix - to adapt the work Under the following conditions: • attribution - you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author • noncommercial - you may not use this work for commercial purposes • share alike - if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. This work includes excerpts from Sapir, Edward. 1916. Culture in the melting-pot. The Nation Supplement. December 21:1-2. This work is in the public domain. The author has taken care to respect the rights of all copyright holders and welcomes communications regarding the copyright status of this work. Please contact him at
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
Appears in Collections:Mana'o - Papers on Anthropology

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