AskDefine | Define ethnologist

Dictionary Definition

ethnologist n : an anthropologist who studies ethnology

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a scientist that studies ethnology

Extensive Definition

Ethnology (from the Greek , ethnos meaning "family, lineage, people") is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.
Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct contact with the culture, ethnology takes the research that ethnographers have compiled and then compares and contrasts different cultures. The term ethnology is credited to Adam Franz Kollár who used and defined it in his Historiae ivrisqve pvblici Regni Vngariae amoenitates published in Vienna in 1783. Kollár's interest in linguistic and cultural diversity was aroused by the situation in his native multi-lingual Kingdom of Hungary and his roots among its Slovaks, and by the shifts that began to emerge after the gradual retreat of the Ottoman Empire in the more distant Balkans.
Among the goals of ethnology have been the reconstruction of human history, and the formulation of cultural invariants, such as the alleged incest taboo and culture change, and the formulation of generalizations about "human nature", a concept which has been criticized since the 19th century by various philosophers (Hegel, Marx, structuralism, etc.). In some parts of the world (including the USA and Great Britain), it is also referred to as cultural or social anthropology. The view of ethnology as a constituent part of cultural anthropology is not universal, though. Ethnology has been considered an academic field since the late 18th century especially in Europe and is sometimes conceived of as any comparative study of human groups.
The 15th century "discovery of America" had an important role in the new Occidental interest toward the Other, often qualified as "savages", which was either seen as a brutal barbarian or as a "noble savage". Thus, civilization was opposed in a dualist manner to barbary, a classic opposition constitutive of the even more commonly-shared ethnocentrism. The progress of ethnology, for example with Claude Lévi-Strauss's structural anthropology, led to the criticism of conceptions of a linear progress, or the pseudo-opposition between "societies with histories" and "societies without histories", judged too dependent on a limited view of history as constituted by accumulative growth.
Lévi-Strauss often referred to Montaigne's essay on anthropophagy as an early example of "ethnology". Lévi-Strauss aimed, through a structural method, at discovering universal invariants in human society, which he thought was the prohibition of the incest. However, the claims of such cultural universalism have been criticized by various 19th and 20th century social thinkers, among the more important include: Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault, Althusser and Deleuze.



List of scholars of ethnology

Websites relating to ethnology

ethnologist in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Этналёгія
ethnologist in Catalan: Etnologia
ethnologist in Danish: Etnologi
ethnologist in German: Ethnologie
ethnologist in Spanish: Etnología
ethnologist in Esperanto: Etnologio
ethnologist in French: Ethnologie
ethnologist in Croatian: Etnologija
ethnologist in Italian: Etnologia
ethnologist in Hebrew: אתנולוגיה
ethnologist in Luxembourgish: Ethnologie
ethnologist in Malay (macrolanguage): Etnologi
ethnologist in Japanese: 民族学
ethnologist in Norwegian: Etnologi
ethnologist in Pushto: توکمپوهنه
ethnologist in Polish: Etnologia
ethnologist in Portuguese: Etnologia
ethnologist in Russian: Этнология
ethnologist in Slovak: Etnológia
ethnologist in Slovenian: Etnologija
ethnologist in Serbian: Етнологија
ethnologist in Swedish: Etnologi
ethnologist in Tamil: இன ஒப்பாய்வியல்
ethnologist in Thai: ชาติพันธุ์วิทยา
ethnologist in Ukrainian: Етнологія
ethnologist in Chinese: 民族学
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