Interdisciplinary Studies and Conceptual Eclecticism.


Interest in using anthropological concepts and points of view in historical studies, or in practicing a genuine historical anthropology, has been manifested in recent years in numerous publications. Interdisciplinary experiments like these have long been necessary in social studies and the humanities and have proved fruitful in several areas. Many central, but often hidden, cultural and social aspects of the structures of daily life have in this way been brought to light and analysed historically. However, it is pointed out in the article that the uncritical borrowing of concepts based on different theoretical foundations, which so often seems to prevail in much historico-anthropological work, will very soon become a stumbling- block to any further development of this 'new' history. If the new studies of people's many-faceted everyday lives are to have any future as an academic field of research, we must first clarify the social conditions of existence which are fundamental to one way of life or another before we can hope to interpret the content of the symbols, attitudes and consciousness of the various categories. This will create an initial shift of interest away from comparative and cognitive studies of the empirical subcultural phenomena themselves and towards the study of structure in the various daily lives and their social and cultural expression.

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Christiansen, P. O., (1983) “Interdisciplinary Studies and Conceptual Eclecticism.”, Ethnologia Europaea 14(1), 32-43. doi:


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Palle O. Christiansen (University of Copenhagen)



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