Alexander Lesser, one of Franz Boas's finest students, and probably one of the best of his time in his research on the Plains Indians, is a brilliant but neglected figure in American anthropology. This representative selection of Lesser's work is designed to make the range of his writings accessible to a broad audience. His work is of particular interest to present-day readers for its advocacy of an historical-evolutionary perspective in anthropology. Such an approach, almost unique at the time Lesser was writing, has become increasingly widely appreciated since. His work is also of interest for the light it throws on the British 'functionalist' school, and the effects of their views on American anthropology.
Preface; Introduction; Part I. Boasian Anthropology: Introduction; 1. Franz Boas and the modernisation of anthropology (1981); 2. Research procedure and the laws of culture (1939); Part II. Theory and Method: Introduction; 3. Functionalism in social anthropology (1935); 4. Problems versus subject matter as directives of research (1939); Part III. Evolution: Introduction; 5. Evolution in social anthropology (1939/1952); 6. Social fields and the evolution of society (1961); Part IV. Anthropology and Modern Life: Introduction; 7. The right not to assimilate: the case of the American Indian (1961); 8. The cultural significance of the Ghost Dance (1933); 9. Foreword to The Pawnee Ghost Dance Hand Game (1978); 10. Anthropology and the future of internationalism (1974); Notes; References; Index.