Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a slave (New York: Penguin Books, 2012). (461)

Wallerstein, Immanuel. “Anthropology, Sociology, and Other Dubious Disciplines.”

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Wallerstein, Immanuel. “Anthropology, Sociology, and Other Dubious Disciplines.” Current Anthropology 44 (2003): 453-465. (13)

Immanuel Wallerstein exercises his advances in the detailing of the Social Sciences in his piece “Anthropology, Sociology, and Other Dubious Disciplines”. The piece, originally written as a speech for a 2002 Sydney Mintz Lecture, works to explain aspects of the umbrella topic “Social Sciences” and the elaboration of the similarities, differences and lacking attributes in the smaller fields within the study – examples lying blatantly in his title. As Wallerstein states early on the dynamics facing each of the disciplines is old and “is hinged around three axes: the past…versus the present…,the West…and the rest…, and the structuring of the nomothetic Western present around the liberal distinction of the market…, the state…, and civil society”.103 These aspects best categorize the fields of history, economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, and Eastern studies – fields which, as Wallerstein continues to elaborate on, should be combined to another umbrella subject.

In Wallerstein’s attempts to argue for the combination of separate fields into one subject, he makes distinctions regarding each field individually. Most interesting in his dissection is the similarities that actually lie within the fields, especially in the course of methodology, techniques, etc. It seems that, though the historical basis of the fields are different, the various approaches of application are the lifeline between all of these fields. But despite these similarities, Wallerstein states that these disciplines are also “organization [and] have their turfs, and they have no small number of members who will fight to the death to defend those turfs against quixotic ideas” such as those presented in the piece”.104
One detail he maintains through the end of his piece is the work of Paul Lazarsfeld who “demonstrated that obvious facts are not so obvious once one actually tries to provide evidence for them”, an example of such in the field of Anthropology, where often the practice itself becomes corrupt.105 This is the case where individual social scientists interpret behaviors of other cultures as something other that what they are based on the bias of the researcher. Wallerstein makes sure to show his disdain for this effect in Anthropology, but also in other fields. Overall, though Wallerstein is repetitive and intricate, using to individual of details to prove his points in joining various similar, but also vastly different fields.

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