Morgan, Lewis Henry (18181881)
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American lawyer and evolutionist anthropologist, whose studies of Native North Americans (Iroquois) were exceptional at the time, both in their methodological depth, their ethical commitment and their analytical sophistication. Morgan's field studies and his defense of Native American rights led to his adoption into one of the Iroquois clans, in 1846. Morgan is often considered the originator of anthropological kinship studies. His monumental Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871) is a comparative study of kinship terminology among Native North Americans and worldwide. Here he established a typology of kinship systems that has served as the basis for later elaboration for more than a century. More importantly still, he established the distinction between classificatory and descriptive kinship terminologies, which has been foundational for all later work on kinship. In his magnum opus, Ancient Society (1877), Morgan attempts a grand synthesis of the results of his work on kinship and a global, typically 19th century evolutionary scheme. Though still considered a classic of anthropology, the influence of this book has later most of all been felt because it was read by Marx toward the end of his life, and poshumously incorparated into Marxian theory by Marx's collaborator, Friedrich Engels.


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