While the nineteenth-century consolidation of the anthropological culture concept shifted ethnological interests away from the figure of the solitary “savage” to wider structures of communal governance, it nonetheless accommodated the eighteenth-century caricatures of instinctive and passionate “savages” by redeploying the terrain of the instinctive onto collective forms of social organization. At the same time, European instincts were believed to exist independent of either social or material influence. This distinction appears in Freud’s analogy of “savage” sociality and the European psyche in Totem and Taboo as a hesitation about whether law and custom are external to the “savage” psyche or constituent parts of it. Freud’s chief ethnological sources for Totem and Taboo—Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt’s Kamilaroi and Kûrnai (1880) and Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen’s Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899)—do not mention instinct, but their analyses of savage sociality nonetheless become the basis for Freud’s early instinct theory.
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