Short Portrait: Lawrence Krader

Lawrence Krader
Lawrence Krader

Lawrence Krader (December 9, 1919 in Jamaica, New York - November 15, 1998) was an American socialist anthropologist and ethnologist and an important scholar for german anthropology, because he taught and chaired the Department of Ethnologie in Westberlin from 1972 to 1982.

At the Philosophy Department of the City College of New York (CCNY) from 1936 onwards he studied Aristotle with Abraham Edel, Leibniz with Philipp P. Wiener and mathematical logic and linguistics with Alfred Tarski. In 1937-38, he also studied logic with Rudolf Carnap and ethnology with Franz Boas. In 1941 Krader graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at CCNY and was granted the Ketcham Award for philosophy.

As the USA entered World War II, Krader joined the merchant navy within the framework of the Lend-Lease Act, and via Archangelsk ended up in Leningrad, where he learnt Russian language. After the war, Krader returned to the USA and studied linguistics (1945–47) at Columbia University with Roman Ossipovič Jakobson and André Martinet. During this time, he developed an interpretation of human evolution which stimulated him to leave philosophy, and commence an intensive study of the nomadic peoples of Central Asia, becoming a fellow of the Far Eastern Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle. His new research interests probably also owed something to meeting Karl Wittfogel in 1947 whom he helped with research and Russian translations, and his contact with Karl Korsch. Krader was Wittfogel's assistant from 1948 to 1951. In 1952 Krader taught linguistics as Fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard, and married his wife Dr Barbara Lattimer in 1953. In 1954 he graduated at Harvard with a Phd on “Kinship systems of the Altaic-speaking peoples of the Asian Steppes” (supervised by Clyde Kluckhohn).

From 1953 to 1956 he was appointed Research Associate at the Bureau of Social Science Research at the American University of Washington DC in the area of Central Asian Studies. In 1956-58 he became Professor in anthropology and director of the Nomads Program at the University of Syracuse and leader of the China Population Program at the United States Census Bureau. From 1957-1959 Krader became President of the Anthropological Society of Washington. From 1958 to 1963 he taught as ordinary Professor at the American University in Washington DC, as well as being representative for ethnology and anthropology at the Social Science Council and Human Science Council of UNESCO, leader of the anthropological section of the sociology and anthropology department at CCNY, and chairman of the sociology and anthropology department at the University of Waterloo in Canada. In 1962 Krader traveled for the first time to outer Mongolia. From 1963 to 1968 Krader received finance for his research project on the evolution of the state and nomadism from the National Science Foundation.

From 1964 to 1978 Krader became Secretary-General of the IUAES. For his study of the roots of the theory of evolution in the 19th century he received support from the International Institute of Social History (Amsterdam) during 1963-1975. During 1970-1972 Krader was Professor at the University of Waterloo, but in 1972 joined the Institute for Ethnology at the Free University of Berlin, where he became director until 1982. From 1989 until his death, Krader produced 156 manuscripts including works on labour and value, noetics, a theory of the Russian revolution, mathematical logic, a critique of evolutionism, linguistics and other topics. It is intended that some of this material will be published via a research project at McMaster University with the aid of an endowment.

Important publications:

  • Peoples of Central Asia. Bloomington: Univ. u.a., 1963 (Uralic and Altaic Series, vol. 20)
  • Social organization of the Mongol-Turkic pastoral nomads. The Hague : Mouton, 1963
  • (ed.) Anthropology and Early Law. Selected from the writings of Paul Vinogradoff, Frederic William Maitland, Frederick Pollock, Maxime Kovalevsky, Rudolf Huebner, Frederic Seebohm. Basic Books 1966
  • Formation of the state (Foundations of modern anthropology series) Prentice-Hall 1968
  • The ethnological notebooks of Karl Marx. (studies of Morgan, Phear, Maine, Lubbock). Assen : Van Gorcum [u.a.], 1972 Karl Marx, die ethnologischen Exzerpthefte. hrsg. von . [Übers. von Angelika Schweikhart], Edition Suhrkamp, 800, 1. Aufl. Frankfurt am Main : Suhrkamp 1976
  • Ethnologie und Anthropologie bei Marx. - München : Hanser, 1973
  • The Asiatic mode of production: sources, development and critique in the writings of Karl Marx. Assen : van Gorcum, 1975
  • Dialectic of civil society. Assen: van Gorcum, 1976.
  • A Treatise of Social Labour. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1979 (Dialectic and Society, 5)
  • (Vorwort) Karl Marx: Die technologisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Exzerpte. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe. Transkribiert u. hg. v. Hans-Peter Müller. Mit e. Vorwort v. Lawrence Krader. 1. Aufl. Frankfurt/M. etc., Ullstein, 1982
  • Die Anfänge des Kapitalismus in Mitteleuropa'. Frankfurt am Main [u.a.] : Lang, 1993
  • Labor and value, ed. by Cyril Levitt and Rod Hay. New York, N.Y. [etc.] : Lang, 2003.
  • Noetics: The Science of Thinking and Knowing, ed. by Cyril Levitt. New York: Peter Lang, 2010



(text taken over from Wikipedia on Dec 23rd, 2011:; photo source:,r:0,s:0,i:71)

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