Presentation on theme: "HISTORY OF ANTHROPOLOGY PART 2"— Presentation transcript:
1 HISTORY OF ANTHROPOLOGY PART 2 Roy Rappaport's Pigs for the Ancestors
2 Neo-Evolutionism and Cultural Ecology A major theoretical shift occurred in American anthropology in the late 1940s and 1950santievolutionary perspective of the Boasian school competes with the new and more sophisticated evolutionary approachessimilarities between cultures could be explained by parallel adaptations to similar natural environmentsnot all societies passed through similar stages of cultural development i.e. unilineal models of evolution were too sweeping.
3 Julian Haynes Steward 1902 - 1972 central figure in the introduction of ecological concepts into social and cultural anthropology“cultural ecology”Multilinear Evolution
4 Cultural Ecology“Cultural Ecology is the study of the processes by which a society adapts to its environment. Its principle problem is to determine whether these adaptations initiate internal social transformations of evolutionary change” 1968Cross-cultural parallels in social patterns could be explained as adaptations to similar environments
5 3 basic steps for a cultural ecological investigation Analysis of the relationship between the material culture and the natural resourcesthe behaviour patterns involved in the exploitation of a particular area by means of a particular technology must be analyzedhow behaviour patterns entailed in exploiting the environment affect other aspects of cultureThis three step approach identifies the cultural core: “the constellation of features which are most closely related to subsistence activities and economic arrangements
7 Cultures with similar core features belong to the same culture type culture types can be arranged into a hierarchy by complexitySteward’s original ranking was family, multifamily and state-level societies - later refined into band, tribe, chiefdom, and state.Shoshone Women with large baskets for carrying gear and collecting wild foods, flat baskets for preparing seeds and nuts. In the Great Basin Desert circa 1868.
8 Band Tribe Chiefdom Ag. State Industrial State Hallmarks of Difference:-Centralized-DecentralizedBand: -H/G-mobile-kinship-egalitarianTribe:-Hort./pastoralist-Complex kinship-Headman-warfareChiefdom:Intermediate b/w tribeand bureaucratic gov’ts.-1 (or >1) descent groupgains dominance-hierarchical social strata- 1,000’s 10,000’sAg. States:-bureaucratic gov’t-dense populations (urban)-food surpluses-many economic roles-writing systems-public works (labor)-10,000’s Million(s)Chief: any individual who held leadership role in a non-western, stateless society
9 Materialism versus Idealism 2 opposite philosophical approaches, underlying 2 corresponding opposed theoretical tendencies in anthropological theoryMATERIALISTS -- social and cultural phenomena analyzed broadly as natural systems and in terms of their material conditions:e.g. how particular social and cultural systems relate to their environment — i.e. how they transform it, extract energy from it, distribute the captured energy among their members,in this analysis, the members’ own mental concepts and ideas are treated as dependent variables — that is, they are passive reflections in human consciousness of material processes, and not autonomous causal forces in their own rightIDEALISTS --- human cultures are shaped primarily by processes of shared human consciousness, ideation, and imagination — processes which cannot be reduced to purely material causes
10 1979 Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture Marvin Harris1979 Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Cultureculture = a system of energy-transfer between nature and human populations (use of standard energy measures: calories, horse-power)cultures viewed as systems of energy transfer and redistributionBy focusing on observable, measurable phenomena, cultural materialism presents an etic approach
11 Basic PremiseCultural Materialism is "...based on the simple premise that human social life is a response to the practical problems of earthly existence..."that a society's mode of production (technology and work patterns, especially in regard to food) and mode of reproduction (population level and growth) in interaction with the natural environment has profound effects on sociocultural stability and change and thus on social institutions.A good deal of Harris' work, therefore, is concerned with explaining cultural systems (norms, ideologies, values, beliefs) and widespread social institutions and practices through the use of population, production, and ecological variables.
12 Example: India’s “sacred cow” a firmly-established “culture complex” of ideas and practices linked to Hinduism, based on the cultural premise of the sacred status of cattle as symbols of holinesscattle are kept and cows dominate the physical landscape, even in densely populated urban neighborhoodsDelhi's 14 million residents share the streets with an estimated 40,000 cows
13 Respect for animal life has been a central theme in Hindu life. Some trace the cow's sacred status back to Lord Krishna, one of the faith's most important figures. He is said to have appeared 5,000 years ago as a cowherd, and is often described as "the child who protects the cows”.Another of Krishna's holy names, Govinda, means "one who brings satisfaction to the cows”.Other scriptures identify the cow as the "mother" of all civilization, its milk nurturing the population.
14 Idealist interpretation A distinctive complex of ideas and practices which grew up and became institutionalized, following an inner “symbolic logic” which requires to be understood in (emic) cultural terms. The practices follow from the ideas
15 Materialist Objection cattle provide milk, butter, traction, and dung (fuel) but the meat is not consumed (“inefficient” use of resources, by Western standards)why is beef taboo for a Hindu, whereas in Canada and the U.S.A. and most of the Western world is it considered to be a very honorific and delicious foodit is inadequate to say Hindus don’t consume beef because their religion prohibits it.This is no explanation, you must also ask, why Hinduism has this kind of reverence for cattle but Islam, Judaism, and Christianity do notMaterialist Objection
16 Materialist interpretation A cultural complex adapted to a specific ecological setting characterized by plow agriculture and vast populations:require oxen (castrated male cattle) to draw plows — in chronic short supply
17 Cows also convert marginally useful resources (garbage, odd patches of grass) into useful resources (milk, butter, dung)the ideology grew up to support the practice, which was ecologically necessary to sustain the vast population
18 Materialists place the stress on the priority of the material factors (“functions”) over the ideological factors.do not deny that an ideology of the “sacred cow” emerged and flourishedbut take the position that the ideology is the dependent variable (the “effect”), while the overall ecological adaptation is the independent variable (the “cause”)“folk models” usually reverse the sequence of causation and hence folk models are rarely adequate accounts of any situation
19 Critiquecan we be so dismissive of the informant’s emic viewpoint if culture is rooted in values and meanings held by individuals?What does it say about individual free will and purposeoversimplification via reductionIs it ethnocentric?Postmodernists view: science is itself a culturally determined phenomenon that is affected by class, race and other structural variablesDo all food taboos have functional explanations; are such explanations intrinsically more satisfying than symbolic ones
20 Symbolic or Interpretive Anthropology 1960s –1970s general reevaluation of cultural anthropology as a scientific enterpriseFrom function to meaningfrom materialist theories to idealist theoriesshift toward issues of culture and interpretation and away from grand theoriesincreased emphasis on the way in which individual actions creatively shape culture
21 A common Hindu and Buddhist symbol of good luck and success the swastika has been around for thousands of years.It’s discovery at Troy and ancient Germanic sites revived an interest in N. America in the early part of the 20th centuryLike the horseshoe "lucky penny" and the heart with an arrow through it, in this 1907 postcard sold in US drugstores.Appropriated by the Nazis in 1920sCoke watch fob 1925
22 Most “symbolicists” would agree on these two points: culture is, fundamentally, a symbolic system and so analysis of cultural symbols provides the natural point of entry into a cultural universeIf culture is symbolic then it follows that it is used to create and convey meanings since that is the purpose of symbols.Red - romance, beauty, respect, courage, passionate love and unityWhite - unity, loyalty, reverence, humility,Yellow - strong feelings of pure joy, gladness, happiness and friendshipIf meanings are the end products of culture then understanding culture requires understanding the meanings of its creators and users
23 Thick Description Toward and Interpretive Theory of Culture “The concept of culture I espouse…is essentially a semiotic one. Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take cultures to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law, but an interpretive one in search of meaning”. (Geertz The Interpretation of Cultures 1973:5)Clifford Geertz 1926-
24 Geertz’ Interpretive Anthropology: PREMISE: “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun” and our name for those webs is cultureCONCLUSION: “the analysis of it therefore is not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning”
26 It is not just cocks that are fighting but men Cocks are masculine symbolsThe word cock is used metaphorically to mean bachelor, lady-killer, tough guy etc
27 The Balinese cockfight, is fundamentally a dramatization of status concerns. nothing really happens at a cockfight.
28 The conflicts, alliances, wins and losses are all symbolic of things that happen elsewhere. In the cockfight all action is symbolic.The real causes lie elsewhere, presumably in material circumstances.
29 QuestionsIf cultural knowledge is inherently interpretive, how can we invalidate the truth of an interpretation since there are potentially as many true interpretations as there are members of a culture?I.e. If ethnography is interpretation how can we know that interpretation is correct.Most of us cannot go to Bali and check the interpretationif all such claims are equally valid, then the most anthropology can hope for is to create a rich documentary of multiple interpretations, none denied and none privileged.This means that it cannot be a science since it cannot generalize from truth statements or tests the statements against empirical data; the nature of culture precludes this
30 Geertz triggered a profound rethinking of the anthropological enterprise forced anthropologists to become aware of the cultural contexts they interpret and the ethnographic texts they create.He also touched off a major debate about the fundamental nature of anthropologyThese issues arose against a backdrop of a changing world and world viewAs independence movements transformed former colonial subjects into new national citizens, intergroup conflicts intensified as power was reconfigured and new governments exerted their control
31 THE DECOLONIZATION DISCOURSE For the first time, Anthropology directly criticized as the ‘handmaid of colonialism’...assisting in the pacification of peoplesuse of ethnographic information about them in their own subjugationproviding justifications for the colonial system
32 1978 Orientalismscathing analysis of Western scholarship on the Middle Eastthis scholarship = an ideological tool of dominationthe West creates a simplistic stereotype of the Orient and subsequent scholarship studies not the Orient but rather reaffirms the stereotypethe ‘other’ presented as timeless, changeless, essentialized (in contrast to Westerners’ concept of themselves as individuals in particular historical contexts)the power relationship between the constructing subject and constructed object ignoredEdward Saïd
33 ORIENTALISMignores the variability of Middle Eastern society and substitutes a single ‘mentality’ to stand for the Orientevidence selected to fit the schema and contrary evidence ignoredthe construction of an ‘Other’, not like ourselves, but fundamentally differentThe ‘oriental’ of Western scholarship is constructed as exotic, driven by hidebound Tradition, thinks ‘differently’ from ourselves, is envious of the West, but at the same time incapable of shuffling off the (sometimes rather charming) superstitions which make his society backwardSubtext: they need our help to attain their full potential
34 Postmodernism literally means “after modernity” An extremely diffuse conceptProvided a major focus of debate and commentaryPostmodernists challenge modernist assertionsbelieve that objective neutral knowledge of another culture, or any aspect of the world is impossibleYao initiation rite Malawi)
35 Postmodernist view of Fieldwork Fieldwork crucial to creation of ethnographic texts.anthropologists can never be unbiased observers of all that goes on in cultureFieldworkers must of necessity be in specific places at specific times.As a result they see some things and not othersThe particular circumstances of fieldwork, the political context in which it occurs, the investigator’s preferences and predilections, and the people met by chance or design all condition the understanding of society that results.
36 Postmodernist view of ethnography Writing ethnography is the primary means by which anthropologists convey their interpretations of other culturesTraditionally written as if the anthropologist was a neutral, omniscient observerPostmodernists claim that because the collection of anthropological data is subjective, it is not possible to analyze the data objectively.Postmodernists question the validity of the author’s interpretations over competing alternativesAnd examine the literary techniques used in the writing of ethnographies
37 Throughout the history of anthropology anthropologists have claimed to be authorities on other culturesthis claim fortified with emphasizing the mystique of fieldwork and by explaining other cultures to their audiences through written descriptions.The hermeneutic and deconstructionist approaches led many anthropologists to ask a variety of questions about the relationship between the ethnographic texts and the fieldwork experience upon which those texts are based.the filtering of exotic otherness through the constructions of social theory is exposed as a literary excursion disguised as scientific reportage
38 Ethnographies have traditionally followed some basic literary conventions rather than saying “I am writing my interpretation of what the natives were doing” authors claim to represent the native point of view.But the anthropologist chooses who speaks for the society and in his or her translation of the native language decides what words are presented to the audience.Writers also claim to describe completely other cultures or societies, even though anthropologists actually know only the part of a culture that they personally experience
39 Ethnographic authority was characteristic of ‘the Modern’ — it was the official narrative explaining the significance of the antecedent cultures out of which the National-State cultures of the Modern era were composedIts tools: monographs, museums, and research institutes. example, at major museums like the American Museum of Natural History, authoritative accounts of Polynesian cultures are determined by the curatorThe ‘whole’ represented by a few artifacts selected by the curator, usually with an eye to the predominantly Western aesthetics of the audience...James Clifford
40 Postmodernity in Anthropology therefore has focused on 1. an examination of the power relations according to which the Other has been constructed2. examinations of the rhetorical devices and preoccupations of ethnographers themselves
41 REFLEXIVITY With what to replace objectivity? Consensus solution: reflexivity — not the unintentional mirroring of the author’s culture in a descriptive work about the Other, but a self-aware reflexivity:detailed disclosure of the terms and conditions of the fieldworkdiscussion of interpersonal relationships with informants that led to acquisition of the knowledge reportedself-analysis of author’s motives, agendas, and self-doubtsthe knowledge presented situated in terms of how the ethnographer collected itreflexive ethnographies tend to read more like diaries or autobiographies than the conventional ethnographic genre
42 Renato Rosaldo, Ilongot headhunting, 1883–1974 Ilongot explanation of headhunting:“He says that rage, born of grief, impels him to kill his fellow human beings. He claims he needs a place ‘to carry his anger’ The act of severing and tossing away the victim’s head enables him, he says, to vent and, he hopes, to throw away the anger of his bereavement... To him grief, rage, and headhunting go together in a self-evident manner.”October 1981: Michelle loses footing on steep trail, falls to her death...LUZON, PHILIPPINES
43 “Immediately on finding her body I became enraged “Immediately on finding her body I became enraged. How could she abandon me? How could she have been so stupid as to fall. I tried to cry. I sobbed, but rage blocked the tears... This anger in a number of forms, has swept over me on a number of occasions since then, lasting hours and even days at a time...”In other words, his own subjective experience (and not any amount of reasoning) enabled him to grasp the connection between grief and rage... and only by alluding to the personal account of Michelle Rosaldo’s death could he communicate it to the reader
44 Critiques of Postmodernism Taken to its logical extreme postmodernism comes close to turning anthropology into a sub field of literature.If all writing is nothing more than interpretations of interpretations then ethnography is fictionAnd no conclusions can ultimately be reached about anythinganthropology is a representational genre rather than a clearly bounded scientific domain
45 Interpretive & Deconstructionist approaches FRENCHETHNOLOGIEECOLOGICAL ANTH.NEO-EVOLUTIONISMCULTURAL MATERIALISMC & PETHNOSCIENCE-CUM--COGNITIVEINTERPRETIVENEO-STRUCTURALISM(LEACH, GLUCKMAN,BARTH, BAILEY,STRATHERN)MAUSS — LÉVI-STRAUSS:FRENCH STRUCTURALISMSchools and analytical theories in abeyanceMain duality:Political Economyvs.Interpretive & Deconstructionist approachesBREAKDOWN OF NATIONAL SCHOOLSAMERICAN CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGYBRITISHSOCIALANTHROPOLOGYDEVELOPMENT OF SPECIALIZATIONSMODERN PERIODPOSTMODERN PERIOD