ANTH 100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Emic And Etic, Margaret Mead, Franz Boas

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23 Feb 2015
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ANTH 100.922 (Summer of 2014)
Study Questions for the First Mid-Term exam: You will be writing TWO Short Essays (300
words – two pages i.e., two sides max for each answer!) Note that the exam is worth 20
marks -- 10 marks are for the two essays (5 marks each) and the remaining 10 marks are
for 10 true/false and 10 multiple choice questions, i.e., ½ mark each. If you have any
questions about the exam, please ask me in class.
1. Anthropology as a discipline has often been criticized for its strong links with colonialism.
Explain in your own words why you agree OR disagree with the contention that anthropology
is \(or was) a handmaiden of the colonial project. You may articulate your answer in the context
of your reading of the first few pages from your textbook, the two articles assigned for week two
(Talal Asad and Adam Kuper), your notes on the video “Strange Beliefs” (Evans-Prichard), and
the discussion we had in class/tutorials.
2. According to Bruce Knauft, an anthropologist at Emory University, cultural anthropologists
should pursue two ethical purposes that have long and positive legacies in anthropology (1) to
document and valorize the richness and diversity of human ways of life and (2) to expose,
analyze, and critique human inequality and domination. However, he notes that on empirical
grounds, these moments of valorization and critique of human inequality have opposite excesses,
in that, in practical terms, the delineation of human diversity and the exposure of inequality work
at cross-purposes. As a budding cultural anthropologist, discuss how you would reconcile with
the potential contradiction in achieving these two laudable goals of cultural anthropology?
3. On the basis of your reading of Herbert Lewis’ essay on The Passion of Franz Boas, and your
notes on the video Shackles of Tradition (Franz Boas), briefly discuss some of the ideals that
Boas was passionate about, the criticisms that some anthropologists have leveled against Boas
and his kind of anthropology, and explain why you agree OR disagree that the criticisms against
Franz Boas are fair and reasonable and worthy of being published and discussed..
4. George Hunt, a Tlingit person, who worked closely with Franz Boas for over forty years in
coastal British Columbia, is commonly known as one of the most famous key informants in
anthropology. Drawing upon the Franz Boas video (Shackles of Tradition) we watched in class,
and your reading of Herbert Lewis’ The Passion of Franz Boas, discuss why present day
anthropologists would regard “texts” and ethnographies such as those produced by George Hunt
and Franz Boas as suspect and of limited linguistic and ethnographic value.
5. One of Bronislaw Malinowski’s sage advices to students of cultural anthropology is that
through fieldwork and participant observation, they should seek “to grasp the native’s point of
view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world.” [This is the same as grasping the
‘emic” point of view as Clifford Geertz has put it; and same as verstehen as the great sociologist
Max Weber put it]. What are some of the problems and limitations that you are likely to
encounter if you were to strictly follow Malinowski’s advice regarding the native’s point of
view? How would you as a budding cultural anthropologist seek to overcome the limitations of
Malinowski’s laudable and yet problematic advice?
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Document Summary

Study questions for the first mid-term exam: you will be writing two short essays (300 words two pages i. e. , two sides max for each answer!) Note that the exam is worth 20 marks -- 10 marks are for the two essays (5 marks each) and the remaining 10 marks are for 10 true/false and 10 multiple choice questions, i. e. , mark each. If you have any questions about the exam, please ask me in class: anthropology as a discipline has often been criticized for its strong links with colonialism. Explain in your own words why you agree or disagree with the contention that anthropology is \(or was) a handmaiden of the colonial project. However, he notes that on empirical grounds, these moments of valorization and critique of human inequality have opposite excesses, in that, in practical terms, the delineation of human diversity and the exposure of inequality work at cross-purposes.

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