Lecture 2 July 11 2013
Culture: Concepts, Theories, Methods of Study
Social science, fieldwork, and ethnographic texts
Overview 1: Origins
1. Herodotus (484 B.C. – 425 B.C.)- father of history, Greek writer, he wrote a book
called The Histories (circa 440 B.C.) his inquiry was about the wars between greek and
Persians, what we know about this comes from the writing of Herodotus. First attempt in
western history of ppl’s past that did not make reference to God or supernatural facts.An
objective narrative was attempted. His history was based on firsthand accounts he
travelled the world. He used oral history, copied accounts from merchants, government
officials. It was believed that he was a merchant; this gave him reason to travel. He is
more respected now than in the first half of 20 century.
a. The world of Herodotus- he travelled the Mediterranean world, the non-Greek
barbarian (non-Greek speakers)
2. Ibn Battuta (1304 – 1369 or 1377)- theArab civilization became preservers of
Greek culture. He was a judge. He wrote a book called Rihla. he is respected because he
took Herodotus’s perspective.
a. Ibn Battuta’s travel- he travelled two or three times what Marco Polo did. He
went around the world met an emperor while he went on Hajj, travelled the black
sea. Went on second hajj, went to medina and dehli where he became a diplomat.
He travelled Indonesia. Went to Vietnam and china.
3. Jean de Lery (1534-1613)- Frenchmen, earliest true ethnographers. Protestant pastor
working in catholic Brazil, he wasn’t there to convert the natives.
a. Life among the Tupinamba of Brazil (in History of a Voyage to the
Land of Brazil, 1578) -he wrote about the Brazils, his life is in here, bestseller.
Cannibalism was feature of Tupinamba life, his account was more scientific. What
cannibalism meant for these ppl was the concentration of an alliance, they ate
portion of their enemies as a ritual act. You have to eat the dead enemy than you
are one of us.Avery power political act, they didn’t need it for nutrition. This is
called exo cannibalism.
b. Ethnology as semiotics – study of symbols, study of communication and
c. Michel de Montaigne (Of Cannibals, 1580) - a philosopher, he says when
you compare the cannibalism of Tupinamba to European culture he comes with
conclusion that their culture is better than ours. He uses ethnographic data; he
came up with critique of culture of basis of comparing.
4. Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881)- impacted the history of modern anthropology
more than any person, he is still an influence today, he wasn’t actually a professional
anthropologists, he was a lawyer, businessmen, a political activists. He wrote a number of
a. League of the Ho‐De‐No‐Sau‐Nee, or Iroquois (1851)
• Fieldwork / kinship - first fieldwork in modern times.After this work,
we had an understanding that kinship was a principle of pre modern th
Lecture 2 July 11 2013
society, he creates kinship studies. The leagues of Iroquois were 5 nations,
Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. Morgan studied
Seneca. These 5 nations spoke different dialects, they were at war then
they made peace later. Key point- they used kinship as their model of
b. Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871)
• Cross‐cultural comparison- this established the cross-cultural method,
he creates this method, he studies kinship terminology- brother, sister, aunt
etc. whose included in this term is not the same everywhere in different
culture. He sent out questionnaires. He established that there are a limited
number of human kinship systems; the pattern is limited only 6 or 8
c. Ancient Society (1877)
• Asian origins / evolutionism- great theorist of evolution anthro, social
or cultural evolution. He was able to merge theory into practice, his
research was very good.
5. Franz Boas (1858- 1942) - German Jewish immigrant. First full time Prof of anthro
in USA. Many influential grad students.
a. The Central Eskimo (1888) -earliest ethnographies based on field work.
b. Cultural particularism- He argues that there is no cultural evolution. They
reject evolutionary theme
c. Holism - he promoted this, study the geography, language, and how the mind
was formed by culture.
6. Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)- first fully modern anthropologists, his
modern British field worker. Lived with Trobriand Islanders- did long term ethnography.
He was a teacher, a very good writer.
a. Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) - this is a book he wrote,
describing the Trobriand Islanders, had a complete different kinshi