ANTA02H3 Lecture Notes - Franz Boas, James George Frazer, Veranda

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18 Apr 2012
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Lecture Two
Key Terms
Fieldwork and ethnography
Fieldwork as rite of passage
Armchair anthropology
Participant Observation
Objectivity/Positivism/Subjective knowledge
Edward Taylor, James Frazer, Bronislaw
Malinowski, Franz Boas
Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
Culture
Interpretive/symbolic anthropology
Fieldwork and ethnography
“If you want to understand what anthropology is, look at what anthropologists do. Above all else, what
anthropologists do is ethnography” (VSI page 13)
Ethnography (what anthropologists write) is, in turn, is based on fieldwork
What does ethnography/fieldwork accomplish?
Culture from “the native’s point of view” (Geertz)
Thick description (Geertz again)
Context for knowledge about culture
-Portray a given culture from the native’s point of view. This is the main goal of ethnography
-Thick description involves describing the content
-it's a story balances tell about themselves as a culture as balanises
A very brief history of anthropology
Philosophers and various explorers as “proto-anthropologists”
Victorian anthropology (Taylor and Frazer): evolutionary, hierarchy of “civilization”
Comparative, second-hand accounts
“Armchair anthropology”
-young discipline for the last 130 years
-Victorian anthropologists were interested by Darwin-Tyler and Fraser
-Tyler describe culture in a very Victorian based life style. (In textbook). Some ppl had more evolved culture than
others according to anthropologists at this time
-they believed that culture could evolve
-they measured all culture against Victorian culture. The highest ranking culture the most civilized
-all cultures moved through these steps from magical thinking to religious thinking finally scientific rational
thought. Fraser believed this. Book called Golden Bow
-how did they come up with this: they would read things by other ppl and then created their comparisons
- the anthropologists at the Victorian time were called armchair anthropologists
Malinowski “On the Verandah
they would stay with local missionaries, Europeans settlers
we call this today on the veranda they watched village life go by
Malinowski “Off the Verandah”
-he was the first one to come off the veranda. He was considered to be one of the first fathers of anthropologists
-1910s studied trobian islanders, ww1 began. He was considered an enemy cuz he was born in Poland
- He was stuck for a couple years he stayed and learned their language
-realized that this was a much better way to understandings the other culture
- He began training other students
Malinowski: Participant Observation
-he realized that the trobian culture were not a simple culture. They had diff. Economics govt systems. He wrote
against the earlier civilizations. He said that we can't rank they we can compare the,
Franz Boas
Historical Particularism
Cultural Relativism versus Ethnocentrism
The switch to fieldwork meantfirst-hand knowledge; holistic knowledge; comparative, but not hierarchical,
approach to culture
-father of American anthropologists
-culture should be studied on their own terms not compared to other culture
-each culture had its own unique history his study was called historical particularism
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