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Lecture 2

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University of Toronto Scarborough
James Stinson

Lecture 2 Brief History of Anthropology  European Social Anthropology and American cultural anthropology developed separately but blended since 1950s o Started off as 2 separate schools of thoughts  British “social anthropology” focused on society-organized life in groups- and the concept of sociality-the propensity to associate with others and form social groups. Concerned with exploring the relationships among social roles (ex: husband and wife, or parent and child) and social institutions (ex: religion, economy, politics)  American “cultural anthropology” focused more on the concept of culture- ways ppl expressed their view of themselves and their world, especially in symbolic forms (such as art and myths)  Two approaches often converged (kinship, for example functions both as symbolic system and as social institution), and complemented one another  Modern cultural anthropology has its origins in, and developed in reaction to, 19 century “ethnology”, which involves the organized comparison of human societies. Ethnology uses secondary data to compare and contrast and to make generalizations about societies and cultures. o Early anthropologists got most info from explorers, traders, missionaries and had to write second hand account  Early colonial ethnologists worked mostly with materials collected by others- usually missionaries, traders, explorers, or colonial officials - this earned them their current sobriquet of “arm chair anthropologist”  Modern cultural anthropology is characterized by practice of ethnography- started around 1920s  Ethnography is both a research method and the product of that research (book, film etc) that describes and interprets a particular society/culture The Origins of Anthropological Theory: Social Evolutionism  1870s-1920s-Enlightenment-Evolutionism (and ethnocentrism) o new scientific ideas coming  British ethnologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) o Culture not race determined difference in humans o “C” ulture vs “c”ulture  Big C vs little C culture. Everyone can have culture. Not only the British. o Psychic Unity of Humankind  all humans have ability/capacity to have culture  American ethnologist Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) o Three stages of cultural development that all humans go through (unilinear)  1) Savagery  2) Barbarism  3)Civilization o Stages defined by level of technology that they have received Ethnocentrism  Judging the beliefs and behaviors of other cultures based on the standards of our own cultural beliefs and practices  Tendency to view ones own culture as “natural, correct and superior to others” Historical Particularism  1920s-1940s- Anti-Colonial Independence Movements- respect for cultural difference  Frans Boas (1858-1942) o Founder of Modern American 4-field anthropology and Historical Particularism o Rejected unilinear cultural evolution o Each particular culture has its own unique stages that allow it to advance independent of one another o Culturals develop along historically unique paths and didn’t need to go through same stages of evolution  Margaret Mead (1901-1978) o Most famous anthropologist? o Gender roles not universal Functionalism and Structural Functionalism  1920s-1940s- Anti-Colonial Independence Movements-respect for cultural difference  Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) o Advocated fieldwork-getting “the native’s point of view” through participant observation o Trobriand Islands-Kula Ring  Trading ring where ppl on island would go. Its an economic system o Functionalist-how social institutions function to satisfy individual human needs (ex: Magic)  Interested in role that magic played in society. Magic helps deal with ppl that have a high degree of uncertainty  A.R. Radcliff Brown (1881-1955) o Structural Functionalism-Society as organism  Society can be broken down into separate structures and can understand its role o How institutions in societies worked to create a balance in the system to keep it functioning harmoniously Cultural Relativism  View that behavior and beliefs of a culture shouldn’t be judged by the standards of another  To understand another culture fully, you must try to see how ppl in that culture see things  Difference btw methodological relativism and moral relativism o Relativism as a method doesn’t prevent anthropologists from making moral judgments or advocating against human rights violations Historical Materialism/Constructivism  1950s-1960s- Cold War- cultural change, interaction, World System  Eric Wolf (1923-1999) o Europe and the People Without History  Europeans see themselves as being most advanced society. Wolf argues that all cultures go through a long history of development in culture and have complex interactions with politics and international conflicts  “Traditional” cultures aren’t isolated and a-historical, but have been impacted historically by processes of colonialism and capitalism  Frederik Barth o Boundary Model of Ethnicity  Ethnic/cultural groups don’t emerge in isolation, but through interactions with other groups  Primary function of culture is to mark and maintain boundaries btw diff social groups  Barth wants to part with anthropological notions of cultures as bounded entities, and ethnicity as a-historical bonds, replacing it with a focus on interface btw groups Symbolic and
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