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Maggie Cummings

ANTA02-Lec01 Lecture #2 - January 12, 2010 What is Culture and how do anthropologists investigate it? VSI Chapter 1, 2; PDF- Deep Play *Tutorials begin next week - January 18-22, 2010 -will talk about the readings and get to ask questions Office Hours - Thursdays: 1pm-3pm (change) Fieldwork and Ethnography  What is sociocultural anthropology?  What do anthropologists do? Study culture  What makes them different from other scientists?  Fieldwork - sets anthropology apart from other disciplines o Share objects of study with other disciplines (surveys, lab, library books, etc) o BUT main form of research - participant observation and fieldwork (spend long amounts of time with the people being studied) o **Fieldwork is what makes you an anthropologist (rite of passage; badge of honour)  Ethnographies - written after fieldwork [CONTEXT] o Based on their fieldwork o Shorter, ethnographic ‘bits’ or chapters written instead of large books (i.e. Deep Play PDF = ethnographic chapter) o Analysis and theorizing the fieldwork- not just describing what people of a certain culture do o Feeding Desire - implications of fattening in society and culture o Hope to contribute new insights and knowledge into society o Description = still important; cultural from the native’s point of view to understand their beliefs and understand the cultural from the native’s point (vivid picture)  Thick Description - detailed, well explained (understand the context in a full descriptive way); LAYERS  Understand the nuance of a context(to understand what certain things mean)  i.e. a wink means different things in different societies  i.e. Eyebrow raise (in Banowati) = agreement  Cockfight is a story the Balinese tell themselves to learn about themselves A Very Brief History of Anthropology  relatively young discipline - 150 years old  fieldwork and ethnographies - began in 20 century  roots in philiosophy, history  Herodotus - wrote about barbarian cultures  Marco Polo - wrote about his travels, wrote about cultures, traditions, languages about people he met th  Roots in Victorian Anthropology (19 century)  Influenced by Darwin’s theories of evolution  Edward Tylor - p. 36 (VSI) o Links culture to Victorian norms of civilization o “Civilization is that complex whole that includes....” o One of the first people as an anthropologist to define culture ** o The link he made between being civilized and having a culture o All cultures could be ranked hierarchally from most civilized to least barbarian - civilized) Page 1 of 5 o Victorian England was the highest level of civilization - culture was something you could have more or less of  James Frazer o Comprehensive comparative study of myth and religion around the world o “Golden Eagle” o Rank cultures by their religions and myths o Theorized - all cultures started out as cultures that have magical thinking in their myths and religion (1) Mythical Thinking (2) Religious thinking (3) Scientific Rational thought **All cultures moved through these ranks to become civilized  Anecdote and Frazer - was asked if he had come in contact with the “savages” he had written about. He said “heaven forbid” (they were civilized after all; they couldn’t live in a hut) **DID NOT CONDUCT FIELDWORK ARMCHAID ANTHROPOLOGY- read other peoples accounts of these peoples (travelers, missionaries, explorers, colonial individuals) - anthropology done at a distance *Occasional fieldwork- stay with the colonial officers or missionaries (did not conduct REAL fieldwork - would be there and would watch from a distance, but did not participate first hand) See picture - On the Verandah (watching the people sitting underneath you )  Still not engaging in the cultures  TWO anthropologists who were considered the fathers of fieldwork (1) Great Britain - social anthropology Mankinowski (Papa New Guinea -NE of Australia; South Pacific)  1910 - studied anthropology in school  Received funding to stay with missionaries and sit on the verandah to observe (trobriand islands)  WWI broke out - considered an enemy because he was Polish  Ended up staying at the islands for TWO years; began to live among the islanders  Began to interact with islanders and acquired first-hand knowledge  To really understand a culture, you have to live like the natives; learn the language and participate in the rituals, take kinship relationships and become part of the family  First anthropologist to see things from the natives point of view  Participant Observation - not completely objective or subjective  Participate and then write up your notes on what happened  Long term fieldwork and participate observation - saw that ranking societies from second-hand observation was WRONG o Did not do them justice o Had a problem with ranking cultures - not savages, not simple societies (each had their own complex social/ legal systems, economy, kinship) - rational, logical, necessary for the functioning of their system o JUST DIFFERENT, not less “cultured” (2) America - cultural anthropology Franz Boas -  Argued that cultures should be studied holistically (not second hand or in pieces), Know CONTEXT, studied in their own terms (as a functioning, sophisticated culture of their own) Page 2 of 5  Particularistic/ Historical Approach - each culture must be understood in its own terms because each one had its own history that shaped it  Cultural Relativism - must understand and study the particular aspects of a culture relative to that culture (don’t see it as disgusting, backwards, do not judge by your own cultural standards = ethnocentrism) *Methodological Standpoint* (not a moral approach - only asking to understand enough to write in the appropriate context) o Ethnocentrism is the opposite of cultural relativism  i.e. they are barbaric, disgusting, backwards, ma
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