lecture 1

71 views6 pages
19 May 2011
Tuesday May 19 th
, 2009
Outline of Lecture
1. Introduction
2. Anthropological Analysis as Antidote
3. Causality and History
4. European Colonialism in Africa
a. Industrial Capitalism
b.Divide and Rule
5. Rwandan Case Study
TestKnow details about Rwanda, Africa, and Afghanistan (i.e. name the president of Sudan right now, his general
perspective about running the country, how he came to power etc need to know about the contemporary world ;
Same about Darfurknow details about the history etc)
Mass violence on the Continent of Africa
-Rwanda Genocide in 1994
-Darfur genocide unfolding right now, began about in 2003
-These events present difficult questions to anyone who wishes to understand how the world and the peope
in it work. The scale of the violence in both genocides defies both imagination and empathy
oWhen you hear about people killing each outer by the 1000s by burning them, gang rape, etc its
very hard to try to explain their actions using reason and rationality
oAlso, its hard to find anything to find in common with these people as human beings. We have a
hard time empathizing and saying in the same situation I may do the same thing’
oSo we are left with simplistic caricatures that suggest that something like age old ethnic tensions
and tribalism are to blame
This line of reasoning gives unfortunate conclusions. Since we are so far away, we cant
imagine ethnic identity or tribalism to be the cause, and are then forced to conclude that the
people motivated are fundamentally different from us, and it is also easy to conclude then
that they lack out form of modern form of conflict resolution and reasonable thinking
THIS is why they are presented as inferior somewhat. They are just “crazy”, primitive, etc,
- fundamentally different form us
Dr J is arguing that in not finding reason or empathy, we are left accepting mass media
portrayal of these situations as monstrous exceptional events.
Anthropological Analysis as Antidote
-We pick out these events in order to find deeper context within which these events can make sense
- In saying we are looking to make sense (we are NOT looking to JUSTIFY these events), rather to make
sense, is to find a way to understand these events not as bizarre collective deviants, not as saying they are
stuck in the past, and certainly not having expectations that suggest that some people just have inferior
oWe want to find and understand the context in which people react like this, so we can understand
their reaction as a HUMAN response, not subhuman, not primitive human, etc
oTO make sense isHow could humans possible act this way?
-One of the goals of Anthropology is to discover patters of human behaviour through time and past
space that prove that we are all ultimately human in the same way that we all have an equal
capacity for good and bad.
-Again, its not about JUSTIFYING, its about coming to a RATIONAL understanding that these things are a
part of the human history and tendencies
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-Any explanation that closets something happens because those people” are strange, just does not satisfy
anthropologists. We are focused on a universal humanity
-What we then do to try and figure out how people come to these kinds of actions is pay a lot of attention to
historical basis and to immediate context. We can begin to understand why people might react the way
they do. And why people facing similar contexts with a similar historical background may also act the same
Causality and History
-So how do we do this?
-We thing about what CAUSES these responses
oAny human situation can be considered from different perspectives in terms of cause. We should
think about two kinds of causes
PROXIMATE CAUSE: The nearby and immediate facts that make something possible.
Ex. Eating breakfast Proximate causes have to do with what food is available in
your house; did you wake up on time; how you are feeling; what you imagine your
day to be like;
The immediate context (ex you might want eggs, but if you don’t have them, you
won’t eat eggs). You cant shoot people without a gun.
Ex. If you didnt learn to think that eggs are edible, you wouldn’t eat them; you
had to learn that bread is tasty;
You also couldn’t eat eggs and toast if there was not an entire economic system
that produced eggs and toast.
Then there has to be a system to get the eggs and toast to you – food distribution,
ways to exchange money for food. You also have to assume you have money,
toasters, power brought to your home, cooking materials etc.
Things that make is possible and conceivable to make you able to eat eggs and
-When it comes to understanding how people behave in a certain way, we need to look at proximate and
ultimate causes. What made them have the materials for mass violence, and what made it conceivable for
them to think of mass violence.
- What kind of history would help to explain mass violence on the scale of Darfur and Rwanda?
European Colonialism in Africa
-When we hear about problems in Africa, we are often told it is a result of Colonialism.
-Effects of colonialism may still be responsible for stuff going on in Africa right now.
-StereotypeAfricans just can’t seem to get over their tribal or colonial past. (i.e. we are not still fighting
Quebec, how come they cant get over their past?)
-We need to explore what is colonialism and how it could still be having impacts 50-60 years afterwards,
and why it is so hard to get over.
-Colonialism is the formal political domination of one country over another in which the relationship
between the two is always one of economic exploitation in order to derive wealth, even if the dominant
party does not always admit it. (three parts to this definition)
oPoliticaltake control of decision making process, controlling how everyone lives
oWe may or may not admit that the ultimate reason is economic
-Economic exploitation is important.
-At the time that the European powers attended the Berlin conference 1885, they all wanted things out of the
oWanted raw materials for their own domestic economies.
oWanted to design a system in which African labour was provided cheaply in order to produce those
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