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Lecture 5

Lecture 5 - From Cultural Ecology to Environmental Anthropology - February 4.docx

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Holly Wardlow

February 4, 2014. Lecture 5- From Cultural Ecology to Environmental Anthropology • Cultural Ecology (or EcologicalAnthropology) was one branch (or intellectual lineage) of North American anthropology while the Brits were doing Structural Functionalism Leslie White: (1930s, cultural ecology) • Energy and the Evolution of Culture o Three subsystems: technological, sociological, ideological  Layer cake model: Technical stuff, like means of subsistence form the base/foundation/large bottom section of the layer cake; then the social, then ideas and discourse and experience at the top o “Becomes the primary function of culture to harness and control energy so that it might be put to work in man service…” (p. 109) o Critiques:  Ideological realm has impact on technological realm; has its own determinative force in society because ideas lead to technological innovations  Reductionist; reducing the domain of the social and ideological (thought, philosophy, art, culture, etc.) to the technological realm  Very much materialist; claims that everything stems from technological realm  Doesn’t allow for the possibility that the sociological and ideological realms might operate independently OF the technological realm; could be independent variables in their own right as opposed to merely dependent variables on the technological realm  Could be that he is creating false boundaries between realm of ideas, realm of the social, realm of the technological • Studied sociology and etc. before getting a PhD inAnthropology • First taught at the University of Rochester (where they emphasised the importance of cultural evolutionism and L. H. Morgan). Concluded that L. H. Morgan’s work had been too easily dismissed and disparaged. o Had previously been taught that L. H. Morgan’s work was not worth studying or of much value • Perhaps the only anthropologist to claim that he was not coming up with anything original (only giving cultural evolutionism a new incarnation with better theoretical underpinnings). • Moved to University of Michigan where he successfully overcame many attempts to get him fired. o Developed one of the best United States anthropology departments. o Particularly targeted by the Catholic Church o Asecret socialist; wrote for a socialist journal under a pseudonym. Part of why he was targeted so much as this was during the 1950s anti-communist/socialist era of the United States. Julian Steward (1902 – 1972) • Influenced both by the Boasian emphasis on individual cultures and by cultural evolutionism. • Cultural Ecology: The study of the processes by which a society adapts to its environment. • His synthesis was “multilinear evolution”: o No universal stages of development o Rather, there are cross-cultural parallels in social patterns (e.g. polyandry)  Similar cultural patterns, subsistence strategies, ideologies, etc.  Fraternal polyandry: when brothers marry a wife together; not exactly a privilege on the part of the woman but rather a decision of an entire family of men to share the same wife; occurs in places with high altitude, dense populations, intensive agriculture in mountainous terrain (where there is less usable land to go around)  Brothers marrying one wife aids in keeping land together rather than fragmenting it because of five different families o These parallels indicate similar cultural adaptations to similar challenges posed by the environment. o Was not rigid and dogmatic about cultural ecology; i.e. not EVERY culture or every aspect of every culture was an adaptation to the environment  E.g., all examples of polyandry were from the same general geographical area and could have been a result of diffusion rather than independent innovation to similar circumstances Roy Rappaport: Ritual Regulation of Environmental Relations among a New Guinea People • Pigs for theAncestors o P
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