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Lecture

African Studies Feb 7th.docx

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Department
New College
Course
NEW150Y1
Professor
Thomas Tieku
Semester
Winter

Description
African Studies Feb 7th 2/7/2012 8:12:00 AM Tradition vs Modernity Through the Lens of Antrhopology Usually when we say tradition, we are talking time and space. Best way to conceptualize it is to think of it as a binary model construct— James ferguson Idea that human beings start evolving from tradition (unchanging, constant, timeless, ) then move into modernity over time, meaning that things are constantly in flux and continue to change Most institutions that focus on tradition are meant to keep status quo while modernity institutions are designed to constantly change Diagram reflects the way Africa has been conceptualized (tradition vs modernity –esp when anthropologists talk and discuss Africa over the period What is anthropology Anthropology is the study of human diversity Interested in how diverse/different human beings are by focusing on the significance of particular practices, different people in different parts of the world Often look at cross cultural differences in social institutions such as marriage, cultural beliefs such as religion and communication styles - most anthropologists think of themselves as people who try to promote intercultural understanding by transmitting culture of one society to the other - four broad sub fields -- physical anthropology--- interested in learning about human biological aspects and do so by examining the skeletals of human beings and other physical remains—interested in human evolution and forensic studies -- socio-cultural anthropology--- these anthropologists are interested in studying present day cultural practices as well as present day social institutions with an eye on how these institutions have evolved over time -- linguistic anthropology—study of communication practices around the world—language tells us a lot about how ppl act, think and their belief system and most importantly, the basic structure of a language does not change over time -- archaeological anthropology--- interested in studying earlier cultures, do it by examining artifacts that human beings have left behind By culture, anthropologists are talking about the sum total of human beliefs, habits, ideas of that particular community For anthropologists, some of these are universal, but some are peculiar/particular to a group History of Anthropology th Often trace the discipline to the 19 century as a profession - came out of the physical sciences - emerged at the same time that the Europeans were colonizing other people in other parts of the world, and to some extent, rise of Europeans generated curiosity among European citizens about the people that they were encountering and to some extent, because they were curious about the ppl they were encountering, encouraged them to find out who they themselves are - to know others, you have to know yourself—began to ask probing questions -- European govt’s as imperial powers were much more curious about knowing the people that they were governing - as a result of this, anthropology as a discipline emerged to collect data on other people and compare it to Europe - sociology also emerged but focuses on domestic issues - for most anthropologists, it was important to study other parts of the world because at that time the common idea was social Darwinism - social Darwinism is the idea that human beings evolved over time and as we evolve we become more smart, modern and to some extent reflects in categorization of human beings - anthropologists question was how have European societies evolved over time in terms of social institutions and cultural practices anthropology and Africa if you are interested in studying how human beings have evolved, need to go to root of evolution and judge how humans have evolved over the years based on that. How humans have moved from tradition to modernity - study of Africa by nathropologists had nothing to do with Africa , meant to help them understand how they have evolved - constructed Africa in evolutionary terms - European anthropologists saw Europeans as the top of civilization/modernity(enightend, educated, civilized, nationalistic) while Africans at the bottom of the spectrum (primitive(belief system e.g witchcraft vs science, modern structures vs huts) , tribal) stark opposition to each other- - binary terms -british anthropologists also emerged at the time where Europeans have acquired African land, and the british did not want to spend money - wanted to find indidenous structures to be able to govern the Africans, but to do so, you needed to know the people - interest of anthropology as a discipline, and interests of colonial authorities merged during that particular period - british govt put a lot of money into the study of anthropology in places like oxford and cambrige, and in particular, European govt interested in anthropology to helpt them understand native areas and how they can be governed - anthropologists interested in native groups for intellectual interest, but also political interest in conceptualizing Africa in tribal ethnic ways to help british rulers determine how to govern native areas - africa became popular in Britain because of evol
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