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Anthropology 2222F/G
Peter Timmins

Oct, 07, 2013 Language and Cognition -Kruper and Marks article “Anthropologists Unite” is written in response to the AAA’s decision to remove the term “science” from the long range plan document for the association -Popular sources saw this as anthropologists admitting that what they were doing wasn’t science and it was seen as a melt down of the system when it was really just a re-evaluation of their document to be more inclusive to anthropologists who don’t do science -The authors of the article says the shocker out of the controversy is the fact that anthropologists cant agree what the discipline is about and they can find a precise statement so show what they’re doing and this is problematic -They say people in the subfields do very different things and for a long time they didn’t really work together until two radical movements provoked a confrontation -Socio-biology was one of these and it threatened to overtake all the human sciences and to include them under biology and there was postmodernism with cultural theorists who were raising questions about the usefulness of “culture” and the advisability of comparison -There were also controversies around sex, violence, and race and the Mead-Freeman debate reopened questions about adolescence and sexuality (made people feel they had to choose nature or nurture) -There were debates over the question of whether humans were inherently violent and prone to war and these divides created animosities between people in the field and the general public -There were debate over race that was really inspired by the book “The Bell Curve” but here anthropologists united to prove the point that people do differ biologically but social inequalities are overwhelmingly the product of political and economic history and not the evolution of these different groups -The authors argue that few anthropologists now try to understand the origins and possible connections between biological, social, and cultural forms (leads to the continuation of very separate subfields) and their silence on these issues left the field to blockbusting books by amateurs that are speculating and with out reliable information -The amateurs they were talking about were the biologists like Morris and Wilson who were new to anthropology -We have to ask if there is hope for a united anthropology and in the letter responding to the Kruper/Marks article Gurven and Mulder say that they are wrong in making it seem like anthropologists aren’t working together and they go on to list different people from the subfields that are working in tandem -We have to ask what sets humans apart from other non-human organisms and the answer for many is our brain because we have huge complex brains and this makes our products of humanity possible and we also use our brains to live in radically different ways (from simple huts to skyscrapers) and we live in nuclear families as well as polyandrous families -We also use different languages due to our capacity to use symbols but these are intelligible from one another and we are also capable of imagining other realities than what our senses can grasp (with huge variability) -We need to make the connection between our minds and all this variability to help us understand humans as a whole and one way of doing this is to start with the realities we know and move backwards (comparative anthropology) by studying something like kinship in different cultures or we can start with how the brain works and move out from there to explain how our mind enables us to create different worlds and this way of doing it is called cognitive anthropology -This is where anthropologists with psychologists, biologists and others interested in how we think and how out common evolved cognitive capacities play out similarly and dif
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