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November 13: Technology

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ANTH 2200
Victor Barac

TECHNOLOGY Etymology • Technology: from Greek tekhnologia/tekhne = “art, craft” ◦ Latin: technologia = “a systematic treatment” ◦ intellectual and practical component to technology • Science: from Latin scientia = “knowledge” ◦ Early meaning = a branch of learning ◦ Later meaning = science as theory vs technology as practical application of theory ◦ only in the 19th century that science relies on facts and objectivity, whereas before it belonged in the realm of subjective believe ◦ lots of scientific cultures in the world today, but they’re seen as one because science is viewed as universal, objective, logical, rational ◦ model of human behaviour, way of evaluating, mental and physical in that sense ◦ there’s a mental and practical components to anthropology, rooted in our biological structure ▯ • Motor Regions of the Brain diagram • what we have more of is the neocortex, which is the grey matter • why do we have such big neocortex? it’s because we have highly developed cognitive and tactile skills • human anatomy seen as very generalized, primate anatomy, but in terms of our behavioural repertoire, we specialize in speaking and manipulating things with our hands, reflected in our much of our brain is devoted to controlling speech, language, • and what we do with our hands? ◦ work, technology, tool-making, took-using ◦ cross-section of our motor-cortex • in an evolutionary persecutive, what biological anthropology can teach socio-cultural anthropology • the hand and the intellect coevolve • 2.5 million years ago, is homo habilis ◦ earliest technology were hand axes, specialized hand function ◦ bipedalism precedes the expansion of the brain ◦ evolution of the pelvis strcutres the way all human communities have to live ◦ with bipedalism, that was an evolutionary advance, freed up hands ◦ cost to bipedalism, narrowed the birth canal, rendered birth a very painful process ◦ over the broad path evolution, there was a selective pressure for the ability to process culture; making tools, developing linguistic communication systems, society ◦ evolutionary need for brain size • BUT smaller birth canals ◦ what the human solution has been is to give birth to the young at a much earlier stage of development when babies’ heads are very small and pliable ◦ humans have to care for a much more dependent young, spend much more time looking after our children, major social problem ◦ huge social problem for all societies because of this evolutionary advance, and we deal with it culturally ◦ we’re not regressing, not having smaller brain sizes in order to birth more easily • creates this social dynamic that all societies have to deal with, that’s where gender comes in, life experience, how gender and sex influences all of that from birth, you’re dealt a card ▯ How is Culture Learned? From Edward T. Hall: The Silent Language, Beyond Culture, The Hidden Dimension, The Dance of Life ▯ • specialized in communication and non-verbal communication studies • how social space is constructed • describe communication in choreographic terms • when people don’t get along, there is a disharmony in their blinking and their body movements • grand theory regarding how culture is learned in three fundamental ways: .orl ◦ completely arbitrary, but it’s a system that was devised ◦ the way of learning your have to practice it ◦ religion works very much on traits of the formal principally ◦ even the sounds that languages used is a formal system because it’s arbitrary ◦ kinship systems, laws, formal system, lawyers have to decipher these systems of laws ◦ many things are learned from using this pattern .Irl ◦ socialization ◦ the learning of the everyday life just by being a member of society, even if you’re a minimal member, just by presence ◦ tacit knowledge, collective understandings ◦ social norms ▪ an acceptable or expected way of behaving ▪ essentially rules of conduct ◦ etiquette, manners ◦ rules of conduct, but they’re non-binding in the way that laws are ◦ cultural values and value systems ▪ what are the good things in life? what should people be pursuing, what should be people’s goals in life? 3. Technical ◦ it’s not technological, it’s related, but it’s not the same ting ◦ essentially specialized practical knowledge ◦ need for specialized activities: foraging (what plants are edible, poisonous, what can be eaten at what time, what animals can be hunted, how to hunt, how to prepare hunting weapons) ◦ and then imparting these skills is a long and drawn-out process ◦ how to be a blacksmith, an herbalist, performing (singing, acting, dancing) ◦ great deal of pedagogy ◦ fighting, military arts ◦ of course technology is implicated in all of these, but it’s very much dependent on specialized technical knowledge ◦ technology is both technical and social • Tech is part of our pedagogy, how we learn, in all cultures ◦ all cultures have tool systems ◦ only takes one generation for systems to be lost L. H. Morgan – Ancient Society (1877) • one of the most influential anthropologist ever • cultural evolution • proving the Asiatic origins of N. American aboriginals • not archaeology to support the thesis, but he believed they came from Asia • interested in reconstructing world history • comparative history of human society • history in human imagination was being extended further back in time (before “Biblical time”) 1. Comparative history 2. Evolutionism & progress 3. A major contribution to social theory 4. Evolutionary stages of development based on technological criteria ◦ his theories were adopted by Marx and Engels ◦ post-political viewpoints ◦ egalitarian societies at the beginnings of society, there was a communism of living, in contrast to private property ◦ the primordial condition of human kind is socialism, egalitarianism, everyone is equal, sharing of property, no status differences ◦ used for them to strengthen their theory ◦ Morgan was a lawyer; Boas was the first professional anthropologist • built their reputation as attacking the evolutionists, speculative history, non-scientific, etc. L. H. Morgan’s “Ethnical Periods" • Lower Savagery – fruits and nuts • Middle Savagery – fish and fire • Upper Savagery – bow and arrow • Lower Barbarism – pottery • Middle Barbarism – domestication • Upper Barbarism – iron tools • Civilization – phonetic alphabet and writing ◦ also set up stages of family development ◦ consanguine up to contemporary monogamous marriage • Boas: anthropology shouldn’t make these speculative schemes but to provide qualitative knowledge, of the minutia of everyday life • cultural relativism Neo-Evolutionary Theory • reaction against Boas, Boas’ ideas, though valid to an extent, essentially threw out theory, the whole scientific knowledge of creating generalizations • coming up with quasi-law-like statements about culture and society • Boas seen as atheoretical • for many people out of touch with cross-currents or main currents of thought was Marxist and communist thought • backlash against Boas and a number of cultural anthropologists and archaeologists were a part of this • it wasn’t a “school” but basically an intellectual scholarly movement 1. V. Gordon Childe [ technology ] ◦ Australian archaeologist ◦ promoted technology as a mode of force in history ◦ Man Makes Himself (1936), What Happened in History (1942) ◦ argued that technology resulted in two major human revolutions 1. the Neolithic period, New Stone Age, food production, beginning of agriculture and animal domestication, process leading up to settled and more dense human populations 2. the Urban revolution, short hand for saying the advent of the State, beginning of complex and stratified societies, becoming divided, kinship system that previously united everyone in society, even in a Chiefdom, is second ▪ creates the conditions in cultural evolution, which essentially is a total social revolution, not just using new tools, but a completely new society ▪ economic surpluses were much greater during the urban revolution, feeding specialized classes, workers, soldiers, priests, savings, etc. . 3. Julian Steward [ environment ] ◦ American anthropologist ◦ one of the earlier ecological anthropologist, drawing attention to the environment as a structuring feature to human society ◦ Boas looked at geography, but never any detailed analysis of environmental factors ◦ Steward started in the 1930s publishing papers on the connection between social organization and the environment ◦ Economic and Social Basis of Primitive Bands (1936) and Theory of Culture Change (1955) ◦ technology allows people to extract resources out of the environment; the environment dictates the forms to technology that are used in order to survive ◦ certain types of environments tend to give rise to different forms of social organization ◦ argued that it was important to study the interaction of humans with the environment ▪ the ability to adapt was an indicator of intelligence ▪ technology not just tools but also human cognitive ability and evolution ◦ how Steward differed was that he wasn’t a Marxist; no uni-lineal evolutionary paradigm ◦ nothing was going towards an end point, but multi-linear evolution ▪ there was nothing necessary, no predetermined path in terms of how cultures can evolve ▪ Bison hunters; by the middle of the 18th century you had 30 tribes that had become totally dependent on Bison hunters on horseback; before most of these societies were previously agricultural; cultures are not supposed to “Evolve” according to the unilineal scheme; agricultural — > foraging, but they weren’t hunting for subsistence but rather trading ◦ precursor to ideas of adaptation, laying down future theoretical developments ◦ all depended on how societies interact with their environment 4. Leslie White [ energy ] ◦ focussed more on energy capture ◦ defined societies in terms of their energy capture regimes ◦ The Science of Culture (1949), The Evolution of Culture (1959) ◦ what is important is how much energy you can exact; how much energy you extract the more control you have, the more you can alter your environment ◦ the energy production becomes the crucial activity for human societies ◦ argue that stages of evolution are associated with qualitatively higher energy forms of production ▪ Paleolithic: muscle power and fire ▪ Neolithic: animal husbandry and agriculture ▪ herd of animals is a lot of energy ▪ development of related technologies: wind mills, sail boats, water power, water wheels, turbines ▪ Industrialism: steam engines and the exploitation of fossil fuels ▪ automobile revolution, which fundamentally altered human life in many ways ▪ how much you can extract our of your environment ◦ technological change preceded evolution, creates the conditions for massive social change • focussed on material factors, much more closely tied to economics and providing the basic needs of daily life • all trained in the Boasian tradition • modes of production is an essential concept in material approach to culture and society Production 1. Resources ◦ subsistence / energy / building materials d o o f ▪ ▪ fuel, fire, gasoline ▪ objects we use to build shelter ◦ Primacy of land ▪ all our resources come from the land 2. Technology ◦ tools ▪ modifying the land and resources ▪ most important: subsistence technologies ◦ skills, knowledge ▪ also consists of specific skill sets acquired by pedagogical needs ▪ how technology works in a larger social context ▪ when new technology is introduced, they’ve done hundreds of test, usability, user experience, etc ▪ you have to have the resources and tools to transform nature, and we do that with technology, but none of that can be done if you don’t have human labour 3. Labour k r o w ◦ ▪ someone has to do the work in order to use technology ▪ work is a smaller concept of labour ▪ work refers to specific activities ▪ labour entails work but in a social context ▪ i.e. hunting bison for oneself, to eat, use the skin to make clothing, shelter, bones to make tools, arrow tips ▪ social c
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