Anthropology 9: Culture and Society - Lecture 5 Notes

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University of California - Los Angeles
Jason Throop

Edward B. Tylor (1832-1917) Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) -Complex difference within civilized people "Unilineal evolution" -A difference in social complexity, not biology "Civilization" ^ "Barbarism" ^ "Savagery" (WRONG) • There are NO "primitive" cultures • "Culture.. is that complex whole which includes knowledge beliefs, arts, morals, law, custom, and another capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (1871). • From culture to cultures Franz Boas: • Conducted research into stature and weight of various immigrant children • Physiological measurements of 1.5 and 2nd generation kids • The condition they were being raised in was affecting their development • Not a racial issue, but nurture issue • Had to fight many fronts or prejudice coming from biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, etc. Comparatist Ideas, eg.: line-up of masks from most "primitive" to most "civilized" Boas said no, you… …can't pull out single cultural traits randomly and look at it in isolation …also can't assume that this item is directly relatable to the so-called minds of the humans that produced them …need to look at how ideas flow (diffusion) …need to interpret elements in light of the cultural wholes He fought radicalized essentialized anthropological findings Culture • diffuse elements of complex origin that are integrated in the context of a particular community • ideas circulate ("diffusion") & are not tied to so-called "racial" differences • learned, embodied, symbolic, variously shared (not everyone equally represents culture), taken-for-granted orientation Psychic Unity of Humankind • all humans share a common underlying psychological structure irrespective of social or cultural upbringing • Cultural Difference: differences between human communities are cultural and not biological patterned -No difference between "primitive" and "civilized" minds/peoples -The differences we see are not tied to biological essences, but they are cultural differences -We can't judge those because they are all personal, subjective experiences Culture: a variously shared system of largely unexamined ideas, meanings symbols, habits, materials, and practices that help to orient and coordinate social action Critiques of Cu
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