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What can you Do with Anthropology? .doc

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ANTH 1120
David Murray

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Sept 26: What can you Do with Anthropology? Readings: 1) CA pp.28-35 [28-29] • Question 1.6: What do Anthropologists Do and How can an Anthropological Per- spective Be Used Outside of Academia? • Anthropology: the study of human beings (greek) • What humans do presently and in the past • Collecting evidence of how and when we became human and comparing it to other or- ganisms in the world • Anthropologists began at “the age of exploration” • Formal discipline of anthropology began in 1871 by Edward Tylor • Extended periods of fieldwork became the required methodology of sociocultural an- thropology • Canadian Anthropology 1925 Thomas F. McIlwraith was first anthropology at UofT • • 1911 anthropology division of the geological survey of canada was established with Ed- ward Sapir, Marius Barbeau and Diamond Jennies • 1911 Franz Boas documented Inuit and BC native cultures [30] • Regna Darnell stated about canadian anthropology, “the national discipline combines fea- tures of disciplinary organization and historical context in patters that are unique” • Canadian first nations keep their languages and culture, compared to the US • The Sub-disciplines of Anthropology • NA has four different approaches to the study of human: biological anthropology, arche- ology, linguistic anthropology and sociocultural anthropology (cultural anthropology in US and social anthropology in Britain) • Biological Anthropology: oldest sub discipline and focuses on many organisms that in habit the earth (i.e paleoanthropology, primatology, forensic anthropology) Archeology: studies human history and its artifacts (material remains (pottery/tools) to • give insight to the social and cultural lives of societies that lived thousands of years ago) • Linguistic Anthropology: relationship between language and culture. Sociocultural Anthropology: how societies are structured and how cultural meaning is • created. [31] • The Importance of Stories • Stories make meaningful connections and provide order and continuity in a rapidly chan- ging world • Stories are means of which young learn from elders • Stories take on different meanings depending on the goal of the story teller • The stories people tell are important resources for learning about their beliefs and values • The ‘Good and Proper Body’ in Samoa • Samoans try to create the good and proper body, and try to make babies into good and proper bodies by: • feeding them the finest food, (terms of colour, white being highest) • preparation (boiled is higher than roasted) where it comes from (import is higher than local) • • Need fat to protect organs • Food & weight = status and age • Food is connected with meanings of wellness in ways that go beyond nutrition or what is available in immediate environment [32] • Feminist Anthropology • Challenge the discipline to examine the androcentric bias in its approach to the study of humans in all four of the subdisciplines • Ex.// Margaret Ehrenberg focuses on male bias in biological anthropology and archae- ology and argues that the role of women is minimized in accounts of human evolution. Law & Society (political anthropology) • • Inquire context of norms: social, political, economic and intellectual • Questions like: who makes the rules, who can undo them, how are they normalized and enforced and how are they morally justified • Power, authority, influence, manipulation and coercion (or force) continue the basic terms in this field of inquiry [33] • Political Ecology • A field of study that combines the concerns of ecology and a broadly defined political eco- nomy • Challenge the dominant explanations for environmental degradation and to contest some of the popular solutions to environmental problems • Applied anthropology • Specializes in putting anthropological knowledge into practice outside of academia • All 4 sub-disciplines apply their knowledge • Biological anthropologists use knowledge of skeletons to help police identify remains • Archaeologists identify and asses remains threatened by infrastructure improvements (roads,buildings,pipelines) [34] • Linguistic Anthropologists help in wording public documents or translations with sensit- ive cultures • Socioculture anthropology Is about social and cultural differences; people assign differ- ent meanings to events, objects, individuals and emotions and it causes conflict, mis- communication and misunderstanding • Seek to explain the diversity and help ppl understand one another better & in the pro- cess pply their experience and knowledge to the solution of social, economic, educa- tional and political problems created by diversity But what can you do with a BA in anthropology? • • Management address the problem of how to structure relationships among staff • Ppl in gov must address probs involved in designing public policy initiatives Medical field face probs of how to educate young ppl on stds • • They all need an anthropological perspective. • Conclusion Why do human beings differ in what they believe and how they behave? • • Human beings create their own worlds and ascribe meanings to objects, persons, be- haviours, emotions and events; and these meanings constitute a culture [35] • Human beings are compelled to create meanings if only to instill some sense of or- der in their lives • Ethnocentric fallacy: our culture is better than yours • Ethnocentrism: everyones views are correct and no one is wrong • Relativistic fallacy: Beliefs and behaviours of others can be judges only in the context of their cultures (any belief and behaviour is acceptable if it makes sense to the ppl of the so- ciety which it occurs) • One way we describe and interpret the meanings other people find in their experiences is to consider a culture as a texts inscribed with symbols who’s meanings can be deciphered • If we were openly examining other cultures like we examine our own,we would see It as more normal • If we studied our cultural in the same way we study others looking for differences, we would find our culture to be bizarre 2) Rylko-Bauer, Barbra, Merrill Singer and John Van Willigan. 2006. “Reclaiming Ap- plied Anthropology: Its Past Present and Future.” American Anthropologist 108(1):178-190. [178] • Concerns about anthropology’s impact in academia and the social area have led to calls for more ‘public’ and relevant anthropology • we expand on these exhortations, by calling for joining of critical social theory with application and pragmatic engagement with contemporary problems. • We argue for the repositioning of applied anthropology as a vital component of the broader discipline and it should serve as a framework for constructing a more engaged anthropology. • [Keywords: applied anthropology, engagement, history of anthropology, anthropological prac- tice, advocacy]--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- • Need for a more engaged role of anthropology and needs to address social problems and so- cial structures that create these problems • Public anthropology • They must have a systematic joining of critical social theory with application Pragmatic engagements with contemporary problems • • Repositioning of applied anthropology, so it serves as a framework for anthropology’s goal of pragmatic engagement • The application must be a more central role within the discipline [179] • Applied anthropology is singled out for its ties with colonialism, questionable linkage with cold war and with those who create (rather than solve) problems • Applied anthropology: practice of applying theories, concepts and methods from anthropology to confront human problems that often contribute to profound social suffering (application al- ways comes first) Revisiting history • Major subfields of anthropology evolved out of applied research, including formative work in urban, nutritional, political,legal, agricultural, medical, etc. • Application played a key role in shaping the foundation of academic anthropology The Handmaiden Era: Colonial Roots • Mid 19th century the idea came of applying anthropology’s methods and knowledge to social problems and public policy • the role of colonial subsidy, one could even make the case that, without it, there would be no discipline of anthropology. • Ethnology played an important role in the colonial administrative experience of many coun- tries, whose governments and information needs helped to support academic departments and basic research. [180] • Ethnology also played a pivotal role in U.S. colonial experience. • Anthropologists’ employment was justified through its applied potential, but their administrative ties to the users of this research were weaker than was the case for their British counterparts. the critique of applied anthropology derives a great deal of its impact from analysis of such • work, which was done by anthropologists who served in capacities that, in one way or another, supported colonialist and imperialist structures • In fact, one can argue that “the history of anthropology, both basic and applied, is the history of the power relationships between anthropologists and the people studied” • For better or worse, anthropologists collectively approached the colonial era with a two- pronged strategy. • They seized on opportunities to prove the value of their fledgling discipline while putting their awareness of the fundamental importance of culture to good use in try- • ing to protect the traditions and rights of subjugated peoples From New Deal to the Postwar Era • The involvement of anthropologists in application grew throughout the Depression and the New Deal, reaching a climax during the World War II years. • Margaret Mead estimated that during this period, 95 percent of U.S. anthropologists were en- gaged in the war effort. [181] Era of Diverted Gaze • The time just after World War II marks the start of a shift in the relationships between anthro- pologists and those with whom they did research. • Liberation of former European colonies both reduced the isolation of many cultural groups and decreased power differentials between anthropologists and the communities they studied. Indi- genous peoples were increasingly in a position to talk back and to contest for power. These changes ushered in the “postmodern era.” • The aftermath of the Vietnam War served as a catalyst for even more fundamental question- ing of accepted dominant structures and ideologies. • For theoretical anthropologists, there emerged a “crisis of representation” • Styles of ethnographic publication changed. • Anthropology became more self-conscious, with ethnographers acknowledging their own participation in the scenes and actions they depicted • Studies of “cultures” and “tribes” gave way to studies of “ethnic groups,” then of “com- munities” and “problems.” This “diverted gaze” away from describing particular cultures was in response to new questions about the ability of anthropologists to represent other peoples; instead, efforts were made to let them “speak for themselves.” • ethnographers focused on microlevel sociocultural patterns while over- looking the harsh real- ities and consequences of social in- equality, oppression, racism, violence, and suffering, which had been working Era of Action and Advocacy Rather than focusing on ethnography as reflexive “cultural critique”, applied anthropologists in- • creasingly “work[ed] with those studied in a collaborative or participatory mode” so that the com- munity or group became transformed “from object to be known to a subject that can control” • initial major shift in orientation occurring in applied anthropology during the late 1940s and early 1950s. --- What emerged was a radically different anthropology, involving clearly ex- pressed values, acted on by anthropologists who collaborated directly with communities to achieve community-directed change. • the best-known examples of such value explicit approaches are action anthropology (Tax 1958) and research and development anthropology (Holmberg 1958). • theory was integrated with advocacy and community development. Sol Tax and Allan Holmberg both spoke of having two mutually supportive goals: increasing scientific know- ledge and improving community welfare. • Tax emphasized the idea of self-determination, with the role of the action anthropologist being to assist in providing communities with “genuine alternatives from which the people involved can freely choose” while avoiding “imposing our values” [182] • Collaborative research (Schensul and Schensul 1992) and cultural brokerage (Weidman 1976), two quite different approaches both developed in the 1970s, attempted to redefine the anthropologist’s role vis-a`-vis communities so as to further egalitarian power relations within the research process and in relation to larger social structures. • This trend became even more apparent in later “participatory action” and “community- based” approaches that appeared across much of applied social science (Greenwood and Levin 1998). From this fertile soil, there emerged a number of enduring organizations with strong ties to anthropology and the collaborative participatory tradition. Several of these fo- cus on improving the health and well-being
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