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Growing awareness of geographic variability fostered the challenging of cultural evolutionism. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Growing awareness of geographic variability fostered the challenging of cultural evolutionism. This process was temporally correlated with a loss of faith in the benefits of technological progress.

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Growing awareness of geographic variability fostered the challenging of cultural evolutionism.

  • This process was temporally correlated with a loss of faith in the benefits of technological progress.
  • Simultaneously, Nationalist sentiment was increasing as industrialization led to heightened competition.
  • Nationalism is an “all-embracing sense of group identify and loyalty to a common homeland that is promoted by mass media, widespread literacy, and a comprehensive educational system.”
  • Nationalism arose out French Revolution, but it was not initially linked with ethnicity.
  • Minority groups (Celtic speaking Bretons, German speaking Alsatians, and Italian speaking Corsicans) were considered part of the new French Republic.
  • Still national identity was linked with a general cultural unity.

Nation states came to be viewed as political expressions of ethnic identity.

  • Over time Nationalism began to identify and entrench national divisions as racial division.
  • In this context archaeology shifted emphasis to study the origins and early histories of specific ethnic groups.

Many saw the French Revolution as the removal of an aristocracy run by foreign conquerors and the result was the restoration of rulership in the descendents of France’s Celtic inhabitants, the Celtic speaking Gauls.

  • 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte established the AcademieCeltique and employed archaeologists, among others, to cultivate a sense of continuity between modern French and the Gauls.
  • 1860s, Napoleon III (r. 1852-1870) the first President (and later Emperor) of the new French Republic supported excavations at three Celtic oppida (fortified towns) that were associated with major events during Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.
  • Napoleon III may have had a dual interest in unifying a modern France and he wrote that he was preparing a biography of Caesar.

In Brittan, upper classes viewed themselves as descendants of the Normans, the majority of the population was identified as Saxon, and to some extent the remote and primitive Celtic.

  • National selection adapted each ethnic group to its locality and condition.
  • Boyd Dawkins (1874) more advanced peoples pushed aside less developed ones.
  • Latham and Franks (1856) interpreted different types of pottery as evidence of migrations.
  • 1913, E.T. Leeds used burial assemblages on continent and England to trace English migrations into Britain after the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Scandinavian archaeologists maintained an interest in daily life in domestic contexts and an interest in evolution.

  • Primary emphasis in development of cultural chronologies that informed on respective nations and ones that provided a sense of pride situated in cultural identify.
  • Simultaneous revival of German literature that was linked with a renewed glorification of Germany’s medieval and ancient past.
  • Johann Herder “defied history as the account of the development of a people as exemplified by their language, traditions, and institutions.”
  • Antiquaries and archaeologists contributed to the unification of Germany by promoting a pan-German ethnic identity. Germany united in 1871.
  • Still, German archaeology was largely an amateur endeavor. Prussian leaders feared the promotion of archaeology, especially after the uprisings of 1849.
  • Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania developed new national identities after the breakdown of the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian multinational empires. This occurred in the emergence of a series of nation states.
  • Archaeology was supported by the Czech middle class and Polish aristocracy.

Increasing intensive agriculture and land reclamation projects led to more encounters with archaeological material.

  • “Nonprofessional recovery peaked in the early nineteenth century, whereas recovery by professional archaeologists gradually increased thereafter.”
  • As collections increased in size and the work was increasingly formalized, there was a growing awareness of variability in geographic distribution.
  • 1870s-1880s central and eastern European archaeology influenced by evolutionary archaeology of France and England and by Scandinavian interest in classification and comparison.
  • German archaeologists reluctant to adopt three-age system, due to rivalries with Scandinavian archaeologists.
  • Growing interest in ethnic identity fostered greater attention to variability in the geographic distribution of artifact types and assemblages.
  • Nationalist orientation encouraged an emphasis on Neolithic and later periods. Thus, there was a general shift away from an interest in Paleolithic times.

Early evolutionary archaeologists saw culture change arising from migration, diffusion, and independent invention.

  • By 1880s, increasing socio-economic difficulty encouraged an emphasis on the rigidity of human nature.
  • In Brittan there was a growing awareness of the problems associated with the Industrial Revolution.
  • Younger generations of scholars, in particular, rejected the idea of progress.
  • Where industrialism had been a source of pride, it was now viewed as a source of chaos and filth.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) argued for a superior pre-industrial past and called for the revival of artisanal skills. He promoted Romanticism and rejected Enlightenment values.

  • Other writers argued that French, Germans, and English were biologically different and that behavior was dictated by race rather than political or social factors.
  • Likewise, these same writers promoted national unity by asserting a common biological heritage that was assigned the strongest source of bond.
  • The working classes should trust the middle class to do their best to help ordinary people.

Loss of faith in progress and increasing belief that behavior was biologically determined led to skepticism regarding human creativity.

  • Change was not part of human nature and could be harmful.
  • Declining belief in independent development.
  • Inventions were probably only made once in history.
  • This resulted in a growing emphasis on diffusion and migration as sources of cultural change.
  • “If the insecurity of the middle classes of western Europe in the 1860s had led Lubbock and other Darwinians to abandon the doctrine of psychic unity and view indigenous peoples as biologically inferior to Europeans, the still greater insecurity of the 1880s led intellectuals to jettison the doctrine of progress and regard human beings as far more resistant to change than they had been viewed since before the Enlightenment.”

Emphasis on migration and diffusion apparent in Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904) and Franz Boas (1858-1942).

  • Ratzelrejected Adolf Bastian’s idea of psychic unity.
  • Bastian had argued that all similarities should be attributed to a psychic unity.
  • Ratzelbelieved that complex items like the bow and arrow were traceable to one common source.
  • Prolonged diffusion of trains led to the development of blocks of adjacent cultures.
  • Ratzelinfluenced Boas who brought these ideas to North America.

Boas opposed cultural evolutionisim and argued that each culture must be understood on its own terms.

    • Cultural relativism: no universal standard of comparison between degree of development or worth.
    • Historical particularism: each culture the product of a unique sequence of development.
  • Boas believed that any regularity in process of cultural development was too complex to understand.
  • The only way to explain the past was to trace idiosyncratic diffusionary episodes that shaped the development of each culture.