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A Brief History of Anthropology

A Brief History of Anthropology. 19 th Century Characteristics. Industrial Revolution Science Positivism Rationalism – Reason Rapid Change Progress Christianity under attack Age of Empire Philosophy of History.

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A Brief History of Anthropology

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  1. A Brief History of Anthropology

  2. 19th Century Characteristics • Industrial Revolution • Science • Positivism • Rationalism – Reason • Rapid Change • Progress • Christianity under attack • Age of Empire • Philosophy of History With the industrial revolution literally steaming ahead the 19th century was a century of rapid change

  3. To the Victorian mind it was far better to be civilized than to be a “savage”

  4. Anthropology: A Branch of History `the history, not of tribes or nations, but of the condition of knowledge, religion, art, custom, and the like among them' (Tylor 1871 I: 5). "no conception can be understood except through its history is a maxim which all ethnographers may adopt as a standing rule". (Tylor 1871). `the past is continuously needed to explain the present and the whole to explain the part' (Tylor 1865: 2). `there seems no human thought so primitive as to have lost its bearing on our own thought, nor so ancient as to have broken its connection with our own life' (Tylor 1871).

  5. Australia The Savage Becomes the Primitive `the master-key to the investigation of man's primeval condition is held by Prehistoric Archaeology. Making Stone Tools New Guinea This key is the evidence of the Stone Age, proving that men of remotely ancient ages were in the savage state' (Tylor 1871 I: 58).

  6. “Looking over a collection of their [quaternary man's] implements and weapons on a museum shelf we may fairly judge by analogy that in their moral habits, as in their material arts, they had much in common with the rudest savages of modern times, users like them of chipped stone and flint.” (Tylor 1873a: 702)

  7. Central tenet Ona of Tierra del Fuego Anthropologists could then use the `indirect evidence' provided by contemporary savagery `as a means of re-constructing the lost records of early or barbarous times' (1865: 5). “The condition of savage and barbarous tribes often more or less fairly represent stages of culture through which our own ancestors passed long ago' (Tylor 1871)

  8. CIVILIZATION: Writing, urban life; flowering of arts, architecture universal sequence of “stages” through which it was hypothesized all societies will sooner or later pass unless their development is arrested by some exogenous circumstance (extinction, conquest, absorption by another society or achieving a perfect equilibrium with the environment) BARBARISM: settled life; markets, rise of chiefs and kings, agriculture, arts develop SAVAGERY: hunting and gathering; no surplus production; no permanent cohesive unit wider than band, stone tools

  9. U N I F O R M I T Y O F S T A G E S A present day society in the stage of Barbarism (e.g. Hawai’i or Samoa) could shed light on the distant past when northern European society was in the stage of Barbarism just as an Australian Aboriginal society could inform Europeans of their history in the stage of Savagery Europeans Hawai’i Australian Aborigines

  10. Uniformitarian principle The same kind of development in culture which has gone on inside our range of knowledge has also gone on outside it, its course of proceeding being unaffected by our having or not having reporters present. If any one holds that human thought and action were worked out in primæval times according to laws essentially other than those of the modern world, it is for him to prove by valid evidence this anomalous state of things, otherwise the doctrine of permanent principle will hold good, as in astronomy or geology. That the tendency of culture has been similar throughout the existence of human society, and that we may fairly judge from its known historic course what its prehistoric course may have been, is a theory clearly entitled to precedence as a fundamental principle of ethnographic research. (1871a I: 32-33)

  11. “The phenomena of Culture may be classified and arranged, stage by stage, in a probable order of evolution” (1871 I: 6) Hand Gonne c.1400 Matchlock 1400-1700 Wheellock 1500-1820 Flintlock 1608-1865 “it is desirable to work out a systematically as possible a scheme of evolution of this culture along its many lines”. P. 21

  12. Survivals Among evidence aiding us to trace the course which the civilization of the world has actually followed, is that great class of facts to denote which I have found it convenient to introduce the term “Survivals”. Maypole Dancing Outskirts of London, 1891 These are processes, customs, opinions, and so forth which have been carried on by force of habit into a new state of society different from that in which they had their original home, and they thus remain as proofs and examples of an older condition of culture out of which a newer has evolved…. Such examples lead us back to the habits of hundreds and even thousands of years ago, p. 16. “games, popular sayings, customs, superstitions, and the like”.

  13. E.B. Tylor 1832-1917 • 1871 Primitive Culture • correlates the three levels of social evolution to types of religion: • Savagery — animism • barbarism — polytheism • civilization — monotheism • Also linked to morality

  14. John Ferguson McLennan, (1827-81) 1865 Primitive Marriage: An Enquiry into the Origin of the Form of Capture in Marriage Ceremonies • first stage was a time of sexual promiscuity • Female infanticide led to a shortage of women, who had to be shared in a polyandrous matriarchal situation • Because men don’t like to share wives they captured them from neighbors (exogamy) – patriarchy and monogamy

  15. Lewis Henry Morgan (1818 – 1881) 1851 League of the Iroquois 1871 Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity 1877 Ancient Society

  16. Assumptions of Nineteenth Century Evolutionism 1. Like the natural world the cultural world is governed by laws that science can discover. 2. These laws operated on the distant past as they do on the present. - Uniformitarianism 3. The present grows out of the past by a continuous process - developmentalism 4. This growth is simple to complex. 5. All humans share a single psychic nature – are rational 6. The moving force of cultural development is interaction with the environment.

  17. Assumptions of Nineteenth Century Evolutionism Continued 7. Different development is due to different environments. 8. These differences can be measured. 9. In these terms cultures can be ordered in a hierarchical manner. 10. Certain contemporary cultures are like earlier stages. 11. In the absence of data these stages can be reconstructed by the comparative method. 12. The results of the comparative method can be confirmed by the study of survivals.

  18. CRITIQUE OF EVOLUTIONISM Is the Central Tenet Valid? Is it Ethnocentric? Did the Data support the theory? Is the Doctrine of survivals valid?

  19. The Growth of Fieldwork N. Chagnon in Brazil with the Yanomamo

  20. 3 Impetuses • Increasing knowledge of other cultures • dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of much of the data contained in the ethnological writings • the belief that the ‘savage’ tribes in their ‘natural’ state were rapidly disappearing in the face of contact with the more civilized nations

  21. Increasing knowledge of other cultures • Explorers and travellers were replaced by government officials and missionaries who formed a closer association with the people they were in contact with. • Appearance of Literary journals such as • TheFortnightly Review (1865-1934), • The Nineteenth Century (1877), • The Academy (1871) • The Contemporary Review (1866- ) • First Monographs • e.g. The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899), B. Spencer and F. Gillen • Questionnaires

  22. Notes and Queries on Anthropology 1874 Purpose: `to promote accurate anthropological observation on the part of travellers, and to enable those who are not anthropologists to supply the information, which is needed for the scientific study of anthropology at home' (BAAS 1874: vii).

  23. Fear that “primitive” tribes were rapidly disappearing • Tierra del Fuego has probably been inhabited for at least 9000 years. • Around 1880 there were between 3500 and 4000 Ona • In 1919 there were < 300 • By 1930 < 100 Ona remained. • the last full-blooded Ona died in 1977. Onas hunting in Tierra Del Fuego c. 1900 `In view of the fast vanishing "primitive" cultures, and the rapid extinction of some of the more primitive and ethnologically interesting races the importance of such efforts to secure information ere it is too late cannot be over-estimated' (Balfour 1905: 15).

  24. Alfred Court Hadddon (1855-1940) W H R Rivers 1864-1922 1898 Cambridge Expedition to the Torres Straits

  25. Survey Versus Intensive Fieldwork A typical piece of intensive work is one in which the worker lives for a year or more among a community of perhaps four or five hundred people and studies every detail of their lifeand culture; in which he comes to know every member of the community personally; in which he is not content with generalized information, but studies every feature of life and custom in concrete detail and by means of the vernacular language. It is only by such work that one can fully realise the immense extent of the knowledge which is now awaiting the inquirer, even in places where the culture has already suffered much change. It is only by such work that it is possible to discover the incomplete and even misleading character of much of the vast mass of survey work which forms the existing basis of anthropology”Rivers1913

  26. Still Evolutionary Theory • Rivers: “the goal of anthropology is the reconstruction of the history of `primitive' peoples • Balfour: “the ethnographer's purpose is to determine their ‘place in time’” (1905: 18) • Haddon's aim: “to elucidate the “nature, origin and distribution of the races and peoples of a limited ethnological area and to define their place in the evolutionary tree”

  27. Two things were absent from fieldwork at this time • participation • `at Bendiyagalge we were particularly well situated to observe their behaviour, our camp being out of sight of the Vedda camp but within two hundred yards of it, here we could listen to their unrestrained chatter and laughter' (Seligman and Seligman The Vedda 1911: 85). • Most ethnographers at this time also relied heavily on translators • Fieldwork conducted under an evolutionary paradigm did not necessitate participation. Since ethnographers were interested in establishing historical links with other cultures, the meanings which the myths and ceremonies they were describing had for the people concerned was of little interest 2. sociological theory

  28. Emile Durkheim 1858 - 1917 • The Division of Labour in Society 1893 • Rules of the Sociological Method 1895 • Suicide 1897 • Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 1912

  29. What is a Social Fact? “A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations” When I perform my duties as a father or a husband for example, I fulfill obligations which are defined in law and custom and which are external to myself and my actions. Even when they conform to my own sentiments and when I feel their reality within me, that reality does not cease to be objective, for it is not I who have prescribed these duties; I have received them through education.

  30. Social Facts Characteristics • External to the Individual • found ready-made at birth • Objective • Learned • Relative • Endowed with coercive power • A new variety of phenomena • source is not the individual but in society a collective phenomenon

  31. Rules of the Sociological Method • Society is part of nature and a science of society must be based on the same principles as those of the natural sciences • Social facts must be treated as things I.e. objectively • The properties of the totality cannot be deduced from those of the individuals who combine to form it. E.g. Suicide rates • Social facts have to be explained in terms of their function

  32. Functional Explanation • function of a social item refers to its correspondence with “the general needs of the social organism not the individual” • Function must be clearly distinguished from intention or purpose

  33. The root idea in functionalism • Human societies consist of a number of institutions which • over time achieve a harmonious “fit” to one another • Integration • serve adaptive ends — i.e. contribute to the survival of the overall society  function • do not just reflect universal human nature, but shape it in distinctive ways  determinism

  34. Functionalist view of a society (1) INSTI- TUTIONS SOCIETY PERSON A society consists of a distinct set of institutions which introject distinctive motivations into its members from earliest childhood

  35. Functionalist view of a society Different institutions produce different persons with different motivations

  36. Functionalism in a Nutshell how does a social phenomenon contribute to the survival of the society as a whole

  37. BRONISŁAW MALINOWSKI 1884 - 1942 • 1884 born in Kraków, Poland, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire • 1910: emigrates to England to begin postgraduate work in anthropology at the LSE • 1912 receives a Ph.D from the LSE for a library dissertation on the Australian aborigines • 1914 travels to the British Association for the Advancement of Science’s meeting in Melbourne • Sept 1914 War is declared while en route and Malinowski is classified as an enemy alien. • spends 2 ½ years in the Trobriands

  38. Trobriand Is.

  39. “Imagine yourself suddenly set down surrounded by all your gear on a tropical beach close to a native village while the launch or dinghy which has brought you sails away out of sight”.

  40. “Imagine yourself then, making your first entry into the village”

  41. “Some natives flock around you, especially if they smell tobacco”

  42. “He ought to put himself in good conditions of work, that is, in the main, to live without other white men, right among the natives”

  43. “One step further in this line can be made by the Ethnographer who acquires a knowledge of the native language and can use it as an instrument of inquiry.” (p. 23)

  44. The Goal of Ethnography The goal [of the Ethnographer] is, briefly; to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world” P. 25 Perhaps through realising human nature in a shape very distant and foreign to us, we shall have some light shed on our own. P. 25

  45. Participant • It is good for the Ethnographer sometimes to put aside camera, note book and pencil, and to join in himself in what is going on p. 21 • Observation • An ethnographic diary, carried on systematically throughout the course of one’s work in a district would be the ideal instrument for this sort of study inside view outside (analy- tical) view

  46. A functional account is an analyst’s account which asks what is the `sociological function of these customs what part do they play in the maintenance and development of civilization?” • Functional accounts don’t worry about how an institution arose • most institutional origins lost in the mists of time • can at most speculate about them (“conjectural history” ) • For functionalists, what is important is not how things originated but how they work (function)… • how they contribute to peoples’ lives

  47. Various Institutional Functions language binds the community together Magic warrants a myth's truth, Myth expresses, enhances, and codifies belief; it safeguards and enforces morality' Scientific knowledge ensures Man's survival Religion establishes, fixes, and enhances all valuable mental attitudes, such as reverence for tradition, harmony with environment, courage and confidence in the struggle with different cultures and at the prospect of death law curbs certain natural propensities, to hem in and control human instincts and to impose a non-spontaneous, compulsory behaviour'

  48. Malinowski’s Hierarchy of needs • ‘Basic’ needs • Food, shelter, sex, etc. • universal • this supplies a certain commonality to all human cultures and is ultimately what makes them comparable. • Also makes ethnology scientific • each culture responds to the particular needs of its members through institutions • every institution centres around a fundamental need • For example, tools function to provide food, and shelter • The variation in the form of the institution is culturally determined

  49. instrumental’ needs • but tools require skilled artisans and trade groups etc. In a sense, the tools themselves have needs. • These are instrumental needs • the three primary ones being economic organization, law, and education • integrative needs • these institutions must in turn be functionally adjusted to each other in order to form a more or less consistent pattern… • this produces requirements not of individuals but of the cultural system itself

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