Anthropology 2ACultural Anthropology Fall 2011 Katherine Schaefers, Instructor Office: 3102 OH: 10:00-10:30 T/Th
Chapter 1The Essence of Anthropology • Film: Intro to the Millennium Series • David Maybury-Lewis, Anthropologist
The Development of Anthropology • Anthropology (Anthropos = “Man”, Logy = “Study of”) • The study of humankind in all times and places • The discipline of Anthropology is a European invention, but the study of people has a long history…
Early Anthropology • Herodotus • Greek Historian (5th century B.C.E.) • The Histories – collections of Herodotus’ encounters with peoples of the Mediterranean world. He often emphasized how he faithfully recorded stories told to him, but would often add embellishments/emphasis to endear his Greek readers to the peoples he met abroad. • Napoleon Bonaparte and Egypt • Self-proclaimed Emperor of France (1769-1821) • Anthropology Timeline: • http://historyofanthropology.eu/ • What caused this explosion in the discipline?
In Western History • European Exploration/Colonialism • Columbus, Napoleon, and…
Western Society’s past attempts at getting to know other cultures • Modernism: Began with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. • A reaction to the superstition and hysteria of Europe’s “Dark Ages” (The Witch hunt era that we will get into later). • Rationality, objectivity, reason can discover knowledge and truth and lead to progress. • We can understand everybody/thing everywhere if we adhere to these principles of logic. • Empiricalknowledge: Based on observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith. • Hypothesis: A tentative explanation of the relation between certain phenomena • Theory: In science, an explanation of natural phenomena, supported by a reliable body of data. • People are now freed from the restraints of superstitious nonsense and can now grow as logical, rational and evolved beings. • This is where our modern thoughts of linearity come from. In Western Society, time is like an arrow, experienced as breach, innovation and change – we are seen to always improve on what came before. The Europeans of the Enlightenment saw themselves at the pinnacle of evolution. (The era right before this also had maps centering on Europe, and the cosmos rotating around Earth).
Questions... • With new discoveries in science (physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, anatomy, anthropology!) and cultures being found worldwide that seemed similar to the “less evolved” European prehistoric culture, this European laudatory attitude persisted for a good 200-300 years, but then the ideology began to shift… • Questions arose: Were Europeans really more advanced/improved/intelligent than their ancestors? What is Intelligence?
For every movement, there is a counter-movement • Post-Modernism: No “true” knowledge, only subjective and objective knowledge. • 1980s-Today • Knowledge as a human construction that we must “deconstruct.” • Science is limited: it does not integrate multiple viewpoints/truths. One must be aware of one’s own biases. • We cannot remove our cultural lens but we can become more aware of it. • Both Modernism and Post-Modernism are Western Society’s Etic ways of viewing other cultures.
The Anthropological Perspective To make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange • Strangeness, the unfamiliar is scary and can lead to misguided feelings of anger and hate, which may eventually lead to warfare and death. • Most interpersonal or inter-group conflicts are caused by a lack of understanding. • Discovering similarities between one’s own culture and that of others leads to more harmonious relationships.
4 Traditional Fields of Anthropology • Physical • Human Biology and Evolution • Genetics, DNA studies, evolutionary theory, primate behavior, paleontology, fossil record. • Archaeology • Physical and Cultural remains • Linguistics • Origins and distribution of language • Cultural • Social organization, economics, technology, political organization, marriage, family life. • i.e. This Class • These 4 fields are rarely mutually exclusive & today’s anthropology scene is very fluid, often incorporating techniques from outside disciplines like psychology (study of the human psyche/mind) and sociology (study of human society).
Terms and techniques used by Cultural Anthropologists Participant Observation: To truly understand a culture, an anthropologist will usually study a culture for an extended period of time, sometimes taking many years. Oftentimes, the anthropologist will live within the community and partake in daily life and activities. Ethnography: A Cultural Anthropologist’s work usually culminates into something called an Ethnography, or a written description of the studied society. These are usually published in books and journals.
Terms and techniques used by Cultural Anthropologists cont. • Culture Area: This class will make use of ethnographic material from around the world from locations that are termed “Culture Areas” or geographical areas where societies tend to share many traits, either because of similar responses to the environment or because of cultural diffusion (sharing of culture) between these groups. • Maps!: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/ • Awesome maps, printer friendly from National Geographic
A question of perspective:The Fore of New Guinea • Problem: The Fore are a group of ~14,000 horticulturalists (cultivators of domesticated plants without the use of modern agricultural techniques) from the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (Melanesia Culture Area)who have had about 200 of their members die from mysterious causes each year. The locals call it Kuru or “to tremble with fear.” Jerking/shaking/unable to coordinate are the main symptoms. After 9 months, the individual is no longer able to eat or drink and soon dies. Women and children are mainly afflicted. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x925q5_kuru-canibalismo-de-amor_school • Google Map: http://www.maplandia.com/papua-new-guinea/madang/fore/ • Solution? If you were asked to look into this case, what would your first hypothesis be as to the cause of the affliction?
A Holistic Perspective solves it • We must look to all aspects of the Fore’s society for the answer, specifically, their religious and funerary practices… • Kuru is caused by an infectious agent that is ingested by family members when they consume the remains of their dead loved ones. To the Fore, the holiest, most sacred resting place for the deceased is within the bodies of their loved ones. The deceased’s remains would be cooked and distributed amongst family as a form of utmost respect. Women and children, having lower social status, were more likely to ingest the brain (the seat of the infectious agent).
Etic/Emic Analysis • Etic Analysis: Viewing and labeling a culture with our own words and terms. • Advantages: Finding patterns that the studied group may be unaware of. Applying an Etic Analysis to all cultures that you study makes it easier to identify Human Universals. Terms and categories can be made for new information to be nicely organized. Etic Analysis is mainly used in Anthropological studies. • Etic Analysis: Kuru is caused by a virus in the afflicted’s bloodstream that is later ingested by family members. • But what are bacteria, germs, diseases, a virus to the Fore? These are not only foreign words, but also foreign ideas. • Emic Analysis: Viewing a culture through the eyes of the people being studied. • Advantages: Better understanding of the studied culture, but much, much harder to attain. Argument: is it even possible to see through the eyes of another culture? To undo and place aside one’s own worldview and wholly adopt another? • Emic Analysis: Kuru is caused by Sorcery. The Sorcerer will obtain a personal belonging of the individual’s, combine it in a bundle with leaves, bark and stones and bury it in the cold muddy earth. The Sorcerer will then recite a spell and let the bundle rot. The individual then develops Kuru.
Cultural Relativism Cannibalism. Right/Wrong? Does context matter? Who gets to make up the rules?
Cultural Relativism cont. • The norms and values we grow up with seem right and correct • We use our own society as a base for judging others • Thinking of others as simple, primitive, immoral, less-than-human or somehow fundamentally “wrong” is how wars start and propaganda is spread. Exploration: Americans activity and stereotypes (handout)
For Tuesday • Prepare for Chapter 1 Vocabulary Quiz (boldfaced words in Chapter) • Write a 1 paragraph analytical response each for DeVita chapters 2, 13 & 27 (Look in your syllabus under Homework Policy for tips on what you should be writing about)