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ANTHROPOLOGY 2A

CULTURAL
ANTHROPOLOGY
Summer 2012
Katherine Schaefers, Instructor
Office: 3102
OH: 12:30-1:30p.m. M-Th

CHAPTER 1

THE 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

1821)

Emperor of France (1769-

Anthropology

Timeline:
http://historyofanthropology.eu/

What caused this explosion in the discipline?

IN WESTERN HISTORY

European Exploration/Colonialism
Columbus,

Napoleon, and

WESTERN SOCIETYS PAST


ATTEMPTS AT GETTING TO KNOW
OTHER
CULTURES

Modernism: Began with the Renaissance and


the Enlightenment.

A reaction to the superstition and hysteria of Europes 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.
Empirical knowledge: 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 200300 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 ones own
biases.
We cannot remove our cultural lens but we can
become more aware of it.

Both

Modernism and Post-Modernism are


Western Societys 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 ones own culture
and that of others leads to more harmonious
relationships.

4 TRADITIONAL FIELDS OF
ANTHROPOLOGY

Physical

Human Biology and Evolution

Archaeology

Physical and Cultural remains

Linguistics

Origins and distribution of language

Cultural

Social organization, economics, technology, political organization,


marriage, family life.

Genetics, DNA studies, evolutionary theory, primate behavior, paleontology,


fossil record.

i.e. This Class

These 4 fields are rarely mutually exclusive & todays


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 Anthropologists
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-deamor_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 Fores 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 deceaseds 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 afflicteds 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 ones own worldview and wholly adopt another?
Emic Analysis: Kuru is caused by Sorcery. The Sorcerer will obtain a personal
belonging of the individuals, 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 Thursday
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)