Sc2218 lecture 2 (2011)

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  • SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition

    Lecture 2: Strangers AbroadOrigins of the Anthropological PerspectiveEric C. ThompsonSemester 1, 2011/2012

  • Where Are We Going?Part 1: What is Anthropology?Strangers AbroadRaceCulturePart 2: What do Anthropologists Study?Kinship, Gender, Economy, CommunityPart 3: Current Debates and TrendsRepresenting OthersThe Poetry of CultureWorld AnthropologiesYOU AREHERE

  • Todays LectureWhy are anthropologists strangers abroad?

    What is the relationship between anthropology and colonialism?

    Who was Franz Boas? What were his contributions to Anthropology?

    What is cultural relativism?

  • Origins of Modern AnthropologyWhy are anthropologists Strangers Abroad?Early Modern AnthropologistsAmerican Cultural AnthropologyBritish Social AnthropologyUnderstanding difference and diversity from RACE to CULTURE.

  • Strangers, Others, & the Anthropological PerspectiveIbn BatttaTravels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354Ma HuanSurvey of the Oceans Shores, 1433Franz BoasExpedition to Baffin Island, 1883-1884Ibn Batttas RouteAdmiral Zheng HeIbn Battta*Follow the hyperlinks for additional information.

  • Survey of the Oceans Shores (1433)Zheng Hes voyages, Early Ming DynastyMa Huan was Zheng Hes chronicler; making a record of peoples and places

  • Early Modern AnthropologistsFranz BoasFounder of American AnthropologyBaffin Island (Inuit/Eskimo); American Northwest (Kwakiutl)Bronislaw MalinowskiTrobriand Islands (Pacific)E.E. Evans-PritchardAfrica; Azande and Nuer (Sudan)E.E. Evans-Pritchard1902-1973BronislawMalinowski1884-1942Franz Boas1858-1942

  • Richard B. Lee:Anthropology in the mid-20th centuryPhD UC-Berkeley, 1965: Subsistence Ecology of !Kung BushmenMan the Hunter (1968) Evolutionary perspective.See Appendix for revised view.

  • Context of Modern Anthropology19th 21st centuriesEuropean & American Colonialism

    Scientific approaches to studying people, society and culture.

    Decline of colonialism, national liberation movements, native anthropologists

  • Why are People Different?Geography (Environmental Determinism)19th century idea; uncommon now

    Race (Biological Determinism)19th century idea; still common

    Culture (Cultural Relativism)19th to 20th century idea; popular now

  • Cultural Evolution19th C. European IdeaAll societies progress through stagesEuropeans = most advancedJustification of European Colonial Rule (The white mans burden)Lower SavageryMiddle SavageryUpper SavageryLower BarbarismMiddle BarbarismUpper BarbarismCivilizationLewis Henry MorgansScheme of Social EvolutionL.H. Morgan

  • The White Mans Burden(Kipling 1899)Take up the White mans burden,Send forth the best ye breed.Go bind your sons to exile,To serve your captives need.To wait in heavy harness,On fluttered folk and wild.Your new caught, sullen peoples,Half-devil and half-child.Kiplings poem echoes three European ideas about natives:Wild Non-human, animals (e.g. debate over whether native Americans had souls)Half-devil HeathensHalf-child Lower stage of development


  • Course WikiSign Up!Contribute!Anthropology and the Human Condition

  • The Shackles of TraditionWho was Franz Boas? What was his role in shaping modern anthropology?

    What did Boas think about Savages?

    How did the idea of CULTURE influence his views?

    How does Boas compare with other Strangers Abroad?

  • Boas CareerBorn in 1856 to Jewish parents in Germany (Westphalia)PhD in Physics (1881)Post-graduate work in Geography1883-4 Baffin Island Research (Inuit/Eskimo)Founding of Department of Anthropology, Columbia University (New York) and American Anthropological Association, c.1896-19021901 onward trained dozens of PhD students, who went on to found anthropology departments elsewhere.Department of Anthropology, University of Washington founded in 1920s by Leslie Spier and Melville Jacobs, both students of Franz Boas1942 Collapsed at a faculty dinner and died in the arms of Claude Levi-Strauss (French Anthropologist)

  • Boas LegacyHow Boas shaped Anthropology:Long-term FieldworkBaffin Island, Inuit (Eskimo)Pacific Northwest, Kwakiutl (with George Hunt)Professionalization & InstitutionalizationFocus on Language and CultureHolistic ApproachCultural Relativism (History vs. Evolutionary Stages)Anti-Racist, Humanistic tradition

  • Culture as CultivationIf this trip hasa valuable experience, it lies in the strengthening of the viewpoint of the relativity of all cultivation. And that the evil as well as the value of a person lies in the cultivation of the heart, which I find or do not find here just as much as amongst us. Franz Boas 1883-1884

  • Cultural Relativism, Anti-Racism, HumanismPrior to Boas, the dominant paradigm of anthropology was unilinear evolution.SavageryBarbarismCivilizationLewis Henry MorganBoas rejected evolutionary approaches in favor of cultural relativism.Cultures are not better or worse; more or less advanced, etc.Cultures must be understood on their own terms, not in relationship to other cultures.

  • Cultural Relativism is a value that teaches respect for others.

    Each culture has its own theoreticians whose contributions deserve the same attention as that which the anthropologist gives to colleagues. Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, 1963 [1958], pg. 282

  • Anthropologys Ethical Dilemma:Cultural & Moral RelativismDoes cultural relativism imply moral relativism?

    Are there limits to cultural or moral relativism?

    Is cultural relativism necessary for anthropological research?

  • Colonial Anthropology(mid-19th C. to mid-20th C.)American Cultural AnthropologyFocus on Native American culturesBritish Social AnthropologyFocus on Natives of the British EmpireThe Savage SlotMethodological Alterity

  • Post-Colonial AnthropologyAmerican Area Studies (Cold War)Soviet Anthropology (USSR, China, Vietnam)Japanese AnthropologyRejection of Anthropology (We are not Primitive)National Anthropologies (e.g. Thailand, Korea)Methodological NationalismWorld AnthropologiesGlobalization (e.g. Anthropology of YouTube)

  • Boas Basic Questions for Anthropology:Why are the tribes and the nations of the world different and how have the present differences developed?Anthropology, 1907We will be addressing this question over the coming weeks.

  • Summing UpAnthropologists as Strangers AbroadThroughout history many people have explained other people to their own peopleAnthropology is part of this traditionAnthropologys Relationship to ColonialismModern European/American AnthropologyAnthropologys Relationship to Anti-RacismThe struggle to overcome biased and racist views of primitive and other peoples.