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Anth101.111 SPR16 Wk 4

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Julie Jenkins

on 11 September 2017

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Transcript of Anth101.111 SPR16 Wk 4

Perspectives on Culture:
The Birth of Anthropology, Cannibalism & Human Zoos

The Great Chain of Being
-earth unchanged since creation (state of stasis)
-hierarchy/ scale of "perfection"

theory of change
-influenced by Erasmus Darwin & Charles Lyell
-change occurs through natural selection
process by which those most adapted to survive and reproduce in a given environment do so in greater numbers than others in that population.
-mutations
-random genetic drift
-gene flow
"race" as a way to signify human variation
--positioned "races" on a hierarchical scale of "closeness to God"
substantial effort to classify people into racial categories based upon arbitrary phenotypical characteristics
Examine how biological evolution relates to cultural institutions
Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman
1810

Ota Benga - 1906
Cincinnati Zoo- 1896
Birth of Anthropology
E.B. Tylor
Henry Lewis Morgan
Social or Cultural
Evolution
Idea that cultures 'evolve' through stages
Simple
Complex
Unilineal Evolution
Henry Lewis Morgan
Focus on technology and materials
Savagery
Barbarism
Civilization
Savagery: Hunting & Gathering, Fire, Pottery, Bow

Barbarism: Domestication of Animals, Agriculture, Metal Working

Civilization: Industrialization, Adoption of alphabet and writing
Social Darwinism
Argued that humans’ evolution was not just about technology & materials
Herbert Spencer
Franz Boas
-German born
-physicist & geographer
-migrated to United States in 1886
-Inuit
-Columbia University
Critique of Cultural/Social Evolution
Culture is not just about materials & technology… about complex system of meaning
Each culture has to be understood in its own terms- not in comparison to Europe or the U.S.
Different environments, different needs, develop different technologies
Different cultures, unique set of histories
--Historical Particularism
Relativism
Critique of Social Darwism & Race
If race is not a biological fact, what is it?
Race is not a biological fact:
--physical variation associated with populations originating in specific environments
-but does not produce discrete categories of people
--biologically/genetically meaningless classification
a construction of reality- a way of classifying people

"culturally constructed label (classification) that crudely and imprecisely describes real (human) variation" (Relethford).
but..."race" is real in shaping our interactions & our political & economic institutions
--we make it meaningful as a unit of classification
-Why do we have different skin tones?
-How does the process of classifying humans into racial categories relate to health?
-Does 'race' give athletes a competitive advantage?
Fun Fact:
During the 70's a form of cannibalism gained popularity in the U.S.

Constructing Signifiers of Difference
Age of Discovery & the Renaissance
(14-17th C)

Who are they?
Who are we??!!
Religion as signifier
-pagan
-Christian
Who is Christian?
Cannibalism--
common way of talking about who wasn't Christian
Human body parts used in medicine throughout Europe until the 17th C
Age of Enlightenment or Reason
(17-18th C)
Political comparisons as signifier
Hobbes- 17th C
"Brutish Savage"
Rousseau - 18th C
"Noble Savage"
Industrial Revolution, Colonialism, & Science:
18th-19th C
"Primitive Culture"
"Ancient Society"
1830-1917
1818-1881
1820-1903
'survival of the fittest'-
most intelligent members of society would survive
idea mapped onto class and race
--those in less 'evolved' societies were mentally and biologically inferior
1858-1942
Without relativism.....
We face the danger of coming up with theories about differences that are shaped by the way Americans or Europeans perceive the world—in terms of race or progress.

We face the danger of misrepresenting the complexity of other groups of people

We face the danger of losing our objectivity.
-Give an example of the tourists speaking of the PNGs as 'brutish savages' and 'noble savages'.
-Is this different from the human zoos of the 19th & 20th centuries? How, Why, Why Not?
-Who are the cannibals? Why?
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