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Historical Particularism

A new thought on Cultural Anthropology

Mone Cha

on 4 February 2014

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Transcript of Historical Particularism

Franz Boas and Cultural Anthropology
Historical Particularism
Kroeber was more interested in the connections of geographical cultural traits. But Kroeber did agree with Boas’ cultural history.
A. L. Kroeber
Most interested on Geographical traits in a region but not necessarily individual stories
Paul Radin
Cultural relativist who focused more on individual accounts
Benjamin L.Whorf
Focus on language and the influence it has on ones culture
Boas' Influence
"Right and Wrong"
Paul Radin
A few of quotes from the natives:
It is always good to be good.
Never think a home is yours until you have made one for yourself.
Do not imagine that you are taking your children's part if you just speak about loving them. Let them see it for themselves.
Fieldwork on Eskimos
What did Boas learn?
Cultural Relativism
Cultural Evolutionism
Historical Particularism
Presented by: Mone and Carley
All cultures were equal
No superiority or inferiority
Look at cultures in terms of their own context and historical events
The liberal and humanistic values of his childhood could be applied to the study of human society. (McGee & Worms 2012:112)
Quality and not just quantity
Evolution and diffusion theories were flawed and inconsistent with their scientific methods

For the Anthro Class...
“We rather see that each cultural group has its own unique history, dependent partly upon the peculiar inner development of the social group, and partly upon the foreign influences to which it has been subjected” (Boas, 125).
Living with people and learning their language
Boas believed that individual plays a huge role in the development of a culture
If culture was really super organic and "ethnological genealogies" are not history, i.e., anthropology, then why did Kroeber go to such great lengths to cultivate and maintain his relationship with Ishi?

(interesting because he relied on a lot of information from Ishi [his research relationship] on his work on the Yana)
1. Take out a sheet of paper and pen/pencil.

2. Write down and describe what you see in this photo.
3 Fundamentals to explain cultural customs:
Environmental conditions
Psychological factors
Historical connections
"The activities of the individual are determined to a great extent by his social environment, but in turn his own activities influence the society in which he lives, and may bring about modifications in its form" (Boas).
"...the whole problem of cultural history appears to us as an historical problem. In order to understand history it is necessary to know not only how things are, but how they have come to be" (Boas).
Boasian-Style Fieldwork
A master researcher of the Winnebago Indians
In his article, he illustrates the complex and sophisticated thinking of these natives by quoting them
He argues that their "primitive" thinking is just as modern as civilized people
Activity A
Activity B
1. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen/pencil.

2. Write down what you did today.
The End!
"Primitive people are much less guided by consciously selfish and ulterior motives than we are, not because of any innate superiority over ourselves in this regard but because of the conditions under which they live." (Radin)
"Even civilized man is none of history's business; its sphere is the civilization of which man is the necessary basis but which is inevitable once this basis exists" (130)
Full transcript