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The Growth of Anthropological Theory

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Victoria Low

on 9 July 2013

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Transcript of The Growth of Anthropological Theory

The Growth of Anthropological Theory
American Historicism
Franz Boas
Requires detailed ethnographic data
Introduced a methodology,
defining in scientific terms
Brought females into the field
Critics disliked antitheoretical stance

Grafton Elliot Smith and William Jones Perry (England)
Fritz Graebuer and Willhelm Schmidt (Germany, Austria)
Humans are essentially uninventive
Extreme cultural diffusion
Not provable
No answers about PROCESS of diffusion
First to point out the need to develop theories dealing with contact and interaction among cultures

Bronislaw Malinowski
Concerned about fieldwork, not origins
Cultures satisfied societal and individual needs
Identify functions/causes for an item
All aspects have a function and are interrelated
v.s. Structural functionalism
Merton: dysfunction
Leslie White and Julian Steward
Increase in energy control leads to cultural evolution
study of a broader concept of culture (White)
multilinear evolution: interest in specific cultures or group of cultures (Steward)
advancement of learning led to increase level of energy
Showed that certain places irrigation techniques developed b/c dry environ
Egypt/Middle east
first to study cultural ecology

Ward Goodenough (1956) and William Sturtevant (1964)
understanding of culture from the ppl themselves’ perspective
emic approach
in terms of the ppl’s vocabulary and categories
difficulty in comparisons
time consuming

Feminist anthropology
Louise Lamphere, Sherry Ortner, Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo (1974), Annette Weiner (1976)
Focus on women’s roles in society
Gender as a neglected but vital societal variable
Rejection of positivism (repressive and distance btwn researcher and subject)
Qualitative methods for equal and collaborative relationship

Cultural materialism
Marvin Harris
human thoughts and behaviors determined by material goods/modes of production
cultural variations caused by material constraints
ideas and values have little impact
political activities and ideas as secondary factors
etic approach
stress on scientific method and quantitative methods

Clifford Geertz
interpretative anthropology
emphasis on description and interpretation
self-knowledge with knowledge
Structuralism, feminist anthropology as roots
collaborative approach
multiple authors to ethnographies to create dialogue
research subjects have voice
ever-changing culture calls for continual reinterpretation
unethical to generalize cultural theories

a model used to explain or predict phenomena
The cultural anthropologist
can be tested through the scientific process
Edward Tylor (England), Lewis Henry Morgan (US)
Distinct evolutionary stages
Placed Euro-American cultures at the top of the ladder
Simpler to more complex
Morgan: savagery, barbarism, civilization
psychic unity: cultures arose independently
Cons: ethnocentric, based on fragmentary data
Pros: Different human lifestyles are a result of certain processes

Structural Functionalism
Psychological Anthropology
French Structuralism
Alfred Radcliffe Brown (British)
societal functions contribute to well-being of society.
social functions v.s. individual functions
universal functions: every part of culture has a particular function
functional unity: culture as intergrated parts to create the whole
dysfunction: source of stress/imbalance in cultural system (Merton)

Margaret Mead (U.S.)
relationship between culture and personality
compared Samoa to North America
American children's emotional turbulence culturally-based v.s. biologically-based
American culture of masculine/feminine culturally-based v.s. genetically-based
importance of cultural v.s. biological conditioning

Claude Levi-Strauss
science of linguistics
language as purely a learned response
binary oppositions
psychological/cognitive v.s. sociological
cultural differences occur by environ and history
psychic unity of mankind
Cons: abstract, hard to test empirically
relationship btwn culture and cognition
inspired creation of more imaginative hypotheses

Franz Boas and Margaret Meade
The True Story of the Silence of the Lambs
"Even experienced police detectives started to think that Thompson had the wrong man.

Nature v.s. Nuture
Does society create serial killers, or are they born that way?
Use an anthropological theory or an anthropologist's viewpoint to support your side.

ex: cultural materialism- What would Harris think? Which side would he take?
Jim Fallon: Exploring the mind of a killer
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