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Anth101/111 4.2 SPR16

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Julie Jenkins

on 4 February 2016

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Transcript of Anth101/111 4.2 SPR16

Perspectives on Culture
Beyond Boas

Anthropology fundamentally shaped by Boas' legacy
Several theoretical orientations emerged thereafter:
Materialism & Marxism
Structural Functionalism
Practice Theory
Symbolic analysis
Historical analysis
Discourse analysis
Anthropological Debates
If not, is anthropology a science? Or an interpretative practice?
Can we ever be 100% objective?
Only the Anthropologist's Interpretation?
Yes & No...
Informed interpretation based on extensive long term fieldwork, thick descriptions, and the emic perspective
Search for the diversity of explanations and experiences, not the 'right' explanation.
Anthropology Tool Kit:
-We should strive to look at a culture relativistically
-What particular histories have shaped the culture that we see today?
-What processes occurred that led to specific changes?
Functionalism & Structural Functionalism-
ala Malinowski
& Radcliffe-Browne
-What is the context for a practice or idea?
-What is the 'function' of this practice or idea?
--what is its purpose in relation to other aspects of culture?
'culture' fulfills the psychological and physical needs of individuals in society.
Call for 'Reflexivity'
What shapes our descriptions of cultures?
-Our culture's world-view?
Am I being ethnocentric?
--How are social relations structured within groups? In what kinds of institutions?
--How do institutions shape ideas and behavior?
Idealism & Interpretivism- ala Clifford Geertz
(circa 1973)
-What are the key symbols?
-What do they mean?
-How do they shape our experience?
-How are they transmitted?
-How are they manipulated by people in specific social situations?
-researchers' perspective & cultural background
-informants' perspective, social experiences, and social position
practices and ideas serve to maintain the social order
Margaret Mead vs Derek Freeman
Bronislaw Malinowski-
British Anthropologist (1910-1940)

Participant-Observation in single community
--not enough data for comparitivism
A. R. Radcliffe-Brown-
British Anthropologist (circa 1910-1955)

saw society and culture as a system of inter-related parts
Mead- Somoa- 1920s
--looking at adolescence and whether every society experiences distress, tension, rebellion in the transition to adulthood
--No-- Somoan youth have freedom to be sexually active and transition quite easily
Freeman- Somoa- 1980s
--argued that Mead's informants lied
-- Somoans highly value virginity
--Mead-- young women, not high ranking families
--Freeman-- elder men, high ranking families
--different time periods
Materialism -
how do material conditions shape institutions & ideas
Marvin Harris
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