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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
Functionalism
Structuralism
Structural Functionalism
Interpretivism
Practice Theory
Symbolic analysis
Psycho-analytical
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?
Malinowski-
'culture' fulfills the psychological and physical needs of individuals in society.
Call for 'Reflexivity'
What shapes our descriptions of cultures?
-Individually?
-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?
Factors:
-researchers' perspective & cultural background
-informants' perspective, social experiences, and social position
Radcliffe-Browne-
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)

"Thick-Description"
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
Holism
Marvin Harris
Full transcript