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Anth101/111 4.3 Fall13

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Julie Jenkins

on 22 September 2013

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Transcript of Anth101/111 4.3 Fall13

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 interpretations 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 has shaped the culture that we see today?
-What processes occurred that led to specific changes? Invention? Borrowed? Reinterpretation? Intentional Change? Side Effect of another change?
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? --or 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?
-Our culture's world-view?
Am I being ethnocentric?
--How are groups structured? Into what kinds of institutions?
--How do these institutions shape ideas and behavior?
--How do social relations occur within these institutions?
Interpretivism- ala Clifford Geertz
(circa 1973)
-What are the key symbols of the group?
-What do they mean?
-How do they shape our experience?
-How are they manipulated by people in specific social situations?
-my perspective & cultural background
-my ethnocentrisms
-informants perspective, social experiences, and social position
Radcliffe-Browne- practices and ideas serve to maintain the social order
Margaret Mead vs Derek Freeman
British Anthropologist (1910-1940)

Participant-Observation in single community
--not enough data for comparitivism
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
--1,000+ different cultural groups
--historical migration with Australia
--Portuguese & Spanish Traders - 16-18th C
--British/German Colonies - 1884
--1905/1919- Australian Colony
-gold, oil, copper, cash crop exports
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