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Anthropology Ch. 3 Notes

by: Carly Rothert

Anthropology Ch. 3 Notes Anth 2800

Marketplace > University of Toledo > Language > Anth 2800 > Anthropology Ch 3 Notes
Carly Rothert
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These notes cover everything in Chapter 3.
Cultural Anthropology
Shahna Arps
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carly Rothert on Saturday January 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anth 2800 at University of Toledo taught by Shahna Arps in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see Cultural Anthropology in Language at University of Toledo.


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Date Created: 01/30/16
Anthropology Ch. 3 Notes  Explain who Boas and Malinowski were, and their importance to the development of anthropology.  Define participant observation and explain its importance in anthropology.  Describe some of the techniques that anthropologists use during their fieldwork.  Explain some of the challenges of anthropological research and suggest ways to overcome those challenges.  Analyze the role of cross-cultural research in anthropology and describe some of the tools used to conduct it.  Summarize the importance of feminism and postmodernism in the development of anthropology.  Describe collaborative and engaged anthropology and give examples of them.  Discuss the advantages and difficulties of doing fieldwork in one’s own society.  Give some examples of ethical dilemmas facing anthropologists. A little History:  anthropology was not always based around fieldwork  Sir Edward Burnett Tylor and Lewis Henry Morgan: first scholars that called themselves  anthropologists o second half of the 19th century o saw themselves as compilers and analysts of ethnographic accounts rather than as field  researchers o “armchair anthropologists”­­­relied on other people's findings o made an evolutionary scale that went from “savages” (small scale societies) to  “barbarians” (various chiefdoms) to “civilization” (their own society)  many problems because the data they used from explorers usually played up the  most exotic aspects of societies and the evolutionists contorted their data to fit  their evolutionary theories  Franz Boas and American Anthropology: o Franz Boas: critique of evolutionism (U.S.)  students were Margaret mead and Ruth benedict  believed that evolutionary anthropology was both intellectually flawed and  because it treated other people and other societies as inferior to Europeans  morally defective  “anthropologists shouldn’t be collectors of tales and spinners of theories but  should devote themselves to objective data collection through fieldwork  believed that many of the lifeways of the societies that he and his students were  studying were disappearing  cultures are a product of their own histories  our own ideas are also the products of history, and shouldn’t be used as  standards to judge other cultures  campaigner for human rights and justice­­­ “all human beings have equal  capacities for culture and that although human actions might be considered  morally right or wrong, no culture was more evolved or of greater value than  another o Ethnocentrism: judging other cultures from the perspective on one’s own culture. The  notion that one’s own culture is more beautiful, rational, and nearer to perfection than any other  The application of the historical standards of beauty, worth, and morality  developed in one culture to all other cultures o Racism: the belief that some human populations are superior to others because of  inherited, genetically transmitted characteristics o Cultural relativism: The idea that cultures should be analyzed with reference to their  own histories and values rather than according to the values of another culture  From Haddon to Malinowski in England and the Commonwealth o Alfred Cort Haddon: Britain in the late 19th century  originally a biologist  Ethnography: the major research tool of cultural anthropology, including both  fieldwork among people in a society and the written results of such fieldwork  what Haddon turned to   thought fieldwork was vital and incorporated it into his students training o Bronislaw Malinowski: one of the most prominent students of the Torres Straits scholars  from Austro­Hungarian empire but came to England to study ethnography under  Charles Seligman  was sent to the Trobriand Islands for field work but because of WWI couldn’t  leave until after the war because he was considered an  enemy national  Participant Observation: the fieldwork technique that involves gathering  cultural data by observing people’s behavior and participation in their lives  pioneered by Malinowski Differences between Boas and Malinowski 1. Boas focused on understanding cultures with respect to their context and histories 2. Malinowski and his students emphasized the notion of function: the contribution made by social  practices and institutions to the maintenance and stability of society Similarities between Boas and Malinowski 1. both developed traditions of fieldwork and participant observation 2. both have strong histories of opposition to racism 3. both see other cultures as fully rational and as neither superior nor inferior to their own Anthropological Techniques  So many different ways that anthropologists go about their work that this section only focuses on  fieldwork  Fieldwork: o begun as part of graduate studies and then continues as part of their careers o often funded by grants o what communities that will be studied are decided upon by  personal history  geographical preferences  political stability  cost  physical danger  connections their professors and other mentors may have  what the location has to do with the particular research question they want to  answer  in early 20th century anthropologists studied small societies and attempted to write complete  descriptions of them o Today few anthropologists try this approach  feel most societies are too complex to be described in a single work  cultures are so interconnected today that the connections need to be seen in  regional and global contexts  Current ethnographies focus on specific situations, individuals, events, and on culture change  after they find an area of interest they do a lot of reading on the research already available on the  subject o for every hour spent doing fieldwork many more were spent reading o find out what is known and what remains to be known  Culture shock: feelings of alienation and helplessness that result from rapid immersion in a new  and different culture o most anthropologists experience this  most anthropologists never fully become members of the cultures they are studying  Consultant/informant/interlocutor/respondent/partner: a person from whom anthropologists  gather data  use either open­ended questions or questionnaires to interview   Types of interviewing techniques: o informal interviews: researchers engage in, overhear, remember, and write down  conversations from their daily experience o Unstructured interviews: researchers engage with another in a scheduled conversation.  They may have a plan but informants are allowed to express themselves as they choose o semi structured interviews: similar to an unstructured interview but based on the use  of a  written list of questions  or topics that the researchers intend to cover in a specific order o structured interview: researchers ask different subjects to respond to a set of questions as  nearly identical as possible; often involves the use of very explicit instructions  participating in activities with culture members, mapping, photographing,, carefully observing  activities, measuring various types of production, and serving apprenticeships are also used as  research methods  data comes from field notes, tape recordings, and photos  Ethnographic Data and Cross­Cultural comparisons o Ethnology: the attempt to find general principles or laws that govern cultural phenomena through the comparison of cultures o Herbert Spencer: developed a systematic way to organize, tabulate, and correlate info on  large numbers of societies  Human Relations Area Files: an ethnographic database that includes cultural descriptions of  more than 300 societies o Murdock and Keller­­­Yale university o attempt to facilitate cross cultural analysis o Critics say the index takes cultural data out of context and therefore corrupts it o Used to consider  violence  corporal punishment of children  patterns of cultural evolution  the relationship between production and beliefs about the afterlife  divorce rates Changing Directions and Critical Issues in Ethnography  Anthropology and gender o feminists found that even though there were a few women high up in anthropology, the  majority were men that focused on the social roles, activities, and beliefs of men o Reasons that anthropologists focused on men  men and women lived segregated lives in most societies  since most anthropologists were men they had little access to women  they assume that women's activities were domestic and therefore of less  importance  men's activities were far more public   assumed that what was more public and visible was more important o the focus on men made cultures appear more harmonious and homogeneous than they  actually were  Postmodernism: o feminists argued the male anthropologists had missed vital dimensions of society because their gender and their academic interests predisposed them to see certain things and not  others o Postmodernism: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on issues of power  and voice. Postmodernists hold that anthropological accounts are partial truths reflecting  the backgrounds, training, and social positions of their authors  a critique of both natural and social sciences o reflection on the nature of fieldwork and the anthropological enterprise became a central  focus of writing  rather than trying to describe culture or to find principles underlying cultural  practices, anthropologists  wrote about their own experience of living in other  cultures o Few accept the postmodern critique in its entirety  Engaged and Collaborative Ethnography o Collaborative Ethnography: anthropological work that gives priority to desires and  interests of cultural consultants on the topic, methodology, and written results of  fieldwork  turns research into a joint process between the researcher and subject  kind of write and say what the subjects want o Critics of collaborative ethnography  anthropologists need to accurately report  what people say  not falsify information  need to talk to more than one person  collaborative ethnography tends to give voice to one element over  another  Using Anthropology: a life in engaged anthropology o anthropology has a long history of engagement with the societies that anthropologists  study and political activism in anthropologists’ own societies o Researchers help out the culture they are in  Studying one's own society o researchers were turning to their own societies to study o Trend was driven by  the training of more anthropologists from different cultures  the increasing number of anthropologists  rise of interest in ethnicity in the us and Europe  dangers of violence in some areas where anthropologists have studied in the past o almost harder to look at your own culture with an outsider's perspective than to learn a  whole new one  Ethical considerations in fieldwork o Code of ethics  don't harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work  safeguard rights, interests and sensitivities of those studies  explain the aims of the investigation as clearly as possible to the people  involved  respect anonymity of informants  not exploiting individual informants for personal gain  giving “fair return” for all services  communicate the results of the research to the subjects o ****Need informed consent o Anthropologist’s obligations to anthropology  need to conduct themselves in ways that don’t endanger the research prospects or lives of others  those that become involved with governments, military forces, or political  platforms may not endanger themselves or others  obligation to publish their findings in forms that are available to other  anthropologists and the public o Project Camelot  B Purpose was to create a model for predicting civil wars   enlisted anthropologists in achieving American foreign policy goals  also implicated in using military and cultural means to fight insurgency  movements and prop up friendly governments  made public after the US invaded the Dominican and was escalating the  war in Vietnam  led to the first official statement on anthropological ethics  Anthropology and the Military o anthropologists work at military bases to provide training for officers or analyses of the  culture of the military itself  form a system called the Human Terrain System o Hard for anthropological ethics to be met in war  how can you inform participants about the ways the research will be used and  affect them  how can the participants give coercion­free consent will subject to military  occupation  are individuals in a conflict really free to decide whether or not they will  participate in a study  can anthropologists assure that the info they supply will not harm the people that  they work with o Anthropologists working in HTS have to focus on their employers instead of the people  they study


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