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ANTH 1001: Introduction to anthropology
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 (Week 2)
Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/1001/2020/1.2.2
Claudia Roth Pierpont “The Measure of America,” The New Yorker (March 8, 2004): 48–63.
On Monday we discussed the two anthropologies:
Tylor is caught between the two anthropologies. He gives us a contemporary sense of culture as acquired. But he never talks about plural culture-s. 🤔
Rather, each society occupied a different stage of culture, somewhere between primitive and civilized. 🧐
Franz Boas is responsible for creating a properly cultural anthropology in which difference can be explained with a new concept of culture.
Boas saw a bias in the evolutionary approach to culture that prevented it from really understanding why people are different. What is it?
“Each cultural group has its own unique history” (Boas  2006, 102). Boas advocates for historical particularism against Tylor's belief that all societies move the same linear path.
Boas stood against ethnocentrism. See for instance his argument against “alternating sounds” (Boas 1889).
The patterns of behavior people acquire from their social environment are connected to other patterns in the same environment.
People’s behaviors must be understood as being relative to the context in which they occur, because in that context they are part of a system of thought that people in one culture share.
There are other kinds of relativism, and cultural relativism needs to be distinguished from them
Anthropologists need not adopt these kinds of relativism to understand cultural differences
Does the principle of cultural relativism mean that we can’t make claims about human beings as a species? I say no.
Boas makes a unique contribution to the psychic unity thesis: It is not only that
But also that
There is a connection between the innate and the universal on the one hand and the acquired and the particular on the other.
Is a position of cultural relativism sufficient for understanding other people's ways of life?
Go to Canvas and answer the survey question for today. Scroll down if needed. Either answer is acceptable. Choose the one with which you agree the most, and think about why you agree with it.
The password will be announced in class.
Culture is often an overused word. For anthropologists who are interested in the acquired and the particular, it is often a misused word. This class is about taking back the word culture.
Boas, Franz. 1889. “On Alternating Sounds.” American Anthropologist 2 (1):47–54.
Boas, Franz. (1920) 2006. “The Methods of Ethnology.” In Readings for a History of Anthropological Theory, edited by Liam Donat Murphy and Paul A. Erickson, 2nd ed., 99–105. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press.
Pierpont, Claudia Roth. 2004. “The Measure of America.” The New Yorker, March, 48–63.
General info: The goal of this class | What we will do in this class | Readings, other class requirements, and online resources | A note about attendance | The keys to success in this class | A guide to effective email | The ANTH 1001 class Canvas site (requires USYD login)
Lecture outlines and guides:
|Module 1: What makes us human?||Weeks 1–3|
|1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.3.1, 1.3.2||Ryan Schram|
|Module 2: Can an anthropologist really leave her culture?||Weeks 4–6|
|2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.2.0, 2.3.0||Ryan Schram|
|Module 3: Is family universal?||Weeks 7–9|
|3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.3.1, 3.3.2||Jadran Mimica|
|Module 4: Where is the mind?||Weeks 10–12|
|4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.3.1, 4.3.2||Jadran Mimica|
|5.1.1, 5.1.2||Ryan Schram|
Assignments: Online discussion posts and responses | Weekly reflections | Module 1 concept quiz | Tell me a story...: An analysis of qualitative data | Proposal for a Grade 12 lesson on kinship | Comprehensive (open-book, take-home) essay response assignment