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Classical Anthropology Revisited

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Examining the Elephant. The potlatch is a living, dynamic entity ... of Ethnography in U.S.) to record vanishing cultures and advise on Indian policy' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Classical Anthropology Revisited


1
Classical Anthropology Revisited
  • FNAT 102 Arts One
  • Lecture
  • Spring/2008

2
Anthropology Our Communities
  • Much of the written material on our communities
    was produced in the effort to record the
    primitive
  • Details mixed with judgement and agenda
  • Vine Deloria quote (Custer Died for Your Sins,
    p.78)

3
Stages of Ethnography (Denzin, 1997)
  • Traditional Period
  • 1800s through 1950
  • Objective study of others
  • Modernist Phase
  • Postwar to early 1970s
  • Adopts language of science
  • Blurred Genres
  • Mid 70s to 1986
  • Geertz interpretations of interpretations
  • Crisis of Representation
  • Mid 80s to late 90s
  • Authority complicity questioned
  • The Fifth Moment
  • Present
  • Moving from writing culture to narrative
    cinema

4
Anthropological Accounts
  • Acquire authority to represent First Nations
  • Repeat the mis/takes recorded by original field
    researchers
  • Structures our own ways of knowing through
    training in academic disciplines which may be
    harmful to Indigenous knowledge systems.
  • By the same token, what are the opportunities
    that arise for our people when we have to rely on
    these accounts to give us a sense of our history?

5
Gazing at the Potlatch
  • All 3 anthros were famous specialists on west
    coast cultures
  • Boas establishes most influential grad school in
    the U.S. works on West Coast for 40 years
    counters dominant Evolutionist view (e.g.
    Raglan)
  • Codere grad of that school later expert on
    Kwakwakawakw
  • Drucker student of Kroeber (Boas student) at
    Berkeley thesis on Nuu-Chah-nulth Smithsonian

6
Influencing their gaze
  • A past/preservation orientation
  • Inability to recognise governance property in
    forms other than their own
  • Privileging the observed over the orally
    transmitted
  • Authority invested in their views by government,
    churches, academy and media

7
Examining the Elephant
  • The potlatch is a living, dynamic entity
  • The emphasis placed by the authors on acquisition
    of rank omits the sacred reasons for hosting
    potlatches
  • The tendency to divide and categorize further
    fragments what remains
  • Active participation allows one to viscerally
    experience ones spiritual connection

8
Becoming Custodians of anothers past
  • Study started once aboriginal people were on
    reserves
  • Governments create departments (e.g.. 1879 Bureau
    of Ethnography in U.S.) to record vanishing
    cultures and advise on Indian policy
  • Once no longer vanishing research turns to
    documenting cultural change and then later to
    glorify survival
  • Testifying in claims hearings and court cases
  • Still tend to detach the past from the present
    living

9
Countering their authority Controlling our
Stories
  • Elders as keepers of transmitted knowledge
  • Continued cultural practise
  • Internal mechanisms for teaching the next
    generation
  • Writing the counter narrative to balance the
    master narrative (e.g. Gloria Cranmer)

10
Linda Smiths Imperial Centre
  • Theorized relationship between traditional
    knowledge, western scholarship and imperialism

11
Classical Anthropolicy ?
  • What are the problems that arise for our
    communities when both outsiders and our own
    people rely on these accounts to learn about our
    communities and lifeways?

12
What Can Indigenous Peoples do to counter
Imperial Centred Anthropology and allow for
accurate portrayal of our culture?
  • Challenge the ethnocentric assumptions revealed
    in early anthropological accounts
  • Identify elders in the community to corroborate
    or dispute the evidence
  • Re/Write names and relationships
  • Build on the body of descriptive knowledge left
    by early ethnographers
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