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A Brief History of Anthropology

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Title: A Brief History of Anthropology


1
A Brief History of Anthropology
2
BEFORE SOCIAL/CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY
3
The Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London, 1st May
to 15th October 1851.
Over 13,000 exhibits were displayed and viewed by
over 6,200,000 visitors to the exhibition the
Great Exhibition of 1851. Visitors marveled at
the industrial revolution that was propelling
Britain into the greatest power of the time.
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anthropology is that great science which is now
engrossing the attention of all thinking men and
women' (anon. Anthropological Review 1868).
  at no previous time has the mind of thinking
men been fixed on the subject of human origin, so
generally, so intently, so discordantly, and, on
the whole, so rationally as now' (anon.
Anthropological Review 1869 4).
8
To the Victorian mind it was far better to be
civilized than to be a savage
9
Three Problems
  1. Degenerationism Versus Progress

 We have no reason to believe any community ever
did, or ever can, emerge, unassisted by external
helps from a state of utter barbarism into
anything that can be called civilisation. Man
has not emerged from the savage state the
progress of any community in civilisation, by its
own internal means, must always have begun from a
condition removed from that of complete
barbarism, out of which it does not appear that
men ever did or can raise themselves. Richard
Whately, the Archbishop of Dublin, On the Origin
of Civilization (1857)
10
  1. Monogenism Versus Polygenism
  • Diffusion vs. Independent Invention

11
Edward Gibbon (1737-94)
12
Based on an intricate correlation of Middle
Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy
scriptures, he established the first day of
creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 BC. This date
was incorporated into an authorized version of
the Bible printed in 1701, and came to be
regarded with almost as much unquestioning
reverence as the Bible itself.
Dr. John Lightfoot (1602-1675) Vice-Chancellor of
the University of Cambridge refined the date to
October 23, 4004 B.C., at nine o'clock in the
morning
James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh,
Primate of All Ireland
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the low i.e. recent antiquity of our species
is not controverted by any experienced geologist.
It is never pretended that our race co-existed
with assemblages of animals and plants of which
all or even a large proportion of species are
extinct (Lyell 1837 249 emphasis original).
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Anthropology A Branch of History
the history, not of tribes or nations, but of
the condition of knowledge, religion, art,
custom, and the like among them' (Tylor 1871 I
5). "no conception can be understood except
through its history is a maxim which all
ethnographers may adopt as a standing rule".
(Tylor 1871). the past is continuously needed
to explain the present and the whole to explain
the part' (Tylor 1865 2). there seems no human
thought so primitive as to have lost its bearing
on our own thought, nor so ancient as to have
broken its connection with our own life' (Tylor
1871).
17
Australia
The Savage Becomes the Primitive
Making Stone Tools New Guinea
the master-key to the investigation of man's
primeval condition is held by Prehistoric
Archaeology.
This key is the evidence of the Stone Age,
proving that men of remotely ancient ages were in
the savage state' (Tylor 1871 I 58).
18
E. B. Tylor 1832-1917
19
Looking over a collection of their quaternary
man's implements and weapons on a museum shelf
we may fairly judge by analogy that in their
moral habits, as in their material arts, they had
much in common with the rudest savages of modern
times, users like them of chipped stone and
flint. (Tylor 1873a 702)
The condition of savage and barbarous tribes
often more or less fairly represent stages of
culture through which our own ancestors passed
long ago' (Tylor 1871)
20
Central tenet By comparing the various stages of
civilization among races known to history, with
the aid of archaeological inference from the
remains of prehistoric tribes, it seems possible
to judge in a rough way of an early general
condition of man, which from our point of view is
to be regarded as primitive conditionThis
hypothetical primitive condition corresponds in a
considerable degree to that of modern savage
tribes, who in spite of their difference and
distance, have in common certain elements of
civilization, which seem remains of an early
state of the human race at large. p. 21
21
universal sequence of stages through which it
was hypothesized all societies will sooner or
later pass unless their development is arrested
by some exogenous circumstance (extinction,
conquest, absorption by another society or
achieving a perfect equilibrium with the
environment)
CIVILIZATION Writing, urban life flowering of
arts, architecture
BARBARISM settled life markets,
rise of chiefs and kings, agriculture, arts
develop
SAVAGERY hunting and gathering no
surplus production no permanent cohesive unit
wider than band, stone tools
22
Uniformitarian principle
The same kind of development in culture which has
gone on inside our range of knowledge has also
gone on outside it, its course of proceeding
being unaffected by our having or not having
reporters present. If any one holds that human
thought and action were worked out in primæval
times according to laws essentially other than
those of the modern world, it is for him to prove
by valid evidence this anomalous state of things,
otherwise the doctrine of permanent principle
will hold good, as in astronomy or geology. That
the tendency of culture has been similar
throughout the existence of human society, and
that we may fairly judge from its known historic
course what its prehistoric course may have been,
is a theory clearly entitled to precedence as a
fundamental principle of ethnographic research.
(1871a I 32-33)
23
The phenomena of Culture may be classified and
arranged, stage by stage, in a probable order of
evolution p. 6
Hand Gonne c.1400
Matchlock 1400-1700
Wheellock 1500-1820
Flintlock 1608-1865
24
U N I F O R M I T Y O F S T A G E S
A present day society in the stage of Barbarism
(e.g. Hawaii or Samoa) could shed light on the
distant past when northern European society was
in the stage of Barbarism just as an Australian
Aboriginal society could inform Europeans of
their history in the stage of Savagery
Europeans
Hawaii
Australian Aborigines
25
Survivals
Among evidence aiding us to trace the course
which the civilization of the world has actually
followed, is that great class of facts to denote
which I have found it convenient to introduce the
termSurvivals. These are processes, customs,
opinions, and so forth which have been carried on
by force of habit into a new state of society
different from that in which they had their
original home, and they thus remain as proofs and
examples of an older condition of culture out of
which a newer has evolved. Such examples lead us
back to the habits of hundreds and even thousands
of years ago, p. 16. games, popular sayings,
customs, superstitions, and the like.
26
Maypole Dancing
Outskirts of London, 1891
27
John Ferguson McLennan, (1827-81)
1865 Primitive Marriage An Enquiry into the
Origin of the Form of Capture in Marriage
Ceremonies
  • first stage was a time of sexual promiscuity
  • Female infanticide led to a shortage of women,
    who had to be shared in a polyandrous matriarchal
    situation
  • Because men dont like to share wives they
    captured them from neighbors (exogamy)
    patriarchy and monogamy

28
Lewis Henry Morgan (1818 1881)
1851 League of the Iroquois 1871 Systems of
Consanguinity and Affinity 1877 Ancient Society
29
Assumptions of Nineteenth Century Evolutionism
1. Like the natural world the cultural world is
governed by laws that science can discover. 2.
These laws operated on the distant past as they
do on the present. - Uniformitariamism 3. The
present grows out of the past by a continuous
process - developmentalism 4. This growth is
simple to complex. 5. All humans share a single
psychic nature. 6. The moving force of cultural
development is interaction with the environment.
30
Assumptions of Nineteenth Century Evolutionism
Continued
7. Different development is due to different
environments. 8. These differences can be
measured. 9. In these terms cultures can be
ordered in a hierarchical manner. 10. Certain
contemporary cultures are like earlier stages.
11. In the absence of data these stages can be
reconstructed by the comparative method. 12. The
results of the comparative method can be
confirmed by the study of survivals.
31
What was wrong with evolutionism?
32
EVOLUTION VS. DIFFUSION
EVOLUTION the directional nature of the pattern
of change of human societies and cultures over
time in the direction of increasing complexity,
internal integration, and control over Nature
DIFFUSION the movement of cultural phenomena
(inventions, objects, ideas, or even whole
cultures) in space, from one place to another
DIFFUSIONISM a conception of human cultural
development which sees diffusion as a more common
source of evolutionary change in societies than
independent evolution that is, the forces that
lead to change are more commonly external rather
than internal
33
  • The criticism of the Diffusionists vis-à-vis the
    Evolutionists was not that social evolution did
    not occur
  • They believed it did but not nearly so
    regularly as the Evolutionists believed
  • Most human history, they believed, was shaped by
  • diffusion
  • borrowing
  • migration
  • Important advances (agriculture, animal
    domestication, metallurgy, state organization)
    were not invented multiple times in different
    places they were typically invented once, then
    widely diffused

34
The Spread of Agriculture in Europe
35
  • Diffusionists take on human nature quite
    different from the Evolutionists
  • Evolutionists saw humans as inventive,
    opportunistic, questing, possessing a psychic
    unity which made disparate groups equally likely
    to invent
  • Diffusionists saw humans as much more
    conservative
  • clinging to old cultural patterns and with a bias
    against accepting new patterns
  • and, when they did change, more inclined to
    borrow than to invent

36
EXAMPLE EAST AFRICAN CATTLE COMPLEX
A typical diffusionist culture complex
  • an item of technology which diffused into Africa
    from the Middle East circa 1100 CE husbandry of
    dairy cattle
  • first appears in Horn and Eastern Sudan, then
    diffuses progressively southward to the Cape
    (with exception of zone or tse tse fly
    infestation in Central Africa)
  • everywhere social values become oriented to and
    expressed in terms of cattle (wealth, power,
    beauty, and even God)
  • cattle complex cultures share a broad
    similarity of economic structure, social
    organization and values

37
THE SEVEN CULTURE CIRCLES
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
In the Vienna School view, the human race had
originated in Asia, and the earth settled by
processes of migration, which could be traced
thanks to the great conservatism of the culture
circles, which retained their basic patterns
despite subsequent borrowing
38
THE BRITISH DIFFUSIONISTS
Finally, the diffusionist idea was taken up in
England by a pair of Cambridge professors
GRAFTON ELLIOT SMITH WILLIAM J. PERRY Smith
and Perry carried the diffusionist idea to its
ultimate conclusion all cultural advancement
came from one single source, the ancient
Egyptians, who made the great leap forward to
civilization, and who (through migration and
borrowing) diffused it throughout the world
GRAFTON ELLIOT SMITH 1871-1937
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The Growth of Fieldwork
41
  • 3 Impetuses
  • Increasing knowledge of other cultures
  • dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of
    much of the data contained in the ethnological
    writings
  • the belief that the savage' tribes in their
    natural' state were rapidly disappearing in the
    face of contact with the more civilized nations

42
Increasing knowledge of other cultures
  • Explorers and travellers were replaced by
    government officials and missionaries who formed
    a closer association with the people they were in
    contact with.
  • Appearance of Literary journals such as
  • The Fortnightly Review (1865-1934),
  • The Nineteenth Century (1877),
  • The Academy (1871)
  • The Contemporary Review (1866- )
  • First Monographs
  • Eg. The Native Tribes of Central Australia
    (1899), B. Spencer and F. Gillen's
  • Questionnaires

43
Notes and Queries on Anthropology 1874
Purpose to promote accurate anthropological
observation on the part of travellers, and to
enable those who are not anthropologists to
supply the information, which is needed for the
scientific study of anthropology at home' (BAAS
1874 vii).
44
Fear that primitive tribes were rapidly
disappearing
In view of the fast vanishing "primitive"
cultures, and the rapid extinction of some of the
more primitive and ethnologically interesting
races the importance of such efforts to secure
information ere it is too late cannot be
over-estimated' (Balfour 1905 15).
45
Alfred Court Hadddon (1855-1940)
W H R Rivers 1864-1922
1898 Cambridge Expedition to the Torres Straits
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Survey Versus Intensive Fieldwork
A typical piece of intensive work is one in which
the worker lives for a year or more among a
community of perhaps four or five hundred people
and studies every detail of their life and
culture in which he comes to know every member
of the community personally in which he is not
content with generalized information, but studies
every feature of life and custom in concrete
detail and by means of the vernacular language.
It is only by such work that one can fully
realise the immense extent of the knowledge which
is now awaiting the inquirer, even in places
where the culture has already suffered much
change. It is only by such work that it is
possible to discover the incomplete and even
misleading character of much of the vast mass of
survey work which forms the existing basis of
anthropology Rivers 1913
48
Still Evolutionary Theory
  • Rivers the goal of anthropology is the
    reconstruction of the history of primitive'
    peoples
  • Balfour the ethnographer's purpose is to
    determine their place in time' (1905 18)
  • Haddon's aim to elucidate the nature, origin
    and distribution of the races and peoples of a
    limited ethnological area and to define their
    place in the evolutionary tree

49
Two things were absent from fieldwork at this
time
  • participation
  • at Bendiyagalge we were particularly well
    situated to observe their behaviour, our camp
    being out of sight of the Vedda camp but within
    two hundred yards of it, here we could listen to
    their unrestrained chatter and laughter'
    (Seligman and Seligman The Vedda 1911 85).
  • Most ethnographers at this time also relied
    heavily on translators

2. sociological theory
50
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917).
51
What is a Social Fact?
A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or
not, capable of exercising on the individual an
external constraint or again, every way of
acting which is general throughout a given
society, while at the same time existing in its
own right independent of its individual
manifestations
52
Social Facts Characteristics
  • External to the Individual
  • found ready-made at birth
  • Objective
  • Leaned
  • Relative
  • Endowed with coercive power
  • A new variety of phenomena
  • source is not the individual but in society a
    collective phenomenon

53
  • Rules of the Sociological Method
  • Society is part of nature and a science of
    society must be based on the same principles as
    those of the natural sciences
  • Social facts must be treated as things I.e.
    objectively
  • The properties of the totality cannot be deduced
    from those of the individuals who combine to form
    it. Rejection of methodological individualism
  • Social facts have to be explained in terms of
    their function

54
  • Functional Explanation
  • Functional
  • function of a social item refers to its
    correspondence with the general needs of the
    social organism not the individual
  • Function must be clearly distinguished from
    intention or purpose

55
The root idea in functionalism
  • Human societies consist of a number of
    institutions which
  • over time achieve a harmonious fit to one
    another
  • ? integration
  • serve adaptive ends i.e. contribute to the
    survival of the overall society ? function
  • do not just reflect universal human nature, but
    shape it in distinctive ways ? determinism

56
Functionalist view of a society (1)
INSTI- TUTIONS
SOCIETY
PERSON
  • A society consists of a distinct set of
    institutions which introject distinctive
    motivations into its members from earliest
    childhood

57
Functionalist view of a society (2)
  • Different institutions produce different persons
    with different motivations

58
Functionalism in a Nutshell how does a social
phenomenon contribute to the survival of the
society as a whole
59
BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI
1942
1884
60
Trobriand Is.
61
Imagine yourself suddenly set down surrounded by
all your gear on a tropical beach close to a
native village while the launch or dinghy which
has brought you sails away out of sight.
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Imagine yourself then, making your first entry
into the village
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65
Some natives flock around you, especially if
they smell tobacco
66
He ought to put himself in good conditions of
work, that is, in the main, to live without other
white men, right among the natives
67
One step further in this line can be made by the
Ethnographer who acquires a knowledge of the
native language and can use it as an instrument
of inquiry. (p. 23)
68
The Goal of Ethnography
The goal of the Ethnographer is, briefly to
grasp the native's point of view, his relation to
life, to realise his vision of his world P. 25
Perhaps through realising human nature in a shape
very distant and foreign to us, we shall have
some light shed on our own. P. 25
69
  • Participant
  • It is good for the Ethnographer sometimes to put
    aside camera, note book and pencil, and to join
    in himself in what is going on p. 21
  • Observation
  • An ethnographic diary, carried on systematically
    throughout the course of ones work in a district
    would be the ideal instrument for this sort of
    study

inside view
outside (analy- tical) view
70
  • A functional account is an analysts account
    which asks what is the sociological function of
    these customs what part do they play in the
    maintenance and development of civilization?
  • Functional accounts dont worry about how an
    institution arose
  • most institutional origins lost in the mists of
    time
  • can at most speculate about them (conjectural
    history
  • For functionalists, what is important is not how
    things originated but how they work (function)
  • how they contribute to peoples lives

71
Various Institutional Functions
language ? binds the community together Magic ?
warrants a myth's truth, Myth ? expresses,
enhances, and codifies belief it safeguards and
enforces morality' Scientific knowledge ?
ensures Man's survival Religion ? establishes,
fixes, and enhances all valuable mental
attitudes, such as reverence for tradition,
harmony with environment, courage and confidence
in the struggle with different cultures and at
the prospect of death law ? curbs certain
natural propensities, to hem in and control human
instincts and to impose a non-spontaneous,
compulsory behaviour'
72
Malinowskis Hierarchy of needs
  • Basic needs
  • Food, shelter, sex, etc.
  • universal
  • this supplies a certain commonality to all human
    cultures and is ultimately what makes them
    comparable.
  • Also makes ethnology scientific
  • each culture responds to the particular needs of
    its members through institutions
  • every institution centers around a fundamental
    need
  • For example, tools function to provide Man's
    food, and construct his shelters
  • The variation in the form of the institution is
    culturally determined

73
  • instrumental needs
  • but tools require skilled artisans and trade
    groups etc. In a sense, the tools themselves
    have needs.
  • These are instrumental needs
  • the three primary ones being economic
    organization, law, and education
  • integrative needs
  • these institutions must in turn be functionally
    adjusted to each other in order to form a more or
    less consistent pattern
  • this produces requirements not of individuals but
    of the cultural system itself

74
2. STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM
The dominant theoretical paradigm of the British
school of social anthropology, 19301955.
Associated with the theoretical writings of A.
R. Radcliffe-Brown in Structure and function in
primitive society
A. R. Radcliffe-Brown 1881-1955
75
Biopsychological Functionalism or Needs
Functionalism (Malinowski) Structural
Functionalism (Radcliffe-Brown) Exchange
Functionalism (Mauss)
76
Structural Functionalism Structuralism theory
examines cultures in terms of systems of
structured relationships between social
phenomena. Functionalism theory that all social
facts can and should be explained by their
function in relation to society. Structural
Functionalism societies seen as having
structure and order, and all phenomena occurring
within the culture are seen to have the
underlying goal of maintaining the overall
societal structure and order, despite individual
motivation..
77
FIVE BASIC PRINCIPLES
1. Society is seen as an organically structured
whole akin to a biological organism. 2. Society
has a social structure - an ordered arrangement
of parts. 3. Structure is ideally integrated,
unified, and exists in equilibrium. 4. This
structure is the object of analysis the most
valued data is the structure you can abstract. 5.
The function of Social activities and
institutions is ultimately interpreted in terms
of maintaining the whole social structure of the
society
78
THE STRUCTURE IS INTEGRATED
  • INSTITUTIONS
  • Distinguishable sets of roles, norms, and
    statuses within a social system e.g. kinship
    system
  • it is to institutions that the concept of
    function is applicable
  • the function of an institution is its
    contribution to the overall perpetuation and
    adaptation of the society
  • For social life to persist or continue the
    various institutions must exhibit some kind of
    measure of coherence or consistence

79
THE FUNCTION OF INSTITUTIONS IS TO MAINTAIN THE
STRUCTURE
  • The problem for society is to survive to
    maintain its structure
  • But basic human nature is inherently selfish and
    is therefore inimical to that survival.
  • Therefore the behaviour of individuals must be
    molded to the requirements society needs to
    survive
  • Conflict must be restrained and the conduct of
    persons in their interrelations with each other
    must be controlled by norms or rules of behaviour
  • Failure of the individual to follow these norms
    results in sanctions.

80
MALINOWSKI Society seen as a nurturing,
comforting, cocoon emanating from, and responding
to, human needs
RADCLIFFE-BROWN Society seen as a tyrannical
entity, often at odds with human nature, which
controls humans by injecting fears and anxieties
into their psyches, and if necessary sacrificing
them for its own sake
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