Sc2218 Lecture 12 (2008a)


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Sc2218 Lecture 12 (2008a)

  1. 1. SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 11: The Poetry of Culture Lecture 12: Anthropology and the Human Condition in the 21 st Century Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2008/2009
  2. 2. REVIEW AND CONSULTATION SESSION: AS3 03-06 Thursday, November 13 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm
  3. 3. Structure, Discourse, Meaning <ul><li>Structure enables meaning, but does not (completely) determine it. </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning emerges through discourse – between subjects (it is “intersubjective”). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encoding and decoding. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Speaking and interpreting. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing and reading. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Because it is intersubjective , meaning is never fixed . </li></ul>
  4. 4. 1st Generation Cultural Structures 1st Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Cultural Structures Culture always changes, because agents never reproduce it “perfectly”
  5. 5. Post-Structuralism <ul><li>Examining the emergence of meaning . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Post –” (after, beyond, out of). </li></ul><ul><li>Poststructuralism is a mode of analysis , not a quality of things (such as cultural practices, social relationships, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of poststructuralist analysis . . . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bedouin Poetry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Malaysian Rock and Roll </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uum Kulthum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ju/’hoansi complaint discourse </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Bedouin Poetry <ul><li>Abu-Lughod examines “traditional” Bedouin Poetry. </li></ul><ul><li>Are the women reciting these poems merely echoing hundreds of years of tradition? </li></ul><ul><li>What about Abu-Lughod’s analysis is “poststructural”? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Umm Kulthum: A Voice like Egypt <ul><li>“ It is necessary to fill the revolutionary society with everything that is beautiful… for beauty endures and it is the best manifestation of authenticity.” </li></ul><ul><li>Uum Kulthum’s story and music illustrate the interplay of tradition and change (even ‘revolution’)… Making “old” music speak to a “new” nation. </li></ul>
  8. 8. ELLA : Malaysia’s Ratu Rock (Queen of Rock-and Roll) <ul><li>Is Ella’s music just a copy of American rock-and-roll? </li></ul><ul><li>What structures is she drawing on? </li></ul><ul><li>How is she transforming those structures? </li></ul><ul><li>What does USA stand for? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Ala Amerika <ul><li>Semalam kau kata kau cinta </li></ul><ul><li>Hari ini sudah lain pula jadinya, </li></ul><ul><li>Kau kata kepadaku kita bercinta </li></ul><ul><li>Ala Amerika . . . </li></ul><ul><li>Kita hidup dengan budaya </li></ul><ul><li>Jangan terpengaruh dengan </li></ul><ul><li>Cara mereka, </li></ul><ul><li>Barat dan Timur jauh berbeza . . . </li></ul><ul><li>Yesterday you said you were in love </li></ul><ul><li>Today it’s (another story) </li></ul><ul><li>You say to me that we are in love </li></ul><ul><li>A la America (American style) </li></ul><ul><li>We live with culture, </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be swayed by </li></ul><ul><li>Their ways, </li></ul><ul><li>West and East are far different . . . </li></ul>
  10. 10. USA… <ul><li>U nik </li></ul><ul><li>S ugoi </li></ul><ul><li>A sli </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;When I use a word . . . it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.&quot; </li></ul>
  11. 11. Ju/’hoansi Complaint Discourse <ul><li>What does complaining among elderly Ju/’hoansi have to do with poetry and song? </li></ul><ul><li>Complaint (and styles of complaint) is a cultural resource among Ju/’hoansi. </li></ul><ul><li>Elderly Ju/’hoansi draw on this resource discursively to express their feelings and influence their kin. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Culture and Discourse <ul><li>CULTURE is a Complex Adaptive System </li></ul><ul><li>DISCOURSE is the Process through which Culture Changes (Culture ‘in motion’) </li></ul><ul><li>The shift in anthropology from culture to discourse is a shift from structural to process analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s a mistake to name a process after a product… you can still go fishing if you never catching a fish…” ( from “Sight Unseen” ) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Singapore… Ain’t Got No Culture? <ul><li>“ In the old days… you had the time and the isolation to develop your own (culture) and create something distinctive… Now you have to synthesize all the time… </li></ul><ul><li>“ The basis of our culture is what we inherited from our original countries, our original cultures. So every Chinese Singaporean takes that as his heritage. It doesn’t belong to China, it belongs as much to you as to me…” </li></ul><ul><li>MM Lee Kuan Yew </li></ul>
  14. 14. What is Authentic Culture? <ul><li>What is Authentic Chinese, Malay, Indian or Other Culture? </li></ul><ul><li>What is Authentic Singaporean Culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is what we make it and make of it. </li></ul>
  15. 15. What is “authentic Chinese culture”? What is “authentic Singapore culture”? Royston Tan – director of “15” and other films. Li Po (701-762) ; T’ang Dynasty Poet
  16. 16. What is “authentic Malay culture”? What is “authentic Singapore culture”? <ul><li>Malay Culture... Singapore 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MALAY MASTERPLAN: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ketupat + Hang Jebat + Wau Bulan + Sampan + Minah + Kebaya + Vespa + Soccer + Guitar + Void Deck + Laid Back + Aim Hereafter + Humble + Modest + Kampung + Sopan + Adat + Gotong + Royong + Peaceful + Loving + Siti . . . That’s Malay to Me… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We live in Singapuraaaa… </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Anthropology in the 21 st Century <ul><li>Three Challenges to Anthropology: </li></ul><ul><li>1. The Human Challenge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who are the anthropologists of the 21 st century? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How and why does it matter who the anthropologists are? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. The Theoretical Challenge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are anthropology’s major theoretical frameworks? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will they change and how are they relevant to contemporary questions? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3. The Empirical Challenge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How is the world changing? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is anthropology relevant in a new kind of world? </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. “ A Man without Pigs” <ul><li>How does John Waiko’s approach to anthropology compare to that of other anthropologists we have studied in this course? What are some of the similarities and differences ? How does John Waiko’s experience compare to that of other “strangers abroad”? </li></ul><ul><li>What is John Waiko’s status in his home village? How does that compare with and relate to his status outside his village? </li></ul><ul><li>What sort of politics and economics do you see in action in the film? How would a structural or structural-functional analysis help us to understand Bendari political-economy? How would a poststructural (discursive, historical) analysis help? What would be key features to focus on in each type of analysis? </li></ul><ul><li>How is the system of debts and relationships changing? Why? </li></ul>
  19. 19. In a changing world, how shall anthropology get on with the job?
  20. 20. Who are the Anthropologists? “Strangers Abroad” and Others . . .
  21. 21. The Human Challenge: Anthropologists in the 21 st Century <ul><li>Three Models of Anthropologists: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Colonial Encounters” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>19 th & 20 th Century historical roots of Anthropology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rivers, Evans-Pritchard </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Native” Anthropologists </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-Europeans studying their “own” society from an anthropological perspective. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>George Hunt, John Waiko </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Post-colonial “Strangers Abroad” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anthropology in a post-colonial, global era </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond a North-South, West-East relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Amitav Ghosh </li></ul></ul>Amitav Ghosh John Waiko
  22. 22. The Theoretical Challenge: Culture, Discourse, & Theory <ul><li>Evolving Anthropological Theory: </li></ul><ul><li>19 th Century: Race </li></ul><ul><li>20 th Century: Culture </li></ul><ul><li>21 st Century: Discourse (?) </li></ul><ul><li>New concepts and ways of understanding human diversity evolve out of ongoing empirical research and theoretical reflection. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Evolving Anthropological Theory: <ul><li>19 th Century: Race </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human behavior and variation explained by biology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>20 th Century: Culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human behavior and variation explained by symbolic systems (culture) and human relationships (society) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>21 st Century: Discourse (?) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Culture is a process, always changing, always in motion; not a fixed thing, structure or ‘product’ (see: film “Sight Unseen”) </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Culture, cultures & Discourse <ul><li>“ Culture”: A general capacity & process (for learning and sharing knowledge). </li></ul><ul><li>“ cultures”: Observable patterns of thought (and behavior?)*, which are produced through the processes of “Culture”. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems of Meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Discourse”: Culture as a process; culture in action; culture over time; culture in use; intersubjectivity </li></ul>*Why is behavior in parentheses, with a question mark? If you know why, congratulations! You have been paying close attention!
  25. 25. Four Theoretical Frameworks (for understanding “Culture”): Functionalism Structuralism Structural-Functionalism Post-structuralism These are only four among many other * theoretical frameworks in Anthropology. *You are not expected to know all of these. But we have referred to some in the course. The linked webpage gives a good overview.
  26. 26. The Empirical Challenge: Globalization & Postmodernity <ul><li>Historically, anthropology has focused on (cultural) difference associated with (relative) isolation . </li></ul><ul><li>Radical “time-space” compression is a hallmark of globalization and postmodernity.* (*See for example: Arjun Appadurai (1996) Modernity at Large ; David Harvey (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity ) </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropologist now must apply their concepts (culture, social structure, discourse, etc.) and develop new concepts for understanding phenomena such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass Culture (mass communications, television, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple identities (e.g. John Waiko: Professor of Anthropology, Member of a Binandere Clan) </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. REVIEW AND CONSULTATION SESSION: AS3 03-06 Thursday, November 13 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm