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Sc2218 lecture 12 (2011)

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Lecture 12: World Anthropologies and Recent Trends

Lecture 12: World Anthropologies and Recent Trends

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  • 1. SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 12: Recent Work, New Directions & World Anthropologies Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2011/2012
  • 2. Where Are We Going?
    • Part 1: What is Anthropology?
      • Strangers Abroad, Race, Culture
    • Part 2: What do Anthropologists Study?
      • Kinship, Gender, Economy, Community
    • Part 3: Current Debates and Trends
      • The “Crisis of Representation”
      • The Poetry of Culture
      • World Anthropologies & Current Trends
      • Review
    YOU ARE HERE
  • 3. Today’s Lecture: Anthropology in the 21 st Century
    • Three Challenges to Anthropology:
    • 1. The Human Challenge
      • Who are the anthropologists of the 21 st century?
      • How and why does it matter who the anthropologists are?
    • 2. The Theoretical Challenge
      • What are anthropology’s major theoretical frameworks?
      • How will they change and how are they relevant to contemporary questions?
    • 3. The Empirical Challenge
      • How is the world changing?
      • How is anthropology relevant in a new kind of world?
  • 4. In a changing world, how shall anthropology get on with the job?
  • 5. Who are the Anthropologists? “Strangers Abroad” and Others . . .
  • 6. The Human Challenge: Anthropologists in the 21 st Century
    • Three Models of Anthropologists:
    • “ Colonial Encounters”
      • 19 th & 20 th Century historical roots of Anthropology
      • Rivers, Evans-Pritchard
    • “ Native” Anthropologists
      • Non-Europeans studying their “own” society from an anthropological perspective.
      • George Hunt, John Waiko
    • Post-colonial “Strangers Abroad”
      • Anthropology in a post-colonial, global era
      • Beyond a North-South, West-East relationship
      • Amitav Ghosh
    Amitav Ghosh John Waiko
  • 7. “ A Man without Pigs”
    • 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”?
    • What is John Waiko’s status in his home village? How does that compare with and relate to his status outside his village?
    • 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?
    • How is the system of debts and relationships changing? Why?
  • 8. American Anthropology, c.2010
    • Early 20 th century: Anglo-American Anthropology (British & American)
    • Late 20 th century: American anthropology became dominant; British anthropology declined in prominence.
    • American Anthropology is the most influential anthropology worldwide today.
    • What are recent trends in American Anthropology?
  • 9. Twenty-three Influential Scholars in American Anthropology Today
    • Survey of Graduate Students (October 2010)*
    • Venerable Generation (pre-1970s PhD)
      • Benedict Anderson, Talal Asad, Mikhail Bakhtin, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Clifford Geertz, David Harvey, Edward Said
    • Senior Generation (1970s PhD)
      • Arjun Appadurai, Joan Comaroff, John Comaroff, Veena Das, Bruno Latour, George Marcus, Sherry Ortner, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Michael Taussig
    • Recent Generation (1980s PhD)
      • Phillippe Bourgois, James Ferguson, Akhil Gupta, Webb Keane, Anna Tsing, Aihwa Ong
    *Survey of Six leading graduate schools in cultural anthropology. Conducted by NUS Graduate students in SC6212: The Anthropological Perspective.
  • 10. Who is Shaping American Anthropology? (Based on List of 23 Scholars)
    • Nationalities: American(7), French(3), Indian(3), British(2), South African(2), Australian(1), Malaysian(1), Palestinian(1), Saudi(1)
    • 17 Men, 6 Women
      • All 7 of the “venerable” generation are men.
      • 9 men, 6 Women in more recent generations.
      • In 6 departments surveyed, faculty members are 61 men and 60 women; those with PhD’s since 1991, 29 women and 14 men.
    • Disciplines: American Anthropology(11), British Anthropology(4), French Sociology(3), Literary Theory(2), Geography(1), Indian Social Anthropology(1), Politics(1)
  • 11. Trends by PhD Field
    • PhD Fields by Generation:
    • Pre-1970s: French Sociology(2), Literary Theory(2), American Anthropology(1), British Anthropology(1), Geography(1), Politics(1)
    • 1970s: American Anthropology(4), British Anthropology(3), French Sociology(1), Indian Social Anthropology(1)
    • 1980s: American Anthropology(6)
  • 12. Trends in American Anthropology
    • Few anthropologists from pre-1970s
    • Influence of French Sociology (Bourdieu, Foucault, Latour)
    • Declining influence of British Anthropology
    • All of the most recent generation are trained in American Anthropology.
    • Rising influence of anthropologists and others from former British colonies (India, Malaysia, Palestine, Middle East)
  • 13. INTERMISSION…
  • 14. The Theoretical Challenge: Culture, Discourse, & Theory
    • Evolving Anthropological Theory:
    • 19 th Century: Race
    • 20 th Century: Culture
    • 21 st Century: Discourse, Power
    • New concepts and ways of understanding human diversity evolve out of ongoing empirical research and theoretical reflection.
  • 15. Evolving Anthropological Theory:
    • 19 th Century: Race
      • Human behavior and variation explained by biology
    • 20 th Century: Culture
      • Human behavior and variation explained by symbolic systems (culture) and human relationships (society)
    • 21 st Century: Discourse, Power
      • Culture is a process, always changing, always in motion; not a fixed thing, structure or ‘product’ (see: film “Sight Unseen”)
      • Culture is not neutral. It involves Power; contested ideas of understanding of ourselves and others.
  • 16. Trends in American Anthropology Theory and Practice, 1980 - Now
    • Critique of Traditional Anthropology
    • Postcolonialism
    • Postmodernism
    • Poststructuralism, Discourse
    • Nationalism, Imagined Communities
    • Globalization
    • Neoliberalism
    • Applied/Action Anthropology
  • 17. Contemporary Themes:
    • From describing cultures to understanding cultural processes .
    • Understanding the global through the local
    • The political … and personal
    • Anxious selves and others (the American perspective).
    • And Et cetera …
  • 18. About the following…
    • The following slides are based on an analysis of three leading anthropology journals: American Anthropologist , American Ethnologist , Cultural Anthropology
    • Analysis by participants in the graduate course SC6216: The Anthropological Perspective (Sem 1, 2011/2012).
    • The number in parentheses refers to the number of times the keyword appeared across all three journals (2001-2010).
  • 19. Culture abides... with a difference
    • Cultural (59) processes remain at the heart of anthropology.
    • Shift from describing culture (29) to various cultural processes.
    • Ethnography (33) remains cultural anthropology’s main methodology.
    • Old themes of language (39), history (25), law (24), ritual (22) and kinship (20) remain important, though approached in new ways.
  • 20. Global Theory, Local Perspecitve
    • Away from “primitive, isolated, villages…”
    • Theorizing globalization (59), transnationalism (24), modernity (38); but from local perspectives.
    • Concern with indigenous peoples (46), as well as migration (21) and tourism (12).
    • Understandings histories of colonialism (24), postcolonialism (18), postsocialism (18) and imperialism (13).
    • Local experiences of neoliberalism (45), consumption (23), development (21), capitalism (14).
  • 21. The Political…
    • Concern with issues of politics (41) and power (13)…
    • Especially with regard to nationalism (40), states (39) , governmentality (21) , citizenship (20), biopolitics (13), and democracy (10).
    • Culture is not apolitical.
  • 22. … and Personal
    • How do people experience the world?
    • Through identities (39) and subjectivity (22), especially of:
    • Gender (53), including issues of sexuality (19), women (17) and masculinity (12).
    • Religion (35), Race (29), Ethnicity (24) and Class (17), including issues of labor (17)
    • Attention to agency (16), the body (14) and embodiment (11).
  • 23. Anxious Selves and Others…
    • These American-based journals reflect certain “American” concerns in the world…
    • The main topics include: Islam (40), the United States (38), Mexico (22), China (21), Christianity (20) and Japan (11).
    • But also places Americans in general know little about: Indonesia (24), Africa (20), and India (19).
    • Concern with Violence (30), War (14) and Human Rights (11).
  • 24. And Et Cetera…
    • If humans do it, anthropologists study it!
    • Technology (20), food (19), childhood (18) and youth (10), ethics (18), materiality (17), music (15), place (15) , public (15) , science (15), knowledge (14), narrative (12), performance (11), environmentalism (10), time (10), urbanism (10)… etc…
  • 25. The Empirical Challenge: Globalization & Postmodernity
    • Historically, anthropology has focused on (cultural) difference associated with (relative) isolation .
    • 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 )
    • Anthropologist now must apply their concepts (culture, social structure, discourse, etc.) and develop new concepts for understanding phenomena such as:
      • Mass Culture (mass communications, television, etc.)
      • Multiple identities (e.g. John Waiko: Professor of Anthropology, Member of a Binandere Clan)
  • 26. What to make of ANTHROPOLOGY?
  • 27. 1st Generation Cultural Structures (Grammars, Words, Styles, Signifiers) 1st Generation Agents (Subjects/Individuals) (Drawing on the Structures to relate to others , influence action , interpret meanings – their own and others ) Culture as an Iterative Process Agents are “Subjects” of (“subject to”) cultural structures – they cannot operate meaningfully outside of the structure. Cultural Structures are emergent structures, dependent on the agents for their existence.
  • 28. 1st Generation Cultural Structures 1st Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Cultural Structures Culture always changes, CULTURE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT!
  • 29. Anthropology
    • anthropos = humankind
    • logia = study of
    • the study of YOU, AND ME AND ALL OF US

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