SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 10: History, Culture, Change Lecture 11: The Poetry of Culture Eric C...
Where Are We Going? <ul><li>Part 1: Anthropological Frameworks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strangers abroad; Genetic inheritance...
Question: <ul><li>Why is HISTORY a “problem” for anthropology within the “structural-functionalist” framework of the 20 th...
History vs. Tradition <ul><li>History and tradition are often thought of as synonymous. In anthropology, they mean very di...
The Problem with “Science” <ul><li>The 19 th  century saw the rise of “social sciences” modeled on physical (or “natural”)...
Problem with Structural-Functionalism <ul><li>Structural-Functional perspectives assumed culture and society to be “equili...
How to understand change? <ul><li>Societies and cultures obviously change. </li></ul><ul><li>Structural-functionalism (bas...
N!ai: The Story of a !Kung Woman <ul><li>What are the main changes that have taken place for !Kung people since the 1950s?...
From  Social Science  to History  and  Interpretation “ Social anthropology is a kind of historiography… It studies societ...
So is Anthropology an “Art” rather than a “Science”? <ul><li>Late 20 th  century Anthropology: Adopted Historiography and ...
Revolution in the Science of Complex, Dynamical Systems <ul><li>Prior to computing, scientists found complex systems impos...
Complex  Adaptive Systems <ul><li>Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS; like human culture and society) are a problem for traditi...
A New Systems Theory in Social Science? <ul><li>Actor-Network Theory (Bruno Latour) </li></ul><ul><li>Structuration Theory...
1st Generation Cultural Structures (Grammars, Words, Styles, Signifiers) 1st Generation Agents (Subjects/Individuals) (Dra...
1st Generation Cultural Structures 1st Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Cultur...
CULTURE & SOCIETY (The Super-Simple Versions) <ul><li>Culture = systems of meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Society = systems of ...
The Problem with Structuralism <ul><li>Binary oppositions* </li></ul><ul><li>Fixed stereotypes & categories* </li></ul><ul...
Post-structuralism and Agency How do we move beyond analytical structures, categories,  and stereotypes that limit our abi...
Key Concepts and Examples <ul><li>What is “Discourse”? </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Poststructuralism”? </li></ul><ul><li>Ex...
Here’s the Problem . . . <ul><li>If language & culture are changing all the time, how do we ever know what anything means?...
<ul><li>“ . . .There's glory for you!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'&quot; Alice sai...
Encoding and Decoding <ul><li>Discourse is a matter of  ongoing exchange . </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse is  back-and-forth ...
Language, Culture, Discourse <ul><li>Language and Culture are closely related. </li></ul><ul><li>Culture includes Language...
The Idea of “Discourse”* <ul><li>Language as a System </li></ul><ul><li>“ Langue”  (language) </li></ul><ul><li>Form </li>...
Structure and Meaning Consider the following sentences: <ul><li>Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. </li></ul><ul><li>(...
Structure and Meaning: Colorless Green Ideas <ul><li>(1) Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Str...
<ul><li>`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves </li></ul><ul><li>   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borog...
What “Structures” are found in Jabberwocky?
What “Structures” are found in Jabberwocky? <ul><li>Poetic structure </li></ul><ul><li>English language (words and grammar...
Structure, Discourse, Meaning <ul><li>Structure  enables  meaning, but does not (completely)  determine  it. </li></ul><ul...
Post-Structuralism <ul><li>Examining the  emergence of meaning . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Post –” (after, beyond, out of). </li...
Bedouin Poetry <ul><li>Abu-Lughod examines “traditional” Bedouin Poetry. </li></ul><ul><li>Are the women reciting these po...
ELLA : Malaysia’s  Ratu Rock  (Queen of Rock-and Roll) <ul><li>Is Ella’s music  just  a copy of American rock-and-roll? </...
Ala Amerika <ul><li>Semalam kau kata kau cinta </li></ul><ul><li>Hari ini sudah lain pula jadinya,  </li></ul><ul><li>Kau ...
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 mea...
Umm Kulthum: A Voice like Egypt <ul><li>“ It is necessary to fill the revolutionary society with everything that is beauti...
Ju/’hoansi Complaint Discourse <ul><li>What does complaining among elderly Ju/’hoansi have to do with poetry and song? </l...
Culture and Discourse <ul><li>CULTURE is a  Complex Adaptive System </li></ul><ul><li>DISCOURSE is the  Process through wh...
Singapore… Ain’t Got No Culture? <ul><li>“ In the old days… you had the time and the isolation to develop your own (cultur...
What is Authentic Culture? <ul><li>What is Authentic Chinese, Malay, Indian or Other Culture? </li></ul><ul><li>What is Au...
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Sc2218 Lecture 11 (2008a)

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Sc2218 Lecture 11 (2008a)

  1. 1. SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 10: History, Culture, Change Lecture 11: The Poetry of Culture Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2008/2009
  2. 2. Where Are We Going? <ul><li>Part 1: Anthropological Frameworks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strangers abroad; Genetic inheritance; The concept of Culture </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Part 2: Social-Cultural Systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kinship, Gender, Economy, Community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Part 3: Building on the Frameworks & Moving into the Future </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem of Representation, History and Change, the Poetry of Culture, Anthropology in the 21 st Century </li></ul></ul>YOU ARE HERE
  3. 3. Question: <ul><li>Why is HISTORY a “problem” for anthropology within the “structural-functionalist” framework of the 20 th century? </li></ul>
  4. 4. History vs. Tradition <ul><li>History and tradition are often thought of as synonymous. In anthropology, they mean very different things. </li></ul><ul><li>Tradition refers to beliefs and behaviors passed down essentially unchanging over time. </li></ul><ul><li>History refers to the unique events and changes that individuals and societies undergo through time. </li></ul><ul><li>Early 20 th century anthropology took culture to be a form of “tradition.” </li></ul><ul><li>Contemporary anthropology incorporates history and problematizes the notion of “ tradition ”. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Problem with “Science” <ul><li>The 19 th century saw the rise of “social sciences” modeled on physical (or “natural”) sciences. </li></ul><ul><li>Physical sciences (chemistry, physics, etc.) are dominated by an experimental, hypothesis testing model of understanding and building knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>This model works well for understanding simple, replicable and unchanging systems. </li></ul><ul><li>It runs into major problems with complex, unique , and evolving systems. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Problem with Structural-Functionalism <ul><li>Structural-Functional perspectives assumed culture and society to be “equilibrium” systems (which by definition are “simple” systems). </li></ul><ul><li>Viewing culture and society like a car engine – basically fixed and unchanging. </li></ul><ul><li>But society and culture are living , dynamic , “ far from equilibrium ” systems. </li></ul>
  7. 7. How to understand change? <ul><li>Societies and cultures obviously change. </li></ul><ul><li>Structural-functionalism (based on an equilibrium systems model) cannot explain change. </li></ul><ul><li>The only? explanation: Outside influences (colonialism, Westernization) </li></ul>
  8. 8. N!ai: The Story of a !Kung Woman <ul><li>What are the main changes that have taken place for !Kung people since the 1950s? </li></ul><ul><li>What role have representations played in these changes? (Such as representations of !Kung people and their ways of life in terms of primitivism, modernity, race/ethnicity, citizenship, territory, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>How do the changes that have taken place for people in the Kalahari relate to Evans-Pritchard’s discussion of Anthropology and History? </li></ul>
  9. 9. From Social Science to History and Interpretation “ Social anthropology is a kind of historiography… It studies societies as moral systems and not as natural systems… it seeks patterns and not scientific laws, and it interprets rather than explains.” (Evans-Pritchard 1950) “ The analysis of (culture is) not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive on in search of meaning.” (Clifford Geertz, 1973)
  10. 10. So is Anthropology an “Art” rather than a “Science”? <ul><li>Late 20 th century Anthropology: Adopted Historiography and Literary Criticism (Interpreting ‘cultures’ the way one interprets literature & ‘texts’) </li></ul><ul><li>Criticism of “science” as just one more way of interpreting the world (based on cultural relativism). </li></ul><ul><li>But, science is a very powerful way of interpreting the world… do we want to abandon it? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Revolution in the Science of Complex, Dynamical Systems <ul><li>Prior to computing, scientists found complex systems impossible to analyze </li></ul><ul><li>Too many variables = too many interactions = impossible to solve </li></ul><ul><li>The “hard” sciences (physics, chemistry) have generally focused simple systems. </li></ul><ul><li>The “soft” sciences (social) attempt to understand complex systems. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Complex Adaptive Systems <ul><li>Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS; like human culture and society) are a problem for traditional hypothesis-testing science (HTS). </li></ul><ul><li>CAS involve feedback systems and multi-directional causality; HTS seeks unidirectional “cause-and-effect” answers. </li></ul><ul><li>CAS are not replicable due to sensitive dependence on initial conditions; HTS requires multiple copies of the same system on which to test hypotheses. </li></ul><ul><li>CAS evolve – meaning that they change qualitatively over time; HTS can only deal with quantitative differences, not qualitative ones (“you can’t compare apples and oranges”). </li></ul>
  13. 13. A New Systems Theory in Social Science? <ul><li>Actor-Network Theory (Bruno Latour) </li></ul><ul><li>Structuration Theory (Anthony Giddens) </li></ul><ul><li>General attention to the interactions and mutual dependence/production of structure and agency </li></ul><ul><li>All look like “Complex Adaptive Systems”! </li></ul>
  14. 14. 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.
  15. 15. 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”
  16. 16. CULTURE & SOCIETY (The Super-Simple Versions) <ul><li>Culture = systems of meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Society = systems of (exchange) relationships </li></ul><ul><li>From Structuralism, to Post-Structuralism, to (Complex Adaptive) Dynamic Systems </li></ul>
  17. 17. The Problem with Structuralism <ul><li>Binary oppositions* </li></ul><ul><li>Fixed stereotypes & categories* </li></ul><ul><li>Problem of change . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If structures (e.g. kinship, language) are persistent , how do we account for change ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is a culture (e.g. “Chinese culture”) always the same at different times, in different places? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problem of human agency . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are people’s lives determined by culture? </li></ul></ul>*Discussed in Past Lectures
  18. 18. Post-structuralism and Agency How do we move beyond analytical structures, categories, and stereotypes that limit our ability to see an understand contemporary realities? How do we account for human agency – the potential of people to affect and change their social conditions of life? POST-STRUCTURALISM : an attempt to move anthropological analysis beyond the analytical confines of structures and categories.
  19. 19. Key Concepts and Examples <ul><li>What is “Discourse”? </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Poststructuralism”? </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>Egyptian Popular Music </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ju/’hoansi Complaint </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Singaporean Culture… Does it exist?? </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Here’s the Problem . . . <ul><li>If language & culture are changing all the time, how do we ever know what anything means?? </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>“ . . .There's glory for you!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'&quot; Alice said. </li></ul><ul><li>Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. &quot;Of course you don't--till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'&quot; Alice objected. </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;When I use a word,&quot; Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, &quot;it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>“ The question is,“ said Alice, &quot;whether you can make words mean so many different things.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;The question is,&quot; said Humpty Dumpty, &quot;which is to be master--that's all.&quot; </li></ul>“ Humpty-Dumpty” Meaning http://sundials.org/about/humpty.htm Do Language and Meaning really work like this? Through the Looking Glass , Lewis Carroll 1871
  22. 22. Encoding and Decoding <ul><li>Discourse is a matter of ongoing exchange . </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse is back-and-forth , not one-way. </li></ul><ul><li>Speakers/listeners; writers/readers cannot fix meaning. </li></ul>http://planet.tvi.cc.nm.us/ba122/What%20is%20Communication.htm
  23. 23. Language, Culture, Discourse <ul><li>Language and Culture are closely related. </li></ul><ul><li>Culture includes Language and Linguistic systems of meaning; but also many systems or elements that we do not usually think of as “Linguistic”, for example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flags, Maps, Architecture, Food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skin Color, Eye Shape and other “Symbols” of Race </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Body Language and Gestures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discourse can refer to both Language and/or Culture “in use” (process) </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Idea of “Discourse”* <ul><li>Language as a System </li></ul><ul><li>“ Langue” (language) </li></ul><ul><li>Form </li></ul><ul><li>Structuralism </li></ul><ul><li>Culture (mid-20 th c.) </li></ul><ul><li>Language in Use </li></ul><ul><li>“ Parole ” (speech) </li></ul><ul><li>History </li></ul><ul><li>Poststructuralism </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse (late-20 th c.) </li></ul>*These ideas come from Ferdinand de Saussure, Jacque Derrida, and others.
  25. 25. Structure and Meaning Consider the following sentences: <ul><li>Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Sleep ideas green furiously colorless. </li></ul>Are either of these sentences meaningful ? Why or Why Not?
  26. 26. Structure and Meaning: Colorless Green Ideas <ul><li>(1) Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Structurally (grammatically) sound. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(2) Sleep ideas green furiously colorless. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Structurally unsound. </li></ul></ul>Are either of these sentences meaningful ? Why or Why Not? *Famous example used by linguist Noam Chomsky.
  27. 27. <ul><li>`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves </li></ul><ul><li>   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves,   And the mome raths outgrabe. </li></ul>Structure and Meaning: Jabberwocky Is “Jabberwocky” meaningful, or just nonsense? http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html Through the Looking Glass , Lewis Carroll 1871
  28. 28. What “Structures” are found in Jabberwocky?
  29. 29. What “Structures” are found in Jabberwocky? <ul><li>Poetic structure </li></ul><ul><li>English language (words and grammar) </li></ul><ul><li>Adventure story </li></ul><ul><li>Kinship (!) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Father & Son </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul><ul><li>He took his vorpal sword in hand:   Long time the manxome foe he sought. </li></ul><ul><li>Beware the Jabberwock, my son ! </li></ul><ul><li>Come to my arms, my beamish boy ! </li></ul>These STRUCTURES allow us to interpret Jabberwocky’s “nonsense”
  30. 30. 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>
  31. 31. 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>
  32. 32. 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>
  33. 33. 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>
  34. 34. 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>
  35. 35. 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>
  36. 36. 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>
  37. 37. 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>
  38. 38. Culture and Discourse <ul><li>CULTURE is a Complex Adaptive System </li></ul><ul><li>DISCOURSE is the Process through which Culture Changes </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>
  39. 39. 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>
  40. 40. 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>

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