Sc2218 lecture 12 (2011)


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Lecture 12: World Anthropologies and Recent Trends

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Sc2218 lecture 12 (2011)

  1. 1. SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 12: Recent Work, New Directions & World Anthropologies Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2011/2012
  2. 2. Where Are We Going? <ul><li>Part 1: What is Anthropology? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strangers Abroad, Race, Culture </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Part 2: What do Anthropologists Study? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kinship, Gender, Economy, Community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Part 3: Current Debates and Trends </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The “Crisis of Representation” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Poetry of Culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>World Anthropologies & Current Trends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review </li></ul></ul>YOU ARE HERE
  3. 3. Today’s Lecture: 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>
  4. 4. In a changing world, how shall anthropology get on with the job?
  5. 5. Who are the Anthropologists? “Strangers Abroad” and Others . . .
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. “ 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>
  8. 8. American Anthropology, c.2010 <ul><li>Early 20 th century: Anglo-American Anthropology (British & American) </li></ul><ul><li>Late 20 th century: American anthropology became dominant; British anthropology declined in prominence. </li></ul><ul><li>American Anthropology is the most influential anthropology worldwide today. </li></ul><ul><li>What are recent trends in American Anthropology? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Twenty-three Influential Scholars in American Anthropology Today <ul><li>Survey of Graduate Students (October 2010)* </li></ul><ul><li>Venerable Generation (pre-1970s PhD) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Benedict Anderson, Talal Asad, Mikhail Bakhtin, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Clifford Geertz, David Harvey, Edward Said </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Senior Generation (1970s PhD) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arjun Appadurai, Joan Comaroff, John Comaroff, Veena Das, Bruno Latour, George Marcus, Sherry Ortner, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Michael Taussig </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Recent Generation (1980s PhD) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Phillippe Bourgois, James Ferguson, Akhil Gupta, Webb Keane, Anna Tsing, Aihwa Ong </li></ul></ul>*Survey of Six leading graduate schools in cultural anthropology. Conducted by NUS Graduate students in SC6212: The Anthropological Perspective.
  10. 10. Who is Shaping American Anthropology? (Based on List of 23 Scholars) <ul><li>Nationalities: American(7), French(3), Indian(3), British(2), South African(2), Australian(1), Malaysian(1), Palestinian(1), Saudi(1) </li></ul><ul><li>17 Men, 6 Women </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All 7 of the “venerable” generation are men. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>9 men, 6 Women in more recent generations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In 6 departments surveyed, faculty members are 61 men and 60 women; those with PhD’s since 1991, 29 women and 14 men. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disciplines: American Anthropology(11), British Anthropology(4), French Sociology(3), Literary Theory(2), Geography(1), Indian Social Anthropology(1), Politics(1) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Trends by PhD Field <ul><li>PhD Fields by Generation: </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-1970s: French Sociology(2), Literary Theory(2), American Anthropology(1), British Anthropology(1), Geography(1), Politics(1) </li></ul><ul><li>1970s: American Anthropology(4), British Anthropology(3), French Sociology(1), Indian Social Anthropology(1) </li></ul><ul><li>1980s: American Anthropology(6) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Trends in American Anthropology <ul><li>Few anthropologists from pre-1970s </li></ul><ul><li>Influence of French Sociology (Bourdieu, Foucault, Latour) </li></ul><ul><li>Declining influence of British Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>All of the most recent generation are trained in American Anthropology. </li></ul><ul><li>Rising influence of anthropologists and others from former British colonies (India, Malaysia, Palestine, Middle East) </li></ul>
  14. 14. 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, Power </li></ul><ul><li>New concepts and ways of understanding human diversity evolve out of ongoing empirical research and theoretical reflection. </li></ul>
  15. 15. 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, Power </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><ul><ul><li>Culture is not neutral. It involves Power; contested ideas of understanding of ourselves and others. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Trends in American Anthropology Theory and Practice, 1980 - Now <ul><li>Critique of Traditional Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Postcolonialism </li></ul><ul><li>Postmodernism </li></ul><ul><li>Poststructuralism, Discourse </li></ul><ul><li>Nationalism, Imagined Communities </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization </li></ul><ul><li>Neoliberalism </li></ul><ul><li>Applied/Action Anthropology </li></ul>
  17. 17. Contemporary Themes: <ul><li>From describing cultures to understanding cultural processes . </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding the global through the local </li></ul><ul><li>The political … and personal </li></ul><ul><li>Anxious selves and others (the American perspective). </li></ul><ul><li>And Et cetera … </li></ul>
  18. 18. About the following… <ul><li>The following slides are based on an analysis of three leading anthropology journals: American Anthropologist , American Ethnologist , Cultural Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis by participants in the graduate course SC6216: The Anthropological Perspective (Sem 1, 2011/2012). </li></ul><ul><li>The number in parentheses refers to the number of times the keyword appeared across all three journals (2001-2010). </li></ul>
  19. 19. Culture abides... with a difference <ul><li>Cultural (59) processes remain at the heart of anthropology. </li></ul><ul><li>Shift from describing culture (29) to various cultural processes. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnography (33) remains cultural anthropology’s main methodology. </li></ul><ul><li>Old themes of language (39), history (25), law (24), ritual (22) and kinship (20) remain important, though approached in new ways. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Global Theory, Local Perspecitve <ul><li>Away from “primitive, isolated, villages…” </li></ul><ul><li>Theorizing globalization (59), transnationalism (24), modernity (38); but from local perspectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Concern with indigenous peoples (46), as well as migration (21) and tourism (12). </li></ul><ul><li>Understandings histories of colonialism (24), postcolonialism (18), postsocialism (18) and imperialism (13). </li></ul><ul><li>Local experiences of neoliberalism (45), consumption (23), development (21), capitalism (14). </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Political… <ul><li>Concern with issues of politics (41) and power (13)… </li></ul><ul><li>Especially with regard to nationalism (40), states (39) , governmentality (21) , citizenship (20), biopolitics (13), and democracy (10). </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is not apolitical. </li></ul>
  22. 22. … and Personal <ul><li>How do people experience the world? </li></ul><ul><li>Through identities (39) and subjectivity (22), especially of: </li></ul><ul><li>Gender (53), including issues of sexuality (19), women (17) and masculinity (12). </li></ul><ul><li>Religion (35), Race (29), Ethnicity (24) and Class (17), including issues of labor (17) </li></ul><ul><li>Attention to agency (16), the body (14) and embodiment (11). </li></ul>
  23. 23. Anxious Selves and Others… <ul><li>These American-based journals reflect certain “American” concerns in the world… </li></ul><ul><li>The main topics include: Islam (40), the United States (38), Mexico (22), China (21), Christianity (20) and Japan (11). </li></ul><ul><li>But also places Americans in general know little about: Indonesia (24), Africa (20), and India (19). </li></ul><ul><li>Concern with Violence (30), War (14) and Human Rights (11). </li></ul>
  24. 24. And Et Cetera… <ul><li>If humans do it, anthropologists study it! </li></ul><ul><li>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… </li></ul>
  25. 25. 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>
  26. 26. What to make of ANTHROPOLOGY?
  27. 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. 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. 29. Anthropology <ul><li>anthropos = humankind </li></ul><ul><li>logia = study of </li></ul><ul><li>the study of YOU, AND ME AND ALL OF US </li></ul>