AnthroTheory-online

AnthroTheory-online - Paradigm Change Anthropological...

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Anthropological Theory Part I Paradigm Change Thomas Khun: Scientific thought is the result of a series of revolutions or “paradigm changes” A Paradigm: sums up the scientific views about what should be the object of research & how to go about solving scientific problems Normal Science The formulation of a paradigm is followed by a period of normal science, governed by the paradigm Thus, anthropological ideas at any given time are reflection of the cultural environment of the anthropologists The history of anthropology is a history of the values of the Western world What’s the Point? To understand how current biases influence the way anthropologists have interpreted the cultures they study Ask yourself how the cultures you study reflect the researcher’s bias Ask what questions are not being asked because of the current paradigm Anthropology has gone through a number of paradigm changes We will begin with a brief history of the discipline Know this background & understand the different theories as they apply to the cultures you study A Prelude The 16 th Century: Age of Discovery “Mercantilism” European World View – chosen by God Thomas Hobbes – the lives of savages are “nasty, brutish, & short”
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Enlightenment 18 th Century: All people capable of progress toward civilization “The Noble Savage” 1800 Society for the Observation of Man Comparative anatomy Comparative Languages Museum of Comparative Ethnography Context for Unilineal Evolution 19 th Century: Colonialism – economic & political domination Transfer of wealth to Europe Increasing Racism Religion 3 Orientations Polygenists : Separate creations Races are distinct species Craniometry Monogenists : One creation Biblical interpretation All races with ability to progress “White Man’s Burden” Degeneration : Regression after single creation Polygenists: S e p a r te C t i o n s ’t Ac h ie ve iv iliza tio Monogenists: b le of A d va cem en Degenerationists P u is m t fo F al lin g fr m fe c
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Charles Darwin 1859 – Origin of Species “Natural Selection” (Alfred Russel Wallace – The “Wallace effect”) dissatisfaction with biblical version of creation Yet Polygenist-Monogenist debate continued through the 19 th Century Herbert Spencer “Survival of the Fittest” Social Darwinism Biological explanation of cultural differences Evolution of mental capacity European society became the standard by which “primitive” societies were judged to be inferior “Primitive Man” = savage, small brain, dark skin Paradigm I. Unilineal Evolution 19 th Century Concept of Cultural Evolution The process by which new cultural forms emerge out of older ones Each Society is believed to PROGRESS through the
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AnthroTheory-online - Paradigm Change Anthropological...

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