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a340-11f-101-08-SteckleyCh2 - Living in our Globalized...

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Living in our Globalized World: Notes 8 Cultural relativism and determinism; academic imperialism: Steckley Chapter 2 Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - Steckley: White Lies About the Inuit: Chapter 2, pp. 31-49 - Steckley introduces “Four Major White Figures” - Franz Boas: American anthropologist - Diamond Jenness: Canadian anthropologist and government official - Vilhjalmur Stefansson: American adventurer - Farley Mowat: Canadian writer of “subjective non-fiction” - All are interesting and important background for the book - but for us, the broader anthropological points mostly come up in the discussion of Boas - Boas (1858-1942) - one of the founders of American anthropology - p. 32: a proponent of historical particularism - what is this point of view? - in opposition to evolutionism (now often called “ unilinear evolutionism ”) - the idea that all cultures evolve from a “primitive” state to an “advanced” one - as in savagery to barbarism to civilization - clearly an ethnocentric, even insulting viewpoint, placing ourselves as the only pinnacle of advancement towards which all others are still struggling… - the newer term “unilinear evolutionism” leaves the door open for other, less simplistic kinds of evolutionary thinking - by implying that what was wrong was the idea of a single, progressive line of evolution - not the idea of cultural evolution in itself - note that Steckley is again writing with an eye to the social production of knowledge - the reason for Boas’s emphasis on historical particularism was that it was a useful counterpoint to the obviously troubling view of evolutionism -
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