Book Notes Chapter 5What Was This Practice or Idea Like in the Past? The Temporal Question A Chicken-and-Egg Story, Part I To piece together a history of how these coastal residents have made ends meet by living off such as harsh land. In the old days. Viva is about the same age as the Anthropologist, but grew up in a culture much like the one his father lived in. Cultural cousins, but a couple of generations apart. Chickens laid eggs all around the yard in April, and the children would have to search for the eggs. Related to the Easter egg hunt we know today? Overview Temporal: directed at events in time. What was this behavior or object like in the past? What has happened to it over the years? What shaped it to become what it is now? What is it becoming next? How much anthropology draws upon the past and upon the disciplines that specialize in studying it. The temporal question is split into describing the precursors to some current practice or idea and describing the processes by which they changed into the current form. A Chicken-and-Egg Story, Part II Newfoundlanders eat chicken, but not their chickens that laid eggs. A woman’s hens were like members of the household. The chickens, like the milk cows, provided food, weren’t food themselves. Talking with them is a part of my long-term study of how residents of these northern coastal settlements have modified their culture to fit the environment and modified their environment by practicing their culture. Cultures Have Histories If we don’t ask the temporal question, we might assume that the way something is now is the way it’s always been. Tempo-centric: we treat the ways we live now as “normal”, or best, or as timeless. We can’t quite grasp what it was like a hundred years ago and we can’t see the future as anything else. Ethnographic Present: a specific time was selected to represent the “now” of that culture. Convenient, but not accurate. Cultures change as time changes. Cultures vary in their attitude toward history and change. The Temporal Question Has a History The study of culture has a history too. In anthropology’s early years, the primary task of anthropologists was to construct a sequence of stages of cultural evolution that humans had passed through. Morgan’s “savages”, “barbarians”, and “civilizations”. Twentieth-century anthropology abandoned thinking in terms of panhuman cultural evolutionary stages when they discovered that a culture may not change much at all or it may change in many different directions. Service’s bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and stratified societies. Still used today to describe cultures and trends. Asking the Temporal Question What Are the Precursors of This Practice or Idea? What was This Idea Like Last Year, One Hundred Years Ago, and Earlier? Where Did This Practice Arise? When Did People Begin Doing Things This Way? What Intermediate Forms Did the Practice Take? Improves our ability to infer the process of change. May reveal substantial deviation from the original or the current forms. Avoiding the from there to here in one straight line. What Are the Processes by Which This Practice or Idea Changed? Is This an Independent Invention? Relatively little outside influence? Has the Cultural Feature Been Borrowed? Direct Diffusion: when one culture migrates to another’s environment and creates a new cultural feature while intruding. Stimulus Diffusion: when only the idea migrates and the recipients build the practice from that idea. Difficult to differentiate from invention. Ethnocide: cultural destruction. The one being acculturated is usually dominated and made the minority. Has a Reinterpretation Occurred? Syncretism: a borrowing that rearranges elements, mixes, and combines them with other features of the culture, selectively drops elements, shifts emphasis, etc. Reinterpretation: changing borrowed ideas. Globalization links widely separated people into tighter interaction. Trade, communications, corporate and bureaucratic structures, and travel. Indigenization or Glocalization: reshaping, reinterpreting, resisting, or attempting to control the manifestations of globalization. Was the Change Intentional? Development: directed change intended to bring a culture more in line with that of industrialized nations. Was the Change a Side Effect? Did People Notice the Change? Perceptible to the participants? Has There Been a Change of Consciousness? Some change occurs directly to the group’s shared understandings of what everything means. Some over generations. Some swift enough to transform lives. Revitalization Movement: spearheaded by a charismatic leader, claiming the ability to lead the people out of error and into a new relationship to the world. Ethnogenesis: the creation of a new culture. Sources and Methods Anthropologists rely on several sources. Archaeology, Linguistics, Oral History, Archived Documents, Life History, Mythology and Folklore, Biology, and Geology. May combine several methods. From documents or informants we might reconstruct a sequence of precursors of some idea or practice. We might observe change happening during fieldwork. We might restudy a group reported earlier by others. Change processes also show up in longitudinal studies. Track changes by repeatedly visiting the same locale. Infer change from cross-sectional analysis. Cross-Sectional Analysis: we compare differing units of a single system at one point in time. Ethnohistory Archival research is sometimes all we have to describe cultures that have changed greatly or no longer exist. Ethnohistory: the history of a culture over a certain period in time or the reconstruction of a past culture at some point in time. Rely on historical documents when they are available. Relies on the memory of informants. Also on evidence within the culture such as stories, artifacts, and archaeological findings. Archaeology An archaeological description of a culture is built up of inferences derived from material remains found by excavation and supplemented by documentary work. What Causes Culture Change? Each change has its share of unique features and peculiar contexts. Generalized Model Features a feedback loop between a group’s culture and their environment. Some kind of change occurs in the group’s environment. Can be biophysical (natural) or sociocultural. Can be from outside or within the group. The change usually creates problems and opportunities for the group. The group responds by cultural innovation. A change in how things are conventionally done or understood. The group’s cultural innovation in turn often creates problems or opportunities for the nonhuman environment, for the other human groups, and for other features of its own culture. Thinking about the Future The temporal question includes concern about the future, about where current practices and ideas are going next, and whether the processes now under way will continue. The Systems Approach Constructs scenarios. Scenario: outline of how the plot will unfold, based upon current trends. The parts communicate and control each other through positive and negative feedback loops. Parameters: statistical characteristics of the system. The Historical Comparative Approach Perhaps the future is glimpsed in the past. History does repeat itself in certain patterns of events. The Delphi Method Delphi Method: prompt a panel of the culture’s “experts” and leaders to think about their problems and opportunities, about what cultural changes are being made and might be made to respond to them. A Chicken-and-Egg Story, Part III Animal’s byproducts were of greater value than their flesh. Methods of raising them are made by tradition, diffusion, and invention.