Navigating the site:
Where can we find culture?
A discussion by Dr. Alice Ingerson, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard Univ. (Durham, North Carolina, ASEH, April 30, 2001.).
Anthropology is allegedly the study of people's inherited attributes and customs that asks:
If we say it is a number of persons forming a discrete group but that there are no separate discrete groups as case studies in the research of Anthropology have shown. Thus many anthropologists have negated the concept of culture.
For example do people using the words "my culture" mean:
Essentialist approach is sometimes implied by designating types that have no origin in reality:
."Epistemic blocks crosscut by disciplinary resistance!"
The historical use of the term culture in Anthropology has changed in 150 years:
1, culture as social evolution -- 1860s to 1890s
2, culture as particular histories (Franz Boaz) (1890s -1930s) relational and place based cultural relativism
3, culture as a super organism (1930s - 60s)
4, culture as evolution II (1950s - 1970s) Julian Stuart -- differences in patterns of change
5, culture as text (words) Clifford Geertz? (1960's to now)
6, culture and political economy (1970s - present) ideology looking at culture / nature split uses material and political analysis.
Each of these above ideas can do a certain amount of work, but one must always ask, what are you trying to do and what are the challenges you are trying to address.
Consider the context of a South African Anthropologist:
"the role of academic freedom" in relation to our US respect for cultural differences could be termed toleration of Apartheid in the context of recent African history.
The context of the way we use words, phrases and terms is critical to determining the meaning of what we express.
Culture and Truth
When using words consider the influence of your data on the community and the activist community into which your words or evidence will be used.
Descartes said to doubt everything and reduce knowledge to its base components: what is essential to our knowing anything?
Darwin argued that people, like their animal ancestors acquire behaviors we call traits and pass them on to others by observation and mimicry.
What then do we mean by acquired traits if, as specialists suggest, that culture does not really exist?
People differ for many reasons some biological, or ethnic; that is their genetic endowment based on ancestry and some acquired or learned from being with others.
Characteristics of acquired traits
With respect to people's inherited traits consider these basic categories of apparent differences among societies:
Language or linguistic dialect