Assignment to analyze and describe cultures and their symbols

Assignment One

            In the book Anthropology as Cultural Critique by George E. Marcus and Michael
M. Fischer, we are introduced to several theorists who focus in classic
anthropology, modern anthropology and contemporary anthropology. For classic
anthropology we have three theorists by name of Edward Sapir, Marcel Mauss, and
Clifford Geertz. Edward Sapir develops a hypothesis called the Whorf
hypotheses. This hypothesis helps structure that language influences the modes
of thought and behavior characteristic of culture that is used within the
language that is spoken. The next classic anthropology theorists are Marcel
Mauss. Mauss purpose was focused on three main points these three points are to
give to receive and to repay. He stated that gifts help create relationships
not only between individuals but between groups that form total prestations. Clifford
Geertz is the third theorist focused on interpreting symbols that are important
to people and their lives. He also stated that anthropologist need to analyze
and describe cultures and their symbols to make a difference. Another important
factor through his work is that he believes religions are related to events of
individuals and groups with the support of his functionalist theories. He also
wrote a famous essay called the “religion as cultural system”. All three of
these theorist is classified as classic anthropologist because they have
focuses on the study a variation of culture among human beings. The following category
is modern anthropology. Modern anthropology has many important anthropologists
who have supported a lot of modern work. Three of these anthropologist or
theorists is Franz Boas, Claude Levi Strauss, and Bronislaw Malinowski. Franz
Boas is known for being the founder of American anthropology. His focus was on
the accurate records of the scientific method. Cultural relativism is another
important factor for his work because it explains how cultures should be seen
and judged by their own values. Another is ethnology and how he studies the
origin and the similarities and differences between races and cultures.
Following this theorist is Claude Levi Strauss, his theory was based on the
binary opposites and how they are the central climax of a narrative structure.
Some of these binary opposites are for example, good vs evil, black vs white,
man vs women and so forth. The last theorist for modern anthropology is
Brownislow Malinowski. Malinowski importance to anthropology is that he developed
a law by the name as Crime and the Savage Society.  He also contributed with Franz Boas and the guidelines
of cultural relativism in anthropology. He also developed a theory using social
evolutionism and through the functionalist theory arguing that the word savages
were as rational as the Europeans. He was known to be the founder of
functionalism. These important theorists are classified as modern
anthropologist because they studied and contributed to focusing the studies on social
sciences and have analyzed rationally from philosophical theories applying
discipline and understanding the evolution. Now looking at contemporary
anthropology we know that James Frazer, Victor tuner, Paul Rainbow and Anthony Giddens are all import
theorists for this time. James Frazer focuses on the theories of evolution in
religion. His theory was called the Magic theory which consists of three
phases. The first is magic the second is religion and the third is science. Magic
was said to control the world and the religion helped nature cooperate and
science will help understand any rational questions. Victor turner is an
influential anthropologist who theorized on symbols ritually and the symbols
through a process of social and personal transformation. Paul Rainbow wrote a
book called “marking time,” here he explains the two senses of contemporary one
being that contemporary exist with something else and the second being temporal
and historical reasons and figures of moving through the past and moving to the
future. As for Anthony Giddens his theory is on the creation and the
reproduction of social systems focusing on the structure and agency. All this theorist
focus on how culture is the major division of social and cultural anthropology.

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Bibliography

Ortner,
Sherry B. Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting
Subject.           Duke University Press,
2006.

Marcus,
George E., and Michael M. J. Fischer. Anthropology as Cultural Critique: an         Experimental Moment in the Human
Sciences. The University of Chicago Press, 2004.

“Franz
Boas.” Department of Anthropology, anthropology.columbia.edu/department-          history/franz-boas.

 

 

 

 

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