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Evidence in Socio-cultural Anthropology

Limits and Options for Epistemological Orientations

Andre Gingrich

This article identifies what Sir Edmund Leach once called 'amongitis' as one of socio-cultural anthropology's major problems that make interdisciplinary dialogues on evidence-based epistemological topics difficult. Topics of wider and larger scale, however, can and should be addressed if anthropology brings out more fully its implicit epistemological strength of a dialogical relationship between objectivism and subjectivism. The current conditions of a globalizing world actually transform this possibility into a necessity. In order to face this need, a new realism is proposed that is capable of dealing with the conditions and challenges of a second modernity. Two ranges of epistemological sources are suggested that may inform such a new realism. One range is based in the traditions of Western philosophy, while the other is rooted outside the secularized or theological legacies of monotheism.

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Resistance against the Mafia

A Civic Struggle to Defy an Uncontestable Power

Baris Cayli

This study is based on participant observation of a protest against the Mafia that occurred in Rome on 26 September 2009. First, this essay offers an analysis by using symbols and their meanings, which are illustrated through the 'pyramid of social protest'. Second, the framing and process of the protest are analysed. Two new concepts are presented: the culture of lawfulness frame and the implicit contested process. Third, this essay shows that defying the Mafia begins with individual motivation but ends with the collective motivation behind the decision to be an activist. This decision includes ethically oriented reasons rather than being based on a materialistically calculated reasoning. Finally, the struggle of anti-Mafia movement illuminates cultural anthropology through its desire for a progressive society in which strong symbolic interactionism among the activists play an important role.

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Changing Contents in Shifting Contexts

An Essay on the Status of Socio-cultural Anthropology in the German-speaking Countries

Andre Gingrich

In response to the fine initiative by Alexei Elfimov, the present essay discusses the status of socio-cultural anthropology in the German-speaking countries in shifting contexts of past and present. I will focus here on three main themes, namely, socio-cultural anthropology as seen by a wider non-academic public, its status and terminology within wider academic contexts, and the internal differentiations among anthropologists in the German language zone with their unequal access to the public.

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Andreea Lazea and Felix Girke

Social and Cultural Anthropology. The Key Concepts. By Nigel Rapport and Joanna Overing, London, New York: Routledge (Key Guides), 2007, ISBN-10: 0415181569, ISBN-13: 978-0415181563.

Creativity and Cultural Improvisation. By Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold (eds.). Oxford, New York: Berg (ASA Monographs 44), 2007, ISBN 978-184520-527-0.

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Courage and Obstinacy

Remembering a Frontrunner

Johanna Rolshoven

In German academic Volkskunde of the 1970s, scholar Ina-Maria Greverus was a pioneer in several realms. As a woman and feminist, she challenged the discipline’s gender order, including its hidden gendered epistemology; as an early reader of international cultural anthropology, she transgressed nationalistically confined horizons, and her methodological openness created space for new formats that challenged false assumption of scientific objectivity and neutrality.

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Anthropology and the International Baccalaureate

History, Practice and Future Challenges

Marzia Balzani

The article contextualizes the educational, political and social context in which the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme was established and describes the place of social anthropology within the general aims of the diploma programme as a whole. The article then discusses the current diploma curriculum for social and cultural anthropology and the issues arising from this for the teaching and learning of anthropology in a global context, including teacher support and comparisons with other national pre-university educational qualifications. Some of the perceptions of the IB diploma among teachers, students and parents are also briefly discussed.

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Afterword

Ethnography between the Virtue of Patience and the Anxiety of Belatedness Once Coevalness Is Embraced

George Marcus

In view of this issue's focus on time and temporalities, I want to discuss a distinctive problem concerning the ethnographic representation of fieldwork experiences. Faced with increased time pressure to complete degree work and the present trend that emphasizes efficiency in graduate training, scholars are finding traditional ideals of temporality in research to be challenged as a professional standard of ethnography at the outset of their careers. To me, this compelling development in the current evolution of social and cultural anthropology needs detailed discussion in reassessing the norms of the long-established ethos of anthropological research.

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Claudette Kennedy, W. S. F. Pickering and Nick Allen

The late Mrs Claudette Kennedy was a niece of Mauss and a great niece of Durkheim. On 1 September 1992, Bill Pickering (WP) and Nick Allen (NA) – of the then recently formed British Centre for Durkheimian Studies at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University – met Claudette Kennedy (CK) in her house in Oxford and recorded a conversation with her. She had certain firm memories of Emile Durkheim, her great uncle, but more of Marcel Mauss. In all probability, she was the only person then alive with such memories, especially those of Durkheim. Pierre Mauss might have had recollections of Marcel Mauss but his memory was said to be failing.

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Laura Macía

This paper examines the decisions and motivations of graduate students in cultural anthropology when defining the field sites and topics of their final projects. The decisions among students at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia are contrasted with those at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States. A review of recent final projects in both universities was conducted, along with a survey and some follow-up questions with students in both institutions. A main difference found is that students at los Andes are more willing to do applied fieldwork at 'home', while students at Pittsburgh are far more reluctant to do so and prefer to go to distant fields. This distinction is partly explained by the histories of the anthropologies practised in each locale, and of what have been considered 'proper' field sites in cultural anthropology. In particular, a vision of anthropology as an applied enterprise emerged at different historical moments in these two geo-political locations, and those visions are associated with quite different, opposed values today.

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Faltering dialogue?

For a doubly rooted cosmopolitan anthropology

Chris Hann

Both inside and outside Europe, many societies have drawn on their own textual traditions to generate bodies of knowledge possessing some affinity to comparative socio-cultural anthropology. The premise of this article is that even where the focus is restricted to one country or one nationality, such “national ethnography“ should be considered as a legitimate branch of a broadly conceived anthropological field, rather than belittled or denigrated. Under socialism, both native and foreign researchers carried out fieldwork in similar rural locations in Hungary. A dialogue began, but it seems to have weakened in recent years, despite the fact that access to the region has become incomparably easier. Another change is that Hungarian students are now able to study socio-cultural anthropology as a seperate program in a separate faculty, distinct from Hungarian néprajz. This article is critical of such developments and takes the Hungarian example to argue for the benefits of institutional unification. The resulting department would be larger and more cosmopolitan than the old departments of néprajz, but it would retain its local roots. The integration of “national ethnography“ into research and teaching programs in anthropology would facilitate the persistence of distinctive national, regional, and institution-specific intellectual traditions; such departments could also facilitate the work of fieldworkers from abroad.