48 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2021
    1. What we were doing, and what anthropology was doing, essentially, since the late 19th century, was sort of salvaging work, salvaging the cultures that were disappearing.
    1. Article synopsis of paper that looks at hypoxia with relation to artistic asphyxia in pre-historic cave art. The use of torches, lamps, or fire in small enclosed spaces may have influenced early cave art.

    2. He adds that the ethnographic record shows that with rare exceptions, rock art is indeed associated with ritual and beliefs. “The concept of ‘art for art’s sake’ is a relatively recent western attitude,” he says – and if anything, the propensity for drawing in the dark seems to support that assumption.

      Here again, the sentence reads well if we replace rituals and beliefs with mnemonic practice.

    3. Whitley says: “The conceptual and practical division between the supernatural/sacred/religious world  and the mundane realm is a largely modern and western conceit that has become especially prominent since the Protestant Reformation. Many traditional peoples saw/see no separation between daily versus religious life; many don’t even recognize that they have a ‘religion’ per se. I then concur with the notion that many prehistoric peoples felt a strong connection to the supernatural and the cosmos.”

      This fits into a mnemonic perspective of life as being something greater than religion or ancestor worship. The ancestor worship part comes in because they're a thing to attach our memories of needed culture and knowledge to. They're also important because they're the ones that discovered the knowledge and helped to hand it down.

    4. “In western North America alone, for example, rock art was exclusively made by shamans among some tribes. But in others it might also be made by puberty initiates – boys and/or girls – and in others include adults experiencing life crises too (e.g., the death of a spouse),” Whitley says. But throughout North America, it seems artistic creation was associated with visionary experiences and the perceived receipt of supernatural power.

      Shamanic instances could support knowledge preservation and communication to following generations.

    5. “We also commonly see repetitions of motifs – an iconographic system – in corpora of rock art, again indicative of communicative rather than purely decorative intent,” Whitley says. “By this I don’t imply that rock art has no aesthetic component. In many cases it clearly does. But that doesn’t seem to have been its goal or main justification.”

      The fact that it was just for "art's sake" is a motivating clue for supporting use of these as mnemonics.

    6. Arguing in favor of cosmic connectivity, à la Whitley: why would anybody create art in places that are very difficult to see and dangerous to enter, if the goal is purely aesthetic or decorative?

      If these were used for societal memory purposes, the privacy of the caves as well as the auditory and even halucinatory effects could have helped as well.

      What sorts of other things would we expect to see in such instances? Definitely worth looking at Lynne Kelly's ten criteria in these situations, though some of them are so old as to be unlikely to have as much supporting evidence.

    7. Figurative cave art is the fief of Homo sapiens, going by present evidence (there is no evidence of figurative Neanderthal art). The earliest-known painting is of a warty pig; it was found just this year in a very inaccessible cavesite in Indonesia and is about 45,500 years old.

      Dating of the oldest cave art to about 45,500 years ago.

    8. Whitley notes that cave sites were visited by people other than the artists, as attested by the occasional preservation of footprints, including of children. The implication is that they too would have experienced an altered state of consciousness, a kind of group trance. “This is a novel and important implication of this research,” Whitley says.

      If the groups were large enough and stayed for long enough, they could have induced hallucinations just based on many people depleting oxygen in small enclosed spaces.

    1. There are surprisingly few digital editions of commonplace books, especially given how the genre lends itself to digitization. What we've made isn't perfect but we hope it helps others think through/with these types of books. More about that here: digitalbookhistory.com/colletscommonp…

      I've seen some people building digital commonplace books in real time, but I'm also curious to see more academics doing it and seeing what tools and platforms they're using to do it.

      Given the prevalence for these in text, I'd be particularly curious to see them being done as .txt or .md files and then imported into platforms like Obsidian, Roam Research, Org Mode, TiddlyWiki, et al for cross linking and backlinking.

      I've seen some evidence of people doing some of this with copies of the bible, but yet to see anyone digitize and cross link old notebooks or commonplace books.

    1. We cannot transfer beliefs or customs from one culture to another, but we can transfer generalisations from multiple cultures about how humans maintain critical knowledge when they are dependent on memory.

      Almost every anthropology source I've read in the last six months has highlighted some version of this.

      If our short history of experience with archaeology is any indicator, it can be very dangerous (and painfully wrong) for us to transfer our customs and beliefs onto other cultures and civilizations which don't have our culture or knowledge base.

      However we can more easily transfer broad generalizations from and across various cultures when we discuss how humans used memory and orality (within their cultures) particularly when they would never have interacted with each other.

  2. Feb 2021
    1. Essentially, we study culture at an "on the ground" level – looking for the individual stories, rich details, particular nuances, and thick description you can only find by spending extended time with people in their daily lives.

      I'm reading this and can't help but think it's sort of what Jack Jamieson did in writing his recent thesis Independent Together: Building and Maintaining Values in a Distributed Web Infrastructure.

      It's definitely the sort of thing that Maggie Appleton may appreciate.

  3. Jan 2021
    1. Nabonidus, last native king of Babylon (reigned 555–539 bc), took a keen inter-est in antiquities. In one important temple he dug down and discovered the foundation stone which had been laid some 2200 years before. He housed many of his finds in a kind of museum at Babylon.

      example of an early anthropologist

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  4. Dec 2020
    1. I like the idea of a word for the year and have seen others like Mark Aaron Davis do this in the past.

      It's apparently a broader thing as I've seen many people posting about receiving their Theme System Journals from @cortexpodcast on Twitter over the past week. They've cleverly set aside the letters ME in some of their marketing like so: THEME System Journal

      I'm not sure if I'll choose a theme in this way specifically, but I think I'm going to choose a theme to help direct some of my reading though. I'm going to try to focus more on the idea of anthropology when I make reading choices.

    1. Anthropology is thus a broad discipline – so broad that it is generally broken down into three smaller disciplines: biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and archaeology.

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  5. Oct 2020
    1. Perspectives:An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology2nd Edition The first peer-reviewed open access textbook for cultural anthropology courses. Produced by the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges and available free of charge for use in any setting.
    1. In 1965, he published the highly influential work Theories of Primitive Religion, arguing against the existing theories of what at the time were called "primitive" religious practices. Arguing along the lines of his theoretical work of the 1950s, he claimed that anthropologists rarely succeeded in entering the minds of the people they studied, and so ascribed to them motivations which more closely matched themselves and their own culture, not the one they were studying. He also argued that believers and non-believers approached the study of religion in vastly different ways, with non-believers being quicker to come up with biological, sociological, or psychological theories to explain religion as an illusion, and believers being more likely to come up with theories explaining religion as a method of conceptualizing and relating to reality.
    1. According to a recent Dutch study, that point of view still holds true today: Protestants and citizens of predominately Protestant countries tend to conflate labor with personal satisfaction more than those of other religious traditions.

      How does this juxtapose with the ideas of indigenous scocieties in James Suzman's article The 300,000-year case for the 15-hour week (Financial Times, 2020-08-27)

    1. Sehr viele wichtige und Bemerkungen zur Situation der Anthropologie und der Humanwissenschaften im Anthropozän. Erstes Kapitel des Waterworlds-Buch

  6. Aug 2020
    1. That restructuring of societies in Western Europe in turn also benefited the church, notes Henrich. "In some sense, the church is killing off clans, and they're often getting the lands in wealth," he says. "So this is enriching the church. Meanwhile, Europeans are broken down into monogamous, nuclear families and they can't re-create the complex kinship structures that we [still] see elsewhere in the world."

      If true, this is an astounding finding.

  7. Jul 2020
    1. El jardín de la extracción capitalista se constru-ye mediante tecnologías de exterminio que acaban con la bio-diversidad natural y, por lo tanto, con la potencialidad actuante de la materia.

      Creo que la "potencialidad actuante de la materia" no se ve disminuida por el capitalismo, es mas, la agencialidad del cumulo de aserrin atesta a lo contrario. De la misma forma, podemos ver en esta materia impuesta por el neoliberalismo, un agente tambien. Como en el caso del matsutake, del libro the Anna Tsing, The mushroom at the end of the world

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  8. Jun 2020
    1. A word deployed in academe to curb racialist denotations is often used today inside and outside of academe with racialist con-notations. A word intended to promote pluralism often becomes a trope in con-servative agendas or in late liberal versions of the civilizing project.

      This is a fundamental aspect of the historical development of the concept of culture. As seen, for example, in racist statements from physicians in the book Reproducing Race, where they ascribe differential treatment of patients by means of different cultures. It is also the idea of "racism without races" of Etienne Balibar

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  9. Apr 2020
  10. Mar 2020
    1. Therefore let the 201 desire of possession take hold of no one, for what gain is it to acquire these things which we cannot take with us? Why not rather get those things which we can take away with us--to wit, prudence, justice, temperance, courage, understanding, love, kindness to the poor, faith in Christ, freedom from wrath, hospitality? If we possess these, we shall find them of themselves preparing for us a welcome there in the land of the meek-hearted.

      This makes me think of Origen's anthropology of how humans should try to be active (like God, incorporeal) rather than passive (materialistic, corporeal) because he said that the more materialistic you are, the more distracted from God you become.

  11. May 2019
    1. culturally or anthropologically sensitive than they were at that time

      what does "culturally or anthropologically sensitive" mean? Her continued explanation sounds like it means using interpreters, local guides, learning the language. It does not sound at all like it means respecting local sovereignty or valuing local knowledge. This seems like a SUPER exploitative vision of anthropology, which likely is depressingly realistic for how it is used by the majority of people who claim to be "trained" in cultural anthropology.

  12. Jun 2018
    1. This is due to a natural human reaction to “Google” someone before we meet them for the first time. Before we show up to teach a class, take a class, interview for a job, go on a date…we’ve been reviewed online. Other people use the trail of breadcrumbs that we’ve left behind to make judgements about us. The question/challenge is that this trail of breadcrumbs is usually incomplete, and locked up in various silos. You may have bits of your identity in Facebook or Twitter, while you have other parts locked up in Instagram, Snapchat, or LinkedIn. What do these incomplete pieces say about you? Furthermore, are they getting the entire picture of you when they uncover certain details? Can they look back to see what else you’re interested in? Can they see how you think all of these interests fit together…or they seeing the tail end of a feverish bout of sharing cat pics?

      I can't help but think that doing this is a form of cultural anthropology being practiced contemporaneously.

      Which is more likely: someone a 100 years from now delving into my life via my personal website that aggregated everything or scholars attempting to piece it all back together from hundreds of other sites? Even with advanced AI techniques, I think the former is far more likely.

      Of course I also think about what @Undine is posting about cats on Twitter or perhaps following #marginaliamonday and cats, and they're at least taking things to a whole new level of scholarship.


      [also on boffosocko.com]

  13. Feb 2018
    1. Constructions of "religion" vary, but most of them are dependent in some way upon Christian presuppositions, distorting the interpretation of other, non-Christian phenomena they might otherwise be wi

      Should this be considered to be true? What would support this? I think that modern anthropology of religion would not be so influenced by Christian notions of religion. Certainly, I should do more research about this.

    2. pilgrims, but it is possible to imagine some of the Western biases that are fro

      Good point: the idea which some scholars had about Beat spirituality is influenced by Western notions of religion. However, this concept could be further elaborated on.

    3. ecognizable to the Western scholar, one might conclude that what the Beats practiced was spirituality (a messy, individualistic affair of no relevance to students of religion) rather than a properly Durkheimian religion (which requires overt signs

      Again, some theoretical/anthropological background considering distinctions between spirituality and religion would be useful, although it would admittedly take much space.

    4. s such: "If we look at this enormous literature, claiming a disputed canonical authenticity, what we find in reality is a shifting mass of teachings with little or no central core, many of which are incompatible with each other and within which we can sometimes detect mutual criticism

      This seems to be a good source as concerns Buddhism and its evasion, in its doctrine itself, of more "Western" notions of religion.

    5. "Religion" is not a native category. It is not a first person term of self-charac- terization. It is a category imposed from the outside on some aspect of native culture. It is the other, in these instances colonialists, who are solely respon- sible for the content of the term. -Smith 1998: 269

      Again, this would be interesting to include when considering more anthropological notions. The writer here seems to be Jonathan Z. Smith, an American historian of religion (contemporary: he died las year). This could be an interesting essay by him on the topic of religions (quote comes from here): http://www.iupui.edu/~womrel/Rel433%20Readings/SearchableTextFiles/Smith_ReligionReligionsReligious.pdf.

      This would support my view of religion as applied to the Beats.

    6. y learned elites rather than practitioners, and a Durkheimian assumption that religion is somehow at its most genuine when it is organized into church or sect rather than personal or familial in form (a "societal" element that somehow distinguishes "religion" from other categories such as "magic" and "spiritu- a

      This could be very interesting and useful to my argument. In fact, if I want to make a point about Beat "embodiment" of their philosophy and literature, I might consider some anthropological notions which go back to performance and embodiment of abstract things by figures such as the shaman or the fool. Including anthropology (in this case anthropologist Durkheim) in ways which would oppose my thesis could be interesting as well, especially if I illustrate how this has been done by other scholars.

    1. This is their ‘afterlife’!” They successfully transmitted some essence of their life to a world far beyond their own.

      This is a very interesting way to think about it. Maybe we need to make sure we leave similar such traces behind.

  14. Jan 2018
    1. While we are the only hominids to walk the Earth today, this year genomic evidence proved that the DNA of some people contains traces of Paleolithic trysts between humans and other Homo species, like the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

      The Denisovans? Never heard of them...

  15. Oct 2017
    1. Geertz argued that the old functional, positivist, behavioral, and totalizing approaches to the human disciplines were giving way to a more pluralistic, interpretive, and open-ended perspective. This [Page 315]new perspective took cultural representations and their meanings as its point of departure. Calling for “thick descriptions” of particular events, rituals, and customs, Geertz suggested that all anthropological writings were interpretations of interpretations.
  16. Sep 2016
    1. Ethnographic fieldwork is the hallmark of cultural anthropology
      • Ethnographic fieldwork is the greeting card to cultural anthropology
      • Cultural anthropology is when someone goes to another community and studying the culture
      • ethnographic fieldwork is the work of describing a culture and the fieldwork is what they learn from the people rather than just studying them
    2. anthropologist goes to where peo-ple live and “does fieldwork.”
      • Anthropologists go to where people live and by fieldwork it participates in activities, asks questions, watches ceremonies, etc.
      • activities often obscures the nature the of most important task of doing ethnography
  17. Sep 2015
    1. Ritual performances may also be viewed as the principal mechanism by which meaning in the built environment is activated (175) or as the key to investing domestic spaces with meaning and transforming their meaning

      Can what we build come alive through ritual performances?

    1. historical political boundaries of the native Americans

      We view the world in these simplified 2D representations of clearcut political entities. Fredrik Barth and Benedict Anderson have said quite a few important things about these issues of maps and boundaries.