Asking Questions About Humanity

Anthropology: Asking Questions About Humanity

This is the comment page for “Anthropology: Asking Questions About Humanity” in Welsch and Vivanco’s, Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (pp.1-21). Hartwick College students in Cultural Anthropology 2016 read this together with Anthropology and the Savage Slot.

The discussion began with “Anthropology and the Savage Slot,” then proceeded to Welsch & Vivanco. Rough notes:

Chapter One as Missed Opportunity

1. Should begin with Colonialism and properly periodize & define it
2. Should then discuss Industrialization in the context of the Caribbean
3. Then Evolution makes sense as way to explain & justify #1 & #2

The language of these people, according to our notions, scarcely deserves to be called articulate. . . . We have no reason to believe that they perform any sort of religious worship. . . . The different tribes have no government or chief. . . . They cannot know the feeling of having a home, and still less that of domestic affection. . . . Their skill in some respects may be compared to the instinct of animals, for it is not improved by experience. (Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle 1831-1836, [2001:183, 191-2])

[Here my argument echoes what I wrote in How Did Anthropology Begin? about the longer textbook version of Welsch & Vivanco]

Recapitulate standard story of institutionalization of social science disciplines

Institutionalized in the 19th-century
Correspond to boundaries of emerging nation-states
French History, the Economy of France, French Politics, Sociology
Standard Story: Founded, now perfected, Bigger & Better
Product of the Enlightenment

Such stories end up in fundamentally strange tales about our history and present

Wallis Asking Questions About Humanity
Image Titled: “A Representation of the Surrender of the Island of Otaheite to Captain Wallis by the Supposed Queen Oberea.” Plate no. 22 [i.e., 23], from vol. 1 of Hawkesworth’s An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere . . . (London, 1773). [Rare Books Division] see Samuel Wallis, 1728–1795 / Philip Carteret, d. 1796


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