Holistic Anthropology

Holistic Anthropology: Emergence and Convergence

David Parkin
Stanley Ulijaszek
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qcqf7
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  • Book Info
    Holistic Anthropology
    Book Description:

    Given the broad reach of anthropology as the science of humankind, there are times when the subject fragments into specialisms and times when there is rapprochement. Rather than just seeing them as reactions to each other, it is perhaps better to say that both tendencies co-exist and that it is very much a matter of perspective as to which is dominant at any moment. The perspective adopted by the contributors to this volume is that some anthropologists have, over the last decade or so, been paying considerable attention to developments in the study of social and biological evolution and of material culture, and that this has brought social, material cultural and biological anthropologists closer to each other and closer to allied disciplines such as archaeology and psychology.

    A more eclectic anthropology once characteristic of an earlier age is thus re-emerging. The new holism does not result from the merging of sharply distinguished disciplines but from among anthropologists themselves who see social organization as fundamentally a problem of human ecology, and, from that, of material and mental creativity, human biology, and the co-evolution of society and culture. It is part of a wider interest beyond anthropology in the origins and rationale of human activities, claims and beliefs, and draws on inferential or speculative reasoning as well as 'hard' evidence. The book argues that, while usefully borrowing from other subjects, all such reasoning must be grounded in prolonged, intensive and linguistically-informed fieldwork and comparison.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-319-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xii)
    David Parkin and Stanley Ulijaszek
  6. Introduction: EMERGENCE AND CONVERGENCE
    (pp. 1-20)
    David Parkin

    To argue for holism is to state the obvious in anthropology. With its inductive method as starting-point, and its attempt to explain an encountered pattern, it has after all to take account of all that it observes and hears in fieldwork, while gradually honing its field data to address a recognisable problem in the discipline. Yet, as it is used in the literature, holism has many senses. There is, to begin with, conceptual divergence arising from the Greek termhólos, whole or entire. The Greek term denotes wholeness, or synonyms such as entirety, allinclusiveness or completeness primarily as a matter...

  7. Chapter 1 BIOCULTURALISM
    (pp. 21-51)
    Stanley J. Ulijaszek

    It is symptomatic of the new anthropological holism that terms, such as bioculturalism, are created to signal the attempt to reconcile divergent sub-disciplines. In biological anthropology, biocultural approaches are those that explicitly recognize the dynamic interactions between humans as biological beings and the social, cultural and physical environments they inhabit. Central to this is the understanding of human variability as a function of responsiveness to social, cultural and physical environments (Dufour in press). Although such concerns were salient at the origins of anthropology as a discipline, they largely fell from consideration when the disciplinary divide took place in the early...

  8. Chapter 2 THE BIOLOGICAL IN THE SOCIAL: EVOLUTIONARY APPROACHES TO HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
    (pp. 52-71)
    Robin Dunbar

    The evolutionary perspective has had, at best, a poor press in the context of social anthropology over the last century. That has, in many ways, been unfortunate, especially given that different disciplines often bring to bear complementary perspectives that can be mutually beneficial. It has been doubly unfortunate, because the distancing of social anthropology from biology occurred at a time (the early part of the twentieth century) when evolutionary ideas within biology were still embroiled in the grand debate between Lamarckian (progressivist) and Darwinian (relativist) ideas about the processes and mechanisms of evolution. For reasons best consigned to a footnote...

  9. Chapter 3 DOMESTICATING THE LANDSCAPE, PRODUCING CROPS AND REPRODUCING SOCIETY IN AMAZONIA
    (pp. 72-90)
    Laura Rival

    In an article he wrote at the beginning of his anthropological career, Claude Lévi-Strauss (1950) noted that native Amazonians give preference to semi-wild plant species over fully domesticated ones. Precursory of the later writings where he fully developed the concepts of ‘science of the concrete’ and ‘untamed thinking,’ and the theory of the Amerindian mythologising mind, this seminal article inspired many researchers. Philippe Descola (1994, 1996) combined Lévi-Strauss’s early insights with the more materialist approaches of André Haudricourt and Maurice Godelier, and proposed a new analysis of the symbolic domestication of nature by Amazonian Indians. In a more post-structuralist stance,...

  10. Chapter 4 THE BIOLOGICAL IN THE CULTURAL: THE FIVE AGENTS AND THE BODY ECOLOGIC IN CHINESE MEDICINE
    (pp. 91-126)
    Elisabeth Hsu

    The first article in the first issue ofMedical Anthropology Quarterlyby Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margaret Lock (1987) outlines theoretical angles whence medical anthropologists are exhorted to approach the anthropology of the body. The authors explicitly say that they wish to prevent researchers from taking the common approach to the body that is grounded in Cartesian mind– body dualism. The ‘three bodies’ they outline are not topical bodies (as conceptualised by other authors who spoke of five, six or seven bodies). Rather, the understanding of each of the ‘three bodies’ arises from a different theoretical approach towards the study...

  11. Chapter 5 ON THE SOCIAL, THE BIOLOGICAL AND THE POLITICAL: REVISITING BEATRICE BLACKWOOD’S RESEARCH AND TEACHING
    (pp. 127-147)
    Laura Peers

    Over the past decade in Britain, human remains have emerged as a sensitive category of objects whose value and meanings to science and to families and communities of origin have been widely contested.¹ At one level the nature of this sensitivity has been played out as a power struggle over who should have control of such material, although such control would seem to rest on the ability to define and categorize human remains in one way or another. Increasingly, it would seem, human remains in scientific collections cannot be defined solely as biological, nor can they be defined solely as...

  12. Chapter 6 ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY AND THE MULTIPLE DETERMINACY OF THE PRESENT
    (pp. 148-181)
    Howard Morphy

    Zygmunt Bauman, justifying a second edition of his bookCulture as Praxis, twenty-five years after the publication of the original, reflects on the tendency in contemporary social theory for ideas to be buried before their time or to be remembered in a way that distorts the senses they had in their own time. The ideas become simplified, removed from the complexities of the discourse of which they were a part, encapsulated in an ordering process which often masks continuities with the present.¹ ‘We proceed nowadays not so much by continuous and cumulative learning as through a mixture of forgetting and...

  13. Chapter 7 HOLISM, INTELLIGENCE AND TIME
    (pp. 182-193)
    Chris Gosden

    This chapter represents an exercise in speculation, not just concerning the notions of mind and intelligence, but also concepts such as material, materialism and materiality, which might have seemed to complement or oppose insubstantial mental operations. In considering the issue of human intelligence I am inclined to do away with the concept of mind, but also to rethink notions of the material which are well entrenched within attempts to rethink mind. I shall explore how anthropology and archaeology might be able to help in such a radical form of rethinking.

    Is intelligence a mental phenomenon? This would once have seemed...

  14. Chapter 8 MOVEMENT, KNOWLEDGE AND DESCRIPTION
    (pp. 194-211)
    Tim Ingol

    What do walking, weaving, observing, storytelling, drawing and writing have in common? The answer is that they all proceed along lines of one kind and another. In what follows I would like to share some ideas for a programme of work that I have still to carry out, and that will be occupying my attention over the next three years.¹ My overall aim is to undertake a comparative and historical anthropology of the line, and through this to forge a new approach to understanding the relation, in human social life and experience, between movement, knowledge and description. So far as...

  15. Chapter 9 THE EVOLUTION AND HISTORY OF RELIGION
    (pp. 212-233)
    Harvey Whitehouse

    In his 1917 Presidential Address to the Folk Lore Society, Marett eloquently distinguished two major approaches to the study of culture, both of which could be substantially traced to pioneering figures in Oxford. One he labelled the ‘historical method’, exemplified by Sir Laurence Gomme. Gomme wanted to show that culture is transmitted, among people and across generations, through processes of imitation and learning – and thus through the cumulative storage of information and habits. His method involved painstaking description and collation of historiographical evidence over vast expanses of time and space. The other main approach Marett described as ‘anthropological’. This approach,...

  16. Chapter 10 THE VISCERAL IN THE SOCIAL: THE CROWD AS PARADIGMATIC TYPE
    (pp. 234-254)
    David Parkin

    Two developments in anthropology occurring in the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries affected the relationship between the social and the biological. First, there was a resurgence in kinship studies, prompted both by Schneider’s early ideas (1984) and by later anthropological scrutiny of the new reproductive and stem cell technologies (e.g. Strathern 1991; Franklin 1997; Edwards 2000; Franklin and McKinnon 2001). Strathern actually refers to this as the ‘new kinship’ (1991: Acknowledgements). As in Carsten (2000; 2003), it can be summarised as to do with how physical ties are seen by a people to develop after birth and over...

  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 255-286)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 287-292)