Benin 2014 Philosophy of Culture Discussion Notes

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Contents

Thursday June 5, 2014

LC Packet: Reader, The Atlantic Slave Trade (pp. 377-403)

Culture: Coates, Tim, "King Guezo of Dahomey, 1850-52" (1-23, 79-83, 161-167, 185-195)

Monday June 9, 2014

Culture: Geertz, "Thick Description"

  • various definitions of culture
  • His: "Semiotic: following Weber: "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun"
  • not experimental science in search of law (note: this connects him with Boas)
  • not an operationalist, but likes idea of focusing on what anthropologists actually do: they do ethnography
  • from Gilbert Ryle: "thick description"
  • example of description of "twitching, blinking, winking, parody of winking, rehearing"
  • invokes social code, but not reducible to it.
  • Story of Cohen, the Marmusha, the mezrag, murder, sheep, the French (analogy to blinking: if you just recount events vs. significance)
  • doing ethnography is like trying to read a manuscript ...(made up of) "transient examples of shaped behavior"
  • critical of obscuring the task with abstract ideas like Durkheim's "superorganic"
  • critical also of Cognitive Anthropology -- not just studying the psychology state of knowledge of a culturally competent individual.
  • aim of Anthropology: "enlargement of universe of human discourse"
  • should be actor-oriented: "cast in terms of the construction we imagine Berbers, Jews, or Frenchmen to place upon what they live through"
  • p. 9: thick descriptions aren't too systematic or "neat"- coherence is limited by the actual circumstances. shouldn't overstate the formal coherence of the exchange; uncertainty (under-determined), things in the Cohen story could have gone differently.
  • the ethnographer "inscribes" or "fixes" social discourse.
  • summary statement at 11: ethnographic description (thick description) interprets the flow of social discourse from it's perishable state.
  • the kula is gone but "The Argonauts of the Western Pacific" (Malinowski's study of the kula gift exchange) remains.
  • ethnographic description is "microscopic"
  • ways that anthropologists go wrong: "jonesville-is-the-USA" fallacy -- either way its a fallacy.
  • anthropologist don't study villages, they study in villages
  • no general theory of culture

"the essential vocation of interpretive anthropology is not to answer our deepest questions, but to make available to us answers that others, guarding other sheep in other valleys, have given, and thus to include them in the consultable record of what man has said" 16

Geertz, "Thick Description"

  • various definitions of culture
  • His: "Semiotic: following Weber: "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun"
  • not experimental science in search of law (note: this connects him with Boas)
  • not an operationalist, but likes idea of focusing on what anthropologists actually do: they do ethnography
  • from Gilbert Ryle: "thick description"
  • example of description of "twitching, blinking, winking, parody of winking, rehearing"
  • invokes social code, but not reducible to it.
  • Story of Cohen, the Marmusha, the mezrag, murder, sheep, the French (analogy to blinking: if you just recount events vs. significance)
  • doing ethnography is like trying to read a manuscript ...(made up of) "transient examples of shaped behavior"
  • critical of obscuring the task with abstract ideas like Durkheim's "superorganic"
  • critical also of Cognitive Anthropology -- not just studying the psychology state of knowledge of a culturally competent individual.
  • aim of Anthropology: "enlargement of universe of human discourse"
  • should be actor-oriented: "cast in terms of the construction we imagine Berbers, Jews, or Frenchmen to place upon what they live through"
  • p. 9: thick descriptions aren't too systematic or "neat"- coherence is limited by the actual circumstances. shouldn't overstate the formal coherence of the exchange; uncertainty (under-determined), things in the Cohen story could have gone differently.
  • the ethnographer "inscribes" or "fixes" social discourse.
  • summary statement at 11: ethnographic description (thick description) interprets the flow of social discourse from it's perishable state.
  • the kula is gone but "The Argonauts of the Western Pacific" (Malinowski's study of the kula gift exchange) remains.
  • ethnographic description is "microscopic"
  • ways that anthropologists go wrong: "jonesville-is-the-USA" fallacy -- either way its a fallacy.
  • anthropologist don't study villages, they study in villages
  • no general theory of culture

"the essential vocation of interpretive anthropology is not to answer our deepest questions, but to make available to us answers that others, guarding other sheep in other valleys, have given, and thus to include them in the consultable record of what man has said" 16

Tuesday June 10, 2014

Culture: Hessling O'Neil, "The Person who does you wrong..."

Culture: Hammer, Joshua, "On the Vodun Trail"

Wednesday June 11, 2014

LC Packet: Gardinier and Beierschenk -- Francophone Africa and Benin Politics

Thursday June 12, 2014

Culture: Blier, "Chapter 1: Vodun Art, Social History and the Slave Trade" (23-54)

Monday June 16, 2014

LC Packet: Mama, Kpai, Hass: View the Kpai and Hass video over the course of the week

Tuesday June 17, 2014

Rosenthal, Judy, "Religious Traditions of the Togo and Benin Ewe" (182-196)

Wendnesday June 18, 2014

LC Packet: Millenium Development Goals for Benin and Easterly reading

  • Browse links on Learning Community site and look up other health and development data, and save notes for in country discussion.

Thursday June 19, 2014

Monday July 7, 2014

Sachs, Jeffrey, The End of Poverty, Chapter 3, "Why Some Countries Fail to Thrive"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Easterly (from LC Packet), "Seekers vs. Planners"

Easterly, Chapter 2, "The Legend of the Big Push"

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Karlan and Appel, More than Good Intentions, Chapters 4, 6, and 7

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Monday July 14, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Acemoglu and Robinson, from Why Nations Fail

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sharing of your research with class online

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Songhai Self-Study

Review of Millenium Development Goals and updated indicators of well-being from your research