Friday, December 03, 2010

Anthropology, A Blast

My sister took an anthropology course or two in college so I saw the books she read in her courses--like Malinowski on Magic is one I remember, presumably Margaret Mead would be another.  Off and on over the years I've happened to read a handful of other books in the field--Marvin Harris is one I remember from the 1970's and 80's. I read Respectful Insolence's blast at the American Anthropological Association's proposal to remove the word "science" from their mission statement with surprise and regret. 

I've no problem with being open to other cultures and other viewpoints. I understand anthropology often gets into description without much theory.  I've no problem with "valuing" other cultures.  But I do try to draw some lines: yes, I believe "science" in a broad sense is humanity's best method for learning and manipulating the universe; yes, I believe that some cultural practices should be beyond the pale. 

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