Post-Modernism?

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  • Merrily Mccarthy  On May 7, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Lets kick it off here!

    Rosaldo puts forth the idea that the Ilongot go headhunting because they need to vent and express their rage, coupled with their fear of loss through the act of killing something Other. Is it possible that the head hunters rage is merely a justification to kill something Other and doesn’t really relieve the headhunters anger?

    Rosaldo points out the pains and agonies humans feel over loosing our significant Others in our lives. Yet he makes it clear we do not all reduce ourselves to base animal killers due to our losses.

    In America our social culture has produced many emotionally adaptive skills to cope with various stages and levels of emotional relief. To understand a head-hunters rage is to also understand that is how their culture has entrained themselves to deal with the unbearable.

    America has produced shrinks, rehab centers, grief counselors, ceremonies and even retalitory wars in order to maintain social integrity and social control, both on a personal level and a societal level. Our country went to war over grief from 9?11 and took our head hunters rage abroad to Iraq.

    This is more extreme in context than the acting our of the Ilongot. the consent of an entire group who give permission for this action is required and is not far removed from the rage of a headhunter. (Of course we are aware not everyone was in agreement with the war!)

    Yet it appears in America we are coming full circle with visual visceral levels of rage: go to any movie theatre and buy a ticket and in over 89% of the in theatres now movies you can view “rage” and killing beyond the wildest imaginings of a headhunters rage at loss and grief. Rosaldo gives a name, a reason and a purpose to their expression of rage, however in American movies, the violence has no constraint or common sense as it is displayed on the screen

    If a headhunter gives himself justification to slay something because of grief or bereavement, when in a culture does it stop? Where is the boundary? At the point of embarkation I believe emotion tends to outweight the reservations of the law; America’s stronghold of defense.

    In virture of Post-Moderism I write the following personal experiences:

    In the barrio last year I saw a pit bull unmercifully kill and eat a cat, fur and all, the pit bull cracked its bones and chewed on the cat while it was still mewing. It was a savage sight to behold.

    Two weeks ago I watched a large black crow swoop down and nab a little sparrow and it proceeded to eat it while the little birdy was still kicking its thin orange sparrow legs.

    Yesterday in the Peters Building Patio I saw a large beautiful blue bird snap up a happy little garden toad who was looking for bugs amidst the green ivy. The cranky Blue Bird literally tossed the fat toad on the concrete and his head darted toward the toad, his beak pecking ridgidly at the toads facial features. His eyes got pecked out first! The toad just sat there wondering, “what the hell?” and let the Blue Bird eat its face. The horror of this sight dumfounded me!

    So what is up with the pit bull, the crow and the blue bird? Are our creatures just getting wacky?

    Lets switch to human America or the mental state of women. Recently in the last few months I have had to deal with the deaths of three chidren, all unborn and all female. The first, a 14 year old sister kicked and fisted the pregnant belly of her older sister (18) causing her to miscarry the baby. (Is this the curse of the Ilongot?). The second, a 14 year old got herself knocked up because she was playing around, and waited nearly 6 months to tell her mother. The whole family took the 6 month pregnant girl to a San Francisco Hospital and had the baby, who was alive and moving around in the girls womb, had it’s life terminated. They killed the baby while it was still alive. The third, a 16 year old had her baby girl die inside her womb when it was three months old; its heart just stopped beating.

    What is going on? This is when all the information and common sense in the world does not tell you what is going on.

    To me as I look at and read the headhunters rage, I move it to compare with our own American culture. those are men of the Ilongot who choose to kill. My examples are a dog, birds and females.

    My question is, are American females experiencing a much worse type of social stress and our life force is reacting in a more violent manner similar to a suicide of our own flesh, a crime turned upon our own beauty, potentiality and possibilities…are women this angry at their own humanity?

    If what I just mentioned is any form or indication of a statistic or a statement of the condition of our lives or our own culture: As a whole society we are in a state of blooming desperation!

  • Inconditus alio  On May 7, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Should postmodernism be thought as fiction due to the writer’s bias? Should they include opinions of the people studied?

    I understand that Rosaldo states that Ilongot man says that he kills from rage, born of grief. But is the question understood? When these abstract concepts of rage and grief are translated to many different languages are they not interpreted for that culture alone?

    I know some people whom have “grief” that they miss their television program, or have road “rage” but it is relative to our cultures, and personalities how we interpret them fully. Is it cyclical wherein a rage infested man kills and then the family of the murder victim kills so on and so forth just a means of population control? Or, by chance, possibly to reduce ones enemies, or to have better potential at a mate, or food? All these questions are qualitative and hold value equal to ones opinions.

  • Joy  On May 7, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Postmodernism raises new questions that are important to address and to consider when reading the literature from any discipline. Everyone comes to the table with a set of biases, and only by acknowledging them, can one move past and attempt an objective view. The conversationalist and very personal ways of writing that Rosaldo and Abu- Lughod employ in their writings do help engage the reader and elucidate the point that personal biases and experience give different insight into the research each of these Anthropologists performed. D’Andrade gives a good retort and balances the argument. I would have to agree though that objective knowledge is possible, as evinced by our daily use of scientific discovery. But it is interesting to consider whether it is a futile task for the human animal to attempt to understand itself. This may be grounds for considering the Postmodernism viewpoint throughly.

  • theanthrogeek  On May 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Joy has a great point, that the best thing about the post modern critique is that reminder that science is science (i.e., not truth but the best approximation to date based on observation).

  • caseyc  On May 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I agree that it is impossible for any anthropologist to ever look at a culture and be fully objective. We all posses biases whether we realize it or not. I appreciate how post-modernism doesnt try to neglect this fact or fit an explanation of culture into some pre-determined mold. Rather we see new, innovative ways of exploring humans. Just because true objective research is not totally possible I do not think it means it is useless to pursue a scientifically based study. In Headhunting we see that a more traditional explanation of the practice would indeed gain insight, but with a post-modernist twist there comes a deeper understanding that would not be possible if the personal experience were not included. I think that Post-Modernism, as we discussed in class, is alot of sitting on the fence saying Thats not right, no neither is that, But even undertaking the endeavor of analysis is analysis itself. So, thats that…

  • Daniel  On May 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    i agree with Caseyc’s statements regarding everybody possessing biases and the fact that it is very difficuult for there to ever be a true unbiased study, because our minds just do not let us thinkn like that. I know people believe that even thought hey do have their beliefs and would be able to set them aside for a brief period of time to remain fully objective, but i just do not see that as being realistic. also, I believe that it is necessary to have that goal of being fully objective in studies, because if it is not the goal the outcomes would always be directly corrilated with our beliefs and theories.

  • Felicia  On May 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Ok so like post modernists say that there is no absolute truth and that every theory is wrong. Correct? So aren’t the post modernists contradicting themselves on their theory that there is no absolute truth being that “no absolute truth” is a theory in itself? The theoretical school of
    Postmodernism “claims that it is impossible for anyone to have objective and neutral knowledge of another culture. This view comes from the notion that we all interpret the world around us in our own way according to our language, cultural background, and personal experiences. In other words, everybody has their own views based on his or her social and personal contexts.”

  • Verdugo  On May 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    This is not a blog post. This is your interpretation of a blog post along with my biased view of what a blog post should be. A blog p0st is not something anyone can rely “know” because we are all reading it with our own unique points of view. Thinking about this I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to do it. Know one can will truly be able to understand what I’m trying to say.

  • KateK  On May 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I have to agree that there is no way to be completely unbais. Everyone has there sets of morals and their sense of right and wrong. Female casteration is a touchy subject, even for me. yes it is important to the culture and it is an important ritual that allows a girl to be a woman. But it still is mutalation to the gentials and cause some serious health risks if not done properly. So becuase our culture calls it cruel, should it be out lawed? I don’t think so although I don’t know why anyone would want that to happen to them, I understand the importance in the culture and respect it as a rite of passage.

  • KateK  On May 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I meant circumcision* opps

  • brandi  On May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Felicia has a point that postmodernists when putting forward such claims that no absolute truth exists in a way puts forth a kind of theory itself. It seems to run a long the same lines of Turgnev’s nihilism; the I believe in nothing rant. It’s certainly an argument that people could debate on. However, people are capable of objectivity because after all how can someone be biased about something if they don’t know where they stand on an issue or have no information to go off of in order to form an opinion that would be considered biased? If objectivity is unachievable, then why is it considered so important since in actuality it would be a non-option? It would be as if striving for the impossible, like calculating infinity into an actual number, and knowing that it will never happen, which would make it both pointless and moot.

    Turgnev: “A nihilist is a man who does not bow to any authorities, who does not take any principle on trust, no matter with what respect that principle is surrounded.” (from Fathers and Sons, 1862)

  • Josh AKA "Marky Mark"  On May 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    What is Love, Baby Don’t Hurt me… Dont Hurt me, No more. Obviously this isn’t love. this is just a post about what love might be if I was a machine. Who’s to say I’m not a machine because all I know so far is that I am nothing but human. Maybe human is not what we all think it is, and maybe machine is what we have always been. I STILL DON’T LIKE THIS POST MODERNIST CRAP!!!

  • Mark  On May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    “Ok so like post modernists say that there is no absolute truth and that every theory is wrong. Correct?”
    Unfortunately, no, this isn’t correct. To state that would be neither post modernist or a scientist for that matter. Every area states to some degree that the other rivaling schools have some flaw in their logic, to simple state “they say this, am I right?” is a loaded question. The view of post mod. that i’ve fostered is that there is a core answer to the endless…quite endless means of analysis, but in order to reach that core you have to cross over in multiple theoretical fields of thought. If we would want to find out why an eagle is a symbol for freedom (going back to the symbolism debate) we would have to look at why it was first coined that, the roots of the word in question, and all that stuff. So it extends past symbolism, post modernist thought, and actually goes into history, archeology, and linguistics.

    To simply state that post moderinism states that there is “no absolute” truth I think would be an extreme oversimplification. There is a truth, but the means at which you come to it are extremely complex and the questions that arise in pursuit of it are near the infinite. Since, you’re right, its almost impossible for someone who is not the other person to understand that person 100%. For that matter, its almost impossible for that person to understand themselves 100% If you cant understand you, and I cant understand you, then how can we come to 100% understanding of you? The answer isn’t that we can’t, rather, that based on factual backing we come to a consensual understanding of you that we define as near 100% No theory, and I would love for someone to prove me wrong, claims to be 100% full proof. In gradeschool and almost every theory class i’ve taken, the base concept for theory is that theory is basically a hypothesis that has been tested repeatedly, can be retested, has factual backing, and hasn’t been proven wrong(yet). But, the minute that theory HAS been proven wrong, all the basis for it goes down the drain.

    To state that there is no definitive answer is going into surreal and existential thought. Which, mind you, isn’t science.

    Post modernism doesnt claim to be able to define a definitive, rather I believe it claims what science really is, fact until proven otherwise.

  • Merrily Mccarthy  On May 19, 2009 at 8:59 am

    A Summary For Theory Parts One and Two
    from Anthropological Theory – McGee and Warms

    The beginning of our semester started with the Big Bang or the Historical foundations of Anthropological Theory producing studies on 19th Century evolutionism. We read about four authors, Herbert Spencer’s The Social Organism, Sir Edward Burnett Tylor’s, The science of Culture, Lewis Henry Morgan’s, Ethical Periods, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s, Feurbach: Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook. Much is written from and about these anthropologists maximus: Spencer, “considered evolution to be one of the fundamental natural processes in the universe”, Tylor believed, “that cultural institutions were the product of rational thought” and Marx, “thought that all thought was a product of cultural institutions rather than their cause.”

    The Foundations of Sociological Thought emerged further as we read another four authors: Emile Durkheim, What Is a Social Fact?, Emile Durkheim, The Cosmological Systems of Totemism and The Idea Of Class; Marcel Mauss, Excerpts from the Gift, Max Weber’s, Class Status, Party. Durkheim has been give, “responsibility for formulating some of the basic concepts of the disciplines and training the first generation of French sociologists at the beginning of the 20th Century”. Durkheim believed, “that the collective conscience originated in the communal interactions and experiences of members of a society.” His further belief is a tenant, “That the collective conscience was a psychological entity that, although carried by members of a society, superceded individual existence and could not be explained in terms of individual behavior.” Marcel Mauss was Durkheim’s nephew and wrote primarily about Durkheim’s work. Max weber was “concerned with the actions of individuals as well as social groups and rational behavior.

    Culture Theory: during the early 20th century turns new phrases: Historical Particularism came into focus. It was pioneered by Franz Boas who believed, “that to explain cultural customs one must examine them from three fundamental perspectives: the environmental conditions under which they developed, psychological factors and in particular, historical connections,” thus the name: Historical Particularism. Authors read were Franz Boas, The methods of Ethnology, A.L. Kroeber, 18 Professions, Paul Radin, Right and Wrong. Benjamin L. Whorf, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior To Language. A.L. Krober eblieved, “in integrating the 4 subfields of anthropology, and taught that a historical perspective was necessary to understand other cultures.” Paul Radin, “focused on the relationship between specific men and women and their own culture.” Benjamin L. Whorf developed, “the Sapir-Whorf hypothsis compsed of 2 elements, linguistic determinism and linguistic relativity.”

    Functionalism included the ideas of studying, “the material, social, physiological and psychological characteristics of different peoples,” which in turn is divided into psychological functionalism and structural functionalism. for this section
    we read Bronislaw Malinowski, The Essentials of the Kula, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, On Joking Relationships, Max Gluckman and The Licence in Ritual. Malinowski believed, “that culture existed to satisfy seven basic human needs, nutrition, reproduction, bodily comforts, safety, relaxation, movement and growth.” Radcliffe-Brown was, “interested in deriving social laws governing behavior from the comparative study of different cultures than in cultureal description based on intensive fieldwork in one culture.” Gluckman is known for, “his analysis of political systems among different groups in Africa, especially the functions of feuds and conflicts.”

    Women emerged studying Culture and Personality. We read Ruth Fulton Benedict, Psychological Types in the Cultures of the Southwest and Margaret Mead, Introduction to Sex and Temperament In Three Primitive Societies. The anthropologists in this group were, “interesed in the relationship;s between culture and the individual and were drawn to his ideas about the individual and were drawn to his ideas about the importance of early childhood and the significance of sexual symbolism.” Margaret Mead, “examined different aspects of the problem of how humans acquired culture and cultures relationships to individual personality.” Ruth benedict was, “a cultural relativist.”

  • Josie Weatherford  On May 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I agree with postmodernism to an extent, and that is that everyone comes to the discipline with personal biases, bla bla bla, everyone seems to agree with that these days. But if you think about it, that was a revolutionary idea at the time it came out and and made it into the mainstream of anthropology. Just the fact that we can all agree with that shows us that we as a culture in the United States and perhaps the world are evolving, which i see as a positive thing. That we can recognize that peoples are affected by power paradigms is also positive because we cannot understand “other” cultures or our own if we cannot recognize the powers that be and how they affect smaller less powerful cultures that struggle to survive and assert themselves. In this day and age there is an extermination of native peoples and their way of life going on, actually it has been going on for some time now (like 500 years), since conquest, and the recognition of that is key to anthropology. I think many people get into anthropology to record and learn about these cultures before they get wiped out completely, because there is much to learn and wisdom to be gained for the world in general. This is all tied up in postmodernism.

  • Megan Scholl  On May 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I have an older edition, but in the introduction to post-modernism, on page 482 of mine, it says “But can one person’s interpretation be more valid than other’s? Post-modernists maintain that it cannot.”

    Right there it leads me to believe that post-modernists are filled with at least some crap! Someone’s interpretations can absolutely be more valid than someone else’s. If one person’s interpretation of a culture is right and someone else’s is wrong, how can it not be more valid? If I’m sitting in a park and I keep rubbing my nose over and over because it itches, there can be a variety of things wrong with it. One anthropologist will guess that there’s a bug bite on my nose. Another anthropologist will guess that I use cocaine. The third will say that I have allergies. If I’m rubbing at my nose because it itches from allergies, how is the interpretation of the anthropologist who said I’m a crackhead just as valid? It’s ridiculous!

    Maybe there are some good points that post-modernists bring up! There’s usually something good in every theory. But that part really struck me as bull.

  • Jason McClung  On May 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    I think the nose-scratching example is is a misnomer. While some things can be considered ‘universal’ (like sneezing because there’s an irritant in your nose), these universal things can be seen in a cultural context (the reasons people say ‘bless you’ after you sneeze). More activities than one tends to think are tainted by the wide brush of culture (ever wonder why we poop in toilets?).

    Harking back to sneezing: can one really know ‘why’ people say bless you? Is the informed opinion of an anthropologist worth more than the word of a member of the studied culture? Are the power systems that drive stratification in our culture to blame for this question? Am I questioning this because questioning things has been advantageous to my cultural upbringing?

    Post-Modernism strikes me as a kid asking ‘why?’ to every answer you give for an initial query: while enlightening, its impotent enough to be mostly useless.

    – Jason

  • CorTney Parson  On May 5, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Postmodernist believed that theories from anthropology were heavily influenced by politics and contexts from the time period they were written. for example, the statements and theories that were made bu Charles Darwin were influenced by the politics and social contexts during his time in which they were written. therefore the best things postmodernists and authors can do is tell of what was written, and write their own texts according to their time period because trying to object or disagree with past theories would not be fair because authors today were not living during previous time periods.

    i personally feel that if postmodernism is based upon or influenced by previous political and social context,then it taught based upon a personal perspective instead of trying to convert it into facts from pat eras.

  • Nicole Giglio  On May 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    “Post-Modernism strikes me as a kid asking ‘why?’ to every answer you give for an initial query: while enlightening, its impotent enough to be mostly useless.” – Jason

    This pretty much sums up how I feel about postmodernism. I was reading the first two pages of the introductory piece McGee and Warms wrote and seriously felt like I was going in circles. While I am all for questioning everything and anything, sometimes postmodernism seems to go out on a limb.

    However, I do support seeing beyond our “culturally shaped contexts” (pg 532) and detaching ourselves from our own biases in order to understand the world as a whole. While I think it is nearly impossible, the attempt to do that is noble. Considering where we started the class and bias was running rampant, I’d say this is progress. Just very confusing, somewhat illogical progress.

  • Audra  On May 6, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I love Jason’s explanation of postmodernism! This makes it plain and simple.

    Postmodernism is an interesting theory but I do not think it can apply to every situation.

    For example, there is a culture revitalization going on within the Cherokee Nation. Mostly, Elders are questioned about the old ways. But there are also old records written about the Cherokee Nation by non-native ‘researchers.’ With the postmodernism view it would mean that both the non-native and the Elders would have valid points. Which is totally not true!

    Many of the early records are incredibly bias! In those records it states that the Cherokee Nation was a patriarch society when it was not! It was a matriarch! So how would the non-native researchers opinion be just as valid as the Elder?

    In this case postmodernism does not work. Therefore I feel it is not an accurate theory.

  • charon193  On May 7, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Does this mean that postmodernism isn’t important? Not a chance. There are cases, like Courtney’s, where saying that every point is valid doesn’t work. But it does show a reason for why they question everything. If postmodernists didn’t question everything, as Jason’s comparison to a kid asking “why” supposes they do, then we might never realize that we have these biases or take them into consideration. Context is necessary sometimes to get the true story. Take the old Vietnam war photo of a military man shooting a civilian, famous as the photo that ended the war. The photo shows that the military in Vietnam is not just killing enemy soldiers, but innocent civilians as well. Or does it? According to my Kinesiology professor, Mark Baldis, during one of his class lectures, the photo was actually about a military man taking out one of the VietKong generals who had killed the man’s family only hours before. The general had stolen the clothes he was wearing in the photo to give him the appearance of a civilian so that to anyone who saw him, that was what he was. While it did not fool the military man or the rest of his platoon, it did serve to fool the photographer at the time the photo was taken along with those who saw the picture later. The photographer now regrets taking the picture because it ruined the military man’s life, just as the VietKong general wanted. This shows how important it is to have context for anything that you write or photograph, which is what postmodernism seeks to recognize.

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