First – the definition of cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology is defined – in general – as the science that studies man in terms of a member of a society that has a specific culture. And this person must practice behavior that is consistent with the behavior of individuals in the surrounding community (group), have his values and habits, owe his system, and speak the language of his people.
Therefore, cultural anthropology: Is science that is concerned with the study of human culture, and is concerned with the study of human lifestyles and behaviors stemming from their culture. It studies ancient peoples, as well as contemporary peoples. (Bills & Hueger, 1976, p. 21)
Cultural anthropology, then, aims to understand the cultural phenomenon and define its elements. It also aims to study the processes of cultural change and cultural blending, and identify similar characteristics between cultures, and thus explain the developmental stages of a particular culture in a particular society.
That is why cultural anthropologists were able to succeed in the studies they conducted on human life, whether it depended on the written heritage of ancient man and analyzed its effects, or what was related to the contemporary man within his social life.
This falls – to a large extent – in what is called (the sociology of culture), which means analyzing the nature of the relationship between the existing modes of intellectual production and the data of the social structure, and determining the functions of this production in societies with a set-up or class structure. This definition includes the following considerations: (Labib, 1987, pp. 24-26)
1- Talking about modes of intellectual production means that cultural homogeneity in the two meanings: philosophical and anthropological, is not the process of sociology. Because this homogeneity covers the real existence of different types of culture, which may contradict the content and function of the same society. Although there are some common (anthropological) factors, they are not objectively found in societies with a class structure, “a culture for all,” even if this culture claims or wants for itself to be so. From a sociocultural stereotype (perhaps the patterns of mass culture), its classification and analysis lead to the highlighting of the social distinction that it necessarily expresses. This means that the social culture in the end is the social diversity in culture and inequality in the cultural field.
2- Talking about compelled societies (class) is not an exclusive one but rather an assertion that intellectual production is an expression of a specific stage of differentiation between socio-economic types. And that the use of the concept of Stratification, despite its ambiguity, introduces into the field of social analysis historical pre-capitalist societies, whose class content may be subject to debate. On this basis, the only societies that come out of the social field are those that are usually called (primitive) societies, in which the modes of intellectual production have not reached a sufficient degree of differentiation that would allow them to classify a specific category.
3- From an analytical point of view, what is important is not to prove the relationship between intellectual production and social reality, but rather to analyze the forms of this relationship at a specific stage for a particular society. This analysis is considered a major source in discussions of the existing links between infrastructure and superstructure, which led to the confirmation of the idea of the dialectical exchange between them. It should be noted here, that the sociology of literature and art has made an advanced contribution to the analysis of the forms of the relationship between intellectual production and the data of the social structure.
4- Defining how an intellectual production, such as story or theater, for example, transforms the data of reality, is not sufficient to highlight the social/political function of this production, especially since the producers belong to groups of intellectuals who play roles that may or may not help them In favor of specific classes or social classes. This function is not a secondary or complementary aspect. Rather, it is a dimension of the relationship between culture and society, and no intellectual event can be explained without it. At the same time, it creates a solution to the so-called “independence” of intellectual and aesthetic values, by discovering the function of the continuity of these values, or their resurrection in specific historical circumstances.
The study of the cultural milieu reveals the psychological mechanism that directs the behavior of the individual and the behavior of the aggressive tendency in the areas of polite breathing. An example of this is in some social systems, as in the (Apo) rituals practiced by the Ashanti tribes on the Gold Coast in West Africa.
In the celebrations of the Father, not only does it allow, but must, those in authority hear the mockery, blame, and curses of their subjects because of the injustices they have committed. The Ashanti men believe that this is a guarantee that the souls of rulers will not be tormented by suppressing the resentment of the angry. Otherwise, the accumulation of discontent and its growing power would have weakened the authority of rulers, and even killed them. The effectiveness of this mechanism (Freudian essence) inventing repression requires no clarification. It sheds more light on the forms of organized behavior in social systems that correct the imbalance in the growth of the personalities of the individuals they include. (Herskovitz, 1974, p. 59)
From this standpoint, cultural anthropology is concerned with heritage and life within the community. Through it, it can delve into the essence of different cultures, and learn how nations live by answering the following questions:
What are their livelihoods? What are the methods they follow in raising their children? How do they express themselves? What is their way of performing their rituals? What are the sciences, literature, and arts prevailing for them? How do they pass on their heritage to the new generations after them? And other customs, values , and methods of dealing with each other.
Second – The emergence of cultural anthropology and its stages of development:
Cultural anthropology did not emerge as an independent branch of general anthropology, until the second half of the nineteenth century, and perhaps thanks to the English scientist / Edward Taylor / who was considered a pioneer in anthropology, who provided the first comprehensive definition of culture in 1871 in his book “Culture Primitive. ”Cultural anthropology has gone through many stages, from that time until it has reached what it is in the present era. (Barnouw, 1972, p.7)
The beginning stage: and extends from the emergence of this anthropology until the end of the nineteenth century. These were attempts to draw a general picture of the development of culture since ancient times, and also to search for the emergence of human society.
In this period, along with the English scientist / Taylor /, the American scientist / Boise / who took the historical trend in the study of human cultures appeared in two aspects: First: Conducting detailed studies of the cultures of small groups, such as tribes and clans, and their stages of development.
The second: a comparison between the history of cultural development of a group of tribes, to arrive at general laws or principles governing the growth and development of human cultures. This is what gives anthropology importance as a science with its own methodology.
The second stage: It takes place between (1900-1915 AD), and it is the formative stage, in which efforts were focused in research and studies on specific small communities to know the history of their culture and stages of development, and thus determine the elements of this culture before it became extinct.
Based on this, many studies have been conducted on the culture of the American Indians in America, and the American researcher / Waller / has reached a method by which it is possible to study any region or region in the world in which societies with similar cultures live, or what I have termed called (the cultural region). He likened the cultural district to a circle in which most of the cultural elements are concentrated in its center, and these elements become fewer the further away from the center.
The third stage: It takes place between (1915-1930 AD) and is considered a period of prosperity, as it was characterized by the abundance of research and discussions on issues that fall into the core of cultural anthropology, especially those studies that focused on America.
Anthropology flourished in that period, due to the maturity of this science and the clarity of its concepts and methods. This coincided with the flourishing of the historical school in America, and the emergence of the Expansionist School in England, especially after the introduction of the concept of (the cultural area) proposed by / WSler / as a framework for analyzing and interpreting cultural data and arriving at common elements between similar cultures.
The fourth phase: Its duration is ten years only, and it is between (1930-1940 AD). Despite its short duration, it was called the expansionary period, as it was characterized by the recognition of cultural anthropology by American and European universities as a special science within the framework of general anthropology, and branches and courses of study were allocated to it in the sociology departments of universities.
And in this period appeared the theoretical (complementary) adopted by / Sapir / the American sociologist, through which he was able to identify a coherent set of patterns of human behavior, which can be adopted in the study of individual behavior among members of a particular society, as the essence of culture is in fact, It is nothing but the interaction of individuals in society with one another, and the relationships, feelings and common ways of life that result from this interaction.
Anthropology was influenced during this period – to a large extent – by social anthropology, especially in its concepts and methods, thanks to the research carried out by Malinowski and Brown in the fields of social anthropology.
Fifth stage: It is the contemporary period that began in 1940 and continues to the present. This stage is characterized by the expansion of the scope of anthropological studies outside Europe and America, and the spread of cultural anthropology in many universities in developing countries, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
This coincided with the emergence of new trends in anthropological studies. The national trend was at the forefront of these recent trends in cultural anthropology, which aims to define the main characteristics of national culture. The American researcher Ruth Benedict, who studied Japanese culture during World War II, was taken in this direction.
The national trend in evaluating culture is called “national introversion,” which means: a person prefers the way of his people in life over the methods of all other peoples. This is the logical result of the first process of education, with which most individuals feel in agreement with their own culture, whether they express this feeling or not.
The national introversion manifests itself in primitive peoples in its best form, in myths, popular stories, linguistic examples, and customs… The myth of the origin of human races among the (Cherokee) Indians gives us a vivid example of national introversion. Legend says:
“The Creator portrayed man by making first an oven and lighting a fire in it, then he made three statues in the form of a man from the dough, put them in the oven, and waited for them to be grilled. However, the Creator’s eagerness to see the result of his work, which culminated in his experience in the creation, was so intense that he removed the first statue early, so it was – unfortunately – immature and pale in color, and among his descendants was the white race. As for the second statue, it was ripe well because its barbecue period was precise and sufficient, so he liked its beautiful brown shape, and this was the ancestor of the Indians. The Creator went to contemplate his image, forgetting to remove the third statue from the furnace until he smelled the scent of burning. He opened the oven door suddenly and found this statue charred black… That was a pity, but it was no longer possible to trick, and this was the first black man. (Herskovitz, 1974, p.72)
In this way, the national introversion appears in many peoples … whereby the person/individual insists on expressing the good qualities of his people… That is why any person judges the value / social system of any other people through the relationship that binds these people to his people, according to the degree of desire And acceptance in that, which may reach the limits of absolute rejection of absolute acceptance, according to general criteria.
Among the most important recent trends in cultural anthropology were those studies that dealt with civilized societies, and what was called “case study”. Such as studying the conditions of a village or a number of neighboring villages, or in a specific area, or studying the culture of a group or class of people. In addition to academic studies related to the characteristics and principles of cultural anthropology, research methods, methods and methods … and others, which contribute to conducting studies on objective and scientific grounds that achieve the desired goals.
Third – sections of cultural anthropology:
Despite the multiplicity of cultural elements, their overlapping contents, and their interaction in the general fabric of the structure of human society, anthropologists have agreed to divide cultural anthropology into three basic sections: (Archeology – Linguistics – and Comparative Science of Cultures) The following is an explanation for each of them:
It is the science that researches the structure of human languages, extinct and living, especially those written only in historical records, such as ancient Latin or Greek, and the living languages used at the time, such as Arabic, French, and English. . Language learners are interested in the linguistic symbols used, in addition to the relationship that exists between the language of a people and other aspects of its culture, as language is a carrier of culture.
Language is one of the characteristics that distinguishes the human being from other living things, as it is the method of communication and understanding between individuals and peoples, by means of phonological symbols and agreed speech forms, and it can be learned… In addition to being a means of transmitting cultural/civilizational heritage, where most Languages in writing this heritage.
Linguistics occupies an excellent place in the entirety of the social sciences to which it belongs. It is not a social science like other sciences, but rather a science that made great achievements and reached the formulation of a positivist approach and knowledge of private facts. Therefore, psychologists, sociologists, and ethnographers have been associated with an eagerness to learn the pathway to a positivist knowledge of social facts from modern linguistics.
Anthropologists study language in its social and cultural context, in space and time. Some of them draw conclusions related to the general components of language and link them to analogies in the human brain. Others reconstruct ancient languages by comparing them with their present-day descendants, and from this, they obtain historical discoveries about the language.
And a number of linguistic anthropologists are still studying the differences in language to discover different perceptions and intellectual models in a multitude of civilizations. And this includes the study of linguistic differences in their social context, which is called (sociolinguistics) which studies the difference in one language, to show how speech reflects social differences. (Kattak, 1994, 10)
The strong methodological similarity between sociology and anthropology on the one hand, and linguistics, on the other hand, presupposes a special duty of cooperation between them, as linguistics can provide evidence to help study issues of kinship, by presenting the origins of words and the resulting relationships in some Expressions of kinship that were not directly perceived by an anthropologist or sociologist, and thus anthropologists meet, to compare the branches produced by these two sciences. Linguists approach anthropologists, hoping to make their studies more realistic, and in return, linguistic anthropologists seek the ability to pull them out of the turmoil that has apparently thrown them into them, their increased familiarity with material and experimental phenomena. (Strauss, 1977, pp. 49 and 92)
Therefore, it is noticed that the linguistics branch is currently one of the most independent branches of cultural anthropology, independent and isolated from other branches. The study of languages can take place without much interest in their relations with other aspects of human activity, and this is the reality in many cases. There is no doubt that languages – With its complex and strange structures, and the tremendous diversity it entails, especially among primitive peoples, it provides the researcher with a rich study material that cannot be counted (Linton, 1967, p.20)
Therefore, Levi Strauss gives great importance to language and considers it one of the basic pillars of anthropology, if not the cornerstone of that science, and on the basis that language is the main characteristic that distinguishes man from other living things. Therefore, he considers it the basic cultural phenomenon through which it is possible to understand all forms of social life. This is what he confirms in his book (The Sad Tropics). It is a kind of autobiography in an anthropological form, where he says: “When we say human … we mean language. And when we say the language … we mean society …
This is what prompted him to use modern linguistics approaches and methods in his analysis of cultural information and every non-linguistic subject. He also made him give the word (the signifier) more importance than he gives the meaning (the signified), especially since one sign (the one word) may have two different meanings for two different people, according to their different experiences. Rather, the single signifier may have different meanings for the same person, and in different times or circumstances. (Abu Zaid, 2001, p. 86)
Although linguists were unable to determine the precedence of one language over another, through their studies they reached a classification of different languages according to their nature and use, in three sections:
– Isolated languages: They are the languages with which groups separate from the other groups communicate, and only those speaking groups understand them. It is a language that is not written and has no history.
Adherent languages: They are the languages with which large peoples are addressed, but are attached to them and their heritage. They are known languages, but they do not have rules, but rather depend on syllables and words, such as the Chinese language.
Grammatical languages (grammar and morphology): They are the modern languages used by civilized nations that have grammatical and morphological rules that control their grammar and linguistic forms, such as the Arabic language and European languages, (Zarqana, 1958, p. 148)
Whatever this division may be, the languages used in the world, all of them, were formed from harmonious sounds indicating this or that language, according to its own rules and rules. That is why linguistics is divided into subsections, the most important of which are: descriptive linguistics and etymology.
1 / 1- Descriptive Linguistics: It is concerned with analyzing languages at a specific time, and it studies phonemic systems, grammar, and vocabulary. The linguist relies in his studies here on the verbal language, and therefore he listens to individuals, especially if the study is related to languages that have not been written. The linguist writes these languages by using recognized symbols.
Whatever the case, the process of analyzing and classifying languages, such as the process of analyzing and classifying human races, is only the first step for other important studies. Languages, of all kinds, represent a valuable tool in the hands of the world.. There is no doubt that it will help him in the end, to reach To a deeper understanding of the psychology of individuals and societies (Linton, 1967, p.20)
Most of those studies are focused on primitive societies that use verbal language and do not know how to read and write. There is no human society – no matter how backward its culture – without a verbal language with which its children communicate.
It aims to identify the origins of human languages. Therefore, it specializes in the historical and comparative aspect, as it studies the historical relations between languages whose history can be traced through written documents. The problem is more complex for ancient languages that did not leave any written documents indicating them. However, there are special methods that a researcher can use in studying the history of these languages.
There are cooperative relationships between the linguist and the cultural anthropologist because both the ethnologist and the social anthropologist must study the language of the society on which they are being researched.
Accordingly, linguistics has progressed – in the present era – and now uses scientific methods and precise mechanisms to study the languages of the world .. and through that, he was able to come up with basic and general laws, no less important in their accuracy than the laws of the natural sciences. (Wasfi, 1971, pp. 31-32)
The “morphology” of any language must raise long-term questions related to my field: Physics and values .. Language is not only a tool for communication or for stimulating emotions, but it is also a means of classifying experiences. And the experience is like a continuous line of parts, which can be divided in different ways (Linton, 1967, p. 182)
Therefore, comparative linguistic studies show that the human being, despite using one language, performs a selective, unconscious process of the meanings it uses. This is because he cannot respond accurately to various stimuli in his external environment.
It is concerned in particular with collecting and analyzing human antiquities and remnants, so that it is inferred from the historical chronology of the human races, during that period when there was no writing, and there were no written documents about them.
This branch of cultural anthropology examines the early origins of human cultures, especially extinct cultures. Perhaps archeology is more common among the branches of anthropology, and perhaps its discoveries were more familiar to the average person than those of other branches. For example, the name (Tutankhamun), one of the ancient Egyptian kings, is almost known to the general public. (Linton, 1967, p. 22)
Although the first goal of this research is to obtain information about ancient peoples, the ultimate goal is to assist readers and scholars in understanding the processes related to the growth, flourishing, or collapse of cultures or (civilizations), and thus understanding the factors responsible for these changes.
It is known to anthropologists, that writing appeared about four thousand years BC, and what was written from that date is known to scholars and researchers, and through these written traces it is possible to know a lot about the man.
The archaeologist relies in his study on the remains left by the ancient man, which represent the nature of his cultures and their elements. Archaeologists have come up with precise methods of digging the layers of the earth in which the cultural remains are expected. They also came up with accurate methods for examining these remains, determining their locations, and classifying them to identify them, and then compare them with each other. Using these approaches, archaeologists can extract a lot of information about ancient cultures, their changes, and their relationship to others.
Anthropologists use the remnants of materials as the main data for the use of scientific and theoretical knowledge. Archaeologists analyze models of civilization and the developments that occurred to them, and the waste is revealed about the conditions of consumption and activities.
Wild grains and household grains, for example, have different properties that allow archaeologists to distinguish between the plant that was brought and the one that was taken care of locally. Examination of animal bones also reveals the ages of these animals that were slaughtered and provides other useful information that determines whether these species are wild or domesticated. By searching this information, archaeologists reconstruct patterns of production, trade, and consumption. (Kattak, 1994,8)
Although the apparent proximate goal of (archaeological) research is to supplement our knowledge and information about the past of mankind, the ultimate goal is to help us understand the processes related to the growth, prosperity, and collapse of civilizations and the awareness of the factors responsible for these historical phenomena. The results of (archaeological) studies related to the processes of evolution have become familiar to all anthropologists, who are concerned with studying the phenomena of cultural change. (Linton, 1967, p.24)
Therefore, archaeologists – anthropologists – resort to making use of the research of geologists and climatologists, to verify the (identity) of the remains that they discover, and the history of their existence. Archaeologists also cooperate with specialists in natural anthropologists, due to a large number of human (finds) in the excavations, with cultural remains. Modern archaeologists have succeeded in using (radiocarbon) as a means of determining the exact age of the “remains”. (Wasfi, 1971, p. 31)
It can be said – in general – that archaeologists are trying to discover that part of history that the written records are not exposed to. The archaeologist accepts his field of specialization enthusiastically, because his work is associated with a set of tempting motives and stimuli, such as the desire to conduct interesting scientific research, and the possibility of finding valuable treasures … (Linton, 1967, p. 23)
Archeology, then, studies human history and the cultural changes that accompanied it, in an attempt to build a complete perception of the social life that ancient societies lived in prehistoric societies. If archeology depends – to some extent on history – then it differs from history science in that it does not study the historical stages of civilization, but rather studies those periods that human society lived before the invention of writing and recording history.
3- Comparative science of cultures (cultural anthropology):
Ethnology is considered one of the closest sciences to the nature of anthropology, given the great overlap between them in terms of studying peoples and classifying them based on their characteristics, ancestral, cultural, and economic features, including customs and beliefs, types of housing, and clothing, and the ideals prevalent among these peoples.
Therefore, ethnology is a branch of anthropology that deals with research and study on the origins of the human race and the early origins of man. The word “ethnos” goes back to Greek origin (Ethnos) and means the study of peoples. Therefore, it studies ethnology, the linguistic, cultural, and ancestral characteristics of peoples. (Ismail, 1973, p. 460)
Ethnology relies on explaining the distribution of peoples – past and present – as a result of the movement of these peoples and their intermingling, and the spread of cultures that are due to the large number of complex incidents, which began with the emergence of man a million (millions) years ago. It examines the question of the historical sources of the peoples, where did the Indian tribes come from, for example, and which way they took? And when did these peoples occupy the areas in which they are now, and how? From where did you infiltrate into America? How did it spread in it? And when did the American Indian races appear? What are the linguistic features and cultural features that the American Indian culture spread, before its contact with European culture? And other things that are useful in descriptive comparative studies of human societies and their cultures. (Rashwan, 1988, p.81)
This includes the study of the origins of cultures and cultural regions, the migration and spread of cultures and the specific characteristics of each, and the study of the life of societies in their various forms. That is, it is the science that researches ancient dynasties, their origins and their lifestyles, as well as the modern life in present societies, and their influence with those ancient origins.
Therefore, ethnology is defined as the study of culture on comparative grounds and in the light of established theories and rules, to draw generalizations about the origins and development of cultures, and the differences between them, and analyzing their spread in historical analysis, (Kluckhoun, 1964, p. 31)
The ethnological theory is concerned with the study of culture, through comparative laws, especially comparing the laws of primitive peoples, as scholars of comparative law are interested in studying some customs, systems, values , and traditions, such as fatherly or maternal lineage, the authority of the father, pornography, sexual promiscuity, and the different methods of marriage.
Ethnology examines the ways of life of societies that still exist in our present age or societies whose extinction dates back to a recent time, and we have nearly complete records of it. Every society has its own way of life, which anthropologists call “culture”. The concept of culture is one of the most important tools that an ethnologist deals with. (Linton, 1967, p.25)
One of the advantages of ethnology is that it adopts two processes of analysis and comparison, so the process of analysis is in the study of one culture, while the comparison process is in the study of two or more cultures. Ethnology studies living (contemporary) cultures that can be identified by living among their people, as well as extinct (defunct) cultures through their written archaeological remains and recorded documents. In addition, she is interested in studying the phenomenon of cultural change through research on the history of cultures and their development.
This branch of cultural anthropology received little attention compared to other anthropological branches, as some anthropologists in the twentieth century studied how limited social concepts affect the behavior and moods of people and the knowledge of the human life of peoples who still lead simple lives. Especially those people who live in Australia, South America, and Africa, and some areas in Asia.
And ethnologists, until very recently, have limited their research to the social and human phenomena of cultural societies. They viewed the individual as if he were merely a vector of culture or a link in a series of identical units that could be replaced by one of them with another. However, after many studies, these scholars realized that personal standards differ in different individuals, societies, and cultures. (Nasser, 1985, p. 66)
From the very beginnings of the development of ethnological research, scientists have been trying to discover the reasons why certain societies develop their own axes of interest and accept or reject various innovations of the kind that seem to involve no utilitarian factors, as well as the reasons why diverse cultures reflect – regularly – Various trends in its development. For some time, it was believed that these phenomena can be traced back to accidental historical facts. However, this theory is a kind of dialectical assumption that is not based on any evidence or evidence. (Linton, 1967, p.32)
Most scholars agree that the term (ethnography) refers to the study that intends to describe a culture in a particular society, while the term (ethnology) is applied to studies that combine description and comparison. The ethnology aims through these comparisons to reach general laws of human customs, the phenomenon of cultural change, and the effects of communication between different cultures. The ethnologist also aims to classify cultures or forms, based on specific standards (standards). (Wasfi, 1971, p.25)
This means that the ultimate goals of the ethnologist are basically the same as those of the sociologist and economist… Each of these scientists is trying to understand how societies and cultures work? How and why do cultures change? It also tries to come up with specific generalizations, or “laws” according to the slang term of the concept, to help him predict the direction of events, to control it in the end. (Linton, 1967, p. 27)
If the saying that ethnology studies cultural phenomena is a vertical study, that is, a comparative temporal-historical study of past cultures, along with continuing the study of those cultures and their development and comparing them throughout history, then ethnography studies cultural phenomena as a horizontal study with a specific location, and so ethnography is a comparative study in time, while ethnography is A comparative study in place. (Ismail, 1973,
One of the results of the friction between sociology and ethnology was to provide sociology with new methods that proved to be of particular value to the social researcher, who studies small modern societies. In addition, the friction between the two sciences expanded the field of sociology, and thus led to the change of some of its theoretical formulas. (Linton, 1967, p.32)
Ethnology crystallized after the Second World War and shaped what can be referred to as contemporary anthropology. This trend was helped and supported by the increase in the number of anthropologists in developing countries after this profession was limited to Western researchers. Ethnology no longer limits its field of study to small-sized or local societies with non-Western cultures but tends to expand its field to include all cultures and societies, regardless of their size and location.
However, this diversity that characterized the ethnology in the twentieth century led to some inconsistency in studies, which made it lose a lot of academic stability, in addition to its adherence to methodological aspects more than its access to scientific theories, which raised many questions about how to study cultures Humanism and its science, and its relevance to the issues of contemporary man.
Source: Various books and magazines
: If you want to read a book on Anthropology
Book : Anthropology: What Does it Mean to Be Human?
by Oxford University Press