Culture, not History

by DRM

An discussion about the relationship between anthropology and enthnography raises the question of how to clearly define the discussion and knowledge of people’s.

History is a sequencing of events, a kind of cause and effect, that is the inevitable outcome of trying to understand the pattern of events that is defined by a period. Yet history is wedded to time, while society and culture are organic, and in that characteristic are separate from the imperative of history and connected to a cultural evolution that shifts, shapes and ultimately expires.

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Ingold’s purpose is not to distinguish anthropology from ethnography, but to criticize the “the idea of a one-way progression from ethnography to anthropology” in which methodological rigor precedes theoretical generalization. The title really should read: “Anthropological reasoning is not inductive, but dialectical.”

This integrative approach leads to an interesting question: “the anthropologist describes the social world as the artist paints a landscape, then what becomes of time?”

Kroeber came to the conclusion that time, in the chronological sense, is inessential to history. Presented as a kind of ‘descriptive cross-section’ or as the characterisation of a moment,a historical account can just as well be synchronic as diachronic.