The Best Things Marxism Brought, Part I: Early Anthropology and Franz Boas (1858-1942)

The topic of Marxism in academia is hot, as it has been since The Communist Manifesto hit the presses more than 150 years ago in 1848. I’ve been reflecting on the prevalence of postmodern approaches in anthropology for a while, a topic which is especially more relevant now that more and more people are discussing them after hearing more publicly its criticisms by social science popularizers like Jordan Peterson. Continue reading “The Best Things Marxism Brought, Part I: Early Anthropology and Franz Boas (1858-1942)”

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Anthropological Theory

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people have issues with Marshall Sahlins. From his anti-sociobiology standpoint and disagreements with Napoleon Chagnon on the matter which lead to Sahlins’ resignation from the National Academy of Science six years ago to his complaints about the degradation of anthropology as a discipline through its rejections of its roots two years ago, Sahlins has been a disliked figure on both sides of the science wars.

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Sahlins’ rant on the end of anthropology as we know it.

Continue reading “Anthropological Theory”

Structure, Agency, and..Energy?!

technology changes structures in ways completely unanticipated and unwanted

“Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms. The machine world reciprocates man’s love by expediting his wishes and desires, namely, in providing him with wealth.” – Marshall McLuhan, 1964

“The technology is the independent variable, the social system the dependent variable. Social systems are therefore determined by systems of technology; as the latter change, so do the former.” – Leslie White, 1949

The role between the structure of cultural systems and the agency of the actors within them has received a great deal of attention in the anthropological literature since the 1990s. Although we know that most people are constrained by the structure imposed upon them, it is true that from time to time people do manage to change the structure they are in Continue reading “Structure, Agency, and..Energy?!”