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Quotes About Anthropology

Quotes tagged as "anthropology" (showing 1-30 of 107)
Margaret Mead
“I used to say to my classes that the ways to get insight are: to study infants; to study animals; to study primitive people; to be psychoanalyzed; to have a religious conversion and get over it; to have a psychotic episode and get over it; or to have a love affair with an old Russian. And I stopped saying that when a little dancer in the front row put up her hand and said, 'Does he have to be old?”
Margaret Mead

Robin Craig Clark
“Our duty is wakefulness, the fundamental condition of life itself. The unseen, the unheard, the untouchable is what weaves the fabric of our see-able universe together.”
Robin Craig Clark, The Garden
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Terry Pratchett
“The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens ('wise man'). In any case it's an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.”
Terry Pratchett, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe

David Graeber
“Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:
"Up in our country we are human!" said the hunter. "And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.

... The refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found throughout the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began "comparing power with power, measuring, calculating" and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt. It's not that he, like untold millions of similar egalitarian spirits throughout history, was unaware that humans have a propensity to calculate. If he wasn't aware of it, he could not have said what he did. Of course we have a propensity to calculate. We have all sorts of propensities. In any real-life situation, we have propensities that drive us in several different contradictory directions simultaneously. No one is more real than any other. The real question is which we take as the foundation of our humanity, and therefore, make the basis of our civilization.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Robert Wright
“If two people stare at each other for more than a few seconds, it means they are about to either make love or fight. Something similar might be said about human societies. If two nearby societies are in contact for any length of time, they will either trade or fight. The first is non-zero-sum social integration, and the second ultimately brings it.”
Robert Wright

Elizabeth Kostova
“I wondered why she craved this knowledge and found myself remembering that she was, after all, an anthropologist.”
Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian

Kurt Vonnegut
“I chose cultural anthropology, since it offered the greatest opportunity to write high-minded balderdash.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

“Marriage," "mating," and "love" are socially constructed phenomena that have little or no transferable meaning outside any given culture. The examples we've noted of rampant ritualized group sex, mate-swapping, unrestrained casual affairs, and socially sanctioned sequential sex were all reported in cultures that anthropologists insist are monogamous simply because they've determined that something they call "marriage" takes place there. No wonder so many insist that marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family are human universals. With such all-encompassing interpretations of the concepts, even the prairie vole, who "sleeps with anyone," would qualify.”
Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Clifford Geertz
“Cultural analysis is intrinsically incomplete. And, worse than that, the more deeply it goes the less complete it is.”
Clifford Geertz

Kurt Vonnegut
“I think about my education sometimes. I went to the University of Chicago for awhile after the Second World War. I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody.

They may be teaching that still.

Another thing they taught was that no one was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. Shortly before my father died, he said to me, ‘You know – you never wrote a story with a villain in it.’

I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

J.R.R. Tolkien
“Studies [on the origin of fairy-stories] are, however, scientific (at least in intent); they are the pursuit of folklorists or anthropologists: that is of people using the stories not as they were meant to be used, but as a quarry from which to dig evidence, or information, about matters in which they are interested.

...with regard to fairy stories, I feel that it is more interesting, and also in its way more difficult, to consider what they are, what they have become for us, and what values the long alchemic processes of time have produced in them. In Dasent's words I would say: 'We must be satisfied with the soup that is set before us, and not desire to see the bones of the ox out of which it has been boiled.'

Such stories have now a mythical or total (unanalysable) effect, an effect quite independent of the findings of Comparative Folk-lore, and one which it cannot spoil or explain; they open a door on Other Time, and if we pass through, though only for a moment, we stand outside our own time, outside Time itself, maybe.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Fairy-stories

Robert Owen
“All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.”
Robert Owen

Dan Rhodes
“-Paint-

My girlfriend is so besotted that she can't take her eyes off me. After we've turned out the light she puts on her night-vision goggles, and watched me as I sleep. Quite often I am woken by her sighing and involuntary yelps of happiness. This has been going on for years, and is showing no sign of abating. Once I asked her to stop all this infra-red activity, but it didn't really work; I'd wake up to find her covering me in luminous paint, and softly whispering, 'Sometimes I wonder if you know how much I love you.”
Dan Rhodes, Anthropology

Leo Tolstoy
“I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt it in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life.”
Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness

Clifford Geertz
“It may be in the cultural particularities of people — in their oddities — that some of the most instructive revelations of what it is to be generically human are to be found.”
Clifford Geertz

Marshall Sahlins
“One-third to one-half of humanity are said to go to bed hungry every night. In the Old Stone Age the fraction must have been much smaller. This is the era of hunger unprecedented. Now, in the time of the greatest technical power, is starvation an institution. Reverse another venerable formula: the amount of hunger increases relatively and absolutely with the evolution of culture.”
Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics,

Thomas Hylland Eriksen
“The single most important human insight to be gained from this way of comparing societies is perhaps the realization that everything could have been different in our own society – that the way we live is only one among innumerable ways of life which humans have adopted. If we glance sideways and backwards, we will quickly discover that modern society, with its many possibilities and seducing offers, its dizzying complexity and its impressive technological advances, is a way of life which has not been tried out for long. Perhaps, psychologically speaking, we have just left the cave: in terms of the history of our species, we have but spent a moment in modern societies. (..) Anthropology may not provide the answer to the question of the meaning of life, but at least it can tell us that there are many ways in which to make a life meaningful.”
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

Ludwig Feuerbach
“The task of the modern era was the realization and humanization of God – the transformation and dissolution of theology into anthropology.”
Ludwig Feuerbach, Principles of the Philosophy of the Future

“It is...highly probable that from the very beginning, apart from death, the only ironclad rule of human experience has been the Law of Unintended Consequences.”
Ian Tattersall, Masters of the Planet

Robert James Waller
“Sometime I'm going to do an essay called 'The Virtues of Amateurism' for all of those people who wish they earned their living in the arts. The market kills more artistic people than anything else. It's a world of safety out there, for most people. They want safety, the magazines and manufacturers give them safety, give them homogeneity, give them the familiar and comfortable, don't challenge them.”
Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

Christopher McDougall
“The Tarahumara would party like this all night, then rouse themselves the next morning to face off in a running race that could last not two miles, not two hours, but two full days. According to the Mexican historian Francisco Almada, a Tarahumara champion once ran 435 miles, the equivalent of setting out for a jog in New York City and not stopping till you were closing in on Detroit.”
Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Clifford Geertz
“The notion that someone who does not hold your views holds the reciprocal of them, or simply hasn't got any, has, whatever its comforts for those afraid reality is going to go away unless we believe very hard in it, not conduced to much in the way of clarity in the anti-relativist discussion, but merely to far too many people spending far too much time describing at length what it is they do not maintain than seems in any way profitable.”
Clifford Geertz

“In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g. DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.”
American Anthropological Association

Stanley A. Freed
“When asked why he wrote the book, Freed said:
In the 1980s, I joined the small group of anthropologists who were writing about the history of their subject. I believed that I could add some balance to American anthropological history, and that the best place to start was with museums—
where the story began. The more I delved into the archives, the more I was fascinated. I was hooked.”
Stanley A. Freed, Anthropology Unmasked: Museums, Science, and Politics in New York City

“What we mean when we say that something is "cultural" is that it is roughly similar to what we find in other members of the particular group we are considering, and unlike what we would find in members of a contrast group. This is why it is confusing to say that people share a culture, as if culture were common property. We may have strictly identical amounts of money in our respective wallets without sharing any of it!”
Pascal Boyer, Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought

“L'anthropologie n'est ni une religion à laquelle on adhère, ni une maladie qu'on contracte. Elle est d'un même mouvement un retour sur Soi et sur l'Autre considérés ensemble, mais l'habitude d'une relation à sens unique depuis cinq siècles n'autorise pas l'inversion de cette relation a produire les mêmes effets.”
Jean Copans, Introduction à l'ethnologie et à l'anthropologie

Fernando Silva Santisteban
“Ha sido evidentemente por aquello que llamamos responsabilidad que el primate se convirtió en humanao, en sujeto de derecho o sujeto moral que debe asumir las consecuencias de sus actos y ser, por lo mismo, objeto de castigo o de recompensa, de repudio o de estima social, de desprecio o de respeto.”
Fernando Silva Santisteban

“[T]he choice of human groupings for cultural comparisons is not a natural or scientific choice, but a political one.”
Pascal Boyer, Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought

Rodrigo Montoya Rojas
“Casi no hemos teorizado en el Perú porque siempre otros han pensando por nosotros. El traslado de esquemas de otras realidades no ha hecho sino impedir nuestro propio desarrollo intelectual”
Rodrigo Montoya Rojas, A propósito del carácter predominantemente capitalista de la economía peruana actual

Raymond Williams
“[T]here are in fact no masses, but only ways of seeing people as masses.”
Raymond Williams, Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism

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