lunedì 2 ottobre 2017

Anthropology of Globalization for Global Governance #3

02/10/17 We had our third class this morning and it was a bit of a mess. Too many things I wanted to say, too many questions and requests of diversion by the terrible GG students.
This is the file of the lesson, but, in general, here you can find the whole folder with all the lessons. My suggestion is you store this address for future consultation.
Since we have stated last time that culture is acquired knowledge (contrasting to any other innate form of knowledge) the point we wanted to reach was about the consequences of that being acquired. Why should we pay attention to the fact that culture is acquired while - say - blinking is innate? Can’t we simply find a way to measure the total amount of knowledge and make use of that?
In fact, we had to admit that acquired and innate knowledge entails tremendously different consequences in the way that knowledge is stored and transmitted.
The case of the hive (with disappearing flowers) and the case of the “primitive tribe” (with fading away rabbits) were told to get to one point: acquired knowledge is more flexible (innovation spreads much easily than any biological change, in the sense that cultural innovation is basically irrespective of any given natural environment) and more fragile in its transmission. Once your species “decided” (as humans did many many years ago) that you rely mostly on acquired knowledge, you have to create complex forms for inter-generational maintenance, since each new generation has to start from scratch when dealing with their skills.
We insisted on the fact that it is almost impossible to locate the border between innate and acquired knowledge, in the sense that even the most evidently innate forms of human behaviour, (like breathing or walking on two legs!) must be activated according to a cultural style, which is not something added to the pure substance of a cultural event, but is an integral ingredient, like accent for language. We have no other way than learning a language with an accent or another, and that soon becomes part of what we think is our essence (even though it is clear it is not “essential” at all, being acquired).
Since we have a serious problem with transmitting acquired knowledge to the next generation (learning/teaching is a dual active process, those who learn must actively participate in the action, they cannot just “be exposed” to knowledge in order to acquire it) that entails that we should not think of any forms of knowledge as acquired “once for all” along an evolutionary path! Even though we may think that we have reached an important further path in the progress of knowledge, we have to be aware that is always reversible, and the next generation may easily undo what the previous has carefully produced (example of gender equality in USA).

QUESTION ONE: Think of other cases like biking in Amsterdam the way we discussed in class: cultural habits that may deeply change from one generation to the other (smoking in public, tattooing, just for you to know what I’d like you to talk of).

Then we began to analyse a bit more in detail the meaning of that “acquisition”. How do we learn some cultural stuff? We started from the opposition between formal and informal forms of acquisition. I insisted mostly on the fact that informally acquired knowledge tends to hide itself to our awareness, thus becoming naturalised, that is forgotten in its acquired nature. We began to debate the complex issue of taste, and to introduce the right direction our next class you may try to answer this

QUESTION TWO: are you aware of something you normally consider innate, but now you begin to suspect it could be mostly acquired? In other words, report some naturalized forms of behaviour (if you focus on what you like and dislike it would be relatively easy to detect those naturalised patterns of action).

QUESTION THREE: I know that at a certain point in class I suggested the specific topic we were debating would perfectly work as a homework question, but I can’t really recall what that point was all about. Could you drop me a line to remind what we were talking of and what was my suggested question?