lunedì 9 ottobre 2017

Anthropology of Globalization for Global Governance #4

09/10/17. We resumed class from the distinction between FORMAL and INFORMAL. The main consequence is the fragmentation of TRADITION once informal means are mostly used. Formal transmission tends to create a CANON, that is a set of transmissible knowledge frozen in time and hardly changeable. Informal transmission is keen to VARIATIONS both in teaching and in learning.

Q1. Select examples of canonized knowledge.

Then we discussed another opposition, between BODILY and LINGUISTIC types of knowledge. Bodily is everything we know that cannot really be entirely included into a “textbook”, while linguistic knowledge refers to what we teach and learn mostly through language. While the library could be the repository of linguistic knowledge, formal bodily knowledge can be found in workshops and labs, where transmission of knowledge hardly uses the language. VIDEO GLASSMAKING
Important note: formal does NOT overlap with Linguistic, nor informal with bodily. We have indeed FOUR TYPES of cultural knowledge:

1.       Formal and linguistic
2.       Informal and linguistic
3.       Formal and bodily
4.       Informal and bodily

Another way to classify cultural knowledge is to locate its PRESTIGE or STATUS, that is the level were the internal users trace that type of knowledge. Anthropologists do not rank cultures in HIGH and LOW but they are aware that cultures tend to rank cultural elements within and without themselves, as we have seem with the story of the partner to be presented to your parents (a specialist in playstation, or in wicker baskets weaving, or playing piano).

To sum up once more, culture is knowledge that humans acquire through formal or informal means, via language of bodily skills, and organized into different statuses. But this is not enough. With a final example taken from PHONETICS we have learned that cultural knowledge itself can be entirely UNAWARE and SUB-CONSCIOUS. In other words, there are plenty of things, like phonetic rules, that we have acquired and we normally use, yet we are not aware of knowing or using them.
The story of the two young fish (that meet the old fish and are not aware of what the water is) exemplifies this unconscious dimension of important aspects of culture. We need COMPARISON to become aware, so we need cultural anthropology (which is a comparative discipline) to acquire REFLEXIVITY, the awareness of the cultural dimensions of our lives. EXOTICISM, the sheer collection of weird cultural facts, is not a goal for anthropology, since our discipline aims at improving through comparison our awareness.

Q2. Elaborate a real or fictive example of a cultural comparison that can help us understand some cultural rules (i.e., by investigating “polygamy” on a comparative basis I can become aware of some cultural rules about monogamy, and discuss the political basis of marriage. By discovering (through comparison) the cultural rules of monogamy I can think of alternative rules maybe available to other cultures or as possible alternatives to our own culture.