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SEMINAR: Anthropology and Sociology Seminar

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Today's date is Saturday, October 31, 2020
Anthropology and Sociology Seminar : Johann Gottfried Herder and the History of Cultural Relativism Other events...
A popular view in the history of anthropology identifies Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) as a primary source of the idea of cultural relativism. More recent scholarship notes Herder’s deployment of Kultur in the singular, along with very conventional Enlightenment assumptions, including universal “criteria” from which to judge other civilizations. Far from diminishing Herder’s status, however, these Enlightenment sensibilities are celebrated: “respect for cultural specificity does not cancel out the universalizing, transcultural thrust of concepts like progress and ethical judgment,” according to David Denby. I argue that such a reading is anachronistic by placing Herder in the “universal-relative” hand-wringing of today’s cultural anthropologists. Herder’s Kette der Kultur promotes the idea that all peoples of the world express different stages of universal history relative to a single divine will. Moreover, the individual is the creative force behind the difference of “nations” and not vice versa. Not only do these points disqualify Herder as a “pioneer” of anthropology, but more importantly the focus on Enlightenment figures like Herder has acted as a distraction to a proper intellectual history initiated by George Stocking in the 1960s of the concept pluralized by Franz Boas - namely, “culture.”
Speaker(s) Dr Wendy Grace
Location Social Sciences Building Room 2204
Contact Dr Alka Sabharwal <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 31 Aug 2018 14:30
End Fri, 31 Aug 2018 15:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Mon, 27 Aug 2018 09:28
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