Thursday, February 6, 2020

How to Conquer the USA without Firing a SHOT

[ Applied anthropologist are often called upon to help design programs for  the organization that has hired them. This is the planning stage in program development. How can an anthropological analysis help to create a program out of the past and present elements of the organization? Whether a real program for a real organization, or a fictional story based on an anthropological perspective, it means taking historical facts and projecting alternative combinations of these facts to create a future. The following is a fictional conspiracy theory based on a structural-functional projection of historical trends that outline one possible explanation for the current American sociocultural conflict.]

 We are witnessing the next stage of international warfare. The cyber manipulation of the battle field. Geography has always played a significant part in warfare. Control the battlefield and you can control the battle. Control the battle you can control the outcome of war. We, the United States, are engaged in a NEW COLD WAR. 

 The year is 2000. Since the end of World War III. the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West relied on the development and control of Nuclear Weapons, It has led to a stalemate. And then with the fall of Communism as a political/economic doctrine the Soviet Union broke up. It resulted in the weakening of Russia as a geographical power in Europe while China and India became the major powers in Asia. In 2000, a former KGB agent assumes power as President of the Russia Republic, what remains of the Old Soviet Union.

The Cold War was created in the disintegration of the European Colonial empires at the end of WWII and the post-war geography. It also opened up the long religious war between Zionism, and Muslim  nationalism, between Muslims and Hindus in the breakup of India, between Sunni and Shiite Islam in the Middle East, It also to the form of  Client struggles between capitalist and communist economic systems, e.g. North and South Korea with their threat to Japan. These territorial disputes were and are still waged in the context of the older Nuclear paradigm as well as ideological terrorism.

Meanwhile, cyber-warfare developed along side the internet evolving into the cyber-geography of global commerce. Russia, under the former intelligence office, saw the potential of cyber-power. Cyber-power could be used to become the undisputed dictator of the Russian Republic. Such an intelligence officer would be the one who knew how important "data" was and how use it to the create an "alternative cyber-reality."  A cyber-reality, such as one finds in video games, could be used to create quasi-real geographical cyber-worlds that seemed real to an unsophisticated public. 



Everyone agreed that the Cold War strategy of "mutually assured destruction" through nuclear war would, as its acronym said,, be MAD and produce no winners.


 The cyber-skills developed by the KGB during the-Cold War era released Russia from these two great Satans that held  Russian expansion back in 20th Century.The end of the Cold War presented opportunities for Russia to pursue its traditional expansionist objects. The fall of communism freed the leadership from the ideological and economic straight jacket of Marxism. Russia might achieve its destiny.

To do so, however, meant that the strategic objective was to solve the puzzle: "How to apply cyber-knowledge in a practical sense to contain and defeat the expansionism of Western Europe and the United States?" "How could it be used to achieve Russia's destiny?"

 The political wars had to be made winnable. Could they be made so that they can be fought in a virtual world and have real world consequences? "Fiction" especially expressed through movies and Television has always been popular in the West for more than century. Mass media has the power to influence and control public perceptions of reality. The Canadian Media Guru, Marshall McLuhan, had said it, "The Media is the Message."



The Ex-KGB officer thought, "Why not create a virtual geography designed to elicit strong negative emotional reactions such as "doubt", "suspicion", "hatred", "tribalism,"and "partisanship." These emotions would be used to play on the natural negatives human and cultural themes of racism, classism, sexism and religious bigotry. We would fight such a war in cyber-space on the plane outlined by Orwell in his's "1984". It would attack the very creditability of the enemy's cultural assumptions. We could cause chaos through the invention of "fake news" to counter the real news."

He thought, "Isn't the capitalist system itself based on the lies, and the half truths of advertising?" "Would fake news about candidates in the democracies just be a form of 'advertising?"  "Couldn't we weaponize it to achieve Russia's objectives?"An experiment might be worth a try.

2010  An experiment would be tried to influence an American political party -- the out-party -- the Republicans. The first thing we would want to do is to separate the right wing from the center right and get control of the right wing. But, how do we do that? 



"First," the ex-KBG Officer thought, "We create a 'fake news' geographical map by finding some "leaders" who are so wrapped up in their own fictional world that they will act in Russia's interests even as they think it is their own."



"Second, 2010 is when the United States conducts a census and redraws its congressional districts. Let's test our strategy in those districts where we can support right wing primary candidates running for state legislatures against their center right competition. Maybe we can recruit some of the bigots who hate the idea of a black man being President; and some the greedy Plutocrats and their minions who hate taxes and the poor. These are a good target for our fake news. If we could get enough successful candidate we would: (1) redraw the districts in our favor using the time honored American political tradition of "gerrymandering; (2) remove the center right nationalists, and (3) replace or neutralize them with a more partisan ideologue."


The plan worked and the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives. In addition a new crop of "Tea Party" activists controlled the Republican caucus.

2014  Mitch McConnell came on the scene to wrest the leadership of the Senate from the Democrats. It was seen as a Republican victory but really it might have been a Russian victory. McConnell single handily stopped Obama from appointing federal judges especially for the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was the least visible branch of government yet controlling it was critical to gain and retaining the support of the extremist right wing. McConnell held out the hope of reversing important federal laws affecting abortion (Roe v.Wade), gun control (2nd Amendment rights), laws calling for immigration reform and the loosen environmental controls, etc. etc.

"Using these issues" said the Ex-KBG Officer, "We would use the time between elections to feed the racial hate and religious bigotry among the people. We would play on the economic dislocations that global trade and innovation were introducing into the economy, We could play upon the general fatigue of endless war, and the shock of 911 and the Arab Spring. Our goal would be to question the whole premise of an American dream, And, we could support the extreme right to took over one of the two major U S political parties."

The Plan worked. Judgeships were held-up; fake-news for national cable networks were designed to attract and fed negative messages into the cyber-sphere featuring stories of ethnic crimes and violence. Social networks were hacked using cyber-weaponry to plant trolls who expounded themes of racial, regional, and ideological hatreds.  


"2016 is an election year for the Presidency," the Officer declared. "It is an open election.We could finish the job in 2016 by picking the winner of the Republican nomination." But in order to win we must find a candidate who can be seduced into promoting our plan." the Ex-KBG Officer said. 

"How?" asked his cyber-warriors. 

"In two stages," he answered.

"First, we must destroying the most creditable and viable Republican candidates one at a time. We would use the debates to supply and spread fake news and rumors about the target to the less viable candidates. They will use and to gang-up on the more viable ones. We would start with someone like Jeb Bush, who represents the center right and is probably the most qualified. We will encourage the weak to attack the center and working to eliminate the most acceptable candidate to the general public." We would encourage our "man" to point to the next target and then step back while the others do the dirty work. Finally, our preferred prospect stands out as the "savior" for values of the right wing and win the nomination."


"Meanwhile, we will encourage leaders of the Senate and House to put fear into any remaining center right Congressional members by threatening to challenge them in their districts or States. We would support "primary" challenges that we would fund through shell accounts if they don't tow the line. And this way we would have captured the party and we would control the congress and promote our candidate. "

"Who would that person be?" The Cyber-Hackers asked.

"We need to find someone who egotistical in public but very insecure in private. Someone who can spread 'fake news"  without questions and who can sell it to an uninformed, disinterested, and angry public or to a group of passionate partisans who are looking for a leader they think can solve their issues."   

"Of course we want to be able to control this person. It would be someone who has had a long a relationship with Russia. Someone who identifies with and is debt to the our Oligarchs.  He was be a puppy dog to us and a bull dog to his domestic opponents. He will reflect the irrational and hypocritical that only he call solve the problems that our fake news has been spreading for years. The right type of person would be willing to accept the help of anyone who would feed his ego", explained the Ex-KGB Officer. 


"In 2017, our next step would be to take over the government of the USA as a whole. This would then enable us to change American policy causing chaos in the Western alliances."

"How to do we take over the government of a foreign country?" the Cyber-Hackers asked.  

"The same way we used to take over and control our allies in the Cold War days, bribery, threats, and manipulating the legal system to our advantage," said the Officer 

"We would use the electoral college. In 2010, there was a census, People did not pay to much attention to it. But, that census, led to redistricting of the electorate and the reassignment of the House of Representatives. That was why we wanted to gain control of the local legislatures. This we did with the 2010 census."  

"Gerrymandering is an old and proven practice in American politics. Win the State Legislature and you control the redistricting process. Gerrymandering is quite simple. It has two goals: (1) to create a majority of your voters in a district and (2) breaking up any concentration of your opponent's supporter by cutting up their district. Our goal is to create a majority for our party in the electoral college. If we win that, the popular vote doesn't matter." 

" We will create a candidate, through "our" surrogates who now control the Republicans party. He will promote our anti-constitutional policy. The partisan battle that should follow, suits our and our candidate's plan. With Russian's backing, like the old post-colonial days, we will use the party as an offensive weapon to win the NEW Cold WAR. It will be much better to steal America's assets than destroying them with Nuclear Weapons," said the Officer.

 "Not a bad deal. Just like taking the Queen early in the Chess Game.You destroy the centrists leadership of the Party, and neutralize the country's leadership -- then turn a nation's security issue and policy into a mere partisan dispute." smiled the Cyber-Hackers. "Let's get to work!!" 


(written as a speculation during the impeachment trial as an explanation for the Senate's refusal to accept the obvious)





Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Thoughts on the Legacy

 In 1974, Ned Spicer was invited to participate in a symposium, organized by Thomas Weaver of the University of Arizona, entitled  "Anthropology in the 1990's: Conditions, Needs, and Prospects." The symposium was held in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings in San Francisco in the winter of 1974. The subheading of the symposium was, "Suppose They Began the Twenty-First Century and Forgot to Invite Anthropology!!!" Ned presented his paper entitled, "Anthropology in the society of the 1990s", on February 28, 1974.

In 1994, Twenty years later, the paper was republished in the Society of Applied Anthropology journal,  Human Organization, with a forward by his widow, Rosamond Spicer, under the title, "Reassessing Edward Spicer's Views on Anthropology in the Society of the 1990s: How and Why This Paper by Edward H. Spicer Was Written" (Spicer, Rosamond 1994 Human Organization, Vol. 53. No. 4, pp. 388 - 395). From her forward, we can gain an insight into Ned's thinking and approach to the future.
Rosamond observed that

"In preparing this paper on the future of cultural anthropology, Ned apparently gave it a great deal of thought. As was his habit, he wrote down voluminous notes and lists of ideas. He also made a number of starts, each different from the last.”

At one point, Ros states, 

[H]e wrote, 'I react strongly against nineteenth century economic-determinism, that technology and physical environmental conditions are the essential factors to consider in forecasting. I rather look to the future in terms of the adaptation of social structures and cultural orientations to one another in the context of the influence of firm cultural products. I shall therefore take off from consideration of the probable alternative trends which we may expect in the form and functions of societal structures and cultural value orientations.'  “Such a point of view was always the basis of his thinking and writing." (p. 388)

In describing Ned, Rosamond says,

"His interests, reading, and studies ranged through drama, literature, economics, city planning, philosophy, history, poetry, the environment, and all the fields of anthropology. All of this vast array of information and understanding he brought to bear in some way or another on any project he undertook, on any subject on which he wrote.”

Perhaps one of his outstanding characteristics was his ability to synthesize, as was so evident in his Cycles of Conquest. I have long thought that the practice of that art of synthesis was connected with another, the appreciation and writing of poetry. I mention all these aspects of Ned because they seem to be contained in the following paper." (p.388).

It was his global interests and ability to synthesize vast amounts of material that I remember from my first graduate classes with Ned.  I was drawn to his Community Development Seminar where  he challenged us to look at the problem at hand from multiple points of view. He asked us, “What are the “felt needs” of the various parties in this change situation?” He encouraged us to seek a synthesis of these views as a way toward understanding the issues and their complexities. As community developers, he taught us that our job was to help the parties to synthesize their shared interests. Our job was to facilitate, not impose, problem resolution.

Ned was a humanist who understood and taught the connection between a people’s past, present and how these shaped their future. In his paper on the February day in 1974, he outlined 5 trends in the social and cultural environment that he felt would shape the next 20 years for anthropology.

The five trends that Ned chose to characterize the society he envisioned for the 1990s were the following:

(1) increasing intercommunication among the peoples of the world;
(2) increasing occupational specialization with accompanying organic differentiation within societies;
(3) increasing failure of technological solutions for the resolution of human problems in acceptable ways;
(4) increasing assertion and self-expression of ethnic groups within nation-states; and
(5) increasing reaction against centralization in political and administrative structures.

He stated "In general, continuation of these trends will, I believe, result in a society more heterogeneous than it was in the 19th or any previous century, more aware of its heterogeneity, with stronger than ever tendencies to compartmentalization, with increased awareness of and interest in non-technological and non-economic factors affecting human life, and with a growing tendency to view the nation-state in a wholly new light, especially with reference to its ethnic components and its political and administrative units." (p. 389)

This raises the bigger question -- what is a legacy?

In Edward Spicer's case, it was a combination of students trained with his unique perspective of anthropology as both a science in the pursuit of knowledge about the human condition and a body of knowledge about that condition that could and should be used to bring about a better world.

Second is his body of work, the depth of which has just been scratched. That body of work is to be found first in Spicer's bibliography starting on p.342 and ending on p.350 of James Officer's Memoir of Edward E. Spicer published in the National Academy of Sciences  Biographical Memoirs V.68 (1995) and second his papers located in the Edward H. and Rosamond B. Spicer Archive at the Arizona State Museum Library. It is from these resources that the legacy resides to be picked up and carried forward by all who hold these values.

Now nearly 40 years later, it might be worth considering just how prescient Ned’s predictions were for the 1990s and for the 21st Century. Was he right?  Partially right? Or, Did he miss the mark?

What are your thoughts? 

Originally published in the SfAA website  Barry R. Bainton on December 23, 2011  

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Anthropology in Business

Often “business anthropology” and “corporate anthropology” are used interchangeably. In my experience, these are two very different fields of study in the Anthropology. However, too many times, I've read and met anthropologists and anthropology students who think that advertising is business anthropology. There is definitely a role for ethnography in both academic and applied research in advertising. But in my experience, advertising is a sub-field of Marketing, which in turn is a sub-field of creating and managing a business enterprise.

Business anthropology, from my 40 years of experience as a consultant, applied anthropologist, and adjunct business professor, treats the company as an "organic social" entity. As a social entity, it can take many different legal forms and organizational structures. Business anthropology focuses on the way a social group(s) engages is economic exchange, it is transactional in Malinowski's functional sense. 

Corporate anthropology is the study of a legalistic and political organizational structure in the modern marketplace. In the broader anthropological sense, academic and applied studies of corporations are conducted from the Radcliffe-Brown structural perspective to determine how this social structure functions.

There is definitely a need for and market for both business and corporate studies by anthropologists. The way one approaches these organizations differ and the focuses are different. Business anthropology would be a sub-discipline of Economic anthropology. Corporate anthropology would be a sub-discipline of Social and Cultural anthropology.

Applied anthropologist who consult for small businesses should approach their clients with an open mind about the sociocultural system that they will find and the problems they will be asked to address. They should not assume that a corporate approach will  solve the problem or that it can be resolved from an advertising approach.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

EVOLUTION: REPLICATION AND SURVIVAL

“Survival of the fittest”, “Law of the jungle,” “To the winner goes the spoils.”

These are expressions that encapsulate the basic goal or product of evolution and the core of the Darwinian revolution of modern science. Wherever we look today, we observe that the universe operates on this principle. Discovered in the writings of Darwin and rediscovered in the writings of earlier and later writers, the idea is that life and time follows patterns. These patterns can be reduced to cycles that form the basis of the human experience. To view life as a series of cycles would seem to be routine – birth, maturation, death. This is the cycle of an individual’s life. In the broader context, a life is a mere step away from the larger cycles that connect us to the world that we experience and depend upon for our existence.

In its simplest form a cycle is binary event, It is either exists “yes” or does not “no.” i.e. “Existence” or “Nonexistence.” The question for human's has been how to bridge the gap between “existence” and “non-existence.” How does nature promote continuity. For some 3 plus billion years, Nature has sorted through infinite variations of this simple binary formula and produced a near infinite number of variations in forms or  the continuity of we call "life."  Nature also "found" a method that brings about continuity, the process of evolution, 

In the Judaeo-Christian Bible, creation begins in the book of Genesis with an infinite spirit who starts the process of evolution over a 7-day period. As anthropologists, we found that every sociocultural system studied has a creation story, or myth. These, as Joseph Campbell and other folklorists have demonstrated, differ widely in the specifics yet conform to the same general patterncreation story describes an arch or cycle The specifics reflect the history and place of the people who hold to the myths, legends, etc.  All stories attempt to bridge the divide between the known "Yes" and unknown “No” reality with a “Maybe.”

“Maybe” what?

The “What” is some form of continuity that bridges the cycle. It explains or leaves open to interpretation the “from where” and “to where.” Because we live within the cycle, we must rely on others to explain how this continuity happens.To explain what we experience, Humans have invented the concept of the supernatural or religion . 

Religion draws upon the human animal’s ability to conceive of an event which is considered to be possible, but not actually experienced. It is our ability to think of time in terms of past, present, and future and to our place ourselves within time.

Humans rely on a kind of emotional response to events, We experience events individually, but interpret them through the meanings of others give to it. We call this “faith.”  “Faith” enables humans to assume that ta meaningful cycle will repeat. It is by “faith” that we assume and explain the fact that the cycle does repeat. Faith is one answer to the question of “maybe.” “Maybe there is life after death”. “Maybe the event is part of a recurring cycle.” “Maybe the recurring cycle has a rhythm.”  The other answer is “doubt”. “Maybe this is all there is.” “Maybe people are wrong.” "Maybe this is random noise."

The modern idea of evolution is a human formulation of  “faith and doubt.” As concepts, they are the objective value we give to the event. It is the value that gives objects conceptual meaning. The value and meaning derive from the emotional feeling one experiences when confronting or thinking about the event. “Meaning” partitions the emotional experience from the situational context and assigns a positive or negative value to the meaning.

“Value” is the emotional orientation of "meaning in context". In anthropological terms, we can think of “value” = “function” and “meaning” = “structure.” Faith is the  assumption that the “meaning and value” is real and make up the ideational dimension of Culture.  “Doubt” is culture's failure to relate the meaning and value of cultural symbols to.personal experience. 

  Biological evolution, demonstrated by Charlies Darwin and confirmed by Wallace, opened the door for us to understand the reason for “maybe.” It provides a model of order and sequence for the  biological events we observe. Evolution, however, is much broader that simple biology. And today we use the concept to describe a process where and how “maybe” events occur.

 What is the “maybe”?

An event is defined as a bounded period of time. A “Maybe” emerges from the simple process of defining an event in terms of its “life-cycle.” A life-cycle is the period of time that an observer identifies or experiences, the event. An event is nothing more than the binary sequence “No” or Yes.” That is, No, there is nothing happening and Yes, there is something happening. “ Between each “No” couplet, there is a “Yes” and between each “Yes” couplet there is a “NO”. We can translate the two basic processes that are at the heart of life as  Survival and Replication. Survival (Yes!) is measured in time between two “No” events. And Replication is the emergence of a Yes, either through the creation of a new YES, or the creation of a unique variation of a “Yes”.

In evolutionary terms, Survival is measured by how long an individual or life-cycle event lasts. Replication, on the other hand, is the generation of a repeated event patterns. A single note from a piano survives as long as the string struck by the hammer vibrates. On the other hand, replication takes place every time the same string is struck by the same hammer.  

Individuals, whether they are notes on a piano, or individual human are linked through a replication process. Such events are linked through a physical or conceptual “cause and effect” relationship. As anthropologists our job is to understand how   Survival (beliefs and practices) and Replication (beliefs and practices).helps humans to configure their universe in terms of Culture.

Culture, the fluid “Maybe”:

            The human biological evolution is and has been the central question of anthropology. Today the differential rates of cultural survival and replication might be hard to see given the rapid radiation of Western and Neo-western society.[1] Yet, as the human species has becomes more socially homogeneous, it is becoming more specialized in its cultures, It has also become more diverse in its physical and technological forms. The emergence of a global society plays a more and more significant role in the lives of ordinary people. Their daily lives are material influenced by the changing nature that the survival and replication functions of the species. 

Anthropology is the study of the human species, its complexity and evolution through time and place. At its core is the role played by cultures (local ideational systems of faith) and Culture (the bio-social-psychological system of species survival and replication). Modern anthropology is a child of Darwin and those who have followed. Anthropology is the search for the Yes’ and No’s in the vast expanse of Human “Maybe’s”. That is, the goal of anthropology is to challenge universal “doubt” and seek universal “faith.”[2]



[1] I am defining as “Neo-western” those societies created out western European colonialism and have adopted the western European philosophical ideals of scholarship and science. This does not mean that all individuals in a given society hold to the philosophy. As described earlier, “faith” is the human emotional answer to “maybe.” Western ideals are only one of a multi-complex set of philosophies and methods for addressing “maybe.” Anthropology is the field of study that has emerged or evolved in Western European culture. It seeks to bridge the gap of “faiths” and find a holistic understanding of humankind – its origin, survival and replication as the dominate species on the planet Earth.

[2] Anthropology is the blend of scientific method and humanistic meaning. Our discipline seeks to know how we fit into the natural world, and how we have progressed to the top of the evolutionary ladder. We also want to understand what this means and how long it might last. We want to understand the why and how we (as a species) come to occupy this position and what it means for us, our environment and our future. What “value” is there in humanity? That is, can we give meanings and values to our “faith” and “doubts.”? And if so, can we use the knowledge to avoid extinction.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Thoughts on a Legacy


Ned Spicer was invited to participate in a symposium, organized by Thomas Weaver of the University of Arizona, entitled  "Anthropology in the 1990's: Conditions, Needs, and Prospects." The symposium was held in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings in San Francisco in the winter of 1974. The subheading of the symposium was, "Suppose They Began the Twenty-First Century and Forgot to Invite Anthropology!!!"

Ned presented his paper entitled, "Anthropology in the society of the 1990s", on February 28, 1974.

Twenty years later, in 1994, the paper was republished in Human Organization with a forward by his widow, Rosamond Spicer, under the title, "Reassessing Edward Spicer's Views on Anthropology in the Society of the 1990s: How and Why This Paper by Edward H. Spicer Was Written" (Spicer, Rosamond 1994 Human Organization, Vol. 53. No. 4, pp. 388 - 395). From her forward, we can gain an insight into Ned's thinking and approach to the future.

Rosamond observed that

"In preparing this paper on the future of cultural anthropology, Ned apparently gave it a great deal of thought. As was his habit, he wrote down voluminous notes and lists of ideas. He also made a number of starts, each different from the last.”

“At one point he wrote, 'I react strongly against nineteenth century economic-determinism, that technology and physical environmental conditions are the essential factors to consider in forecasting. I rather look to the future in terms of the adaptation of social structures and cultural orientations to one another in the context of the influence of firm cultural products. I shall therefore take off from consideration of the probable alternative trends which we may expect in the form and functions of societal structures and cultural value orientations.' 

“Such a point of view was always the basis of his thinking and writing." (p. 388)

In describing Ned, Rosamond observed that,

"His interests, reading, and studies ranged through drama, literature, economics, city planning, philosophy, history, poetry, the environment, and all the fields of anthropology. All of this vast array of information and understanding he brought to bear in some way or another on any project he undertook, on any subject on which he wrote.”

“Perhaps one of his outstanding characteristics was his ability to synthesize, as was so evident in his Cycles of Conquest. I have long thought that the practice of that art of synthesis was connected with another, the appreciation and writing of poetry. I mention all these aspects of Ned because they seem to be contained in the following paper." (p.388).

 It was his global interests and ability to synthesize vast amounts of material that I remember from my first graduate classes with Ned.  I was drawn to his Community Development Seminar where  he challenged us to look at the problem at hand from multiple points of view. He asked us, “What are the “felt needs” of the various parties in this change situation?” He encouraged us to seek a synthesis of these views as a way toward understanding the issues and their complexities. As community developers, he taught us that our job was to help the parties to synthesize their shared interests. Our job was to facilitate, not impose, problem resolution.

Ned was a humanist who understood and taught the connection between a people’s past, present and how these shaped their future. In his paper on the February day in 1974, he outlined five trends in the social and cultural environment that he felt would shape the next 20 years for anthropology.

The five trends that Ned chose to characterize the society he envisioned for the 1990s were the following:

(1) increasing intercommunication among the peoples of the world;
(2) increasing occupational specialization with accompanying organic differentiation within societies;
(3) increasing failure of technological solutions for the resolution of human problems in acceptable ways;
(4) increasing assertion and self-expression of ethnic groups within nation-states; and
(5) increasing reaction against centralization in political and administrative structures.

He stated "In general, continuation of these trends will, I believe, result in a society more heterogeneous than it was in the 19th or any previous century, more aware of its heterogeneity, with stronger than ever tendencies to compartmentalization, with increased awareness of and interest in non-technological and non-economic factors affecting human life, and with a growing tendency to view the nation-state in a wholly new light, especially with reference to its ethnic components and its political and administrative units." (p. 389)

Now nearly 50 years later, it might be worth considering just how prescient Ned’s predictions were for the 1990s and now for the 21st Century. 

What are your thoughts about Applied Anthropology, or what has been your experience since 1974?   PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU HAVE ONE.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Philosophy vs Cultural Anthropology

Barry Bainton
Barry Bainton, PhD Anthropology (1979)
Philosophy is a humanistic discipline that attempts to explain life in its many situations. It is divided into many different subfields or subjects such as morality, reality, language, logic, etc. It is term that can be applied in a general (universal) or specific (situational or cultural) sense. What the philosopher attempts to do is to understand nature and how we experience it. Methodologically, Philosophy is based on intuition, applied to personal experience at one extreme, and logical analysis based on mathematics at the other extreme.
Anthropology is a scientific and humanistic discipline that studies humanity as a physical biological organism and a social animal that is self aware. Anthropologists study how humans have and are able to consciously influence the environment by combining their physical (existential) uniqueness and their mental development that creates a unique “world view” (ideational) based on their individual/group experiences through time.
Anthropologists study humanity through direct observation and participation with their subjects. They document their findings in reports. By comparing the findings these reports document they seek to establish relationships via the comparative method. Such relationships range from unique features shared by the human animal; and, the identify differences between peoples based on how they explain life and natural world that they experience and have experienced. Anthropology is thus both scientific (a philosophical point of view that requires the validation and objective measurement of phenomena) and humanistic (a philosophical point of view that emphasizes the individual’s interpretation of experience).

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ahead of His Time


Ahead of His Time
By Barry R. Bainton, Ph.D. MIM
Eliot D Chapple has been selected by the Forum of Presidents of the American Anthropological Association to present the Distinguished Lecture at the Association's upcoming annual meeting in Cincinnati. Titled 'The Unbounded Reaches of Anthropology as a Research Science and Some |Working Hypotheses,' the lecture will explore the central position anthropology occupies for pursuing research on human organization that integrates the biological, psychological, and cultural components of behavior. Chapple's long and noted career, is carved at the interface between basic and applied research demonstrates the wide range of theory and applications yielded by the generalist perspective, characteristic of anthropology.”[i]  (Anthropology News Letter, October 1979, Vol.20, No.8).
I walked in to the auditorium of the convention hotel in Cincinnati, OH to hear the Distinguished Lecture. It was with the awe of a new PhD and as a young applied anthropologist. I looked forward to Chapple’s speech, after all he was one of the founders of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Based on the title, I assumed he would address the linkages between basic (or academic) research and applied anthropology. I was aware of Chapple’s four-field approach to anthropology as a science, and his innovative methodologies. I hoped that he would be sharing his insights with us – especially to a younger generation facing a very difficult employment market as the 1980s began.

Later, after his Lecture, I felt both rewarded and disappointed. Rewarded by the width and depth of the net that Chapple cast around the field, and by his unorthodox incorporation of concepts and perspectives he addressed beyond traditional anthropology to push for an applied science of man. Chapple was far ahead of his time in the way he perceived the problems that an applied anthropology must address. The four fields meant just that – four fields to be treated as aspects of a singular whole that makes up human behavior.

But I was also disappointed. I was disappointed by the man who was presenting the lecture and his delivery.[ii] Not to be too pedantic, the speech, while informative, was too long, over an hour. It seemed to begin where the author, not the audience, was. Years later, after I had enrolled in Toastmasters, I learned the principles of public speaking. As I reread his paper, and reflected upon those days, I understood why I had been disappointed. It was not Chapple, per se, but the method he chose. The delivery quality of the reading an academic paper is designed for reading and not to be delivered orally. Writing and speaking are two very different media. One can expect that a reader will be drawn to the subject by self-selection. The oral presentation is more complex – it is “selling” an idea to an audience. Chapple was trying to sell his ideas to a very mixed audience.

What are those four fields Chapple was attempting to sell ?

For Chapple, Anthropology’s four fields represented “methods” for addressing the problem of humankind as both a biological animal and thinking social animal. To understand humans one must begin with the animal body – how it develops and how the emerging specialized organs and structures integrate with one another in a manner that produces a functioning biological organism. The story of human-kind is the story of nature and evolution. The processes of integration of the biological elements are, from Chapple’s perspective, also the processes of human organization as social animals.

Chapple s’ conclusion states:
              
“For us, however, recognition that the primary language of the CNS [Central Nervous System] enables us to build a science on the hierarchical systems of rhythms of interaction, ... , [It] also means that our inquiries over time and space are unbounded. We do not have to halt at a series of academic walls, each one of which wishes to exclude the free-trader in ideas from seeking his uniformities wherever the data suggest he should look.” (1980: 756) 

What struck me, re-reading the Lecture, is how anthropology today and its organization are building these walls taller and thicker. While we may plumb our subject deeper, we do so from an ever-narrower perspective. In response to the practical competitive demands of academic employment, we find that we must create a “unique” space for ourselves. In turn, the focus on specialization and their encapsulation in separate professional associations has surrendered the control of their science and discipline to special interest groups at the expense of the unifying Science of Mankind [Humanity].

Chapple continued,

“If you read widely in all those fields in which perceptive individuals, over centuries, have tried to formulate their views of the human condition - ... – you will find across culture and across history an encouraging yield of insights about uniformities the writers had become aware of. They may appear buried in writers within them. Yes, it requires little effort to translate them into the language of biological rhythms of human being.” (1980:766)

Chapple’s Anthropology as a Science:

Chapple’s work goes back to the 1930s. The scientific management, based on Fredrick Taylor’s time and motion studies, strongly influenced his approach to anthropology. Later, in the 1940’s, together with John Provinse and others, Chapple became a major force in the creation and growth of the Society of Applied Anthropology (SfAA). Despite an emphasis on anthropology, the SfAA shared Chapple’s openness to the application social science as a whole. The early SfAA and its journal, Applied Anthropology, reflected this sense of holism that Chapple felt the anthropological paradigm implied.

Chapple wrote only two books during a career that began in 1933 and ended in 2000. Most famous of these is Principles of anthropology (1942), which he wrote with the physical anthropologist, Carleton Coon. It was here in the Principles book that he initially presented his concept of a behavioral anthropology.

In his second book in 1970, The Biological Foundations of Individuality and Culture (1980/1970), (re-titled from Culture and Biological Man (1970)), Chapple presented the results of his “behavioral anthropology” research which is reflected in his subtitled, “Explorations in Behavioral Anthropology“.  Here he outlined “a framework within which anthropology can be understood as providing a systematic and general science of the human condition,” rooted in biogenetic givens of human nature (Chapple 1970:v).[iii]

Chapple’s approach deviated from mainstream anthropology by being “cultureless.”  Where American anthropology under Kroeber and White tended to view “culture” as a super-organic concept to which the individual and society surrendered, Chapple saw human biological and social behavior as the source and mediator of what we term “culture.”

As I re-read his Distinguished Lecture, I came to understood why Chapple’s views fail to catch on. As Kehoe and Weil observed, The year 1970 should have been a high point in Eliot Chapple’s career.[iv] But instead, By 1970 Chapple was willing to conform to disciplinary standards and used the [culture] term; he may have realized that his earlier, relentlessly scientific, cultureless chronograph method threw out the baby with the bathwater.” By surrendering the behaviorist approach, Chapple was effectively turning his back on nearly 40 years of work. In 1979, I feel that Chapple felt he had a chance to make a new pitch for his behaviorist perspective. After all, biology, genetics, and neuroscience had made considerable progress since the 1940’s.

Why I found the Lecture exciting:

Today as I re-read the Lecture, I also contemplated what excited me. It was the way Chapple’ concept of “behavioral anthropology” integration the physical and social and provided a holistic theory of anthropology. As an applied anthropologist, trained in a four-field approach, I was looking for such a model of reality. A holistic theory would enable me, as a professional, to look at a situation in terms of its physical, material, social and cultural dimension, and these how these affected an individual and corporate organism’s performance.  These four fields, from the Chapple perspective, define the situation. Or, from the applied perspective, “the problem.”

A problem or situation has physical, biological and collective psychological interactive functions. Problem also has antecedent and resulting conditions or a history. These frame the human interactions that take place. In human terms, a “situation” is to be understood in terms of a dramatic arch (e.g. a story) or a cycle (e.g. a life). To understand human situations, one must understand the underlying biological and psychological forces that create human behavior. To understand the nature of the situation and its component parts is to have a basis for understanding and balancing the forces that promote situational change or stability in the situational conditions.

By the 1970’s the “culture” concept that had dominated American anthropology for a century was under attack from many sides. The question within academic anthropology focused on the question, ”What is culture”?

Meanwhile, the employment situation, along with the reorganization of American Anthropological Association, pointed toward a very personality and competitive dominated situation.  Later, as Phil Salzeman points out[v],

Insights about historical progression, or opinions parading as insights, sometimes come upon us not purposely, the fruits of directed and informed research, but serendipitously, as revelation burst forth from accumulated experience. It is about the recent development of academic anthropological theory, from the mid-1960s to the present, and its relation to academic life in university departments, that I have had unexpected and ungratifying revelations.   We anthropologists seem to change allegiances and our views almost as quickly and repeatedly as Little Richard switches between gay rock star and Baptist preacher.”

So what is Chappel’s Problem:

Eric Wolf is often cited as saying, “Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.”  Chapple spent his career attempting to unify the social sciences and humanities. But to do so, he went to an extreme by arguing against the concept of “culture.” As a veteran of Toastmasters and veteran applied anthropologist, I looked at the lecture in a different light. I saw it as a major speech designed by its author as a last chance to “sell” a point of view, and as a summation of almost 50 years of work. If we examine the lecture, there are several points that stand out.

First, the speech was over an hour. It was too long. In its written form, it is 17 pages long, almost 11,000 words. This is a long time to keep the public’s attention speech on any subject and especially one as complex as this one.

Second, the subject is extremely complex for a mixed audience made up of a cross section of specialists. If ever there were a general rule for the applied anthropologist, I would look to Charles Erasmus, and the idea of “felt need.” The presenter’s position, i.e. Chapple’s, assumed that the individuals in the audience would or could understand how his perspective and their specialty connected.

Third, Chapple began the Lecture as if he were writing a research paper. He begins with a few basic biological assumptions and builds these up to an ending that links the neurobiology he began with to the emergence of the “cultural” nature of music and dance as the biological expression of group solidarity. A more effective strategy would have been to reverse the order of his presentation.

Here I have to admit that after a deep reading of the paper, and remembering how I felt 40 years ago, I can see that Chapple’s unique approach articulated thoughts that I have had but could not express verbally. Chapple is explaining that patterned behavior is the result how a personal experiences a situation. Behavioral patterns arise in a situational context resulting from the emotional response to the elements in the situation. This response becomes the “situational language” which we call, “culture.” A “situational language” is shared and taught just as a spoken language is.

 A “situational language” is not rational; it is emotional. When an individual attaches a meaning and value to their emotional experience, the experience becomes rational. Culture is an emergent phenomena based on situational language. What Chapple was suggesting here is that culture is a result of the individual’s rationalized behavior in a situational context, not the other way around.  

Unlike, Spencer, Kroeber, and Leslie White who conceptualize “culture” as a force independent of biology, i.e. as Super-organic, Chapple’s argument is that what we find as “cultural” is merely the extension of a neurobiological evolution of a biological organism.  Chapple’s lecture was one last attempt to explain and justify his position.

Chapple failed, I feel, because of egotism and by not knowing or understanding his audience. If one were to reverse the argument as it is presented, Chapple would have started with the audience on his side and he could lead them to his conclusion. This is what a good teacher does. Chapple suffered from the fact he was TOO much the researcher and to some respects a non-conforming humanist.

Where Chapple represents one branch that evolved as applied anthropology evolved in the Twentieth Century, there others.





[i] Anthropology News Letter, October 1979, Vol.20, No.8)
[ii] One can read the speech on Anthrosource (American Anthropologist, v82 n4 (198012): 741-758).
[iii]  Kehoe, Alice Beck, et al. Expanding American Anthropology, 1945-1980: A Generation Reflects. 1 ed. The University of Alabama Press, 2012. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/book/13809.
[iv] Chapter 11 Eliot Chapple’s Long and Lonely Road  ,   Alice Beck Kehoe and Jim Weil
[v]  Salzeman, Philip  Fads and Fashions”, Anthropology Newsletter May 1988  pp. 1,32