CRITICISMS OF ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALOGY

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CRITICISMS OF ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALOGY Powered By Docstoc
					 CRITICISMS OF ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALOGY
Depresses Time and Denies Change
The Problem of “Equifinality”
       Many paths to the same outcome
Is the archaeological record “frozen Behavior”?
Can we directly translate archaeological
expressions into meaning social, political, or
ritual patterns?
Binford’s definition of the archaeological
record as static and contemporary. Translate
statics into past dynamics
  Is the Archaeological record like Pompeii




ARCHAEOLOGISTS DECIDE TO EVALUATE THIS
QUESTION
SEVERAL METHOLOGICAL APPROACHES
 TO THE STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN ARTIFACTS AND MEANINGFUL
        CULTURAL BEHAVIOR



RECORD FORMATION PROCESSES
MID-RANGE THEORY
ETHNOARCHAEOLOGY
New archaeologists committed to anthropological
archaeology. But before you could address questions about
culturally meaningful behavior, the nature of the
archaeological record had to be investigated


Here’s the problem:
        1. The archaeological record is composed of artifacts
on the surface and buried. Those artifacts are “static”, meaning
they don’t interact.
       2. New archaeologists are interested in what people do
and how they do it ( that’s active or dynamic). The question is
how to move from statics to dynamics?
      3. And before you do that you have to consider
whether the archaeological record has changed over time.
MICHAEL SCHIFFER
     RECORD FORMATION PROCESSES

Several components to this model:
   A) The systematic relationship between artifact
        acquisition, production, use , discard and the
        formation of the archaeological record. Schiffer
        wants to know the relationship between life histories
        of artifacts, the archaeological record, and cultural
        behavior
    B) Breaks culture down into a set of activities that
    transform material into something useful track the life
    histories of artifacts
    C) differentiates kinds of artifact contexts
                SYSTEMIC CONTEXT
                ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
  ASSUMPTIONS THAT SCHIFFER MAKES
     TO CONSTRUCT SYSTEMIC AND
      ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

CULTURE IS A SYSTEM ( HAVE YOU
 HEARD THAT BEFORE?)
HUMAN ACTIVITY IS A
 TRANSFORMATION OF ENERGY
 THAT TYPICALLY INVOLVES
 ARTIFACTS
ARE THERE OTHERS? WHAT ABOUT
 ARCHAEOLOGICAL LAWS?
WHAT ARE RECORD FORMATION
PROCESSES?

WHEN DO THEY OPERATE?

WHY DO ARCHAEOLOGISTS STUDY THEM?

WHAT IS SCHIFFER’S ULTIMATE GOAL?
WHAT DOES HE WANT TO “RECONSTRUCT?
       MID-RANGE RESEARCH
     Binford’s methology for linking
          Statics to Dynamics




Research with the
Nunamiut at Anatuvak
Pass
        What is Mid-Range Theory?
          IT’S Not general Theory
1. Because the archaeological record is
   contemporary, can not know the past
   directly. Can only know the past
   indirectly through “static” artifacts
2. Required to make that linkage are
   observations, experiments, and analysis
   designed to link the present statics with
   past dynamics:
          record formation
          ethnoarchaeology, experimental
          archaeology
   Questions regarding Mid-Range Theory
       [based on the Binford article]
• What are the goals of Binford’s article: Dimensional
  Analysis of Behavior and Site Structure?
• Does Binford build a model to address these goals? Or
  does he address through the analysis of a single place
• What are expedient artifacts? What are curated artifacts?
• Is Schiffer’s distinction between systemic and
  archaeological context relevant to this article? How
• What is the site function of the Mask site? Is there a
  relationship between site function and artifact deposition?
• Is Binford’s approach to the relationship between cultural
  activity and artifact different than Schiffer’s? How?
• What does Binford want to explain?
  Culture Process: General Systems Theory


The goal of Culture Process: To create explanations of
      culture change…. THE CAUSES OF CULTURE
      CHANGE

Systems Theory (or General Systems Theory) was the
initial model that was used to construct explanations.

So: we need to ask what is system? And how is that
definition built into the structure of systems theory
Systems Structure
                           Definitions
• A System: A bounded entity that is made up of component
  parts. The parts of “interdependent”. That means that
  the action of one component affects the action of another.
• All components of a system have boundary conditions.
  This means that each component has a range within which
  they operate Because all components have a range, the
  system itself has a range within which it can operate.
• Homeostasis: maintenance of a system within its
  boundary conditions
• Postive feedback: component deviations are amplified
   – This can change the system
• Negative feedback: Component deviations are depressed
  and system is maintained at the current or previous state
      SYSTEMS THEORY, MORE DEFINITIONS

• This definition of system is functional.
   – Function: as in each component solves a
     problem
   – Function: as in each component has a goal—
      • Keep the system running… human adaptive
        system
• CULTURE AS A SYSTEM
   – Components, many of which are not observable
     archaeologically
   – Each of those components have goals and boundary
     conditions
   – The system has goal---- human survival
      Archaeological Systems Theory Model

                                            Outputs----
                         Culture T1
                                            Change
Inputs:
Environment
Subsistence
Settlement
Population
                       Culture T2
  HOW DOES A CULTURAL SYSTEMS THEORY
             CAUSE CHANGE?

• System change caused by one or more
  components exceeding their boundary
  conditions ( positive feedback)
• But what throws a component out of
  equilibrium? New Archaeologists relied on
  external causes:
  – Climate change, population growth, resource
    depletion.
     Systems Theory in Mesoamerica
                    What is the role of Systems
                    Theory in this article?
                    What are the causes of
                    change from hunting and
                    gathering to agriculture?
                    Why do Mesoamerican
Kent Flannery       macrobands become
                    sedentary?
  Strengths of Systems Theory Explanations


• A major improvement over culture
  historical explanations of change :invasion,
  independent invention, or diffusion
• Provided a framework for discussing new
  adaptation: agriculture or the evolution of
  the state.
      Weaknesses of Systems Theory

• Causes of change were external (And
  Post-processualists really really disliked
  this aspect)
• System size and complexity required
  ‘major’ events to result in change
• Description of how change occurs; not
  why

				
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