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WHAT IS ANTHROPOLOGY?什么是人类学?

作者: 发布日期: 2014-05-28   浏览次数 555

 

Social or cultural anthropology is traditionally the study of other societies and cultures, or the study of small-scale communities. Anthropological research is based on fieldwork, which requires a long period, often of one year, living in a particular community, getting to know its ways and learning the local language. The distinctive method employed during fieldwork is participant observation, which means that the researcher participates in the local life at the same time as observing events directly and collecting data by various means including structured and semi-structured interviews, photographic and tape recording. Anthropology as a broad field emerged from earlier studies of comparative mythology and folklore, history and sociology at the turn of the twentieth century. The four main fields of anthropology include linguistics, archaeology, physical anthropology (or the study of human evolution), and social-cultural anthropology which is a separate field, often known just as ‘anthropology’. Anthropology is distinguished from history in that traditionally it has emphasized synchronic studies of society rather than ideas of evolution or historical accounts. The anthropologist studies societies and cultures in a cross-section of the present time, rather than their changes over time. So anthropology is ‘synchronic’, while history is ‘diachronic’, to use the linguistic terms invented by Saussure. Anthropology is distinguished from sociology in that its methods and techniques are small-scale and best suited for the intensive study of small-scale communities, rather than the questionnaires and statistical analysis across large populations often used by sociologists. Anthropologists may conduct household censuses and use statistical methods but this is not a distinctive feature of anthropology.

Anthropology first emerged during the colonial period when researchers from colonial powers were interested to find out more about the people they ruled in order to administer them better. Originally anthropologists specialized in the study of tribal and far-away societies. Today society has changed and the signs of modernization are everywhere. With rapid social change since 1945 anthropologists today cannot ignore historical processes and often include accounts of social change in their reports while remaining faithful to synchronic studies of communities at a particular point in time. There are few tribal or isolated communities left whose habits and customs and ways of life need recording. However anthropology has a sympathy with the marginalised and impoverished, and its traditional techniques of study have been found useful in researching small-scale communities in many modern settings such as hospitals, schools, prisons, streets, even Wall Street and the Shanghai Stock Market.

Anthropologists find many jobs today, as documentary film-makers for TV and movies, in museums, in schools and at universities, working for NGOs or large development organizations like the World Bank who often have a need for social development or social impact studies of the local communities which may be affected by proposed developments. Anthropology is specialised into various sub-disciplines such as anthropological linguistics, medical anthropology, visual anthropology, the anthropology of development, and environmental anthropology.

Anthropology has had a long history in China. From 1928 Cai Yuanpei at the Central Research Institute in Beijing, who had studied in Germany, directed anthropological studies of Northern ethnic groups, the Miao and Yao, and Taiwanese native groups, by anthropologists such as Fei Xiaotong, Tao Yunkui, Rui Yifu and others who had studied at Anthropology Departments in London, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago and Paris. Famous researchers under Wu Wenzao in Yunnan in the 1940s included Fei Xiaotong, Lin Yaohua, Tien Rukang, Francis Hsu (who all studied at the department of Anthropology in the London School of Economics) and Martin Yang. There were schools influenced by Chicago, Paris and London and diffusionist influences were dominant at the Catholic Furen University of Beijing. After Liberation many famous anthropologists like Fei Xiaotong and Lin Yaohua took part in the minzu shibie project of ethnic classification and the sihui lishi diaojia project in the 1950s. In 1979 the Chinese Anthropological Association was established based at Xiamen University and the journal Minzu Yanjiu started to be published. Today anthropology is flourishing in China through many journals, institutes and associations.

Anthropologists have always been interested in kinship and religious belief, but have also dealt with economic and political life. While anthropology was for a long time described as the study of ‘simple societies’, it is commonly applied today to small communities within ‘complex societies’ as well. Fei Xiaotong argued that for China a combination of anthropology with sociology was needed. ‘Anthropology at home’ has also become popular, so that today many anthropologists study their own societies. But before studying one’s own society, it is important to get rid of cultural preconceptions and prejudices, so one should learn as much about other societies as possible through reading and studying anthropological reports on them before undertaking fieldwork in a society one is a member of. Anthropology has a lot to contribute to the understanding of Chinese society, and to the Chinese understanding of other societies. In today’s world, an understanding of other societies and an appreciation of different ways of life is vital. Only through anthropological techniques of long-term immersion in a particular community can a real understanding of local customs and points of view be attained, so that anthropology can be thought of as a kind of cultural translation.

人类学是一个范围宽广的学科,与比较神话学,民俗学,历史学,及社会学的早期研究有渊源。人类学的四大领域是语言人类学,考古学,体质人类学,和社会文化人类学,后者因其突出的特征,常被等同于人类学。人类学与历史学的区别在于它强调对社会的共时研究,较少关心进化或历史的解释,而历史学则是历时的。人类学与社会学的区别在于它的方法和技巧适合对小型社区的深入研究,而社会学擅长的是对大规模的群体进行问卷调查和统计分析。人类学者也可能会进行家户人口调查,或使用统计数据,但这不是人类学的主要特长。传统意义上的社会文化人类学是对其他的社会或文化,或小型社会的研究。人类学研究建立在田野调查基础之上。田野调查比较费时间,通常要求研究者入住某个社区一年之久,以熟知当地的生活方式和精通当地的语言。人类学特有的研究方法是参与观察法,此法要求研究者在直接观察当地社会的同时参与当地人的生活;人类学收集资料的方法有多种,包括封闭式和开放式访问,录音和录像等。

人类学最早出现于西方殖民时代,当时殖民强国对了解殖民地人民以便更好地进行统治怀有极大兴趣。起初,人类学者专注于对部落和边远社会的研究。今天,社会变化了,现代化的标记随处可见。尤其是二战以来,尽管人类学者仍然不忘对社区的共时研究,但无法再忽略历史的过程,在他们的研究报告中也常包括对社会变迁的论述。世界上很少还有部落或孤立社区没有获得过人类学的关注,他们的习俗和生活方式早已被记录和研究,但是人类学对这些贫穷和被边缘化的社区仍富有同情心。另一方面,人类学的传统研究技能对研究现代社会小型社区依旧管用,适于对医院,学校,监狱,街道,华尔街,上海股票交易所等这样的现代小型社区的研究。人类学可以细分为语言人类学,医学人类学,视觉人类学,发展人类学,环境人类学等。今天人类学者可以找到多种工作,如影视纪录片制片人,博物馆馆员,学校教师,政府官员,NGO工作者,世界银行等国际组织的职员,因为这些单位急需人类学学者对发展项目所带来的社会影响进行评估和研究。

中国有人类学,其历史也不短。从1928年开始,留德归来的蔡元培便在北京的中央研究院主持对北方民族,苗瑶,台湾原住民的人类学研究,参与研究的还有费孝通,芮逸夫,陶云奎等毕业于伦敦大学,哈佛大学,芝加哥大学,哥伦比亚大学,巴黎大学等校人类学系的学者。1940年代跟随吴文藻在云南进行研究的有费孝通,林耀华,田汝康,许烺光,杨懋春等。当时世界著名的芝加哥学派,巴黎学派,伦敦学派影响着中国很多大学,如北京的辅仁大学就深受传播学派的影响。解放后,著名人类学家费孝通和林耀华等参加了1950年代的“民族识别”和“社会历史调查”等研究。1979年在厦门大学成立了中国人类学学会,同时创立人类学刊物《民族研究》。今天,人类学在中国方兴未艾,人类学的研究机构和学术团体蓬勃发展。

人类学对亲属制度和宗教信仰有着持久的兴趣,同时也关注经济和政治生活。虽然人类学一直被称为研究小型社会的学科,但今天也展开对现代复杂社会中的小社区的研究。费孝通认为中国呼唤着与社会学相结合的人类学。“在家里的人类学”现已变得很流行,因此今天许多人类学者也研究自己的社会。但在研究自己的社会之前,人类学者要扔掉先入为主的文化观念和偏见。在对自己的社会进行田野研究之前,学者应尽可能多地通过研读世界人类学文献加深对其他社会的了解。人类学对中国社会研究以及中国人睁眼看世界都能做出巨大的贡献。在当今世界,了解其他的社会和珍视生活方式的多样性尤为重要,而且只有通过人类学的长时间置身于某个社区的方法才能获得对当地习俗和文化的真正了解;有鉴于此,我们可以说人类学是在“翻译文化”。