The next "Great Synthesis?"

Deus Ex Machina (X8H1@MUSIC.STLAWU.EDU)
Fri, 26 Apr 1996 14:56:15 EST

A common thread on Anthro-L has been the proposed synthesis of Physical
and Cultural Anthro. I would be interested to know exactly how many from
each field would like the two fields synthesized. My guess is that it is
mostly cultural anthro's. Why I am not sure, but a few "fears" come to
mind when I think of this. The first is that the methods and approach to
study not to mention the actual objects or subjects of study differ
greatly between each field. It seems to me that this would be hard to
reconcile. This difference I think has shown itself in the past on
Anthro-L. My second concern or "fear" is that the field of cultural
anthro's would "swallow" the phys. anthro whole & influence it to change
in ways as to make the field unrecognizeable. I think this is dangerous,
sociobio is close, evidently,to this synthesis, but it seems
to me we tried this once before and it resulted in things like
sterilization laws, and folks like SG Morton and Broca attempting to
quantify the "superiority" of Europeans over non-whites.
My third "fear" or rather point is the question that keeps coming to
mind: Do we really have a need to synthesize the two fields? With
regard to the "great synthesis" there was an obvious advantage to
union of evolution with genetics, but I seem to be unable to figure
out the advantage to Phys. anthro's. Maybe there is something in it
for the cultural folks? Do any physical anthropologists have a view?
any other cultural anthro's?

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