Re: b-t-c-s

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Wed, 3 Jul 1996 21:53:18 -0700

On Tue, 2 Jul 1996, Holly Swyers wrote:

> I know that "evolution" does not necessarily equal "progress" as I describe
> it, although it certainly seems to carry that weight in popular coinage. I
> was never satisfied with the idea that state-level societies were the
> necessary end point of organizational development and that all societies,
> given sufficient population, would gravitate toward a state

Surely the opposite is true on simple grounds of logic. States are
_much_ larger than bands, but also much fewer, else population would climb
at even faster rates than it does now. It follows that most bands remain
bands rather than evolve into tribes; most tribes do not become chiefdoms,
and most chiefdoms do not evolve into states.
> What I'm getting at in a round about way is that maybe the issues
> surrounding the B-T-C-S typology are very much the ones which confront
> anthropology as a whole. The model is useful (don't science students still
> learn the Bohr model of an atom as a stepping stone to understanding the
> idea of "probability"?)

No they learn about the Bohr model partly because it prepares them
for more exotic descriptions of the atom, and partly because
learning to analyse the Bohr atom requires lots of mathematics
which will be useful later on. The famous Bohr model basically
survives as a paedigogical tool.

, but it carries with it the history of
> anthropology, which is very much a child of colonialism and imperialism. It
> seems we (as an anthropological community) are struggling to validate our
> field and struggle out from the shadow of "figuring out better ways to keep
> the natives happy." Rather than assert the "Conqueror is right" mentality
> - reasoning that the virtue of conquest makes a culture "best" -
> anthropology has tried to embrace "scientific objectivity" (or at least
> just plain "objectivity") as it struggles to understand the most devilishly
> idiosyncratic topic - human culture. Post-modernism, as I understand it,
> reflects the problems of trying to understand something while firmly
> immersed in it - the anthropologist's dilemma.

It seems much simpler to describe BTCS as am anthropological
paradigm, a la Kuhn, which is beginning to show its age. As for what
paradigm will take its place.... one never knows about successors until
the revoluntion has run its course.

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge