Re: The Great Synthesis.

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Sun, 5 May 1996 22:54:50 -0400

On Sun, 5 May 1996, John McCreery wrote:

> The "Great Synthesis" thread seems to be unraveling. Still, while doing
> research on another topic, I came across the following. The quote is from
> Chris Schilling, _The Body and Social Theory_, Sage 1993, p. 12.
> "I shall be arguing that the body is most profitably conceptualized as an
> unfinished biological and social phenomenon which is transformed, within
> certain limits, as a result of its entry into, and participation in,
> society. It is this biological and social quality that makes the body at
> once such an obvious, and yet such an elusive phenomenon. On the one hand,
> we 'all know' that the body consists of such features as flesh, muscles,
> bones and blood, and contains species-specific capacities which identify us
> as humans. On the other hand, though, even the most 'natural' features of
> the body change over the lifetime of an individual. For example, as we get
> older our faces change, our eyesight deteriorates, our bones can become
> brittle, and our flesh starts to sag. The sizes, shapes and heights of
> bodies vary according to the care and nutrition they receive...while the
> openness of the body to social relationships and environments also
> contributes to its elusiveness. Our upbringing, for example, affects our
> bodies in a myriad of ways: our development as girls and boys who walk,
> talk, look, argue, fight and urinate differently all depends on the
> patterns of body training we receive from our parents and others...Medical
> and other technical interventions into the body also highlight the
> biological and social character of the body and have made it even more
> difficult to grasp exactly what the body is."
> To a classically trained, four-fields anthropologist, what is surprising
> isn't what's being said--that's old hat. The shock is who is saying it. A
> British sociologist! The times they are a'changing.
> Maybe physical anthro should be in the sociology department....Hmnnnn....

On the contrary, John. What the above quote illustrates is that soc/cult
anthropologists should be in sociology departments.. ;-)
Ralph Holloway