Ethnology

Ethnology

Overview
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

, and social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 of the ethnic, racial, and/or nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al divisions of humanity.

Compared to ethnography
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

, the study of single groups through direct contact with the culture, ethnology takes the research that ethnographers have compiled and then compares and contrasts different cultures. The term ethnology is credited to Adam Franz Kollár
Adam František Kollár
Adam František Kollár − Adam Franz Kollár in older English sources, a Slovak lower nobleman, was a historian, ethnologist, and as Imperial-Royal Court Councilor and Chief Imperial-Royal Librarian, an influential advocate of Empress Maria Theresa's Enlightened and centralist policies...

 who used and defined it in his Historiae ivrisqve pvblici Regni Vngariae amoenitates published in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in 1783.
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Encyclopedia
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

, and social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 of the ethnic, racial, and/or nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al divisions of humanity.

Scientific discipline


Compared to ethnography
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

, the study of single groups through direct contact with the culture, ethnology takes the research that ethnographers have compiled and then compares and contrasts different cultures. The term ethnology is credited to Adam Franz Kollár
Adam František Kollár
Adam František Kollár − Adam Franz Kollár in older English sources, a Slovak lower nobleman, was a historian, ethnologist, and as Imperial-Royal Court Councilor and Chief Imperial-Royal Librarian, an influential advocate of Empress Maria Theresa's Enlightened and centralist policies...

 who used and defined it in his Historiae ivrisqve pvblici Regni Vngariae amoenitates published in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in 1783. Kollár's interest in linguistic and cultural diversity was aroused by the situation in his native multi-lingual Kingdom of Hungary
History of Hungary
Hungary is a country in central Europe. Its history under this name dates to the early Middle Ages, when the Pannonian Basin was colonized by the Magyars, a semi-nomadic people from what is now central-northern Russia...

 and his roots among its Slovaks, and by the shifts that began to emerge after the gradual retreat of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in the more distant Balkans.

Among the goals of ethnology have been the reconstruction of human history, and the formulation of cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 invariants
Universal (metaphysics)
In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of...

, such as the incest taboo
Incest taboo
An Incest taboo is any cultural rule or norm that prohibits practices of sexual relations between relatives. All human cultures have norms regarding who is considered suitable and unsuitable sexual and/or marriage partners, and usually certain close relatives are excluded as possible partners...

 and culture change, and the formulation of generalizations about "human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

", a concept which has been criticized since the 19th century by various philosophers (Hegel, Marx, structuralism
Structuralism
Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

, etc.). In some parts of the world ethnology has developed along independent paths of investigation and pedagogical
Pedagogy
Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction....

 doctrine, with cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans, collecting data about the impact of global economic and political processes on local cultural realities. Anthropologists use a variety of methods, including participant observation,...

becoming dominant especially in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and social anthropology
Social anthropology
Social Anthropology is one of the four or five branches of anthropology that studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology investigate, often through long-term, intensive field studies , the social organization of a particular person: customs,...

in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. The distinction between the three terms is increasingly blurry. Ethnology has been considered an academic field since the late 18th century especially in Europe and is sometimes conceived of as any comparative study of human groups.

The 15th century exploration of America by European explorers had an important role in formulating new notions of the Occidental, such as, the notion of the "Other
Other
The Other or Constitutive Other is a key concept in continental philosophy; it opposes the Same. The Other refers, or attempts to refer, to that which is Other than the initial concept being considered...

". This term was used in conjunction with "savages", which was either seen as a brutal barbarian, or alternatively, as "noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

". Thus, civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 was opposed in a dualist
Dualism
Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, Dualism (from...

 manner to barbary, a classic opposition constitutive of the even more commonly-shared ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with...

. The progress of ethnology, for example with Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

's structural anthropology
Structural anthropology
Structural anthropology is based on Claude Lévi-Strauss' idea that people think about the world in terms of binary opposites—such as high and low, inside and outside, person and animal, life and death—and that every culture can be understood in terms of these opposites...

, led to the criticism of conceptions of a linear progress
Progress (history)
In historiography and the philosophy of history, progress is the idea that the world can become increasingly better in terms of science, technology, modernization, liberty, democracy, quality of life, etc...

, or the pseudo-opposition between "societies with histories" and "societies without histories", judged too dependent on a limited view of history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 as constituted by accumulative growth.

Lévi-Strauss often referred to Montaigne's essay
Essays (Montaigne)
Essays is the title given to a collection of 107 essays written by Michel de Montaigne that was first published in 1580. Montaigne essentially invented the literary form of essay, a short subjective treatment of a given topic, of which the book contains a large number...

 on cannibalism
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 as an early example of ethnology. Lévi-Strauss aimed, through a structural method
Structuralism
Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

, at discovering universal invariants in human society, chief among which he believed to be the incest taboo
Incest taboo
An Incest taboo is any cultural rule or norm that prohibits practices of sexual relations between relatives. All human cultures have norms regarding who is considered suitable and unsuitable sexual and/or marriage partners, and usually certain close relatives are excluded as possible partners...

. However, the claims of such cultural universalism
Universality (philosophy)
In philosophy, universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism. In certain religions, universality is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe...

 have been criticized by various 19th and 20th century social thinkers, including Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, Althusser and Deleuze.

The French school of ethnology was particularly significant for the development of the discipline since the early 1950s with Marcel Griaule
Marcel Griaule
Marcel Griaule was a French anthropologist known for his studies of the Dogon people of West Africa, and for pioneering ethnographic field studies in France....

, Germaine Dieterlen
Germaine Dieterlen
Germaine Dieterlen was a French anthropologist. She was a student of Marcel Mauss and wrote on a large range of ethnographic topics and made pioneering contributions to the study of myths, initiations, techniques , graphic systems, objects, classifications, ritual and social structure.She is most...

, Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

 and Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch was a French filmmaker and anthropologist.He is considered to be one of the founders of the cinéma vérité in France, which shared the aesthetics of the direct cinema spearheaded by Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker and Albert and David Maysles...

.

See also

  • Anthropology
    Anthropology
    Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

  • Ethnography
    Ethnography
    Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

  • Cultural survival
    Cultural Survival
    Cultural Survival is a nonprofit group based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA which is dedicated to defending the human rights of indigenous peoples. Their stated mandate is to promote the rights, voices and visions, of indigenous people. For 37 years, Cultural Survival has partnered with...

  • Culture
    Culture
    Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

  • Ethnocentrism
    Ethnocentrism
    Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with...

  • Evolutionism
    Evolutionism
    Evolutionism refers to the biological concept of evolution, specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to increase in complexity. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution...

  • Functionalism
    Functionalism
    Functionalism may refer to:* Functionalism , or structural functionalism, a theoretical tradition within sociology and anthropology* Functionalism * Functionalism...

  • Indigenous peoples
    Indigenous peoples
    Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

  • Intangible cultural heritage
    Intangible cultural heritage
    The concept of intangible cultural heritage emerged in the 1990s, as a counterpart to the World Heritage that focuses mainly on tangible aspects of culture...

  • Marxism
    Marxism
    Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

  • Modernism
    Modernism
    Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

  • Post-Modernism
  • Postcolonial
  • Primitive culture
    Primitive culture
    In older anthropology texts and discussions, the term "primitive culture" is used to refer to a society that is believed to lack cultural, technological, or economic sophistication/development...

  • Primitivism
    Primitivism
    Primitivism is a Western art movement that borrows visual forms from non-Western or prehistoric peoples, such as Paul Gauguin's inclusion of Tahitian motifs in paintings and ceramics...

  • Racism
    Racism
    Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

  • Society
    Society
    A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

  • Structural anthropology
    Structural anthropology
    Structural anthropology is based on Claude Lévi-Strauss' idea that people think about the world in terms of binary opposites—such as high and low, inside and outside, person and animal, life and death—and that every culture can be understood in terms of these opposites...

  • Structural functionalism
    Structural functionalism
    Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...


External links

  • Webpage "History of German Anthropology/Ethnology 1945/49-1990
  • Languages describes the languages and ethnic groups found worldwide, grouped by host nation-state.
  • Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History - Over 160,000 objects from Pacific, North American, African, Asian ethnographic collections with images and detailed description, linked to the original catalogue pages, field notebooks, and photographs are available online.
  • National Museum of Ethnology - Osaka
    Osaka
    is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe...

    , Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

  • Turkish Ethnology Source (in Turkish)

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