Primitive culture

Primitive culture

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In older 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...

 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. For instance, a culture that lacks a written language
Written language
A written language is the representation of a language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will instinctively learn or create spoken or gestural languages....

 might be considered less culturally sophisticated than cultures with writing systems; or a hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 society might be considered less "developed" than an industrial capitalist society.

The term was used by many Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 authors, such as anthropologists and historians to describe the indigenous cultures in their foreign colonies, and in distant uncolonized lands.

Describing a culture as "primitive" is considered by many to be offensive. Use of the term, especially in academic settings, has thus diminished. The indigenous
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....

 activist organisation Survival International
Survival International
Survival International is a human rights organisation formed in 1969 that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples and uncontacted peoples, seeking to help them to determine their own future. Their campaigns generally focus on tribal peoples' fight to keep their ancestral lands,...

 is campaigning for the complete abolition of the term. and have succeeded in persuading some newspapers to stop using it.

See also

  • Anarcho-primitivism
    Anarcho-primitivism
    Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation...

  • 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...

  • Ethnology
    Ethnology
    Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

  • Neolithic
    Neolithic
    The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

  • 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...

  • Paleolithic
    Paleolithic
    The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

  • Pierre Clastres
    Pierre Clastres
    Pierre Clastres, , was a French anthropologist and ethnographer. He is best known for his fieldwork among the Guayaki in Paraguay and his theory on stateless societies.-Theories:...

  • 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...

  • Primitive communism
    Primitive communism
    Primitive communism is a term used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to describe what they interpreted as early forms of communism: As a model, primitive communism is usually used to describe early hunter-gatherer societies, that had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation...

  • Shifting cultivation
    Shifting cultivation
    Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. This system often involves clearing of a piece of land followed by several years of wood harvesting or farming, until the soil loses fertility...

  • White man's burden
  • Zomia (geography)
    Zomia (geography)
    Zomia is a geographical term coined in 2002 by historian Willem van Schendel of the University of Amsterdam to refer to the huge massif of mainland Southeast Asia that has historically been beyond the control of governments based in the population centers of the lowlands...


Further reading

  • Stanley Diamond
    Stanley Diamond (anthropologist)
    Stanley Diamond was an American poet and anthropologist. As a young man, he identified as a poet, and his disdain for the fascism of the 1930s greatly influenced his thinking....

    , In Search of the Primitive, Transaction Publishers,U.S. 1987, ISBN 087855582X
  • Adam Kuper
    Adam Kuper
    Adam Kuper is an anthropologist most closely linked to the school of social anthropology. In his works, he often treats the notion of "culture" skeptically, focusing as much on how it is used as on what it means....

    , The Reinvention of Primitive Society. Transformations of a Myth , Taylor & Francis Ltd. 2005, ISBN 0415357616
  • Joseph Campbell
    Joseph Campbell
    Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

    , The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, Viking, 1959; reissued by Penguin, 1991 ISBN: 978-0140194432
  • Joseph Campbell, The Historical Atlas of World Mythology, vols. I and II, Harper and Row 1988, 1989.