Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

1.2: Holism in Anthropology

  • Page ID
    5564
  • [ "article:topic", "authorname:lumen" ]

    Holism is the perspective on the human condition that assumes that mind, body, individuals, society, and the environment interpenetrate, and even define one another. In anthropology holism tries to integrate all that is known about human beings and their activities. From a holistic perspective, attempts to divide reality into mind and matter isolate and pin down certain aspects of a process that, by very nature, resists isolation and dissection. Holism holds great appeal for those who seek a theory of human nature that is rich enough to do justice to its complex subject matter.

    An easier understanding of holism is to say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Individual human organisms are not just x percent genes and y percent culture added together. Rather, human beings are what they are because of mutual shaping of genes and culture and experiences living in the world produces something new, something that cannot be reduced to the materials used to construct it. It is important to note that humans who grow and live together are inevitably shaped by shared cultural experiences and develop into a much different person than they would have if developing in isolation.

    Sally Engle Merry, an anthropologist, got a call from a radio show asking her to talk about a recent incident that happened in Pakistan that resulted in a gang rape of a young woman authorized by a local tribal council. She explained to them that it was an inexcusable act and that the rape was probably connected to local political struggles and class differences. This relates to holism because the gang rape was authorized by higher authorities because it is a cultural norm for socially higher class men to feel more empowered over women. This emphasizes the connection between human actions and their environment and society.

    References

    1. “African People & Culture – Ashanti”.
    2. “Japanese Hip Hop and the Globalization of Popular Culture” Ian Condry
    3. Southern California Quarterly “Cinco de Mayo’s First Seventy-Five Years in Alta California: From Spontaneous Behavior to Sedimented Memory, 1862 to 1937” Spring 2007 (see American observation of Cinco de Mayo started in California) accessed Oct 30, 2007
    4. “Health and Human Rights”, World Health Organization http://www.who.int/hhr/HHRETH_activities.pdf (pdf) Accessed June 2009
    5. “Discussion Group 10 Week 2- Marisa Mikelsons”
    6. Condry, Ian, 2001 “Japanese Hip-Hop and the Globalization of Popular Culture.” In Urban Life: Readings in the Anthropology of the City. George Gmelch and Walter Zenner, eds. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
    7. Democracy in Dakar, Nomadic Wax, 2008
    8. http://courses.wwu.edu/webapps/porta...82_1&frame=top
    9. Barton Wright Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. http://www.collectorsguide.com/fa/fa040.shtml
    10. Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology : A Perspective on the Human Condition. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 2009.pg.79.
    11. Philosophy Home, 2009. http://www.cultural-relativism.com/
    12. Zmago Šmitek and Božidar Jezernik, “The anthropological tradition in Slovenia.” In: Han F. Vermeulen and Arturo Alvarez Roldán, eds. Fieldwork and Footnotes: Studies in the History of European Anthropology. 1995.
    13. American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race”(May 17, 1998) http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm
    14. Peter L. Berger, Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective, Anchor, 1963, ISBN 0385065299
    15. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, Oxford University Press, 1961, ISBN 0195133730
    16. Louisa Lim, Painful Memories for China’s Footbinding Survivors http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=8966942
    17. James A. Crites Chinese Foot Binding, http://www.angelfire.com/ca/beekeeper/foot.html
    18. http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/cu...relativism.htm
    19. Justin Marozzi, The son of the Father of History, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/b...f-History.html
    20. Introduction to The Journey of Friar John of Pian de Carpine to the Court of Kuyuk Khan, 1245-1247, as translated by William Woodville Rockhill, 1900,http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad...s/carpini.html
    21. Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology A Perspective on the Human Condition. 7th ed. New York: Oxford UP.
    22. “RACE – The Power of an Illusion . What Is Race |.” PBS. 08 Mar. 2009 <http://www.pbs.org/race/001_WhatIsRa...01_00-home.htm>.
    23. Miller, Barabra. Cultural Anthropology. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.
    24. Lorber, Judith. “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A text and Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 617-30.
    25. Bourgois, Philippe. “Workaday World, Crack Economy.” The Nation (1995): 706-11.

    External Links

    • What is Anthropology? – Information from the American Anthropological Association
    • SLA– Society for Linguistic Anthropology
    1. ^ Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology : A Perspective on the Human Condition. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 2009.pg.79.
    2. ^ Schultz, Emily A., and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology : A Perspective on the Human Condition. New York: Oxford UP, Incorporated, 2009. pgs. 332-333