Open Anthropology Cooperative
I like the three terms: 'Open', 'Anthropology' and 'Cooperative'. I think they are very important
First the term 'Open': I have been in the AnthroList for quite some time. Fairly boring. Most of them are teaching. Dealing with the established anthro-field. Some sort of school atmosphere. Vertical relation: teachers and students.
This is not my world. I think anthropology must be focussed on the human condition in a new and absolute sense to show where we come from and how we have oranised on this globe. Consequently
I have a rather critical attitude in regard to present anthropology. It can be seen as a set of Eurocentric historisms. Anthropologists are not awareof the fact that their domains have evolved along European history. The disciplines for instance. They apriori dissect foreign cultures into Euro-Western concepts. Religion, Philosophy, Art, Architecture, Social structure, Economy, Politics: we are all formed by Euro-Western history in this regard. Thus we must find entirely new types of questions. For instance: how about interpreting human culture as an evolution of aesthetic concepts? Maybe combined with territorial behavior? How was the human organization in space? Can we find out how humans organized their habitat? Was what we call religion very important because it was rooted in territorial behavior? etc. etc.
Consequently on must get prepared to enter into conflict with with conventional anthropology!
I am working for instance on the nestbuilding behaviour of the great apes. This is against the dominant anthro theories: man the toolmaker. Struggles on and on. I am also working on (traffic-) signs of apes and paleolithic sign systems. This does not exist in Anthro. I am also against archaeology, saying that it is a medieval historism. it has a coverup function. Cultural evolution happened with ephemeral materials. We must study ephemeral culture globally and systematically. This is much more important than durable bones, stones, metals, ceramics etc. etc. The hand was the first tool, binding and knotting were important techniques. Early humans had developed a very important thing: cyclic reproduction of ephemeral signs and so called 'tectiformes'. This must be reconstructed systematically, that is: ethno-pre-historically. In a temporal box of 20 Million years (constructive behaviour of great apes) it makes no sense to separate objects according to 100 years or 1000 years portions! We must put all sources together globally and then start to develop theoretical arguments. What was most importnt....?
We can go on and on in this methodological tohuwabohu of anthropology and the humanities. We know quite well that - in fact - early states were ruled by kings and pharaohs who were legitimated by central state temples and their deities. But we continue to speak of religion in Ancient Egypt, in Mesopotamia and even in the Ancient Testament, instead of politics, ot theocratic constitutions! We would then fairly quickly become aware that this system had evolved during neolithic times on the village level. The transition described in terms of religion as sequence from polytheism to monotheism would then have to be seen as transition from village monotheism to state monotheism, village monotheism being mainly aesthetic, state monotheism suddenly becoming planetary, later universalistic. What happened! Was there some sort of an Akhenaton syndrome which tore the aesthetic polarity apart and translated it into a new type of macrocosmic polarity of 'heaven and earth-harmony'? We would very quickly start to understand what was going on in these phases of early history: lots of fiction created! And that we are still involved in these powerful networks of fictions!
We would also realize that there is a problem of urban civilization and rural prehistory: there is no continuity. History was a verbalized system, it was focused on power, not on truth. And we still believe all that. We are not aware of the huge power step between the neolithic village system (which was great!) and the early extension of the neolithic system into the early states and their new system. In fact this transitional field created a value system of history and tradition, of urban centres and controlled rural surfaces, what we know today in the larger scale as 1st world and 3rd world.
In this framework anthropology becomes very important. Not as it is done today, but with its immanent potential to become a scientific term for what it in fact indicates: humans in their global totality. Is there something we can study in different ways so we can understand the human dimension in new frameworks beyond the conventional frameworks of different cultures, of high civilizations and primitive societies etc. etc....Are there, maybe, historical concepts which disturb our views, like for instance the 'PlatAristontotelistic analytic schism'? A schism which dissolved an earlier harmonious aestheticism? Some sort of a world in which all was considered from an aesthetico-harmonizing point of view (see Heraclitus as the last reprezentant of this world). And this broke down with the Greeks? Empirizm and spiritualism which lasted throughout to the Cartesian split and on until today? Was the spiritual concept originally aesthetic then, thus paired with material conditions? Do we have to find an anthropological fundamentalism in order to free our theories of the established historical fundamentalisms becoming inceasingly powerful and dangerous for our human condition?
I must probably tell now that I am also an outsider in the field of anthropology. I come from the anthropology of space (the german phenomenologist O F. Bollnow), the anthropology of construction (nestbuilding behaviour of the great apes, Yerkes 1939), the anthroplogy of architecture (earliest: Gottfried Semper 1866), anthropology of the vernacular house (Paul Oliver, Enc. of Vern. Arch. of the World). Anthropology of habitat and architecture, somehow.... This looks back to a revolt of the last 30 to 40 years, a revolt against conventional 'theories of architecture' of the art historians. A global movement!
Architecture is in fact a madhouse where since post medieval Renaissance times designers are considered as some sort of divine creators - omniscient - designing our houses, our cities, without in fact having studied their field, as for instance medecine did for several hundred years. They are just drawing and drawing and drawing (DESIGN!), relying in fact on the progress of increasing technical capacities of the technical industries.
Those who make the so called architectural theories, are the art historians. As their name tells us, in fact essentially Eurocentric historians of art, architecture being some sort of side phenomenon of art. In any case, simply based essentially on aesthetics. Evidently there could not be any more unscientific and highly subjectivistic basis for building our cities. Humans are not considered really. They figure in these design concepts only in regard to physical functions and metric dimensions. In other words, a total misfit. Our environmental life-space is dealt with 'theoretically' like a porcelain vase or like an oriental carpet, if it really comes to architecture, Vitruvius, the Roman specialist is the great theoretician.
Thus, it is a relatively new field which has developed from this ethnocentric calamity, the anthropology of constructive behaviour, of space, of the habitat, the anthropology of the house, of architecture, a fairly large and heterogeneous field. And a very promising field: because it avoids the Eurocentric disciplines and introduces the empirical perspective by dealing with materials, with construction and also with aesthetics as a combination of spiritual and material.
I myself studied 'semantic architecture' in Japan, in fact what the missionaries observed in far off traditional societies and called such objects 'fetish', 'idol' and the like in the framework of primitive religion. Note the implications of the 'value system'! As sources they are also related to what we know archaeologically as 'life trees' and in European folklore as 'maypole's and the like. In fact a global phenomenon.
In my studies they revealed as something highly complex and culturally important, in fact as territorial demarcations which must have been essential in the neolithic development of sedentary life. In addition they were important because they contributed a basic aesthetic principle as a model form, what might be called 'concidence of opposites', which at the same time has also philosophical implications (anthrop. of cognition, generality in heterogeneous forms, creating a harmonious world). Finally they are extremely important in the sense of local politics. They function as the archive of the village founder's local hegemony. The cyclic renewal rites of the ephemeral 'fetish (!) produce an elementary social hierarchy in the village.
Thus it created a distinctive order in the habitat which must have enabled larger clusters of agrarian villages to peacefully develop their sedentary capacities without mutual aggression, until civilisation superseded them with a larger centralized system of similar structure and brought them under control.
Finally I would like to say something in view of the term cooperation. Universities are all vertically organised, therefore tremendously conservative. It is very difficult to approach things as they appear to the independent researcher. See for instance the present american creationism versus Darwinism discussion. What is considered as creation story in the Ancient Testament was in fact - we have Babylonian texts - derived from rites of territorial foundations. What the history of cartography tells us very clearly, that space concepts were extremely limited, is neglected completely: the texts are translated in the macrocosmic context, a perspective which came up in the 14th century when corresponding instruments were available.
Thus, with some justification we can ask: is the world in a bad shape today because we widely support mistaken concepts about our role in this world? For myself, I am deeply convinced of this.
In other words: mutual cooperation becomes an important term.