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Cultural Materialism - Essay Example

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Cultural Materialism has been studied for many years which had brought understanding of different cultures of different races all over the world. The most famous study about cultural materialism is the one done by Marvin Harris which had then brought some follow up studies by different anthropologies…
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Download file to see previous pages "It is based on the simple premise that human social life is a response to the practical problems of earthly existence" (Harris, 1979). The writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are of great influence with this issue of cultural materialism but then it was somehow distinct from Marxist dialectical materialism or sometimes called historical materialism which talks about the notion that Marxism is a synthesis of philosophical dialectics and materialism, and also different from philosophical materialism. Works of Thomas Malthus had encouraged Harris to consider reproduction of equal importance.
The research strategy was also influenced by the work of earlier anthropologists including Edward Tylor and Lewis Henry Morgan who, in the 19th century, first proposed that cultures evolved from the less complex to the more complex over time. Leslie White and Julian Steward and their theories of cultural evolution and cultural ecology were instrumental in the reemergence of evolutionist theories of culture in the 20th century and Harris took inspiration from them in formulating cultural materialism. (Harris, Marvin. 2001 [1968]).
"Harris, Marvin, 1927-, An American anthropologist who was born in New York City. Graduated at Columbia with a degree of A.B on 1949; took his Ph.D. on 1953. A member of the faculty of Columbia from the years 1952 to 1981, he became the chairman of the anthropology department from 1963 to 1966. He then became a graduate research professor of anthropology at the University of Florida in Gainesville on the year 1981. Harris's major research has consisted of community studies in Latin America and ethnologies of Africa. He was very influential in the development of the theory of cultural materialism. He wrote Patterns of Race in the Americas (1964), The Rise of Anthropological Theory (1968), Cannibals and Kings (1977), America Now (1981), Cultural Materialism (1979), Good to Eat (1986), and Our Kind (1989)." (Slider Encyclopedia) Dr. Marvin Harris is considered to be a generalist with an interest in the global processes that account for human origins and the evolution of human cultures. Due to his interests in cultural anthropology, Dr. Harris assumed the role of an anthropological historian theoretician. His work with cultural materialism took him to the Islas de la Bahia, Brazil, Mozambique, Ecuador, India and East Harlem. Dr. Harris shared his knowledge of cultural anthropology with the world through the publication of 16 books. They include Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches and Cannibals and Kings. He also authored an introductory anthropology college textbook with multiple editions titled Culture, People, and Nature. Upon the completion of his previous publications, he composed a series of essays concerning modern human behavior based on our origins according to evolution which he has titled, Our Kind. Dr. Harris died in Gainesville, Florida on October 25, 2001 2001. (Students in an Introduction to Anthropology Class, 2001)
Cultural materialism is a systems theory of society that attempts to account for their: origin, maintenance and change. Cultural Materialism is based on two key assumptions about societies. First, the various parts of society are interrelated. When one part of society changes, other parts must also change. This means that an institution, such as the family cannot be looked at in isolation from the economic, political, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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