Diffusionist trend in cultural and anthropological knowledge...

Diffusionist trend in cultural-anthropological knowledge

Methodological foundations of diffusionism.

The term diffusion (from Latin diffusio distribution) with respect to the study of cultures denotes the spread of cultural phenomena through contacts between nations, such as commerce, resettlement, conquest. Diffusionists advanced the principle of geographical certainty when considering the question of the origin of specific cultural objects.

Another methodological premise is the principle of the spatial-temporal displacement of individual elements of culture or their complexes. If for evolutionism the main object of attention is the flow of cultural processes in time , then for diffusionism the most important are the spatial parameters of different cultures. At the heart of diffusionism is the theory of the spreading of culture from one center to other regions through wars and conquests, colonization, trade and migration, voluntary imitation, mutual recognition, etc. Many diffusionists developed the theory of cultural areas - distribution networks for individual elements of culture (cereals, money, writing, technology, etc.).

Within the framework of the theory of cultural centers , the spread of culture was portrayed as the dispersion of inventions from some "cradle of civilization". An organic analogy was developed: the life cycle of cultures is similar to the life cycles of the organism; so cultures are born, mature and die.

There are three main versions of the concept of diffusionism:

Invasionism (from Latin invasion - invasion ): all major changes in culture are caused by the invasion of migrants belonging to a higher level of cultural development;

theories of the cultural center , according to which from the common centers of civilization came a kind of "missionary elites", who are carriers and disseminators of culture;

theories of cultural circles (areas).

In Scandinavian countries, diffusionism is represented by a historical and geographical trend that aims to show the sequence of cultural development in time (the work of E. Nordenskiöd "Comparative Ethnographic Studies", 1919). In Germany, the predominant cultural and historical school (F. Grebner and W. Schmidt) and the anthropogeographic school (L. Frobenius) prevailed. In the USA, diffusionism existed under the name age-and-area (age/time and space), and also in the form of the theory of cultural areas (E.Sepir, M.Herskovits and others). In England, hyperdiffusionism developed (G. Eliot-Smith, U. Rivers), and also Panopaptism, which deduces the entire cultural development of mankind from Ancient Egypt (U. Perry).

F. Ratzel as the founder of diffusionism.

The professor of ethnography of the University of Munich F. Ratzel presented the concept of culture in multivolume studies: "Anthropogeography" (1882-1891), People's Studies (1885-1895), Earth and Life (1891).

Curriculum Vitae

The main subject of research Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904) - the geographical distribution of objects of material culture (as they called the researcher himself, ethnographic subjects), as well as the distribution of caravans - carriers of these objects. By education he was a geographer and the tasks that Ratzel set for himself were "ethnogeographical" character: "The geographic view (consideration of external conditions) and the historical explanation (consideration of development) must, therefore, go hand in hand" .

In evolutionists, cultural phenomena were viewed abstractly from the specific conditions of their emergence. In the theory of F. Ratzel, the question is raised about the phenomena of culture as signs of the connection of peoples. He made an attempt to draw a general picture of the distribution of mankind on Earth and the development of culture in connection with geographical conditions. For this, he explored the possible forms of the impact of the natural environment on both the inner life of the people and the development of their culture, and on the character of relations between peoples. As the fundamental factor of history, Ratzel considered the movements parodies. Social contacts: migrations of tribes, conquests, mixing of racial types, exchange, trade - are the main factor of spatial distribution of cultures.

According to F. Ratzel, every people of our time has a complex history of formation from various groups of the population that took place in different territories. In the Age of Enlightenment, the view was adopted that the "natural" man was in the extreme antiquity part of nature, but later separated from it.

F. Ratzel believed that "Naturvolk (natural, primitive people) is a people who are under the pressure of nature. He emphasizes that the concept of "wild peoples" "does not contain anything anthropological, nothing anatomical and physiological, but there is a purely ethnographic, cultural concept" . Elsewhere he writes: "The race itself has nothing to do with the cultural treasure" , thus declaring a clearly expressed anti-racist position.

F. Ratzel shows a complex interrelation between variability and stability in culture: the race mixes, the languages ​​change and disappear, the self-names of the peoples change, but in the sphere of culture there are also stable elements: cultural objects retain their form and the range of being. Two main ways of moving elements of culture: 1) complete and rapid transfer of the entire cultural complex; This option he called acculturation ; 2) the movement of individual ethnographic objects from one to another.

F. Ratzel formulates the basic law of anthropogeography: things are moved by people , through people. To denote the boundaries of the distribution space of cultures, Ratzel uses the concept of "cultural zone", or " cultural circle." He formulates the basic principles of diffusionism: the identification of the interaction of cultures; study their change by borrowing; the idea of ​​a geographical center (or centers) from which the development of mankind began; consideration of man as a secondary factor in the development of cultures as a simple bearer of ethnographic objects.

thematic pictures

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)