Human Relations and Social Developments
CHAPTER 9: Architectural Anthropology as a Practical Methodology, HUMAN RELATIONS AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTS: Anthropological Thoughts on Social Dynamics, eds. Masao Nishimura, pp.152-173.
Paperback: 385 pages
Publisher: New Day Publishers (2014)
From the 1960s to the 1970s, as postcolonialism constructed a new paradigm, anthropology experienced the exhaustion of its paradigm. Those who took up the study of anthropology in the 1980s and onward, when anthropology had already lost its status as the standard-bearer of modern science, immediately came into contact with descriptions of “a crisis in anthropology” and “a crisis in ethnographic writing.” To plainly summarize the criticisms of anthropology, they were directed at its jargon-filled, patternized talk regarding “others,” and the fact that cross-cultural comparisons shaped both the hypotheses it explicated through ethnographies and its general theories. Following this, anthropology tended toward efforts to depict in detail the inner structures of individual cultures through ethnographic research, taking on themes related to sightseeing, development, women, nationalism, identity, disaster, refugees, and immigrants. In the midst of this process, the borders between anthropology and fields such as economics, political science, philosophy, linguistics, and cultural studies began to blur, and anthropology came under all sorts of scholarly criticisms and influences. Hereafter, anthropologists from other regions besides the West got involved, and various experiments were performed to bail anthropology out of its crisis. The anthropological fieldwork of today is not the traditional concept of neutrality and objectivity. Anthropologists directly approach the issue of mutual interaction between self and the target society, with one’s intent and position made clear when the target society is confronted. This attitude leading to reconstruction of anthropological practices continues until date.
Architectural anthropology attempts to understand culture through collaboration between anthropologists and others in the unremitting architectural practices of “reading,” “presenting,” and “making.” The “visualized image” framework is the method of mutual understanding between anthropologists and others as well as the resulting outcome with society, through architecture in the broad sense of the term. Architectural anthropology is an experiment of building a new framework of anthropology itself, rather than building new ethnographic practices within the framework of anthropology. This essay comprises three parts. The first outlines the current state of cultural anthropology and compiles some of the issues faced by anthropologists today. The second examines how architecture has been handled in cultural anthropology until now, and the third defines architecture in a broader sense, with regard to methods of anthropological practice, and considers a new framework of “understanding others” by focusing on cooperation between anthropologists and others with regard to architectural practices.