January 18, 2013
British Anthropological Studies of Folklore
Reported by: Niña L. Azumbrado
Folklore and Anthropology
Anthropologists view folklore as a means to understand the views of a culture. So, folklore is a key to understand the creative force within small groups of societies.
Cultural anthropology is the study of the artifacts of a society. It takes into consideration forms of artwork, dance, music, liturgy and even business techniques to form an accurate picture of a society. Folklore is the data that anthropology works with, the specific manifestations of the elements listed above. While folklore is the data, anthropology is the method of working and synthesizing the data. Therefore, folklore and anthropology are very similar, but adopt two different points of view.
Sir James Frazer defined the relationship between anthropology and folklore:
"Thus the sphere of Social Anthropology as I understand it, or at least as I propose to treat it, is limited to the crude beginnings, the rudimentary development of human society .... The study might accordingly be described as the embryology of human thought and institutions, or, to be more precise, as that enquiry which seeks to ascertain, first, the beliefs and customs of savages, and, second, the relics of these beliefs and customs which have survived like fossils among peoples of higher culture ....(161) The one department may be called the study of savagery, the other the study of folklore." (1908: 167)
Bernard McGrane wrote:
Anthropology has been an extremely subtle and spiritual kind of cognitive imperialism, a power-based monologue, a monologue about alien cultures rather than, and in active avoidance of, a dialogue with them... Anthropology is interested in the Other and at the same time remains altogether alien to the Other; in the best of cases anthropology speaks well of the Other, but with very few exceptions anthropology does not speak to the Other and it is as...
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