Accepted Paper:

The borderline between humanity and animality: when categories are used as onthologies  

Author:

Sabrina Tonutti (University of Udine)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to reconsider the role played by the human/animal divide in our cultural context, and specifically the use of cultural categories and euristic tools (such as taxonomies and forms of systematization) as natural entities.

Paper long abstract:

The aim of this paper is to reconsider the role played by the human/animal divide in our cultural context, and specifically the use of cultural categories and euristic tools (such as taxonomies and forms of systematization) as natural entities.

This shift from the level of contingency to one of necessity is central in the anthropological discourse about the relationship between nature and culture, humans and (other) animals.

A topic which will be discussed is the use of the term "culture" in the anthropological tradition (from Boas onwards) as a key concept leading to the divorce of culture from nature and of humankind from animal kind.

As a result of this approach, the study of culture has become a deterministic form of "culturology", opposed to any possible contamination with naturalistic views and perspectives on humanity.

The human body, the phylogenetic evolution of humankind and its kinship with other primates, the strict relationship between "innate" and knowledge acquired through experience, and the presence of culture in other animals are some of the subjects which fall beyond the discipline boundaries. These issues and the implications of the reluctance to take them into account within the anthropological field will also be addressed.

Panel W075
The fall of cultural man: some proposals for an anthropology less cultural and more natural