The Universe In A Cultural Context By Gumerman And Warburton

1591 words - 6 pages

In the Essay written by Gumerman, George J. and Warburton, Miranda 'The Universe in a

Cultural Context: An Essay', in Fountain, John W. and Sinclair, Rolf M (eds.) Current

Studies in Archaeastronomy : Conversations Across Time and Space, Durham NC.; Carolina

Academic Press 2005 pp 15-24, the authors Gumerman and Warburton have presented a

paper promoting the value of Archaeoastronomical studies being integrated into the disciplines

of Archaeology and Anthropology and explore the failure to utilize the results of mutual research

to further advance the integration of the disciplines.

The authors discuss the difficulties encountered in the integration of archaeoastronomy into

archaeology and anthropological cultural studies and in particular, explore the notion of re

framing the questions asked by these disciplines of their data collection. The paper, by their

own admission, was aimed at the already converted so it would be difficult to disagree with

their premise but by the same token, the essay would carry more weight if it were to be

supported by examples of successes in the merging of these disciplines. The authors did

state, however, they had left out examples of archaeoastronomical contributions since further

reading of the volume would include them.

The authors introduce the concept of “culture as a system”----the interaction of detailed

subsystems. Is, indeed cosmology “writ large” [1] in our material records? From the text the

reader is invited to conclude that a defining example of how “culture as a system” works is the

October 4th celebration at Magdalena de Kino (Mexico/US border).

[1] Gumerman, George J. and Warburton, Miranda 'The Universe in a
Cultural Context: An Essay', in Fountain, John W. and Sinclair, Rolf M (eds.) Current
Studies in Archaeastronomy : Conversations Across Time and Space, Durham NC. ; Carolina
Academic Press 2005 pp 15-24

page 2 of 4

But surely it cannot be possible to place this event in an archaeoastronomical context when

those groups attending (with the exception of the pilgrims) do so for, possibly,social, financial

and similar mundane compulsions. The initial motivation for the festival’s establishment would be

lost as it diversified,so perhaps a study of the pilgrims’ compulsions might have some relevance

for placing this cultural event in context? Maybe in this way the Gumerman and Warburton

“ideological subsystem” can be integrated into the whole?

American Anthropologist and Folklorist Ruth Benedict has outlined in Patterns of Culture

a need for these questions to be asked in order to understand cultural processes

"If we are interested in cultural processes, the only way in which we can know the
significance of the selected details of behaviour is against...

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