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The sociologists, in Febvre’s view, were “inclined towards reaction,” not content to settle “for the vain pleasure of seeing unfold a good theoretical debate.” Instead they redefined the debate on their own terms (.).“In place of Ratzel’s anthropogeography, they proposed to substitute a better defined science, and so they pretended, more rigorously demarcated […] [called] ‘social Morphology.’ Their attitude dictated that we take sides” (In taking a cue from Febvre, this paper examines Mauss’s polemical tactics more closely.
It may therefore be surprising that the polemic was concerned with the subject of technology, and that the concept of seasonality in the 19th century enjoyed a long association with physical or Knowing that SV had an important polemical dimension should invite audiences to read the essay with greater attention to its claims, and to be sensitive to Mauss’s techniques of marshalling evidence.
The social and material facts of the dramatic changes in the way of life of Inuit between winter and summer landscapes provide Mauss with his primary evidence.
Two of those trajectories—geography and anthropology—often co-exist uneasily in parallel worlds while trying to explain similar or overlapping phenomena.
In each discipline the relationship between human and physical worlds usually proceeds from different starting points and is predicated on different kinds of explanation.
In what follows, I want to reveal how Mauss employed a rhetorical strategy to pin down his opposition.
Febvre’s critique is to some extent forgotten today, so that SV is now associated with a socially determined conception of seasonality and more generally speaking, temporality.The tensions between geographical, sociological, and anthropological schools of thought were an important part of the intellectual ferment of early 20th century social science disciplines.Rival schools of thought would in the ensuing decades continue to compete for the authority to make pronouncements about methods of analysis of human-land relations (Buttimer 1971; Claval 1998; Livingstone 1992; Mercier 1995; Müller 1996).First the essay’s resonance entails identifying and explaining the reception of the text, a task for which other reseachers (., Saladin d’Anglure 2004) are far better equipped than I am.However the recovery of the meanings within the essay demands a second form of enquiry, a renewed study of the evidential context, which can be defined as the assumptions, strategies, and deployment of evidence which enable an essay to speak to audiences around the time of its publication.La cible première était Hans-Peder Steensby, disciple de Ratzel.En décrivant Steensby comme n’étant préoccupé exclusivement que de géographie physique, Mauss a réinterprété les données de celui-ci à l’intérieur de ses propres données contextuelles de morphologie sociale.Paying close attention to the historical context of the essay reveals strong evidence for an alternative reading: that it was written as a polemic against anthropogeographical theory from the school of Friedrich Ratzel.The prime target was Hans-Peder Steensby, an intellectual disciple of Ratzel.Abstract The famous “Seasonal Variations of the Eskimo” by Marcel Mauss has traditionally been understood as a text about the dominance of the social world in determining and imposing seasonal organisation on the physical world.Such interpretations of seasonality typically fail to take adequate account of contemporary European and North American debates about land and society.