Why an urban anthropology review?

11 mai 2013 Adrian Majuru Science and Culture

Knowing man
is the target and gist of anthropology
. This is totally different from
gathering precious knowledge about man, which happens at a different stage.
There is a difference in quality between someone’s knowledge about a specific
phenomenon and knowing a specific phenomenon. Knowledge implies understanding as well as having a certain perspective
on things.

Analysing the ongoing process of
human becoming in variable propitious or unpropitious geographical conditions, describing
and explaining pressure and human factors as well as human patterns, the way in
which human beings act and react when facing reality, tracking and looking into
the manifestation of various phenomena, knowing exactly the stages of a
process, how everything started and ended, extracting some representative
“moments” from the unfolding of these phenomena and, finally, presenting them
are just a few aims of the present project.

At national level, theoretical
contributions or theory-geared syntheses are scarce or even non-existent. One
can notice that there is a need for a primary or secondary type of synthesis.
These syntheses are like “bricks or steps” towards the knowledge of man.
However, as long as there is no project unanimously acknowledged, despite all
the efforts, sometimes remarkable, made to carry out research, these “bricks”
can only “pave” randomly one or more isolated avenues, separated from each
other and known by only a few. We should bear this in mind and react,
therefore, to the lack of coherence and consensus that underlies the impressive
expansion process of anthropology, which is felt as a real need today.

On the other hand, there is a
crucial need for syntheses about the coordinates of the Romanian urban space
that should be made both from a descriptive and prescriptive perspective. Their
aim is to highlight cultural parallelisms with Europe,
urban development resources, deficiencies which ought to be known and studied
with the purpose of surmounting them. Our editorial project endeavours to offer
solutions for economic and social (urban) regeneration, as well as for moral (individual
and collective) remodelling. In addition, such solutions may become active
factors in the process of changing (ever-growing) deficient mentalities characteristic
of all age groups (children, young people, adults and elderly persons). These
mentalities have emerged as a result of the brutal impact of the various
changes that have occurred in the past 20 years.

One of the most important specific
traits of genuine anthropological research is related to the origins of the
human condition, be it individual or collective. Studying anthropology means tracking
the evolution from that condition to this day, or up to a certain moment,
understanding what happened, foregrounding the meanings of human becoming and,
thus, being able to anticipate what is in store for us.

How do we acquire an anthropological
understanding and the access to anthropological significance? It is only in
this way that some may claim that they are anthropologists or that they deal
with anthropology. The more or less fine and sophisticated structure of the
causes and effects that are conducive to human diversity, to changes which
sometimes stand for evolution, is made up of both biological and cultural or
mixed factors which can be recognised only if one possesses knowledge that
crosses cultural boundaries.

Urban anthropology is deemed as a
sequence of general anthropology, dealing with groups of people or individuals
who live in urban conditions. The urbanisation process is an anthropological
process that is responsible for a significant change in the ongoing evolution
of our species.

Urban anthropology encompasses all
the changes brought about the shift from rural to urban and tracks the plunge
of the noble human adventure into urbanisation, industrialisation,
post-industrialisation and, ultimately, into a burgeoning information society. It
will go through a series of mutations over time perceived as small changes in
man’s condition.

Time and space have always been man’s great challenges.
Man has incessantly made painstaking efforts to master both time and space. There
is no telling about what he has done with the time he has saved or about what
he has gained from the fact that he spent an hour, instead of two, in order to
cover a certain distance. We would be wrong in saying that he has not done
anything, that he has wasted the time he has saved.  The urban anthropology review must be ready to
signal and foreshadow the problems that will occur in the urban space and also
to provide solutions to them. In other words, it must be future-oriented, yet
not without valuing the stages of the past through the symptoms of the present.


Adrian Majuru

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