Ill Met in Ghana: Jack Goody and Norbert Elias on Process and Progress in Africa

Katie/K Liston, Stephen/S Mennell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, Sir Jack Goody has published a series of essays (2002, 2003,2004, 2006: 154–79) criticizing Norbert Elias’s theory of ‘civilizing processes’.In all of them, Goody – himself a West African specialist – makes clear thathis disagreement with Elias dates back to their acquaintance in Ghana. Thedate is highly significant for it is unlikely that Goody’s opinions of Elias’sideas were initially formed by his reading of Elias’s publications. There werealso important differences between them in their approaches to theories oflong-term social development. Despite appearances to the contrary, Eliasand Goody have in fact much in common intellectually. Goody is one of themost historically orientated of anthropologists, and many points of contactwith Elias are evident in his work on literacy (1968, 1987), food (1982), orThe Domestication of the Savage Mind (1977). Both swam against theahistorical current of their respective disciplines and both rejected the oldnotion of ‘progress’. Elias’s fault is that occasionally his formulations mayappear to give the opposite impression. Goody’s fault, perhaps, is that – inspite of his own historical perspective – under any model of a structuredprocess he suspects there lurks a vision of progress and of Europeansuperiority.
LanguageEnglish
Pages52-70
JournalTheory, Culture and Society
Volume26
Issue number7-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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Ghana
social development
literacy
food

Keywords

  • Key words
  • civilization ■ Norbert Elias ■ Jack Goody ■ Naturvolk ■ progress

Cite this

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title = "Ill Met in Ghana: Jack Goody and Norbert Elias on Process and Progress in Africa",
abstract = "In recent years, Sir Jack Goody has published a series of essays (2002, 2003,2004, 2006: 154–79) criticizing Norbert Elias’s theory of ‘civilizing processes’.In all of them, Goody – himself a West African specialist – makes clear thathis disagreement with Elias dates back to their acquaintance in Ghana. Thedate is highly significant for it is unlikely that Goody’s opinions of Elias’sideas were initially formed by his reading of Elias’s publications. There werealso important differences between them in their approaches to theories oflong-term social development. Despite appearances to the contrary, Eliasand Goody have in fact much in common intellectually. Goody is one of themost historically orientated of anthropologists, and many points of contactwith Elias are evident in his work on literacy (1968, 1987), food (1982), orThe Domestication of the Savage Mind (1977). Both swam against theahistorical current of their respective disciplines and both rejected the oldnotion of ‘progress’. Elias’s fault is that occasionally his formulations mayappear to give the opposite impression. Goody’s fault, perhaps, is that – inspite of his own historical perspective – under any model of a structuredprocess he suspects there lurks a vision of progress and of Europeansuperiority.",
keywords = "Key words, civilization ■ Norbert Elias ■ Jack Goody ■ Naturvolk ■ progress",
author = "Katie/K Liston and Stephen/S Mennell",
note = "Reference text: Berenson, Bernard (1953) Seeing and Knowing. London: Chapman & Hall. Duerr, Hans Peter (1988) Nacktheit und Scham (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsproze{\ss}e, Vol. I). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (1990) Intimit{\"a}t (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsproze{\ss}e, Vol. II). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (1993) Obsz{\"o}nit{\"a}t und Gewalt (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsproze{\ss}e, Vol. III). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (1997) Der erotische Leib (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsproze{\ss}e, Vol. IV). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (2002) Die Tatsachen des Lebens (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsproze{\ss}e, Vol. V). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Elias, Norbert (1978) What Is Sociology? London: Hutchinson [forthcoming as Collected Works, Vol. 5]. Elias, Norbert (1991) The Symbol Theory. London: SAGE [forthcoming as Collected Works, Vol. 13]. Elias, Norbert (1994) Reflections on a Life. Cambridge: Polity Press [forthcoming in Autobiographical Essays and Interviews, Collected Works, Vol. 17]. Elias, Norbert (1996) The Germans. Cambridge: Polity Press. Elias, Norbert (2000) The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations, rev edn. Oxford: Blackwell. Elias, Norbert (2006a) Early Writings [Collected Works, Vol. 1]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2006b) The Court Society [Collected Works, Vol. 2]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2007a [1987]) Involvement and Detachment [Collected Works, Vol. 8]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2007b [1992]) An Essay on Time [Collected Works, Vol. 9]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2008 [1988]) ‘What I Mean by Civilization: Reply to Hans-Peter Duerr’, in Essays on Civilizing Processes, State Formation and National Identity [Collected Works, Vol. 15]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009a [1986]) ‘On Nature’, in Essays I: On the Sociology of Knowledge and the Sciences [Collected Works, Vol. 14]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009b) ‘African Art: Introduction to the Catalogue of the Exhibition of Items from the Collection of Professor Norbert Elias, 24 April–14 June 1970 at the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities [Collected Works, Vol. 16]. Dublin: UCD Press. 68 Theory, Culture & Society 26(7–8) Downloaded from http://tcs.sagepub.com at University of Ulster Library on March 2, 2010 Elias, Norbert (2009c) ‘Stages of African Art, Social and Visual’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities [Collected Works, Vol. 16]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009d [1986]) ‘The Retreat of Sociologists into the Present’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities [Collected Works, Vol. 16]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009e) Essays I: On the Sociology of Knowledge and the Sciences [Collected Works, Vol. 14]. Dublin: UCD Press. Giddens, Anthony (1984) The Constitution of Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. Gombrich, E.H. (1962) Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. London: Phaidon. Goody, Jack (ed.) (1968) Literacy in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (1977) The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (1982) Cooking, Cuisine and Class. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (1987) The Interface between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (2002) ‘Elias and the Anthropological Tradition’, Anthropological Theory 2: 401–12 Goody, Jack (2003) ‘The “Civilizing Process” in Ghana’, Archives europ{\'e}ennes de sociologie 44(1): 61–73. Goody, Jack (2004) ‘Elias et la tradition anthropologique’, in Sophie Chevalier and Jean-Marie Privat (eds) Norbert Elias et l’anthropologie: ‘Nous sommes tous si {\'e}tranges . . .’. Paris: CNRS Editions. Goody, Jack (2004) ‘From Explanation to Interpretation in Social Anthropology’, in John Cornwell (ed.) Explanations: Styles of Explanation in Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Goody, Jack (2006) The Theft of History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goudsblom, Johan (1980) ‘Zum Hintergrund der Zivilisationstheorie von Norbert Elias: ihr Verh{\"a}ltnis zu Huizinga, Weber und Freud’, in P.R. Gleichmann, J. Goudsblom and H. Korte (eds) Macht und Zivilisation: Materialien zu Norbert Elias’ Zivilisationstheorie 2. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Goudsblom, Johan (1989) ‘Stijlen en beschaving’, De Gids 152: 720–22. Goudsblom, Johan and Stephen Mennell (1997) ‘Civilizing Processes – Myth or Reality?’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 39(4): 727–31. Harris, Marvin (1968) The Rise of Anthropological Theory. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Headland, Thomas N., Kenneth L. Pike and Marvin Harris (eds) (1990) Emics and Etics: The Insider/Outsider Debate. London: SAGE. Huizinga, Johan (1955 [1924]) The Waning of the Middle Ages. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Kempers, Bram (1992) Painting, Power and Patronage. London: Allen Lane. Kluckhohn, Clyde and Henry A. Murray (1948) Personality in Nature, Society and Culture. New York: A.A. Knopf. Liston & Mennell – Ill Met in Ghana 69 Downloaded from http://tcs.sagepub.com at University of Ulster Library on March 2, 2010 L{\'e}vi-Strauss, Claude (1978) The Origin of Table Manners. London: Jonathan Cape. Mandrou, Robert (1975) Introduction to Modern France, 1500–1600. London: Arnold. Mennell, Stephen (1996) ‘Asia and Europe: Comparing Civilizing Processes’, in Johan Goudsblom, Eric Jones and Stephen Mennell (eds) The Course of Human History: Economic Growth, Social Process and Civilization. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Mennell, Stephen (1998 [1989]) Norbert Elias: An Introduction. Dublin: UCD Press. Mennell, Stephen (2006) ‘Elias and the Counter-ego’, History of the Human Sciences 19(2): 73–91. Mennell, Stephen (2007) The American Civilizing Process. Cambridge: Polity Press. Weber, Alfred (1935) Kulturgeschichte als Kultursoziologie. Munich: Piper. Weber, Alfred (1998 [1921]) ‘Fundamentals of Culture-Sociology: Social Process, Civilizational Process and Culture-Movement’, in John Rundell and Stephen Mennell (eds) Classical Readings in Culture and Civilization. London: Routledge. Wouters, Cas (2004) Sex and Manners: Female Emancipation in the West, 1890–2000. London: SAGE. Wouters, Cas (2007) Informalization: Manners and Emotions since 1890. London: Sage",
year = "2009",
doi = "10.1177/0263276409348085",
language = "English",
volume = "26",
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}

Ill Met in Ghana: Jack Goody and Norbert Elias on Process and Progress in Africa. / Liston, Katie/K; Mennell, Stephen/S.

In: Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 26, No. 7-8, 2009, p. 52-70.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Ill Met in Ghana: Jack Goody and Norbert Elias on Process and Progress in Africa

AU - Liston, Katie/K

AU - Mennell, Stephen/S

N1 - Reference text: Berenson, Bernard (1953) Seeing and Knowing. London: Chapman & Hall. Duerr, Hans Peter (1988) Nacktheit und Scham (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeße, Vol. I). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (1990) Intimität (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeße, Vol. II). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (1993) Obszönität und Gewalt (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeße, Vol. III). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (1997) Der erotische Leib (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeße, Vol. IV). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Duerr, Hans Peter (2002) Die Tatsachen des Lebens (Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeße, Vol. V). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Elias, Norbert (1978) What Is Sociology? London: Hutchinson [forthcoming as Collected Works, Vol. 5]. Elias, Norbert (1991) The Symbol Theory. London: SAGE [forthcoming as Collected Works, Vol. 13]. Elias, Norbert (1994) Reflections on a Life. Cambridge: Polity Press [forthcoming in Autobiographical Essays and Interviews, Collected Works, Vol. 17]. Elias, Norbert (1996) The Germans. Cambridge: Polity Press. Elias, Norbert (2000) The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations, rev edn. Oxford: Blackwell. Elias, Norbert (2006a) Early Writings [Collected Works, Vol. 1]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2006b) The Court Society [Collected Works, Vol. 2]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2007a [1987]) Involvement and Detachment [Collected Works, Vol. 8]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2007b [1992]) An Essay on Time [Collected Works, Vol. 9]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2008 [1988]) ‘What I Mean by Civilization: Reply to Hans-Peter Duerr’, in Essays on Civilizing Processes, State Formation and National Identity [Collected Works, Vol. 15]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009a [1986]) ‘On Nature’, in Essays I: On the Sociology of Knowledge and the Sciences [Collected Works, Vol. 14]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009b) ‘African Art: Introduction to the Catalogue of the Exhibition of Items from the Collection of Professor Norbert Elias, 24 April–14 June 1970 at the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities [Collected Works, Vol. 16]. Dublin: UCD Press. 68 Theory, Culture & Society 26(7–8) Downloaded from http://tcs.sagepub.com at University of Ulster Library on March 2, 2010 Elias, Norbert (2009c) ‘Stages of African Art, Social and Visual’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities [Collected Works, Vol. 16]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009d [1986]) ‘The Retreat of Sociologists into the Present’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities [Collected Works, Vol. 16]. Dublin: UCD Press. Elias, Norbert (2009e) Essays I: On the Sociology of Knowledge and the Sciences [Collected Works, Vol. 14]. Dublin: UCD Press. Giddens, Anthony (1984) The Constitution of Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. Gombrich, E.H. (1962) Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. London: Phaidon. Goody, Jack (ed.) (1968) Literacy in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (1977) The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (1982) Cooking, Cuisine and Class. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (1987) The Interface between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack (2002) ‘Elias and the Anthropological Tradition’, Anthropological Theory 2: 401–12 Goody, Jack (2003) ‘The “Civilizing Process” in Ghana’, Archives européennes de sociologie 44(1): 61–73. Goody, Jack (2004) ‘Elias et la tradition anthropologique’, in Sophie Chevalier and Jean-Marie Privat (eds) Norbert Elias et l’anthropologie: ‘Nous sommes tous si étranges . . .’. Paris: CNRS Editions. Goody, Jack (2004) ‘From Explanation to Interpretation in Social Anthropology’, in John Cornwell (ed.) Explanations: Styles of Explanation in Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Goody, Jack (2006) The Theft of History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goudsblom, Johan (1980) ‘Zum Hintergrund der Zivilisationstheorie von Norbert Elias: ihr Verhältnis zu Huizinga, Weber und Freud’, in P.R. Gleichmann, J. Goudsblom and H. Korte (eds) Macht und Zivilisation: Materialien zu Norbert Elias’ Zivilisationstheorie 2. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Goudsblom, Johan (1989) ‘Stijlen en beschaving’, De Gids 152: 720–22. Goudsblom, Johan and Stephen Mennell (1997) ‘Civilizing Processes – Myth or Reality?’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 39(4): 727–31. Harris, Marvin (1968) The Rise of Anthropological Theory. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Headland, Thomas N., Kenneth L. Pike and Marvin Harris (eds) (1990) Emics and Etics: The Insider/Outsider Debate. London: SAGE. Huizinga, Johan (1955 [1924]) The Waning of the Middle Ages. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Kempers, Bram (1992) Painting, Power and Patronage. London: Allen Lane. Kluckhohn, Clyde and Henry A. Murray (1948) Personality in Nature, Society and Culture. New York: A.A. Knopf. Liston & Mennell – Ill Met in Ghana 69 Downloaded from http://tcs.sagepub.com at University of Ulster Library on March 2, 2010 Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1978) The Origin of Table Manners. London: Jonathan Cape. Mandrou, Robert (1975) Introduction to Modern France, 1500–1600. London: Arnold. Mennell, Stephen (1996) ‘Asia and Europe: Comparing Civilizing Processes’, in Johan Goudsblom, Eric Jones and Stephen Mennell (eds) The Course of Human History: Economic Growth, Social Process and Civilization. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Mennell, Stephen (1998 [1989]) Norbert Elias: An Introduction. Dublin: UCD Press. Mennell, Stephen (2006) ‘Elias and the Counter-ego’, History of the Human Sciences 19(2): 73–91. Mennell, Stephen (2007) The American Civilizing Process. Cambridge: Polity Press. Weber, Alfred (1935) Kulturgeschichte als Kultursoziologie. Munich: Piper. Weber, Alfred (1998 [1921]) ‘Fundamentals of Culture-Sociology: Social Process, Civilizational Process and Culture-Movement’, in John Rundell and Stephen Mennell (eds) Classical Readings in Culture and Civilization. London: Routledge. Wouters, Cas (2004) Sex and Manners: Female Emancipation in the West, 1890–2000. London: SAGE. Wouters, Cas (2007) Informalization: Manners and Emotions since 1890. London: Sage

PY - 2009

Y1 - 2009

N2 - In recent years, Sir Jack Goody has published a series of essays (2002, 2003,2004, 2006: 154–79) criticizing Norbert Elias’s theory of ‘civilizing processes’.In all of them, Goody – himself a West African specialist – makes clear thathis disagreement with Elias dates back to their acquaintance in Ghana. Thedate is highly significant for it is unlikely that Goody’s opinions of Elias’sideas were initially formed by his reading of Elias’s publications. There werealso important differences between them in their approaches to theories oflong-term social development. Despite appearances to the contrary, Eliasand Goody have in fact much in common intellectually. Goody is one of themost historically orientated of anthropologists, and many points of contactwith Elias are evident in his work on literacy (1968, 1987), food (1982), orThe Domestication of the Savage Mind (1977). Both swam against theahistorical current of their respective disciplines and both rejected the oldnotion of ‘progress’. Elias’s fault is that occasionally his formulations mayappear to give the opposite impression. Goody’s fault, perhaps, is that – inspite of his own historical perspective – under any model of a structuredprocess he suspects there lurks a vision of progress and of Europeansuperiority.

AB - In recent years, Sir Jack Goody has published a series of essays (2002, 2003,2004, 2006: 154–79) criticizing Norbert Elias’s theory of ‘civilizing processes’.In all of them, Goody – himself a West African specialist – makes clear thathis disagreement with Elias dates back to their acquaintance in Ghana. Thedate is highly significant for it is unlikely that Goody’s opinions of Elias’sideas were initially formed by his reading of Elias’s publications. There werealso important differences between them in their approaches to theories oflong-term social development. Despite appearances to the contrary, Eliasand Goody have in fact much in common intellectually. Goody is one of themost historically orientated of anthropologists, and many points of contactwith Elias are evident in his work on literacy (1968, 1987), food (1982), orThe Domestication of the Savage Mind (1977). Both swam against theahistorical current of their respective disciplines and both rejected the oldnotion of ‘progress’. Elias’s fault is that occasionally his formulations mayappear to give the opposite impression. Goody’s fault, perhaps, is that – inspite of his own historical perspective – under any model of a structuredprocess he suspects there lurks a vision of progress and of Europeansuperiority.

KW - Key words

KW - civilization ■ Norbert Elias ■ Jack Goody ■ Naturvolk ■ progress

U2 - 10.1177/0263276409348085

DO - 10.1177/0263276409348085

M3 - Article

VL - 26

SP - 52

EP - 70

JO - Theory, Culture and Society

T2 - Theory, Culture and Society

JF - Theory, Culture and Society

SN - 0263-2764

IS - 7-8

ER -