History of Generative Anthropology

From Generative Anthropology

Theoretical Origins

Generative Anthropology primarily draws on the thought of two French theorists: René Girard and Jacques Derrida. Eric Gans, the founder of Generative Anthropology, was a student of René Girard and he first conceived of the Originary Scene as a revision of Girard's Scapegoating Mechanism. For Girard, the mimetic crisis that gives birth to humanity is resolved by the violence and catharsis of the killing of an innocent victim. For Gans, deferral (an anthropological grounding of Derrida's différance) is the origin of the human. Our ability to use language, or signs, is a uniquely human capacity that resolves potential conflict via the deferral of violence.

Development of Generative Anthropology

Gans first articulated the Originary Event in his 1981 book The Origin of Language: A Formal Theory of Representation.

The term Generative Anthropology was first used in Gans' 1985 book The End of Culture: Toward a Generative Anthropology.

Generative Anthropology Today

Eric Gans was an early adopter of the internet and in 1995 he founded the online journal Anthropoetics: The Journal of Generative Anthropology with Tom Bertonneau, Matt Schneider, and Richard van Oort. In addition to Anthropoetics, Gans has been continuously writing on his blog the Chronicles of Love and Resentment.

In 2005, Adam Katz started writing on the GA blog he would begin to develop an anthropomorphics that diverged from more traditional GA.