Réponse du département Civilisation
Le problème vient du fait qu’il n’existe pas beaucoup de documents en français sur A.L. Kroeber et que ses œuvres ne sont pas traduites.
Si vous faites la recherche sur Internet avec le terme américain « stimulus diffusion
», vous obtenez des résultats très intéressants dont le résumé d’un article de « American anthropologist » :
"Kroeber, A. L. Stimulus Diffusion. American Anthropologist January-March, 1940 Vol. 42 (1):1-20.
In this article, Kroeber suggests that various types of diffusion transport cultural ‘goods’ between cultures. Among them, stimulus diffusion "…occurs in situations where a system or pattern as such encounters no resistance to its spread, but there are difficulties in regard to the transmission of the concrete content of the system." In simpler terms, a broad idea is subtly passed to another culture, which in turn internalizes only pieces of the original idea, as it suits that culture.
To support his theory, that stimulus diffusion even exists, Kroeber lists a slew of relationships between certain cultures. The results range from profound to commonplace in terms of the receiving end’s cultural impact. His first example puts stimulus diffusion in the simplest terms, which provides the reader with a firm foundation to build on as Kroeber explores the subject. Kroeber refers to Europe in the early eighteenth century. Europeans at that time were enthralled with Chinese porcelain. The goal was for Europeans to replicate porcelain with the available supplies. They adapted the technology to their standards and experimented with different materials, eventually attaining success in replicating porcelain. Kroeber’s point is that without the stimulus (concept of porcelain) provided by the Chinese, the Europeans would never have been motivated to create porcelain until much later, if at all.
A second example of stimulus diffusion comes from 1821. At that time, "…John Gist or Guest or Guess…" created a syllabary for the Cherokee language. John, although part white in blood, was never educated in reading and only encountered it later in life. He envied the advantages writing provided for the white man, and decided to create a written language for his people. He borrowed many characters from the English alphabet, but completely altered their original meaning. Essentially, he only used the characters, but attached sounds unique to his culture. The idea of creating a written language could have been inspired by the white man, which led John to create a completely original product. Stimulus diffusion inspired an invention, and the receiving culture adapted the idea to its own needs.
These first two examples clearly explain Kroeber’s idea of stimulus diffusion. The later examples focus on more distant cases in terms of geographical location. For instance, Kroeber suggests that Ancient Greece and India had subtle similarities in their art. His connections become somewhat shaky and leave the reader feeling a distinct margin for error. Kroeber admits that the theory does have its weakness. "I am fully aware that the principle of stimulus or idea diffusion can be abused. It could easily be invoked for wildly speculative leaps of historic fancy."
CLARITY RANKING: 5
CHRIS FARNSWORTH: Union College (Linda Cool)"
sur un site d’ archives anthropologiques
En France, vous pouvez vous procurer l’article entier à la Bibliothèque Nationale, qui possède l’intégralité de la revue
Par ailleurs, la BM de Lyon ne possède pas d’œuvre de cet auteur, mais vous pourrez en localiser un grand nombre dans le Sudoc
, qui vous donne les références pour les Bibliothèques universitaires.