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Lecture 31

ANTHR101 Lecture 31: Chapter 14 (Lecture and Textbook)

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Brent Hammer

Chapter 14- What Can Anthropology Tell Us About Social Inequality? - Inequality within nation-states may be constructed out of multiple categories arranged in different, and sometimes contradictory, hierarchies of stratification – 6 categories: o Gender - Race o Class - Ethnicity o Caste - Nationality o Contradictory as an individual could have high ranking in one, but low in another - Every one of these categories is a cultural invention designed to create boundaries around one or another imagined community - None of these categories maps onto permanent biological subdivisions within the human species, although members of societies that employ these categories often will invoke “nature” to shore up their legitimacy - Many of these are rooted in ancient history; some are more recent – products of colonialism and capitalism Inequality and Structural Violence in Haiti (Farmer) - Structural violence- violence that results from the way that political and economic forces structure risk for various forms of suffering within a population o Much takes the form of infectious and parasitic disease, but can also include other forms of extreme suffering such as hunger, torture, and rape o Circumscribes the spaces in which the poorest and least powerful members of Haitian society must live and subjects them to highly intensified risks of all kinds - State-supported political violence operating on inequalities of gender, social class, and race conspired to constrain agency and crystallize into the sharp, hard surfaces of individual suffering Gender - Early work in feminist anthropology seemed to suggest that male dominance was in fact universal o Ortner suggested that male dominance was rooted in a form of binary cultural thinking that opposed male to female; males were ranked higher than females because females were universally seen as “closer to nature” by virtue of the fact that they gave birth, nursed the young o Others showed that the roles of men and women within families, even the idea of what constituted a “family,” varied enormously, cross-culturally and historically - Attention to history led Leacock to argue that women’s subordination to men was not inevitable but rather was connected explicitly to Western capitalist colonization, the beginnings of private property ownership, and the emergence of the state - Strathern argued that the particular relations between males and females in society need to be recognized as just one example of gender symbolism o She defines gender as “those categorizations of persons, artifacts, events sequences, etc. which draw upon sexual imagery – upon the ways in which the distinctiveness of male and female characteristics make concrete people’s ideas about the nature of social relations” ▪ Helps make sense of the fact that in some societies gendered forms of inequality not only are applied to phenotypic males and females, but also may be used to structure relations between different categories of men and women (ex. Nicaraguan cochones vs. mainly men) - Colonizers constructed a “racial” divide between colonizer and colonized that ranked “white” colonial males above “non-white Indigenous” males – constructed them as less than fully male because they had been unable to defend their land and “their women” from more powerful white colonizers - Gender inequality – labelled as a human rights issue Theoretical Perspectives on Gender Inequality - Man the Hunter (50s) o Initially based on “male dominated” primates like baboons ▪ Hunting presumed to be a distinguishing feature of early hominins ▪ Models were based on the assumption that hunting is what drove us to be human o Males adapted to hunting/killing (aggressive) – they invent tools and weapons ▪ Therefore, men were the ones planning/organizing and communicating o Females remain at base camps, nurturing infants and waiting for males to return with meat from the hunt o Therefore, men seen as the key feature that drove our biological/cultural evolution o Critiques: ▪ Hunting has been overemphasized in its importance – masculine ideas associated with it therefore have been overemphasized as well • Gathering had a lot more importance than originally thought - Women the Gatherer (60s) o Women provide majority of diet; forage for self and young ▪ Women contributed 2-3x more food by weight than men • Hunting was high-risk with low possible returns; gathering was low-risk and was almost always successful ▪ Innovations like digging stick, basket, sling o Women did hunt and fish in some societies o Women did help in decision-making o Social bonding, learning, etc. were predominantly inspired by women – contrasts traditional idea (man the hunter) - Marxism and Conflict Theory (1840s) o Marx known for his economic work, political ideas and work in gender inequality ▪ Political economy of gender and its relationship to the maintenance of inequality and oppression of women o Division of labour in earlier societies – based on egalitarian ideas and reciprocity, not exploitation o Counters biological arguments with a social one for inequality o As production of wealth increased, private property emerged, then men became more important in the family – led to patrilineal descent and monogamous marriages (so that property/wealth will be passed on to the male’s children) ▪ Capitalism defined ▪ Capitalism has reduced the significance of family ▪ Start to see women being degraded – becoming slaves to men’s lust or mere instruments for breeding ▪ Women transformed from productive members of society to dependent on their husbands • Man’s role outside of the house gives him his status - Fredrich Engel’s (1884): The Origin of Family, Private Property, and the State o “The emergence of the concept of private property and its ownership by men, as well as the development of a monogamous family, led to the subordination and dependence of women on men” o Emergence of state societies, private property and ownership, etc. at this historical ti–eidea of nuclear family, important of patrilineage, and important of man to protect their wealth, status ▪ See the inequality between genders arise - Nature vs. Nurture (70s) o Nature – human behaviour is due to biological factors and evolution ▪ Recognizes 2 sexes that have evolved to form complementary but essential roles • Also essential to survival of the species ▪ Appropriate behaviours that are hardwired genetically and hormonally – gender roles are preprogrammed o Nurture – human behaviour is primarily due to enculturation ▪ Recognizes more than 2 sexes and a wide range of sexual practices o Sherry Ortner ▪ Women are identified with nature, men are identified with culture • Female is to male as nature is to culture ▪ Secondary status and subordination of women in society was almost accepted as a true universal - somehow that gender inequality is a naturally occurring/normal event ▪ Women and nature • Purity and pollution– based on the body • Reproduction – women are givers of life which places her closer to nature • Have thoughts (psyche) that place her closer to nature (ex. being quiet, peaceful, comforting) • Places their social role lower than most of the men’s ▪ Men and culture • Being different allows them to take up the products of culture • Have the time to make tools, weapons, shelters, etc. • Seen as distinctive and superior to natur– culture can transform or culturize nature (gives it its power over nature) ▪ Ortner thinks this thinking is not tr–erange of human potential should be open to women as it is to men Class - Classes are hierarchically arranged social groups defined on economic grounds - In Europe during the 19 century, class divisions changed their contours – an old ruling class had been displaced by a new one: feudal aristocrats had been replaced by bourgeois capitalists o The lowest level in European societies, rural peasants, were partially displaced as well with the appearance of the urban working class - Marx defines classes in terms of their members’ different relations to the means of production – as long as a particular set of unequal productive relations flourishes in a society, the classes defined by these unequal roles in the division of labour will also persist - Clientage- the institution linking individuals form upper and lower levels in a stratified society (Smith) o Relationship linking individuals, not groups o Party of superior status is the patron, and the party of inferior status is the client o Stratified societies united by links of clientage can be very stable – low-status clients believe their security depends on finding a high-status individual who can protect them - Membership is ascribed at birth, but unlike castes, classes are not closed and individual social mobility from one class into another is possible (Warner) Caste - A ranked group within a hierarchically stratified society that is closed, prohibiting individuals to move from one caste to another - Membership in a caste is ascribed at birth - Sexual and marital links across group boundaries are forbidden (endogamy) - Term caste is used outside India when they encounter one of two features: o Endogamous occupational groupings whose members are looked down on by other groups in the society o An endogamous ruling elite who set themselves above those they rule Caste in India - The term “caste” combines 2 distinct south Asian concepts: o Varna- the widespread Hindu notion that Indian society is ideally divided into priests, warriors, farmers, and merchants – 4 functional subdivisions analogous to the estates of medieval and early modern Europe ▪ More theoretical in nature o Existence of jati – localized, named, endogamous groups ▪ Are frequently occupations, but there is no universally agreed-upon way to group the many jatis within one another of the 4 varnas • Also distinguished in terms of the foods they eat ▪ Is the more significant term in most of the village settings ▪ All jatis are ranked on a scale from purest to most polluted • No direct correlation between the status of a jati on the scale of purity and pollution and the class status of members of that jati - In recent years, a number of low-caste groups in urban India have undertaken collective efforts to lift themselves off the bottom of society, either by imitating the ritual practices of higher caste or by converting to a non-Hindu religion (ex. Buddhism or Christianity) in which caste plays no role - Endogamy is enforced on the members of each ranked group – descent is crucial - Castification- a political process by which ethnic or other groups become part of a ranked social order of some kind, probably managed from the top, but which need not develop into a caste system Race - Concept of race developed in the context of European exploration, colonization, and conquest – established colonial political economies that were based on the premise of “terra nullius” (the idea that the land had not belonged to anyone before their arrival) o Colonialists didn’t consider the Indigenous people who were already living in these areas to be “people,” they concludeththat the land was “free” to live on - By the end of the 19 century, light-skinned Europeans had established colonial rule over large territories inhabited by darker-skinned peoples, marking the beginnings of a global racial order - Some European intellectuals at the time argued that the human species was subdivided in
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