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Lecture 10

Textbook Notes for Lecture 10 - Ethnicity and Race

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Victor Barac

Notes From Reading for Lecture 10 CHAPTERS :5( PGS .138-163) AND 6.2,6.3 Lecture: Ethnicity and Race Chapter 5: The Cultural Construction of Identity Introduction - Our social identities are constructed by large part by others, who, by their behaviour toward us, confirm that we occupy the spot of the landscape we claim to occupy o Nobody is anybody except in relation to somebody Question 5.1: How is Identity, and One’s Sense of Self Learned? Learning Identities - Identity – Learned personal and social types of affiliation, including gender, sexuality race, class, nationalism, and ethnicity, for example Learning to Belong - Hugh Brody suggest that the Innuit baby begin to know that she is an important member of her family almost the moment she is born - Stories present people of all ages with ways of knowing about who thy are and where they come from - We are not born knowing who we are or what our places are on the social landscape; we learn to be Canadian, husbands, wives, etc. - Enculturation – The process through which individuals learn an identity. This can encompass parental socialization, the influence of peers, the mass media, government, or other forces - Imagined Community – A term coined by Benedict Anderson in 1983. It refers to the fact that even in the absence of face-to-face interactions, a sense of community (e.g., nationalism) is culturally constructed by forces such as the mass media o We often view our identities as natural, primordial or biologically based - Nature vs. Nurture – This phrase, coined by Grancis Galton in 1874, references a longstanding scholarly debate concerning whether or not human behaviours and identities are the result of nature (biological and genetic factors) or nurture (learned and cultural factors) Question 5.2: How does the Concept of Personhood Vary from Society to Society? The Importance of Self - Personal names in all societies are intimate markers of the person, differentiating individuals from others - Jorge Chimbinda, an anthropology student from Angola, wrote about Umbundu names o The most common way is to name a child after a relative who is either alive or dead (an ancestor) o A second way is to give a child a new name that refers to some unusual circumstances that was present during the child’s birth - From the Umbundu perspective, names are tools with which people reward the life they have received from their relatives and their world - Individualistic – A view of the self in which the individual is primarily responsible for his or her own actions - Holistic – When an individual’s sense of self cannot be conceived as existing separately from society or apart from his or her status or role The Egocentric and Sociocentric Self - Egocentric – A view of the self that defines each person as a replica of all humanity, as the location of motivations and drives, and as capable of acting independently from others Notes From Reading for Lecture 10 CHAPTERS :5( PGS.138-163) AND 6.2,6.3 - Sociocentric – A context-dependent view of the self. The self exists a an entity only within the concrete situations or roles occupied by the person - Many people’s sens of self is shaped by relationships and experiences with mediated technologies - In the egocentric view, typified in many ways by the Western view adopted by North American societies, each person is a replica of all humanity o For westerners, the individual is the centre of awareness, a distinct whole set again other wholes - With the dominant perspective of self, many people who were raised within Western, industrialized societies are inclined to view those afflicted with (ie. eating disorders), as suffering from an individual pathology - The sociocentric view of the self is context-dependent o The self exists as an entity only within the concrete situations or roles occupied by the person in much the same way that Tsimshian names are linked to a position in society and not to some autonomous, separate self Personhood in Japan and North America - Christie Kiefer explained that the Japanese are more likely to include within the boundaries of the self the social groups of which the person is a member - Japanese children are taught that interdependence between the person and the family or group is more important than independence - Robert Smith noted that the Japanese view of the self is expressed in their language o Since Japanese language is status based, people must be careful of the linguistic forms they use in conversations - They are attached to their personal names as North Americans are, if not more so - The autonomy of the individual is established away from society, where self-reflection and introspection are legitimate Question 5.3: How do Societies Distinguish Individuals from One Another? - Differences and similarities among persons are the material from which we construct our social landscapes o From these similarities and differences, we construct our social identities - Language is another important identify marker - Language is often tied strongly to a national identity and many countires have established institutions to oversee the “purity” of the national language - For example, the Québécois argue that Quebec identity is not based solely on language o The conflict between Anglophones and francophones in Canada has been ongoing since both arrived on North American shores o In 1841, the Act of Union joined the two societies together, but this as n uneasy union Question 5.4: How do Societies Mark Changes in Identity? - Many societies have particular ceremonies or rituals that mark a change in a person’s status or role in society The Transition to Adulthood - Rites of Passage – This term, coined in 1908 by Arnold Van Gennep, refers to rituals that accompany changes in status, such as the transition from boyhood to manhood, living to dead, or student to graduate - Three phases: separation, liminality, and reincorporation o First, the ritual separates the person from an existing identity o The person enters a transition phase Notes From Reading for Lecture 10 CHAPTERS :5( PGS .138-163) AND 6.2,6.3 o The changes are incorporated into a new identity - According to David Gilmore, one reason why so many societies incorporate tests of masculinity and tortuous initiation rituals for males is that the male identity is more problematic than the female identity - According to Victor Tuner, the manhood among the Ndembu of Zambia takes away the boys who have reached puberty, away from their mothers and out f the village into forests o Identities are taken away, where their heads are shaven, and they are circumcised o After their circumcisions heal, and the lessons are completed, the young men return to their village as new persons with new identities Question 5.5: How do Individuals Communicate Their Identities to One Another? - Consciously and unconsciously, we make statements about our identity with objects and material things o We use language, or the way we speak, to communicate our identities - Clothing can express class as well as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or religious affiliation - Sexual identification is an important identity marker, but there are other signals that people use to display their identity Rituals of Gift Giving and Hospitality - Principle of Reciprocity – According to Marcel Mauss, gift giving involves reciprocity. The idea is that the exchange of gifts creates a feeling of obligation, in that the gift must be repaid o If the gifts are roughly of equal value, the relationship is one of equality o But if the gifts are unequal in value, the person who gives the more valuable gift is generally of higher status than the receiver - Kula Ring – A system of inter-island gift exchanged documented by anthropologists Bronislaw Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands. It involves the change of shell necklaces and armbands. According to Malinowski, the kula ring serves, among other things, to create alliances and social ties among individuals living on different islands o Serves as a concrete representation of ties among individuals o Necklaces travel from island to island in a clockwise direction, whereas the armbands travel in a counterclockwise direction (takes 2-10 years for complete) - Potlatch – A celebration, usually involving elaborate feasting and the redistribution of gifts, found among many indigenous Northwest Coast groups, such as the Tsimshian. The potlatch is a means of creating a new identity or of reinforcing social status within a group o Serves to symbolically reorder and validate the names, and hence the social positions, of everyone at the feast through the distribution of gifts - Exchanges that convey recognition of identities need not be limited to material goods (may also consist of emotion and sentiment) Gifts and Commodities - The relationship between producer and the seller of goods was a personal one between relatives or fiends - The buyer knew who made and sold the objects purchased - Commodity – Traditionally, commodities are items that involve a transfer of value and a counter-transfer: A sells something to B, and the transaction is finished. A longstanding personal relationship between buyer and seller is not established. This is typical of capitalist market-exchange systems - We convert commodities into possessions and gifts through a process of appropriation o Ie. A person living in a form decorates and modifies it, giving it meaning Gift Giving and the Christian Celebration of Christmas in North America Notes From Reading for Lecture 10 C HAPTERS :5( PGS .138-163) AND 6.2,6.3 - The dilemma of converting commodities into gifts is especially acute during the Christian Christmas holiday season, when the most gift giving occurs in North America - Christmas as Christians know did not really emerge until the height of the Industrial Revolution - Christmas serves to affirm the identity of Christians all over the world as members of specific family groups, and the circle of kin with whom gifts are exchanged defines the boundaries of the family - It is within the family that the Christmas gift is most important - Ways consumers try to appropriate commodities into Christmas gifts: o We say, “it’s the thought that counts” o Purchase things that aren’t very useful, giving luxurious gifts, or itens that are Christmas specific o Christmas gifts must be wrapped - According to Carrier, Christmas shopping is an annual ritual through which we convert commodities into gifts Question 5.6: How Do People Form Identities Through Collective Struggles? - The formation of identity is a cultural process that involves the lived experiences and everyday practices of people The Meaning of “Indigenous” - Indigenous Peoples – Groups of people whose ancestors pre-date the arrival of European or other forms of colonialism, who share a culture and/or way of life that they often identify as distinct from “mainstream” society, and who often feel that they have a right to self-government - Indigenes are recognized because they live in some clearly identifiable way that maintains their own distinct culture, and that they have been living exactly the same way since they were encountered by the colonizers - Indigenes are defined by their relationship to the state, in which they are recognized as having different rights than other citizens Social Movements - As grassroots indigenous organizations formed, the state used part of its revenues generated from an oil boom to modernize the Ecuadorian c
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