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Lecture 2

ANTA02H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Moral Relativism, Clifford Geertz, World Politics


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTA02H3
Professor
Bianca Dahl
Lecture
2

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ANTA02 Lecture 2 What’s Culture Got to Do with It?
January 9, 2017
PART 1: EXPLORING CULTURE
What is your Favourite part of your Culture?
Traditions celebrated (i.e., holidays)
Foods
Dancing
Weddings
Writing system (i.e., characters instead of words)
Stories/Folk Lords
Music
Definition: national shared identified, stereotypical notions of certain cultures,
Basic Building Blocks … So What is Culture Anyways?
Englightment movement more towards rational thought and science
Culture - Concept that promoted well educated accomplished most successful evolved humans
and other cultures were seen as less advanced and evolved compared to the Europeans
The initial concept of culture was racist
1 idea: culture as rationality, creativity, higher order thought
o “High culture”
o (Like opera) events that cultural that evolve the arts that are seen as above popular
culture (most people don’t listen to opera)
Another idea: cultural objects, food, dress we think of culture as objects culture as an
essential thing that makes something special, the things you eat or dress in weddings or special
occasions
Think about cultural days at schools (dress up in stereotypical outfit and bring food)
Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a
member of society. Tylor 1958
Speaking only mentioned ‘men’ did not include ‘women’; divides culture into these domains of
social life
Landry list things you can check off
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Culture is seen as civilization which is a problematic term, civilization implies a culture as a
continuum as least to most civilized
Based line of early anthropology problematic b/c doesn’t include everyday life
“…an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited
conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop
their knowledge about and attitudes toward life. Clifford Geertz 1973
Culture as a resource that is continuous changes not static & fixed
Culture is past on through generation but it is more dynamic
Symbolic and mental aspects of culture (the meaning of culture, communicated meaningful)
Problem: talks about stuff just in your mind doesn’t include what you do (how you organized
your daily life)
The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use
to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation
through learning. Bates & Plog 1990
Intergenerational transmitted
Doesn’t emphasis how culture is constantly changing (i.e., technology has changed the way we
communicated)
The Nacirema:
“The purpose of these ministrations is to arrest decay and draw friends” (Miner 1956:505)
tribe located in north American, they see mouth as holyness, they have special mouth doctors,
special rooms devoted to the mouth
So, Who Are the Nacirema?
the point of the essay was to exorcise the American lifestyle
they use language to exorcise our own culture and describe It in dramatic reading.
American (spelled backwards):
SATIRE (making fun of anthropology)
o When we learn about others lifestyles, it seems very strange
o Some anthro were emphasis the differences, which wasn’t fair
o He says anthropology emphasis otherness
o Having clean teeth is considered wealthy and attractness
Quasi-serious academic account
Written in thick “anthropologese”
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o Talking about things we do in our daily life, but described in in dramatic terms (i.e., we
spend a lot of time in the bathroom, brushing teeth, flossing, the more rich people have
more bathrooms)
While nothing in the article is untrue, it does not capture what experience is like
o Talk about the experience
2 purposes: reflect on North American cultural differences, and reflect on dangers of “othering”
too much
o north American are seen as norm or baseline what people in north American shouldn’t
be talked about
Ethnocentrism:
William Graham Sumner: Ethnocentrism is the often implicit idea that your culture or group or
lifestyle is the center of everything
o Assumption that our lifestyle is the best and the centre
o Assume that our culture is normal
Entails limited tolerance of other cultures good anthro should recognize our own bias of what
we think is right and good (recognize that you have reactions
Comic: why did the chicken cross the road? Two chicken are talking, the second chicken says you are on
the other side (someone is always on the other side); the chicken saying ‘you are on the other side’ views
the other as different and is showing enthnocentrism
Anthropology is a lot about critical thinking - asking what values, beliefs, behaviours, understandings of
the world are revealed by a cultural phenomenon.
Let’s try our hand at doing that!
Explaining World Politics with Ethnocentrism:
Trump is very ethnocentric!
Video: first TV campaign commercial Trump ran (Jan 2016)
Make America Great Again: What ethnocentric perspectives were expressed in this ad?
o He wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. assuming that all Muslims are
terrorist; he is lumping all Muslims are suspects because a few of them have acted out in
terrorism thus all of them should be ban
o An attitude of entitlement that U.S. can take oil
o American is entitled to whatever they want (American is the greatest country)
o Wants to build a wall to stop illegal Mexicans from entering the U.S
Back to the Nacirema:
How does Miner point out ethnocentrism in this essay?
o By exaggerating differences
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