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Lecture 3

ANTA02H3 Lecture 3: Lecture 3.1


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTA02H3
Professor
Maggie Cummings
Lecture
3

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Lecture 3.1 Worldviews and the Cultural Construction of Reality
Cultures are shared learnings of behaviour
o Makes experience meaningful in a coherent way
Franz Boas
o How is culture shared and learned? What mechanisms do we use?
Key terms/names
o Worldview; ritual, rites of passage
o Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf
o “Adamic” view of language
o Metaphors we live by (Lakoff and Johnson)
o Domains of experience
o Time as objectified and spatialized
o Benjamin Franklin
o Protestant work ethic; Max Weber
o Ritual (secular versus religious)
o Rites of passage: segregation, transition, integration
o Liminality and communitas
Worldview
o An encompassing picture of reality based on a set of shared
assumptions about how the world works
o Multiple worldviews may coexist in a single culture, or a single
worldview may dominate
Shared cultural perceptions of reality what counts as real?
Similar to Boas’ definition of culture
Worldview is part of a culture
Establishes symbolic frameworks
Certain parts of life become more significant than others
Shapes how we react to life and the world around us
Different worldviews can coexist in a culture
In NA scientific, secular and religious worldviews
For azwaghs, islam is the way the see the world
The domain of eating and hunger first nations in Vancouver
island which domain is the strongest
Thinking about worldview: humans and weather
o Bima: rain is a gift from all-powerful Allah
o Dou Donggo: rain is part of the natural order of things, which can be
disrupted by mischievous spirits
Drought was understood differently by the two groups
Bima are muslim, declared a day of fasting a prayers, praised
Allah for rain, exhibited better behaviour for Allah to bring
them rain
Dou donggo: animalists, believe in spirits in trees, animals, etc
Weather is part of the natural order of things for them
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There must be something upsetting the natural order of
things for a drought
Drought indicated mischievious spirits that blocked the
rain from coming
Spirits were like humans but they were jealous that
they couldn’t be like humans
They made offers to the spirits with cigarettes, gum,
drinks, etc to make them less jealous and return their
rain
Both of these worldviews were reinforced by both group’s
practices and rituals
o North America?
Farmers store water to prepare for it
Irrigation for crops (technological advancements, genetically
modified seeds to resist drought)
Bring a rain coat, umbrella, boots
Depending on worldview, some may pray for little rain
We usually use science to explain the weather (meteorologists)
o Azawagh Arabs?
Rain, wind, sun all gifts from Allah
Everything comes from Allah
Wellbeing and illness in ch. 8
Bodies are related to their environment around them
Flux between hot/cold, closed/open
o Too open = wind can make wind make you sick
o Too hot = walk across hot sand, get sick
Weather is something that deeply effects their body
Language, Culture, and reality
o “We are what we speak”
Language makes us human
Many other animals can communicate, but they don’t
really have a language (maybe dolphins?)
When you hear someone speak for the first time, you can tell a
lot of things about them by their voice, what they say, how they
say it, etc
Gender, nationality (accent), region of origin (british vs.
southern accent), guestimate age (tenor of voice),
emotional state, mental state, physical state (just woken
up, drunk, etc), class position in society, education,
relationship to another person that they’re speaking to
o Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: there is a systematic relationship between
the categories of the language a person speaks and how that person
understands the world and behaves in it
Our common sense way of thinking of language hangs labels on
the world
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