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Lecture

ANTA02 - LEC 4 - Personhood and The Cultural Construction of Identity

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTA02H3
Professor
Maggie Cummings
Semester
Winter

Description
28 January 2013 ANTA02 - Lecture 4: Personhood and The Cultural Construction of Identity 28 January 2013 From last week: Rites of Passage - Rituals that mark the transition from one life stage to another - Three stages: o Separation o Transition/liminality o Integration/reincorporation - Communitas – go through something strange and bond What is social/cultural construction? - Cultural constructionism—human behaviour and ideas are best explained as the result of culturally-shaped learning - Biological determinism—biological features such as genes or hormones are used to explain behaviour and ideas - What we do explained by culturally-shaped learning o Passed on through learning - Opposite: biological determinism o Human males – better special skills Social /cultural constructs - A social construct is a concept or practice that is seen as natural, common-sense, essential, timeless, or God-given but which is really an invention, an artifact of a particular culture. - We create social constructs through our choices; in doing so, we reinforce our own worldview - Social construct = cultural construct (same meaning) - We build these constructs - Ex. We have to register when we are born – birth certificate Gender as cultural construct - Sex refers to biological categories (male and female) determined by genital, chromosomal, and hormonal differences - Gender refers to patterns of culturally constructed and learned behaviour and ideas attributed to men and women - One of the most taken for granted constructs - Significant in all cultures - Primary way to divide people in all cultures - Biological: sex – males/females 28 January 2013 - Cultural: gender – men/women - Mothers nurture in our world - Fathers nurture in the Trobriand Islands Anthropology and gender - Early anthropologists ignored “gender”; assumed men’s lives were the cultural norm - But, a cross-cultural perspective challenges the idea that gender is natural—because gender is variable cross-culturally - Gender and sex do not correlate “naturally”, but culturally - Cross cultural aspects - Early anthropologists were men and ignored gender The Sambia of Papua New Guinea - boys do not “naturally” become men; they need help - Jurungdu—an essential masculine substance - Sambia initiation rituals suggest that sexual identity is not naturally linked to sex or gender; nor is it static over time - Live in highlands - Men have constant fear of women - Boys have to grow through various trials, steps to grow into men - Have constant fear/threat that they will lose their masculinity, or jurungdu - Based on constant maintenance - Women have no
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