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Anthro Lectures.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Maggie Cummings

Week 2 Lecture What is culture? And how do anthropologists investigate it? Some of today’s key terms/names  Fieldwork and ethnography  Fieldwork as rite of passage  Armchair anthropology  Participant Observation  Objectivity/Positivism/Subjective knowledge  Edward Tylor, James Frazer, Bronislaw Malinowski, Franz Boas  Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism  Culture  Interpretive/symbolic anthropology Fieldwork and ethnography “If you want to understand what anthropology is, look at what anthropologists do. Above all else, what anthropologists do is ethnography” (VSI page 13)  Ethnography (what anthropologists write) is, in turn, is based on fieldwork What does ethnography/fieldwork accomplish?  Culture from “the native’s point of view” (Geertz)  Thick description (Geertz again)  Context for knowledge about culture A very brief history of anthropology  Philosophers and various explorers as “proto-anthropologists”  Victorian anthropology (Tylor and Frazer): evolutionary, hierarchy of “civilization”  Comparative, second-hand accounts  “Armchair anthropology” Malinowski “On the Verandah” Malinowski “Off the Verandah” Malinowski: Participant Observation Franz Boas  Historical Particularism  Cultural Relativism versus Ethnocentrism  The switch to fieldwork meant—first-hand knowledge; holistic knowledge; comparative, but not hierarchical, approach to culture What is “culture”?  Working definition: “shared patterns of learned behaviour” (VSI page 35)  Or: learned sets of ideas and behaviours that are acquired and shared by members of a society  Boas—culture as a lens for experience If culture is an integrated whole, what does the integrating?  Patterns, themes, meanings?  “grammar” or rules?  A functioning, self-balancing system?  Does being a “whole” mean that all cultures are bounded and separate? How do anthropologists deal with culture in a global world?  Salvage ethnography  Multi-sited ethnography  Native anthropology  Ethnography at home  Post-colonial anthropology Contemporary consensus about culture:  Culture is learned  Culture is shaped by power relations  No culture is pristine  The penetration of local communities by global culture does not dooms local cultural traditions to extinction. Interpreting cultures: The Balinese Cockfight  Cultures are texts  The cockfight is a story the Balinese tell themselves about themselves  Cockfights don’t change status, but they tell a story about status and prestige Week 3 Ways of Knowing: Time, Language, and Ritual Key terms/names  Worldview; ritual, rites of passage  the Bima and Dou Donggo of Indonesia  Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf  “Adamic” view of language  Metaphors we live by (Lakoff and Johnson)  Time as objectified and spatialized  Benjamin Franklin  Protestant work ethic; Max Weber  Ritual (secular versus religious)  Rites of passage: segregation, transition, integration  Liminality and communitas Worldview  an encompassing picture of reality based on a set of shared assumptions about how the world works  Multiple worldviews may coexist in a single culture, or a single worldview may dominate Thinking about worldview: humans and weather  Bima: rain is a gift from all-powerful Allah  Dou Donggo: rain is part of the natural order of things, which can be disrupted by mischievous spirits  North America? Language, Culture, and reality  “We are what we speak”  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  In other words, different language patterns yield different patterns of thought Sapir-Whorf, continued  Reality is not just reflected or described by language, but shapes what we reality is for us  Learning a language is about more than vocabulary; so, too, is culture  Is cross-cultural translation even possible? Metaphors we live by (Lakoff and Johnson)  Some anthropologists doubt that the structure of language and the structure of culture are directly correlated  Perhaps it is not the structures of language, but culturally significant metaphors, that shape and reflect worldview and culture Metaphor and worldview: Time  How do we measure time?  What “kinds” of time do we have?  What units of time are most important in our lives?  What metaphors do we use to think about time in North America?  Think of some popular proverbs, phrases, etc., that we use when referring to time  What might they say about our culture, our worldview? “Time is Money”  Benjamin Franklin, 1748  Protestant work ethic—Max Weber  Asceticism in this world  If time is money, it can be saved, spent, budgeted, etc.  Other ways of thinking of time? Cross-cultural comparisons? Ritual  Ritual is a patterned, repetitive, and symbolic enactment of a cultural belief or value  Rituals are set off from everyday life and recognized as significant  The purpose of ritual is to align the belief system of an individual with that of society  Religious rituals attempt to gain influence or sympathy of a particular cosmic being Rites of Passage  Rituals that mark the transition from one life stage to another  Three stages:  separation  Transition/liminality  Integration WEEK 4 Gender and the Concept of Cultural Construction Key terms/names  Cultural/social construction  Biological determinism  Sex versus gender  Sambia of Papua New Guinea; jurungdu  Third Gender/Berdache/Two Spirit  Emily Martin  Egg and sperm as gendered  Biology as cultural knowledge  Abu-Lughod—the intersection of gender and ethnocentrism From last week: Rites of Passage  Rituals that mark the transition from one life stage to another  Three stages:  separation  Transition/liminality  Integration 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 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 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 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 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 Third Genders  Berdache—traditional third gender among First Nations peoples  Two-Spirits—used today to refer to gay,lesbian, transgender, and transexual First Nations people  Gender is non-binary, and is spiritual, not necessarily linked to sex Key Points to reiterate:  Sex is biological/Gender is cultural  Gender and sex don’t necessarily match up in any essential, inevitable way  Being sexed one way is not enough to just “make”’ a person a particular gender—it’s learned  Sexual identity is fluid and not naturally linked to sex or gender  The necessity of sexual reproduction is not enough to explain gender differences as inevitable or essential  Gender is best characterized as a relationship Islam and gender complementarity  “men and women are considered profoundly different kinds types of creature” (Popenoe 61)  What looks like inequality is understood separate but complementary orders of social life  Fattening emphasizes complementarity The sperm and the egg: A fairy tale romance?  Learned culture is never innocent but is always shaped by power relations  How does culture shape the way that biologists portray the natural world?  We “see” our cultural beliefs when we look at biology; we then explain cultural beliefs by using biology to explain that they are “natural”—feedback loop The sperm and the egg: A fairy tale romance?  Egg production is “wasteful”; sperm production is “amazing”  Eggs are feminine—passive damsels (or femme fatale)  Sperm are masculine—aggressive, strong suitors (or victims of seduction)  The metaphors stayed the same, even when the science changed—why? Lila Abu-Lughod “The Muslim Woman”  Gender is a cultural construct that is often co-constructed along with other social categories  Images of “the Muslim Women” as veiled and oppressed are de-contextualized and de- historicized  “the Muslim Woman” becomes “the damsel in distress”—implications? Week 5 Questions of Biology, Blood, and Belonging II: Relatives and Relations Key terms/names  Ego  Etic versus Emic  Eskimo and Iroquois kinship classification  Matrilateral versus patrilateral kin  Bilateral versus unilineal descent  Cross-cousins versus parallel cousins  Endogamy versus exogamy  Patrilineal/matrilineal descent  Consanguine versus affinal kin  Fictive kinship  Brideprice  Procreation as symbolic and paternity as cultural construct A kinship diagram Etic kinship terms Ego = Reference point for describing kin Fa = Father Mo = Mother Br = Brother Z = Sister H= Husband W=Wife S = Son Da= Daughter Eskimo kinship terms Iroquois kinship terms Patrilineal descent (red are members of patrilineage) Kinship terms that are particularly relevant for understanding Feeding Desire  Cross cousins—children of opposite-sex siblings  Parallel cousins—children of same-sex siblings  Patrilineal descent—traced through male line  Endogamy—must marry into one’s own group  Affinal kin: related through marriage  Consanguine kin: related through “blood” ties  Fictive kinship (ie—milk kin)  Brideprice—wealth given from groom’s family to bride’s family Thinking about paternity as a cultural construction  How did Euro-Americans think about kinship before the egg and sperm were “discovered”?  Men “beget” children; women nurture men’s “seed”  Connections between the metaphor of “begetting” and Emily Martin’s argument? Thinking more about paternity as cultural construction  The Virgin Debate: Do “primitive” peoples know how physiological paternity works?  Is the Virgin Birth of Christianity really the same kind of belief as Trobriand Island female- ancestor re-incarnation?  Or, is procreation symbolic? And Euro-American paternity a cultural construction? Thinking about paternity…  Christianity, Judaism, and Islam share monotheism and monogenesis—children are “begat” by their fathers  “Paternity”, in this sense, patriarchy embodied (think “who’s your daddy”?)  Stories such as the Virgin birth are gender and social relationships in symbolic form  Similarly, matrilineal Trobrianders have no concept of paternity Week 7 Wrapping Up Feeding Desire Key Terms/Names  Susan Bordo  body ideals and “crystallization” of culture  3 “axes of continuity” in Euro-American body ideals  The Dualist Axis  The Control Axis  The Gender/Power Axis  “Crystallization of culture” in body ideals  Crystallization: the way that various cultural logics and values comes together, and sustain each other, in “real”’ embodied form through body ideals  E.g.—fatness as beauty for Azawagh Arabs  E.g.—the tyranny of slenderness in North America  How are they different, and how are they similar?  Azawagh Arab women vs. our society’s women - Azawagh Arabs couldn’t recognize women of our society (they reacted with pity or thought the women were sick) Can we really blame the media?  Describe the woman in the image—her body, her stance, her expression, and so on—what are she conveying?  Why do you think this particular image was used for this particular ad? How does it convince you to buy whatever it is that is being sold?  What does this image tell us about femininity? Women’s bodies? Sexiness? What makes it beautiful? (Masculinity?) Why slim bodies?  Susan Bordo – Why slim Bodies? - Anorexia (a culture bound syndrome) - Anorexia makes visible the flaws of our cultural values - The anorexic body metaphorically represents our flawed cultural logic - It is a relatively new syndrome this means cultural values shape it - A fear of loss of control has become more prevalent in our culture which has become embodied in our control of our bodies - There seems to be a relationship with thinness and the growth of power for women Axes of continuity (in Euro-American body ideals) The three axes intersect one another  Dualist Axis (what’s wrong with bodies?) - Mind-body split - Mind and body being separate and unequal (ex. “What’s inside that counts)The body is ruled by the mind.  Gender/Power Axis (why women?) - Shifting relationships in gender - As women make power gains, these social conforms limit us and keep women in check  Control Axis (why here and now?) - Due to a sense of lack and control, we try to control what we can control (which is our bodies) Week 8 Primitives and Moderns? Key terms  “Primitive” or traditional versus Modern - Primitive not an objective term, it’s a moral judgement and comes from a place of ethnocentrism (belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group)  Modern versus contemporary - “contemporary” is a better term that refers to “today” or “now” - The word “modern” has a lot of baggage or connotations - Also a subjective term  “Progress”  Linear time - Time is seen as linear - Ex. Thinking the past is behind us and the future is ahead of us - We see linear time as spatial - Linear times is teleological - Time is often associated with progression (as time is passed we believe things get better (movement through time) - And idea that the future will be more complex than the present, and the present is more complex than the past - The idea that the present and future is moving more towards rationality.  Nostalgia - Primitivism isn’t always seen as a bad thing - Longing for traditional past - Longing for something lost - Romanticizing of the past  Pre-history - History that wasn’t written down (considered non-literate)  Europeans would discover peoples that seemed to not have a history because they didn’t have a recorded history - Were deemed primitive - Deemed non-literate - Were thought to be people who had not changed at all over time - Misconception that they were living fossils - Believed to be people “stuck” in the past Questions about The Couple in a Cage  What does the exhibit remind you of? Have you ever seen anything like it? Where?  What kind of things mark the couple as “primitive”?  Why are people so quick to mis-read the exhibit/performance?  What are the conceptual ties between this and Sanders’ article?  How do Sanders’ three key terms (homogenization/identity/globalization) help us to understand the film?  Should avoid explaining “primitive” as a lack of progress Some cultures referred to as “Stone Age People” - Connotation that these people are placed in a completely different time - However these people are not representative of people of our past. They are our contemporaries. They still live in the same as ourselves (DUH Europeans!) Aboriginals are another example - The term itself is often referred to as people who are so called primitive or a people who have not progressed enough. Week 9 Race and Racism Key terms/links  Race  Phenotype  Physiognomy  Race versus ethnicity  Essential concepts of race versus DNA distribution  Racial traits as arbitrary and subjective  The “Great Chain of Being”  Samuel Cartwright, drapetomania, and scientific racism  Franz Boas and craniometry  Race and racisms  “new racism”  Internalized racism How do anthropologists think about race?  Race is a recent human invention  Race is about culture, not biology  Race and racism are embedded in institutions and everyday life.  It is a social construct  based on appearance (ex. Skin colour, facial characteristics, hair type) Discussion: What is race?  What is race?  How do we define it?  How do you determine a person’s race?  How does race shape your everyday life? - Prejudice - Judgment - Identity/belonging Do races exist?  Races, as discrete biological categories, do not exist  However, race is a meaningful social category with very real social consequences  Working definition of race: the culturally constructed categorization of people into groups based on physical characteristics Race versus ethnicity  The two terms of often used interchangeably  Global census:  Also see “Portraits of Urban Identity”  Race—insists on “natural” or biological explanations  Ethnicity—based on a shared sense of identity, and a relationship to other groups Races are not discreet biological categories  94% of DNA differences occur within so-called racial groups  Conventional racial groupings differ from each other in only about 6% of their genes  There is more genetic difference within “races” than between them  Physical traits don’t predict much else  Physical traits are inherited independently  Ie—the presence of dark skin does not always correlate with curly hair, much less with, say, intelligence  Divisions of biological populations by physical traits are arbitrary and subjective Racial traits as arbitrary  Tongue-rolling  Fingerprints  Lactase production Racial categories as subjective “Mixed race” (black/white) would be:  Black in U.S. and Canada  Moreno (brunette) in Brazil  Coloured in South Africa during apartheid Origins of racial thinking  Closely linked to colonialism and slavery  The “Great Chain of Being” - Hierarchy of organisms because god made it that way - Determined by god - The place you were in the hierarchy was where you were meant to be. Any attempt to move out of your category was refusing god’s will. - The “Great Chain of Being” was rationalized by colonialism - Skin colour became a matter of status - Science started to become more prevalent, but even that tried to explain/rationalize racial difference - “Scientific racism”  science was used to explain political/racial differences  Ideology of inequality rationalized European treatment of other peoples; was turned into “race”; science began to back up ideology  Drapetomania as example of scientific racism  Race has evolved into a world view Anthropology and race  Craniometry—measuring the skull shape and size  “Caucasians” had bigger brains, were therefore smarter  Franz Boas debunked the relationship between race and skull size (and intelligence) - Cranial form more environmental Race and Racism  Race is not a biological category, but it is an important social category  Race may not exist, but racism does  Racial worldview has created inequality, not the other way around  Racism is plural—racisms—modes of exclusion, inferiorization, subordination, exploitation  Examples from In Search of Respect?  “new racism”? (“Portraits”)  Institutionalized racism (“just the way it is”?)  Internalized racism: “A Girl Like Me” Week 10 Power and Agency Key terms  Racism as plural  Agency  Structure  Durkheim  Jibaro  Structural victimization  Street culture as opposition to marginalization  Agency as destructive/reinforcing structure  Race and Racism Nira Yuval Davis and Floya Anthias:  Racism: “modes of exclusion, inferiorization, subordination, and exploitation that present specific and different characters in different social and historical contexts” (1992: 2).  We need to think about racisms in the plural Agency versus Structure  Social identity, social roles determine much about our behaviour, rights, etc.  But we are also individuals with “free will”  What is “society”? Abstraction or individuals?  Durkheim: Suicide (1897)—see VSI Ch. 3  Individuals tend to choose to act according to their social identity  Agency: the power of individuals to choose what to do, how to act, based on intention (there must be alternatives in order to have agency)  Structure: larger forces such as political economy, institutions, ideologies, etc. Individual Agency and Structure can conflict - Structure functionalism: structures determine functions (almost biological principle) - Following structure functionalism ideas, political and institutional structures can determine the agency that can be exhibited by individuals in a society - Thinking about poverty, for example: o Agency suggests people make poor choices o But people also have agency to resist, manipulate, or negotiate within structures o Or, are the poor trapped by inescapable structures? o Does structure constrain agency to the point that it is non-existent? - Main argument in “In Search of Respect”: o 1) the crack dealers are victims of structural forces, but they do not accept this passively  What sort of structural forces?  Cultural forces such as Puerto Rican ideas about gender relationships, love, respect, and work  United States bureaucracy  Institutionalized racism- as immigrants they were historically targeted  Community forc
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