Lecture 6: February 25, 2014
• Part two, play the role of Kate Fox, some aspect or element of culture that you
are familiar with. (Different gender norms around dating, weird convections
around party culture)
• Part three, if you are interested in media. Pick something in the news, read news
article and TV showings about it. What values does this believe? (Rob Ford)
analyze how these articles get analyzed in the news.
• Methodological caution: is this “real” ethnography? What are the lines between
fiction and not fiction?
• Ashforth takes some liberties with the dialogue, action. In this ethnography he had
a complicated set of roles. You basically go in and integrate their cultures and you
have to try and to make them forget that you are a researcher so they don’t treat
you like that. How does he balance this ethics?
• If witchcraft is “the capacity to cause harm or accumulate wealth by illegitimate
occult means” (ashforth, p.9), how come none of the people accused of witchcraft
are rich or moderate welltodo?
• If theres so much a focus on jealousy and spiritual insecurity and the inability to
raise their economic status, why do they seem to map onto insecurity?
• Talks a lot about whether people “belief” in witchcraft? Ashforth is a skeptic,
doesn’t believe in witchcraft and hes always asking others if they do. People hm
and ha, Momfete goes off about how she doesn’t believe it but she had to be
• We often think of belief of something that is all or nothing. Belief is more
completed than we want it to be.
• Ashforth problematizes this (makes it problematic, examines it from different
• Belies is t just a matter of faith in the existence of something – about whether you
think it is to be real. Instead, it is about where you agree with something, partake
• Complicates some of our stereotypes:
o The belief in witchcraft is “mere” superstition or lack of education
o That religions and religious beliefs and practices are coherent, unified, and
always provide comfort
o That families are a space of comfort, buffer from poverty
• This book doesn’t have a lot of theory in it.
• Anthropological backgrounds on gifts.
• Marcel Mauss: French, wrote the gift:form and reason for exchange in Archaic
Societies. • Marcel was a structuralist; social and cultural systems that have elemts that are
• Society is like an organism; when one part changes, the rest adapts too.
• His essay on the gifts focuses on the ways the gift changes the relationship
between the two things. You can learn about cultures about how they give things
• “theres no such thing as a free gift” the book summed up, human history is filled
with examples of gifts that give rise to reciprocal change.
• “what power resides in the object given that causes its recipient to pay it back?”
• gifts aren’t usually free all over. Every gift creates an imbalance between the two
people, the imbalance continues until its not given back. You are pulled into a
moral relationship (conforming to a standard of good and right behavior)
• Three types of obligations:
o Obligation to give gifts
o Obligation to receive gifts
o Obligation to return gifts (pay them back)
• This is the theory of social relations! ^
• Reciprocity and inequality, in gifts.
• Mana: kind of spiritual authority derived from having a wealth of resources to
give to others to bind them into reciprocal obligations
• The person who gives the most, most powerful, most mana.
• If you give a mauss a cookie he comes subject to your mana, is thereby in your
debt, and has to reciprocate lest he lose relative prestige forever.
• You gain mana by giving stuff away.
• Give away gifts, in return accrue prestige, WHY?
• “my culture made me do it” economist explanation.
• Understand mana and the power and prestige through giving things away
• Ecological, anthropology answer: adaptive.
• Mauss: all factors wrapped up in it – a gift is a “total social fact” ( an activity that
has implications, are at once legal, economic, religious, easthetic, morphological
and so on. They are legal in that they concern individual and collective rights,
organized and diffuse morality) brings together things that aren’t related.
Debrah Durham’s article
• Everyday gift requests are usually not granted in Botswana, but even if they are,
they’re not remembered next time!
• Focuses on different types of requests for gifts. Interesting perspective on the
• Interested in free gifts or gift requests, her argument “there are examples of gifts
that don’t give rise to this exchange”.
• Durham sees gifts into social relationships, “whats going on in these forms of
interaction and what does this tell us about social relationships?” • Different types of exchanges people make over requests for stuff correspond to –
and illuminate – different kinds of social relationships between people.
• Those social relationships also tell us a lot about how they think about themselves
• The spirit of asking
o Playful request among friends (equals, no obligation)
o Formal requests, ex, the Heiis invitation (equals, no obligation)
o Requests for petty change toward a cause (equals, create community
and legitmate the cause, no obligation)
o Serious requests between kin (hierarchical yet also equal, obligation)
o Begging by the indigent (hierarchy, odious, no obligation)
• AGENCY: its like the ability to act in the world, like freedom, but more
appropriately.. freedom within the pragmatic constraints of a society (its
“structure”). Freedom in which we pragmatically feel to exercise. What power do
you have for acting particular ways?
Lecture 7: March 4, 2014
• Kinship charts diagram how people are related to each other.
• Ideas that people have about how they are related to each other.
• Kinship’s are how people breed and get raised, basic building block of society.
• Human experiences like sexuality, conception, birth, and nurturance are
selectively interpreted and shaped into shared cultural practices that
anthropologists call relatedness.
• Early focus on “shared substances” that define kinship
• The way we decide who gets counted as family is culturally variable
• Politics can tell us about economic and religious beliefs in society.
• Shared substances?
• The particular nature of shared substances are hugely variables. Sperm being the
shared substance or shared blood. Mothers breast milk is definitive of the shared
• Other people believe that people are related and the ways get mapped onto our
notions on our types of relatives.
• Assumption: that all societies “reckon” kinship based on biology of reproduction.
• Sharing of substances of kinship happens at that moment of sexual intercourse.
Sex is the basics of all kinship.
• The stork is a myth, the victorians were uncomfortable about sex so they made up
the stork for what happened and that it brings the baby.
• Two big realizations:
o Often, peoples own understandings of their relatedness are at odds
with genealogical connections we westerners might consider
important or “true”
o Western ideas of genealogical relationships are deeply cultural as well • Ego( person drawing the chart) usually fixed around one person we are interested
in. Boys are triangles, ladies are circles. Equal signs mean married.
• Kinship calculation: the system by which people in a society reckon (calculate,
name) kin relationships.
• At some point our family’s are related.
• Incest is defined as something direct or really close. But if you married your 18
cousin (18 generations away), it wouldn’t be as bad. Incest is genetic variation,
how different are your genes.
• Looking at language you get a lot of insight. For example, your uncle (moms
borther) you should be close too.
• Genealogical kin types are an actual genealogical relationship (mothers brother or
• Kinship terminogy are the words used for different relatives in particular language
• Why does anthropology stop doing kinship? And why have we resurged our
interest in it?
• M= mother, B= brother, S= son, Z sister, F= father, D= daughter
• We more or less consider as a general rule than in mainstream that first cousins
are cousins, from kinship perspective.
• Kinship = important as idiom and as social organization
• Kinship is a way of talking about social relationships
• Allows us to assign one another group membership:
o Tells us about marriage/partnering, mating, birth and nurturance.
• How to carry out the reproduction of legitimate group members (marriage or
• Where group members should live after marriage (res rules)
• How to establish links between generations
• How to pass on positions in society (succession) or material good (inheritance)
• Marriage, descent, adoption = selective process
• Bari (Venezuala): partible paternity. More than one dad can make a baby.
• When a baby born amoung Bari, she gives the name of people shes had sex with
who could be the possible father. Two or more acknowledge fathers, 80%
• Marriage is a form of kinship which involves more biological in advance.
• Consaguines/ Affines: blood relations/ inlaws.
• Descent: a group that claims to have ancestors in common (up the kinship chart)
• Descent important because associated with inheritance (who gets the stuff after
grandpa passes away. (patrilineality/matrilineality)
Lecture 8: March 11, 2014
Sex, Gender, Sexuality • Topic and engagement of readings in the paragraph.. paragraph plan due next
week in tutorial. (March 18)
• Write about something you are interested in and show critical thinking skills.
Connections between readings and the real world.
• “the birds & the bees” basics of reproduction.
• What are the differences between Sex and gender? Sex is biological differences
between male/ female and gender is the social and cultural classification of
masculine and feminine as socially meaningful categories that seem reasonable
and appropriate, it is how you identify yourself.
• Genitalia play different roles in each sex. Men and women have chromosomal
differences as well.
• Sexuality: a person’s sexual orientation or preferences; their sexual activities.
• Hijras = man – man + woman, Born biologically male, dress and try to pass as
women, unic has no testicals. Have their genitals removed but they don’t pass as
women, they take away a lot of the man but not fully. They feel like they are born
with as the wrong sex. Not sex with other women. Earned their living by
performing and dancing at certain ceremonies. Female acts are exaggerated and
seen to be absurd. They aren’t considered real women because they cant give
• Which two countries have the highest number of sex reassignment surgeries?
• Thailand and Iran. Homosexuality is illegal and iran, so if you’re gay you have to
get a sex change.
• Gender is a form of difference that is elaborated in all cultures, all societies,
through all history, albeit in different ways
• Cultural and social means of these things.
• !Kung San: live in dessert and have sex at young ages and are free to take lovers.
No double standard, both spouses can cheat. They are pressured to do it to
perform masculinity but women aren’t granted to do so. A group of people who
have relaxed rules around sexuality.
• Postpartum sex tabo: cant have sex after having a baby.
• France: women receive what is called “State paid of vaginal gymnastics,
computer games, electric stats”. The government pays for you to tighten up your
vagina after birth.
• Gender is also about power
• Gender hierarchy: how gendered activities & attributes are differentially valued &
related to distribution of resources, prestige and power.
• Related to questions of power but it’s a power that maps onto global inequalities.
• India: saving women through solarpowered cook stoves? Women in India are
supposed to be in charge of cooking. Women had to walk miles in order to cook
their food. These stoves weren’t good because of all the smoke and inhale. They
created solar stoves and left them alone for 2 months to see how their life was
changed but no one used it.
• Why might this initiative have failed? They wanted to teach their kids what they
do. The food didn’t taste the same. • When women become passenger women they chop off their fingers and throw
them at their husbands and run away.
• Wayward women: passenger women are like prostitutes but not at the same time.
They’re not like them because their motivations aren’t like usual prostitutes.
• Wardlow’s Intervention #1: Reflecting on ideas about prostitution/sex work in the
• Canadians ten to think sex = linked to intimacy and love, supposed to be linked to
• When its commodified *turned into something that can be sold and bought) we
think it becomes immoral
• How people talk about things = a lens onto their ideologies: “prostitution” vs
• So feminists have tried to say, prostitution is work, labour, not just exploitation
• Wardlow’s response?
• This is alien to how pasinja meri think about sex with strangers for money.. They
see it as a form of agency.
• Agency is assertion of the freedoms that you have within the structure of society.
• They see this as liberating thing.
• “false consciousness” the idea that peple (prostitues) only believe that they are
choosing to do something because they have been duped to think a certain way
because of their culture
• (their choice, therefore, is not a free one)
• this perspective is problematic, but very common
• Wardlow’s 2 big intervention: show the cultural logic of pasinja meri
• “it was emotion, not economics, that first impelled them to engage in extramarital
sex with multiple partners”
• What they do makes sense only within the logic of the bride wealth system?