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University of Toronto Scarborough
Maggie Cummings

Anthropology: What is culture? And how do anthropologists investigate it? 11-04-10 2:40 PM o Anthropologists share objectives of study or questions with other disciplines as well. o Fieldwork: is a right of passageritual or ordeal have to go through in order to get to a next step. o Ethnography- what we write up based on field work (ex. Feeding Desire) o Its more than just description of what you saw, about analyses thinking of why certain cultures are certain ways. o Important that anthropologist present a culture from the natives viewto see things through their eyes the more detailed and compelling a description is, the better; Thick description rather than surface description because thick description gives context (more details and more on what else is happening in situation) o Context is what sets it apart from other fieldworks o Anthropologists started out looking at cultures comparatively before field th work, has its roots in Victorian area, early 18 century and late 19 century o Edward Tyler early Victorian anthropologists ; they were often evolutionary anthropologistinspired by Darwin ; illustrated through pg 36 of VSI o Anthropologists. Would look at many cultures and rank them on a hierarchy in terms of civilization; James Fraser studied myths and religionhe believed people went from magical thinking to religious thinking then evolved to rational scientific thought o Tyler and fraser- armed chair anthropologists and sat down on chairs and read other peoples works, by missionaries, colonial officials and etc. then complied them on account of other cultures o Two fathers of field work: Malinowski from Britain and one from U.S fathers of two different strains, social anthropology and cultural anthropology. o Malinowskiwas polish but came to London school of economics in 1910 to do phd in anthropology; became enemy of british empire, didnt want to leave for fear of being deported back to Poland because of war and stayed for two years and decided to do field work o Difficult to maintain critical ability, always carrying notebooks to write notes www.notesolution.como After Malinowski died, his wife published his diaries o Ethnocentrism- taking your own cultural perspective as the one is right, true and only one that is valid and judging other cultures against your cultural rule o Culture: shared patterns of learned behavior (VSI page 35) or: learned sets of ideas and behaviors that are acquired and shared by members of a society o Boasculture as a lens for experience o Culture shapes your biological reactions to things o Linguistic- what makes a culture make sense is grammar--a set of rules, anthropologists study the rules of a society to play along and understand it thoroughly o Culture is self balancing system made up of sub systems, if something changes in one system, the rest of systems will change slightly in order to balance out o Cultures are texts- read them and interpret it; interpretative anthropology is popular way of looking at human culture and see it as a system of symbols and meanings human beings create for themselves to make their life make sense o The Balinese cockfight is a story that the Balinese tell themselves about themselves, they learn and reinforce what it means to be them (Balinese) o Cockfights- shocking roosters to fight in middle of ring; Balinese spoke about this a lot and Girts stated it since it was vital in their culture o roosters symbolize creativity and embody bad things about being human, potential of violence, destruction and range o some matches have people hanging on edges of chairs, anxious to see what will happen, happens through higher men of status in their society o deep matches are unpredictable ; but one with two same roosters is unpredictable as well; higher the status, higher the stake would be o status and prestige are important and cannot be changed or complained about o salvage ethnography- people went to cultures that were disappearing; if cant take people we save the knowledge o o
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