Culture-Lecture 2-The Power of Culture and the Culture of Power Mar 5 2009

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23 Aug 2010
Lecture 2: The Power of Culture and the Culture of Power
I. Introduction
x How anthropology emerged form the study of culture?
x Culture we tend to take for granted
x We have a culture, these shape how we view the world, but we tend not to think of
culture that often
x Even in Canada on multiculturalism; cultures tends to get reduced to eating, dressing,
x These are important parts of life, but not central
x Cultural differences is to due with superficial differences
x If its true that humans need meaning, and culture is what provides this meaning
x Its pretty important for us to understand how we learn cultural ideas, and which ideas
we come to take for granted
x The power of culture is taking for granted and not questioning
x Social hierarchy and distribution of power
II. Learning Culture
x Starting form the minute were born
x Some we absorb without any instructions
x In every social interaction we test our understanding of cultural meaning, we correct
x We know perfectly well how to break cultural rules (consciously, in order to make a
III. Myths
x Definitions
o Myths, Fluid, Moral
x Magical All societies have sets of stories that explain their origins and
moral system
x These stories are called myths
x Myths tend to be about magical times
x Very often tell stories about the beginning of creation
x Myths always involve magical beings (gods, beings with magical/special
powers who interact with humans to teach them the way to behave)
x Genesis: tells the story of how the human quest for knowledge led to the
expulsion form the garden of Eden (Adam and Eve)
x One should remain unquestioning and ignorant in the face of gods rules
x Contemporary myths-> movies (anything can happen, about imaginary
times/places, magical beings do populate films, many films are actually
moral stories)
IV. Analyzing Myths
x James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough (1906-15, 1922, 1994)
o All references to Christianity taken out- then put back in later
o Frazer combined to different kinds of myth analysis
x Functionalist Explanation (Cognitive Role)
o Hard to figure out myths from an outside point of view
o Early anthropologists found that myths were not simple stories
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