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Lecture 12

ANT100Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Homo Sapiens, Potlatch, Political Correctness

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Shawn Lehman

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Culture and Adaptation
Culture: what we learn from each other vs. what was programmed by our genes. Being able to
hae ulture: is prograed  our gees.
The progra does ot ause ut eales ulture-specific ways of acting, living, and thinking:
Forming procreative relationships love and monogamy is a new concept
Recognizing hierarchy
Dealing with violence
Sharing and giving exchange of women, arranged marriage
a ulture i this or that ulture, e are talkig aout cultural differences. People also use it
mean a group/type of people, ethnic backgrounds
Cultural universals and particulars cultures are different but not infinitely so. They also have
aspects that are universal, which may be more important. Human cultures have more in
common than not.
Language: a distinctively human resource and central element of culture, used for:
Communication and cooperation
Signification (making meanings), structuring how we see each other, the world, and
Adapting to the natural and social environment
Language and Culture are human universals, but specific language and cultures are human
particulars. They distinguish groups.
Universal of language and cultures are innate transmitted through genes
Particulars and not transmitted but are learned, largely through talk
Adaptive Value of Social Transmission
Social transmission much more flexible than genetic
Major changes can occur within a generation or two.
Major changes can occur without a change of species.
Language and culture allow us to adapt to new situations
Why the differences?
Specific languages and cultures develop to cope with specific environmental and social contexts
(or niches)
Words: snow, iPhone, love
Cultures: potlatch (Indigenous), brideswealth (nomadic), dowry (European)
Culture can change the niche itself we both adapt to and effect the environment itself
Difference, Conflict, and Prejudice
Within all species, groups can come into conflict. Often it is over resources:
The resources could be natural or social resources (jobs, influence, education)
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