ANT100Y1 Lecture Notes - One-Drop Rule, Linguistic Anthropology, Social Constructionism

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
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Language, Culture, and Prejudice
- What is culture?
- Nature vs. nurture
o Humans really rely on nurture side
- Prejudice when people come together
o Ethnocentrim thinking we are better than animals and other ethinicities
- Cultural relativism shouldn’t judge other cultures
Nurture vs. nature?
- Is it a false contrast?
o All humans have language and all humans have culture
o Nurture isnt completely different from nurture
o Language and culture are programmed into humans by nature
o Culture ways depends on our genetics
- Not so totally distinct
o Language and culture are linked to genetics
Universals and particulars
- Language and culture are human universals
- Specific languages and specific cultures are human particulars
o Universals (language, culture) are innate transmitted through genes
- Particulars (languages, cultures) are learned
o Transmitted though society (mainly by talking)
Adaptive Value of Social Transmission
- Social transmission is must more flexible than genetic transmission
- Major changes can occur within a generation or two
- Major changes can occur without a change of species
Differentiation within Species
- Humans adapted to new challenges
- Culture helps survival
- Specific languages and cultures develop to cope with specific environmental niches
- Different words for different cultures
- Cultures: potlatch, brideswealth/ dowry
- Cultures change when conditions change
- Result: adaptation without becoming a new species
Cyborgs and Replicants
- Still homo sapiens
- Cyborg (?)
Difference, Conflict, Prejudice
- Within all species, groups can come into conflict, often over resources
- In homo sapiens, these groups may be culturally adapted to different niches…
- And/pr have different cultures and languages…
- This may be accomplished by prejudices and (>)
Origins of Anthropology
- Modern anthropology developed in the nineteenth century, in a specific niche: the
“West” not geographic term, in fact, it’s the north
o Began in 19th century
- More was known in the West about the non-West
- West was becoming dominant all over the world
- Age of Imperialism late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century
- Study of explaining the non-West
- Study of others became popular
o Helped colonialism
- Anthropology developed from scholars, not the government
- Linguistic, culture, physical/racial general public and early anthropologists understood the
non-west based on these characteristics
o This is how Western nations understood themselves
Language and Prejudice
- All languages have the same general form (e.g. words, sentences, nouns, verbs)
- But were ranked on an evolutionary scale, from primitive to advanced
- And the indo-European languages were considered to be the most “advanced”
- Proof they had expanded all over the world, so they were the most adaptive
- What’s wrong with this idea?
Culture and Prejudice
- A (false) evolutionary scheme of stages:
1. Earliest: “Primitive cultures”: have not changed since the beginning of time (“savaged”,
“uncivilized”)
2. Then: Nomads and barbarians
3. Then: Agricultural “civilizations”
4. Last: Modern western civilization- the biggest
Physical Type and Prejudice
- Race: a folk notion, not a scientific notion
- Scientists may refer as “race” to an identifiable, relatively distinct genetic pool in plants or
animals
- Human races are not such a pool
- Humans do look different, and human looks can correlate with some other genetic traits
- But not consistently enough to justify the notion of human races
- There is more variation (other than skin colour, etc. across than within race
- Again, “evolutionary”
- Nineteenth century classifications:
o Black, red, yellow, white
o White the most civilized
- Most people don’t fall into these categories
Lessons of the One-Drop Rule
- One drop rule: even if you had one bit of black then you are still considered black
- Humans differ by appearance, but their classification by difference is not given by society:
nurture not nature
- Racial classifications are made in the context of relations of power within society
- The black race and white race were invented along with slavery in the Americas
- “Whiteness” meant freedom, so needed to be “protected”
Ethnocentrism
- Mixture of racial and cultural prejudice: ethnocentrism
Anthropology, imperialism, ethnocentrism
- Anthropology originated in order to explain more carefully the difference between the West
and “primitive people”
- Sometimes served colonial power
- Independent and university sponsored anthropologists often criticized the colonial power
- Malinowski late 1800’s
- Franz Boas late 1800’s
- Margaret Mead middle 1900’s
Cultural Relativism
- Cultures creates differentiation and is correlated to different situation
- Anthropologistss aren’t necessarily cultural relativists

Document Summary

Nature vs. nurture: humans really rely on nurture side. Prejudice when people come together: ethnocentrim thinking we are better than animals and other ethinicities. Is it a false contrast: all humans have language and all humans have culture, nurture isnt completely different from nurture, language and culture are programmed into humans by nature, culture ways depends on our genetics. Not so totally distinct: language and culture are linked to genetics. Specific languages and specific cultures are human particulars: universals (language, culture) are innate transmitted through genes. Particulars (languages, cultures) are learned: transmitted though society (mainly by talking) Social transmission is must more flexible than genetic transmission. Major changes can occur within a generation or two. Major changes can occur without a change of species. Specific languages and cultures develop to cope with specific environmental niches. Result: adaptation without becoming a new species. In homo sapiens, these groups may be culturally adapted to different niches .