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ANT204 Lecture 5: February 8, 2012
Human zoos, animals and anthropology
Alfred Kroeber, 1976-1960
Innate instinctual behaviour of insects and learned cultural
behaviour of humans (common set of understandings
about how the world works)
If you take human babies out of context - all knowledge of
culture would disappear- humans don't have
instincts, animals do
Behaviours- instinctual if:
Invarinat among species members
Manifest full-blown the first time maturity reached and
Present even in species members reared without contact
Reflexes: simple responses to perceived danger
Instincts: Complex patterns of innate behaviour, genetically
pre-programmed to regulate activities
Needs: sleep, food, variously fulfilled. Cultural responses
learned to accommodate bodily needs.
Exclusion based on biological, natural inferiority
Western ideas about "human nature" = serious consequences.
Sociobiology naturalizes domination
It makes it seem like human nature, inevitable
Ex: Dr. Phil, He's just not that into you - "naturalized
Slave ants, rape in mallard ducks, adultery in mountain
Sociobiology looks for rudimentary forms of human behaviour
Very simplistic, reductionist- it's too easy, almost problematic
You see something in animals, simplify it, and then apply it to
There are claims that society are like species that struggled
Britain and America saw themselves as the apex of civilization
in relation to colonized groups
Evolutionary model- dubious notions of survival of the fittest-
prevailing hierarchical arrangements
Idea: Let's not have change, let's say these things are
innate/genetic- so they cannot be changed.
Sociobiologists argue that human culture is largely passed on
as genetic inheritance- it's all about genetics,
convenient rationalization - male dominance/white supremacy
is due to sexual selection, controlled by
Argue: it's not genetic, it's culture- humans are socially
constituted by culture- we observe and learn it
How much is genetic, how much is learned?
All the problems like racism, sexism are not natural, not
Opposed to anthropocentrism, attributes "human"