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Lecture

ANT370H1 Lecture Notes - Bride Price, Ethnography, Human Beings In Buddhism


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT370H1
Professor
Annette Bickford

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MARCH 5TH
SYMBOLS, MEANING, AND INTERPRETIVE ANTHRO
STRAUSS, GEERTZ, TURNER, OBEYESEKERE
British social anthro
- British social anthro focused on social organizations, roles and institution and how human
social groups are organized, mother in laws, emergence of new kinds of social insitutions such
as labour unions, it is about SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS and the organizations of these domains
it could be politics-chiefs and leaders or religion-priests and how it achieves diff things
- for example, taking a hypothetical society, religious rituals are concerned with roles people
play and what groups of people had control over resources and who didn’t. In contrast, in NA it
was not role organizations BUT CULTURE. Frans Boas, in order to fight against racial ideas
that some races are superior and others inferior.
- culture, learned ways talked about difference as SOMETHING LEARNED. Seeing and acting
in the world, NOT innatly biological. Culture became imp in NA bc of BOAS to combat racism.
Challenge of how to define culture. Easier to document social organization.
- British critique: so abstract, that anything can be culture- religious belief, how they move
bodies, table manners, what is taboo to eat. Culture is IDEAS AND VALUES that give meaning
to these practices and organize society
- they said culture doesn’t exist.
AMAERICAN ANTHRO
- we can document how people organize themselves but that doesn’t tell you why people
organize in that why and why they perform certain rituals
-organiza doesn’t say what it means to them
- ideas and ideologies that reproduce social organization
- this debate, now there is more understanding between British/America
LEVIS STRAUSS
- how society creates conceptual categories (in binary opposition) and how we make up these
catgegories to make the World make sense
GEERZ
- culture is a repetoire of ideas and values and they repotire are shared and help people
understand each other but does not help us dictate behaviour. These people could have acted
otherwise. They excersied agency but all acted within frame that any decision made sense to
actors. Gives meaning to behav and actions
TURNER
- interested in ritual (rites of passage). These rites are movement when someone is transformed
in ritual from one person to someone else ie boy to man, sick to healed. Transformation of
personhood through ritual
- how rituals work and why people are invested in ritual
OBEYESEKERE
- problemizes indv psyh and shared system. No one else see this as a problem. He says, we
underanylse it, we believe that rituals are meaningful to everyone. We should see relation btwn
psyche and shared ritual
ALL
-culture does exist as a system of symbols and meanings and its all shared, all expressed in
wide range of social practices so we can see culturally informed
-culture defines humans as unique. Share that it is definitive to human beings
BRITISH VS AMERICAN
- NA had another school of thought called CULTURAL ECOLOGY (white, steward) emobilizing
culture different from turner and geerz.
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- Interpretative anthro DO NOT see cultural anthro as interpretative but MEANING
***10.05. Culure of white vs GEERZ ON TESTTTT (listen)
-symbolic conceptualize humans as a species whose feature is to create, communicate
significance, Meaning and whether these are adaptive or not
- most anthro infl by interpretative- some culture is adaptive which allows society to exist and
reproduce itself, dress, belief, ect many have little adaptive significance. Human compulsion to
create meaning and value
CLAUDE LEVIS STRAUSS
- he spent 5 years in new york, French
- many books: tristes tropques, the elementary structures of kinship, structural anthro,
the raw and cooked
- close with frans boas
exposed to Boas that culture is a lens of how to see and act in the world. And these lens are
different for each culture reproducing difference
members of the same culture can communicate with each other and understand each other
Jakobson-structural linguist, that words consist of phenons which are units of sounds with
agreed upon rules with meaning of a higher meaning of order. Bat and cat are all sounds that
have no inherent meaning. Have meaning because sound diff from each other, English
speakers agree that diff btwn b/c have diff in meaning and when combined with at, diff. * All
languages do this, arbitrary sound diff are significant, give them meaningful worlds. These
languages help us create words and sentences of higher order
2) basic units or structures can be identified
3) contrast between sounds allow the diff in meaning
Why this matters?
- it is in the nature of human language to take meaning of sound to organize it in a system of
contrasting sounds and use contrasting sounds to impose meaning
- *out of chaos and disorder we impose categories we impose meaning and order
- higher level of order and impose categories on the world
LEVIS STRAUSS
-founder of structural anthro
-creating meaning/order
- if lang can be broken down to meaning, other modes of communication can be broken down
into structures and components and analyzed
- analysis of rules of marriage where he drew on MAUSS to argue that gift giving is a form of
communication. Social practice that is communic like language
- all societies, women are considered the greatest gift of all. Bc of ability to reproduce their
social groups through giving birth
- marriage is a form of gift giving which sustains relationships between families however its diff
than reciprocity ** bc it’s the orginal and most basic act of reciporocity
- what we call marriage is an act saying, I will give you a women from my group, and when the
exchange is formed, we will be linked. Makes the enemy, a relative.
- structures are being created (enemy/non, male/female)
- this is similar to structure of myth
- in marriage people create oppositions (my grp not mine) and mediating this through marriage
- myth is the coyote and the raven. The production of children are the mediators in kinship
- what we call marriage, originated as first manifestation of culture by whuch he means the first
cultural rule/law/ imposition of order in society, when humans differentiated from animals by
imposing rule. Rule: must not keep women, give them away so groups can reproduce
- point: this is culture, the ability of humans to impose form and order in the world and impose
meaning and through creatin of categories and rules (like marrying one outside of social group).
Animals do not impose rules (this is a human quality). We create categories and impose rules.
Animals have instincts while humans impose rules which create order
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