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Saul Cohen (33)
Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Me and the Other - January 16.docx

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Saul Cohen

January 16, 2013. Lecture 2 – Me and the “Other”: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Social/Cultural Anthropology Today’s Lecture Outline  Course logistics  Class discussion: Meaning o What is sociocultural anthropology? o Anthropological Methods Meaning  Symbols can have both subtle and obvious differences in meaning from one person to the next o E.g. stop sign discussion  Depends on specific or general circumstances o E.g. drivers vs. non-drivers  Symbols’ placement/context also changes meaning o E.g. stop sign on the road vs. stop sign in a dorm room as decoration  “Universally accepted” meanings actually have multiple layers of depth once looked at more critically  Misrepresentation of cultures through tourist appeal o Indigenous tribes dressing in stereotypical outfits and doing stereotypical performances that aren’t true to their day-to-day culture in order to appeal to tourists’ pockets What is sociocultural anthropology?  To Understand the Human Condition o Things (people, humanity, culture, symbols, life, etc.) are holistic, complex and paradoxical o Humans don’t acknowledge the complexity of life on a day-to-day basis, we don’t examine everything, we instead embrace complexity o We see the complexity of everyone’s lives o Paradoxes: we see a stop sign, we don’t stop, we get a ticket and are upset; contradiction o We live with a conflicting set of values  E.g. we participate in consumerism (which can be argued to be good for the economy), but also realize that humans as a whole cannot continue on consuming, consuming, consuming forever; we don’t think about this face first though o Cultural meanings are created (e.g. stop sign)  As anthropology students we want to observe, study, and analyze the complexity of this meaning o Societies are structured (e.g. political anthropology)  Society is patterned and ordered, not crazy, random, and chaotic  Political and economic values greatly influence the way our societies are structured and designed o Social behaviour and beliefs are patterned – not random or chaotic (e.g. docile bodies)  Not free to behave however we want wherever or whenever we want  E.g. lying on a table in the middle of a restaurant to take a nap  E.g. going from kindergarten to grade 1 and suddenly being disciplined for behaving in exactly the same one would several
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