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5. ANT204H1 February 6th.docx

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Saul Cohen

ANT204H1F February 6 , 2011h Lecture #5 Surely Nature is “Natural” (part 2): The Social Construction of the Pristine Activity: Someone Else Elephant a. The social Construction of Nature Video: Second Nature b. Objectivist versus Constructivist Ideas of Nature Break Recap: My Houseplant (Nature and Culture) c. Separation of Nature and Culture d. History Construction of Nature A - The Social Construction of Nature  What does this mean?  When we see his particular image, this particular animal (two elephants) is seen and all the things we know about it comes to mind. One can think of many things when looking upon this image, such as ecotourism, which move away from the literal representation of animal. One can think of the animal as endangered, or overpopulated (Kenya vs South Africa). South Africa has to many elephants who are damaging the environment and allow a certain number of them to be killed and sold, but ironically the money is funneled back into conservation efforts. If elephants have the same kind of emotion that is considered human-like, why are we killing them to preserve the environment and why not humans?  Can be considered a pest or a threat to your life, because they can kill and destroy crops.  There is something inherently positive about it. The idea of nature, pristine nature, is powerful and transmitted through the image. Yet some people see it as ivory, or financial means. Few of us have even seen an Elephant in it’s natural habitat.  Which or whose meaning wins? Which meaning becomes dominant or dominates? Who gets to decide if this is a financial idea or natural one?  Struggles over nature and resources are struggles over meaning. **  If the meaning of wilderness is pristine, if you can convince or create the idea, then you have won the resource; you control the meaning B – Objectivist versus Constructivist Ideas of Nature  Objectivist: o These are your hard core scientific approaches. Reality observable through senses and they are subject to experimentation.  Some are preferred over another because they have certain practical and political connotations.  Hard “constructivist”: o Argue that nature is completely socially constructed and not separate from us at all. It is always completely apart of us. o Interpreting through thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which are a part of social processing. o All reality is a perception, o things that appear natural are constituted: symbolically  Soft “constructivist approach: o Science can explain natural phenomena but… o Implicated in social processes o The way that it is used, interpreted and infused with politics, and apllied in t
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