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2. ANT204H1 Jan. 16.docx

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Saul Cohen

ANT204S Wednesday, January 16, 2013 Lecture #2 Me and the “Other”: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Social/Cultural Anthropology 1. Course Logistics 2. Class Discussion: Meaning a. What is sociocultural anthropology? b. Anthropological methods  Readings on blackboard, tutorial response info will be up tomorrow,  Robbins Preface + Ch1 + “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” + “Inner City Poverty”  Understand core concepts, case studies in texts can help with this but they won’t necessarily be referred to or inquired about specifically  Class Discussion: a brown/orange octagon  Maybe it is supposed to be red. Symbol in driving for stop. Commonly agreed that drivers stop and not other members of society such as pedestrians.  The implied rule of the symbol is to stop but it is not necessarily followed.  In South Africa car jacking was common and thus it was not common to drive through stoplights. Becomes excuse for other motives, like getting home quicker.  Things that are agreed upon by society might have more than one meaning, not everyone will stop at a stop light  What else can it mean? Can mean danger, alerting you to stay away. Pedestrians crossing the road. Rest/Stillness. Stop sign can be coupled with graffiti and the meaning can be changed completely.  Places with stop signs can indicate what is important to certain societies, such as mobile vehicles.  Cultural context. If put in a dorm room for example it takes on a different meaning.  It is a representation of a representation, of itself. The stop sign can mean stop, but it can also be used to represent itself.  Meaning of thing is removed from the actual construction of it.  Cultural context makes it complicated, though it should be obvious.  Ways of Understanding the World? Culture. Gender. Order. Chaos.  Meaning is not self-evident, often overlooked.  What it means to be a woman varies at different periods in time.  What is sociocultural anthropology. o 1. “To understand the human condition” o what makes us human, what make human society and human culture?  Holistic, complex and paradoxical  We do not deal with the complexities of our lives on a day to day basis, nor do we have the time or knowledge to deal with it  We live in a contradictory world, with conflicting values (ex. Reduce, reuse and recycle – we need to stop consuming yet we are constantly forced to)  To be holistic we cannot leave these contradictions of our lives out of the process.  These categories are being inflicted upon us throughout our lives, constantly.  Cultural meanings are created, they do not just appear. We shape our lives by inadvertently shaping our lives  Societies are structured (e.g. political anthropology) o Started in the 1930s and 40s when anthropologists went to Africa and could not understand how hundreds of people, scattered, could have structured lives though separated.  All societies are structured in some way or another, societies agree on the meaning of certain things for a reason  Social behavior and beliefs are patterned – they are not random nor are they chaotic (e.g. docile bodies). There are conse
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