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Lecture 9

Anthropology 3332F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Beginning Of Human Personhood, Down Syndrome, Amniocentesis

Course Code
ANTH 3332F/G
Andrew Walsh

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Anthro 3332 Week 9 Notes
RECALL: Earlier Discussions of Adults/Parents
• Trobriander Mothers and Fathers.
• Huaorani couvade/rites of ‘co-parenthood’.
• Mothers giving birth in hospitals/at home and Birthing Fathers.
• Beng parents luring children into this world.
• Wari parents sharing substance and sociality with children.
‘Adults’ putting ‘children’ in peril, and ‘adults’ trying to save ‘children’
^ article by Hart about saving children
“child” and “adult” put in quotations because this is not easily definable
varies by cultures
When do we become ‘adults’?
can be when puberty hits
the ‘legal’ age by which you are adult
when you become independent from your parents
having responsibility for other people
being financially independent
a very historical process
Jane Fajans – They Make Themselves (1997)
Today’s theme: Adulthood and “responsibility”
The “Baining Problem”
“Unstudiable” according to some.
Lacking any “formulable culture or social organization”
One visitor claimed …
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Wednesday, November 8, 2017
People are organized simply in small families and hamlets, lack political hierarchy,
and offer no elaborate explanations for the things that they do.
people liked papua new guinea to explore complex systems and for its diversity
the language used is very indicative of anthropology at the time
they weren’t very interesting to anthropologists at the time
So.. how do “They Make Themselves”?
recall: ‘the paradox’
Baining “make themselves” through mundane acts of socialization (of the sort involved
in teaching children how to garden, work, cook, hunt, etc)
And yet ...
“ ... the Baining have managed to maintain a distinctive social and cultural identity for
over a century in the face of varied and often violent pressure for assimilation and
change.” (Fajans 1997: 4)
you can focus on what happens in university experiences based on things like frosh
week or graduation or you can look at day to day things like students in the cafeteria
Baining Adulthood
“It is only [with] marriage and full maturity that the individual is invested with the
responsibility of transferring sociality ... The true adult in Baining society is not just the
perfect social actor, but the socializing agent” (Fajans 1997:111)
Parents take responsibility for feeding and teaching children.
Adults are also responsible for the care and feeding of elders who, as they age, are
understood to be more and more like children.
Adults as pivotal – bearing the bulk of the responsibility for/to others.
Can we generalize based on Fajans vision of the place of ‘adulthood’ in the Baining
Adults might be defined as those who participate most centrally (as responsible
actors) in overcoming ‘the paradox’ discussed earlier in the course.
Baining (and maybe all?) adults (try to) “make themselves” in two ways …
Are the parents in ‘China Prep’ “making themselves”?
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