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Magdalena Kazubowski- Houston

Lecture 1: What is Anthropology? What is Culture? Image 1: Woman picking beans from tree - It’s part of her daily life. Image 2: Girl and Christmas tree - Holidays and celebrations are a part of culture Image 3: Hockey fight - Shows a particular aspect of Western culture - Shows how we define professionalism in sports The arts (dance, sculpture), knowledge, books, the artistic practice of basket weaving are all a part of culture - Basket weaving was stigmatized in Western culture as being a part of Arts and Crafts, and not part of the Great Arts (part of non western cultures Dogs are treated differently around the world, in accordance to the particular culture in which they live People understand the sun differently, and formed different parts of their religious beliefs, governed their days and interpret the sun in accordance to our own cultural conditioning Raymond Williams’ (1921-1988) Theory of Culture - Culture (cultura) has a wide range of meaning (i.e. inhabit, protect, honor with worship; the tending to something (crops and animals); cultivate, cultivation, cultivated). - Culture is ‘one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language o It changes depending on where you are and in what time period - Culture can refer to ‘a general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development’ – philosophers, artists and poets - The term culture may also suggest ‘a particular way of life, whether of a people, or a period or a group’ o Not everybody does the same thing in the morning = way of life - Can refer ‘to the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity’ – poetry, novel, ballet, opera, fine art, ect. Culture and Anthropology You can’t stand outside of culture - is the system of shared beliefs, values, customes, behaviours,and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and wth one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning Culture and Civilisation Dichotomy The word culture is an invention in Western civilization - Williams – civilization vs. culture dichotomy (civilization – the West/culture – the rest’ civilization vs. barbarism; civilization as progress and superiority – culture as backwardness and barbarism) - This has racist assumptions, as civilization was used to reference western culture, invented in the Enlightenment o Still seen today = developed vs. developing  Developing countries are going towards what we are: we are the exemplar of what every country should be - Every culture has ways of trying to see that their culture is better than others, and more civilized - Led to colonialism Photo - the way that the girl is talked about, it’s like she’s an animal, but a fascinating one. She is objectified, an exotic Other person - Is a product of ethnocentrism, and a cause of it o Ethnocentrism = using your own culture to define another as inferior – the opinion that one’s way of life is natural or correct, indeed the only way of being fully human… it reduces the other way of life to a distorted version of one’s own. Ethnocentrism is seen a lot in the tourist industry - Exotic elements (always warm/sunny, beautiful, luxurious, but no people o Want to show that they’re secluded o Give notion that they are available for the westerner to penetrate o Inferior, awaiting for the westerners to arrive - Develop the nation and use it for their own benefit Afghanistan - Portrayed as barren, not pretty, only with US troops, empty, available, up for grabs - The people there are portrayed as veiled, appeals to westerners as primitive and drastically different Eurocentrism - The opinion of European (and neo-European) culture is natural or correct… the only way of being human Hugh Trevor-Roper (1965) - other cultural studies in non-western lands are ‘unrewarding gyrations of…… (get quote)” WE CREATE CULTURE AND CULTURE CREATES US Helicopter parenting Holism - Human beings and human societies are open systems that mutually define or co-determine each other and co-evolve Culture is like walking through sand We affect the sand, create an impression, but the sand sticks to your feet, and the waves of the ocean (history) wash them away so next generations can make their prints, but the combined activity creates the shape of the shore Lecture 2: Luke Eric Lassiter, Evolution and the Critique of Race Ethnocentrism and Eurocentrism led to the development of the concepts of race and racism Lassiter tells the story of: - the origins of race and anthropology as well Charles Darwin coined the idea that everything changes and through natural selection only those characteristics that are passed through the generations are those that allow the organism to survive longer/better - The evolution of change has been misunderstood by Western culture in thinking that change is progress o Going further, more sophisticated o But this isn’t what he meant Progress: has been understood as the movement from something worse to something better, or the movement from more simple to more complex forms What is the problem with linking evolution with progress? - It assumes that we (cultures, humans) are developing to more complex forms and from more primitive - It gives the explanation for racism, as other cultures were seen as less advanced and therefore more primitive - It also comes out of technological development o The west decided that they had the best technology, and therefore the best o This is a problem because in order to have better technology, you need money, it doesn’t have anything to do with the intelligence Other cultures are more advanced in conflict resolution, or family/social structure, so you can’t just limit the definition of advancement to one aspect Franz Boas (1958-1942) The founding father of modern anthropology - He argued that there is no such thing as race because race is a cultural construction, and that there is nothing to mark different aspects of humanity as far as species o Therefore, it’s a cultural creation Cultural Relativism: understanding another culture in its own terms systematically enough so that the culture appears to be a coherent and meaningful design for living, (That’s true for you, but not for me). If you line up everyone dependant on skin colour, you get a full spectrum. Where do you draw the line between black and white? It’s all relative and subjective You can’t judge other cultures based on your own. Every culture needs to be understood in its own right, and not better or worse, but different. What we know shapes how we see and experience the world Picture: Hans Holdein (1533): The Ambassadors - In it, there is a blob on the floor, and apparently it’s a skull. When the prof said it was, more people saw the skull (I can’t see it though.) Race Still Matters - But why? There is no biological base for racism. Read article and answer for Monday discussion groups. Movie (Babakiueria) - Families camping, Australian, playing cricket - Boat comes up with black men in white jackets and hats, carrying guns with the flag of the aboriginals, frightens boy - “What do you call this place?” “Barbeque Area” - False documentary on white people Lecture 3 – Group Discussion Dollhouse - A play written in the early 20 century - Controvercial, addresses the issues of gender (woman leaves husband and home keeping because there is more to life to that - Men were short (little people), woman were tall to show the reversal of gender roles and the juxtaposition shows the ridiculousness of power plays and height (critique of gender relations) - How would you create an artistic critique on the concept of race? - There is no biological base for races, but there is still racism in society Issues Stereotyping - Exaggerate the differences? o Problem, audiences will be racist o Will see what they want to see - Satire o Show what it’s like to be on the other side o Disorient the audience at first – gets them in a different mindset o Show that our culture isn’t perfect either - Challenge conventions Movies - Save the last dance o Has one white girl in a black community o Blacks stereotyped as being in gangs - To Kill a Mockingbird o White girl pushes sex on a black man, he declines, she accuses him of rape o Position of power and privilege - The Princess and the Frog - Avatar Other group’s ideas: Aliens come down, steal the land that we stole and give it back to the natives Try to change what race means: Avatar, their skin is blue, therefore no particular race affixed to it, even though it means that they represent indigenous populations Lecture 4: The Role of Fieldwork in the Production of Anthropological Knowledge - Want to see the everyday reality around complex issues so that anthropologists can see why things are the way they are - Want to see how people feel about certain events/situations Ethnography - Ethnographic fieldwork – the process of an anthropologist’s participatory observation of the daily lives of people - Conducting interviews is also a component of doing fieldwork - Participant observation back when it began was very different than what it is today - Anthropologists would go abroad, “exotic” cultures, stay a year Traditional Approach to Fieldwork - If you wanted to learn about a culture, you went out and gathered ‘data’ - This is problematic sometimes because you can’t observe people as if they were muchrooms - It depends on experience, and part of that is the experience of the anthropologist o don’t substitute observation with fieldwork Today, anthropologists conduct research at home – “Urban Anthropology” - Study contemporary settings in contemporary western context o Eg, inner city drug users, prostitutes, basically different aspects of society that aren’t seen - When you’re conducting research for your own culture, how do you immerse yourself in it? o First you o Could distance yourself from it, but that could be difficult o Talk to the people who are there, but wouldn’t be able to live in someone else’s house to understand - Going into other people’s houses for a year is an aspect of colonialism o Now people don’t do it so much anymore Traditional Approach to Ethnography - Influenced by the method of physical sciences - Positive science separates facts from values, and seeks to produce objective knowledge relevant to all people and all humanity - They rely on their senses to understand the world and the underlying truth o But, relying on our senses is a problem, because we can’t be aware of everything at once - Interested in finding a universal theory for everything o Called Objective Truth Coffee and Diabetes - Coffee may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes... (one study) - Coffee increases blood sugar and diabetics shouldn’t drink (another study) Research is always conducted by a person with a particular point of view, and it’s impossible to remove all bias - If you really want to prove your hypothesis, you will often find evidence to back it up, even if it isn’t true - Your position will affect how you see and experience things The notion of context: - What is the social, economic and political context of your research? - It will shape your particular study o Roma in Toronto would be different to Roma in Poland - People might change their answers to questions depending on how you ask it o If you’re informal, people might be more willing to confide in you, but if you have a tape recorder out, they might lie o It depends on what you do as well Smoke: How do anthropologists have to conduct fieldwork? - There are different perspectives for everything - People may behave differently depending on who they’re with, or the conditions around them - You have to look at the minute details The trunk had what she wanted to be buried in Lecture 5 Anthropological ‘data’ can’t just be collected, it also has to be interpreted - Communist governements in Eastern Europe were totalitarian and didn’t allow discussion and was afraid of debate o Kantor’s Happenings, The Letter, 1967 o Saying that knowledge can’t be delivered, giant letter as a protest Knowledge has to be interpreted for both people - There’s a problem with language, and it’s hard to tell if you or the other person understands completely The Draftman’s Contract What is the painter doing in this clip and how does it relate to Anthropology? - Demands that nobody interferes with parts of the house, while the draftsman is drawing the house and the garden, but people are still going about their business as usual - He sets the landscape up as according to his own painter’s eye - Breaks up the picture into a grid so that they’re manageable to paint o Called framing – framing the reality to which they want to paint - Anthropologists also have a frame o Need some sort of general focus when you study o Already implies that there is some sort of framework  Some people might be interested in the tim horton’s cutomers, others might be interested in the employees o Depending on our own background and interests, we’ll end up being interested in other stories, and blocking others o In the field, you’re bombarded by a lot of stimuli, so you can’t focus on everything at once Gustave Caillebotte 1848-1894 - Meant to communicate that people create stimulous shields in the city to protect them, even though it’s unconscious Nanook of the North, Flaherty - Flaherty wasn’t an anthropologist, but traveled to Northern Quebec because he was interested in the lives of the Inuit - When the film came out, people were excited because he thought it was a real documentary - But, he used stereotypes them, staging a lot of it (making them wear bearskin pants, making an igloo three times bigger than their used to o Used to satisfy the stereotypes of the Europeans When people are watched, they will act differently, so your presence skews the results - The way that you phrase your questions can change things Example: Maria: I better act my best now… or God knows what you’ll say bout me… I do have to be careful what I say, you know… I’ll be a good girl for you (2009) People will also tell you the stories that they WANT to tell you, not everything that you want to hear Things that are unexpected can show up too, and that they can be distracting - Maybe they’re irrelevant because you don’t understand the significance, and then you ignore it Research participants can also manipulate the truth (lie, conceal) When Bill Clinton was ask about his affair, he said “There IS no proper relationship - It depends upon what the meaning in toe word ‘IS’ is. If ‘IS’ means ‘is and never will be, there’s one thing…… FIELDWORK AS DIALOGUE Reflxivity involves: - Examining and acknowledging one’s taken-for-granted assumptions and conceptions - paying explicit attention to, and exposing in ethnographic products, the ethical and political contexts
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