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Lecture

ANTH 1120 Lecture Notes - Participant Observation, Margaret Mead, Religion In Africa

8 pages27 viewsFall 2013

Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 1120
Professor
Molly Ladd- Taylor

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UNIT 1:LECTURE 2 : What is Socio-cultural Anthropology?
1) Primary Question: “How can people begin to understand beliefs and behaviors that are
different from their own”?
-experiences of difference between ourselves and others
-socio-cultural anthropology is one of 4 sub-disciplines of anthropology
!-what are the other 3 subdisciplines?
-what issues and questions are socio-cultural anthropologists interested in?
2) Culture
-a key word for anthropologists that represents a holistic, integrated and comparative approach
to human difference
-CA text emphasizes that culture is ʻthe system of meanings about the nature of experience that
are shared by a people and passed on from one generation to another…” (p.6)
-ʻcultureʼ is a term that helps us to think about how and why there are different meanings
attached to common life events and practices
3) Horace Miner, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”
- an anthropologist writing about a strange and different culture.
- What do you think Minerʼs purpose was in writing about the Nacirema?
- What do you think heʼs saying about anthropology and how anthropologists think and write
about culture?
4) Thinking critically about ʻcultureʼ
-Can ʻcultureʼ be dysfunctional?
- Is it ok to compare different beliefs/practices and say that one is better than the other?
-ethnocentric fallacy, or ethnocentrism—when we judge other groupʼs behaviours or beliefs
according to our own beliefs and behaviours with the assumption that ours are right and true.
- relativistic fallacy, relativism–no behaviour or belief can be judged to be odd or wrong
simply because it is different from out own.
!-problems with ethnocentrism and relativism. So whatʼs the answer?
5) Politically committed anthropology
-Nancy Scheper Hughes argument for a politically committed, morally engaged and ethically
grounded anthropology; this involves making moral choices, which are usually premised around
a commitment to social justice and human rights
6) Film: “Cannibal Tours” by Dennis OʼRourke.
1. How do the tourists describe the people of Papua New Guinea?
2. What do the New Guineans think of the tourists?
3. Why do you think the director used the word “Cannibal” in the title of the film?
4. Is this film an example of cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, or both?
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Lecture 3: Ethnographic Methods: How do anthropologists interpret and analyze
difference?
1. How do anthropologists do their research?
-armchair anthropologists of the 19th century (Tyler)
-the ethnographic method (Malinowski): the immersion of the investigator into the lives of
the people she or he is trying to understand, and through that experience, the attainment
of some level of understanding of the meanings those people ascribe to their existence
(CA, p. 10)
-the ethnographic method utilizes the techniques of anthropological fieldwork, of which a
key component is participant observation, the active participation of the observer in the
lives of his or her subjects…
2. The fieldwork process
-prior to entering the field, developing a research topic
-fieldwork requires funding and permissions
-where exactly is the field?
-the anthropologist brings with him/her certain unalterable facts that will affect their
fieldwork
-what is useful about participant observation?
-how does the anthropologist record their information?
3. Post fieldwork: cultural texts
-some anthropologists attempt to interpret or decipher cultural differences by thinking
about culture as a kind of text of significant symbols--the anthropologist tries to decipher
cultural texts
4. Clifford Geertz and the Balinese Cockfight
-After attending many cockfights, how does Geertz interpret them?
-What elements or features of the cockfight does he focus on?
-What is their cultural meaning?
5. Margaret Mead And Samoa (VIDEO)
Questions:
1. What were the problems with Margaret Meadʼs fieldwork according to Derek Freeman?
2. Who was right about Samoan Adolescence—Margaret Mead or Derek Freeman. Could both
of them be wrong? Right? How?
3. What does this video demonstrate about the process of fieldwork?
LECTURE 4: What can we learn about ourselves through anthropology? What can you
do with anthropology?
1) !How and why might the following professions or businesses be interested in hiring
someone with some training in anthropology
-Microsoft
-Canadian International Development Agency
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-AIDS Committee of Toronto
-Druide Organic Cosmetics
2) !4 branches of socio-cultural anthropology 1) medical anthropology 2) law and society 3)
political ecology 4) applied anthropology
3) ! Rylko-Bauer, Singer and van Willigen, “Reclaiming Applied Anthropology” (article)
-applied anthropology is ʻanthropology in useʼ,
-how did applied anthropologists in the mid-20th century begin to re- think their
relationships with local communities? What changed?
-What are some of the critiques of applied anthropology discussed in the article? What
are the authorsʼ responses to these critiques?
!a) applied anthropologists work for governments, corporations and other groups
that are often associated with ʻhaving powerʼ
b) theyʼre not really doing ʻpureʼ or objective research as theyʼre paid to advocate
for the group that hired them
c) applied anthropology is atheoretical—it focuses only on reports and policy
d) applied anthropology, like the rest of anthropology, isnʼt ʻpublicʼ enough
5) Examples of the different kinds of jobs that anthropologists do beyond academia
- health sector, human rights issues, law and court system, businesses and corporations
6. Video: Real People, Real Careers
-Make a list of the kinds of work that anthropologists in this video are doing; be able to
explain why it makes sense having an anthropologist doing this particular kind of work.
What particular insight/perspective do they bring to their area of work?
Lecture 5: The Cultural Construction of Identity I: How are Identities Formed?
1. How do people determine who they are and how do they communicate who they are to
others?
-enculturation
-identities are critical to the functioning of any society because they help individuals
understand their own place, role and function in the world, and how to relate to others
2. How do concepts of personhood vary from society to society?
-societies have different ideas or values about personhood
-Individualistic vs. holistic view of the self
-the egocentric vs. sociocentric societies
-dividing societies into egocentric vs. sociocentric may be problematic
-how might we argue that North America societies have sociocentric elements?
3. The ʻidentity toolboxʼ: Gender
-gender: a universal category and a biological fact?
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