SEX LOVEAND MARRIAGE
LECTURE 1: SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2011
➔ What is anthropology and what features distinguish it as a discipline?
➔ The study of humanity across time and space
➔ Four sub-fields: archeology, linguistics, physical/biological anthropology and social/cultural
➔ Human behavior and human ways of life from different time periods
➔ Interested in our human like ancestors: apes to homosapiens etc
➔ This course is primarily based on social/cultural anthropology
➔ Archaeologists: study past human societies, primarily through analyzing material culture
➔ Material culture: things that are made or modified by humans
➔ Artifacts: portable forms of material culture
➔ Interested in looking at people's trash, what they have left behind
➔ Sometimes they use available documents (use different forms of writing)
➔ Physical/BiologicalAnthropology: study human and animal bodies as physical entities. They are
interested in: human evolution: HOMINIDS (DNAevidence, the species they are exploring are
called HOMINIDS i.e. neanderthals), Primatology-e.g. Jane Goddall (study contemporary
populations of chimps, apes and so on), forensic analysis of skeletal material (study bones,
sometimes they help with crime scenes i.e. if an individual passes away they can determine how
old they were through their bones), disease patterns in past societies (i.e. what are some cultural
behaviors that might influence disease in a particular society for example the bones of a certain
age group of men may show ties with a particular kind of arthritis).
➔ Linguistics: study language in past and present societies. They are interested in: language
acquisition: how did this develop? Language evolution and change: what sorts of behaviors can
cause a language to change over time? Identity and language: do different genders speak
differently?Astudy showed that middle aged women are more descriptive than men. Class also
plays a role.Alinguist can tell what class someone from Britain comes from because not
everyone speaks like the Royal family.
➔ Social/cultural anthropology: study of contemporary human societies throughout the world.
Politics, economics, religion, identities (gender, class, race), globalization, etc. Tend to specialize.
Ethnographic field work: immersing themselves within the culture they are studying, participant
observation (daily tasks and chores) It is based on long term interaction and engagement with a
group of people. They usually spend a minimum of 1 year in the field is considered the norm.
➔ Culture: sets of learned behaviours acquired by people as members of society
➔ It is shared, learned and dynamic. We all have something that we call culture.
➔ These behaviours are transmitted by various agents of enculturation
➔ Culture is thus shared.
➔ Examples: it is something you are not born with: food, clothing, make-up, tattoos, piercings,
whether or not you go to Church, economic systems
➔ Dynamic: it is always changing
➔ We learn culture through different mechanisms (agents of enculturation). We learn about culture
through the media, our parents, our school, other family members ➔ We may object or challenge some of the assumptions or beliefs people would like to pass down to
us (i.e. our grandparents think differently from us).
➔ Linguistics deals with a generation gap: grandparents speak a different vocab from our parents
whom speak differently from us
➔ CULTURE IS SOMETHING THAT IS LEARNED: WE THINK OFALOT OF OUR
BEHAVIOURSAS BEING NATURAL. WE TEND TO NATURALIZE CULTURE. WE TEND
TO THINK THAT OUR BEHAVIOURS HAVEANATURALBIOLOGICALBASIS TO
➔ GOAL: how in labeling certain behaviours as unnatural can have implications and consequences
➔ MONTREAL,APRIL2010: 11 year old Luc Cagadoc awarded $17,000 after court battle with
Montreal-area school board after teacher claimed his table manners were “not Canadian” and
“unnatural”. This shows a very pervasive attitude in society. The idea of deviating away from the
norms causes for aspects to be labeled as unnatural and deviant.
➔ Cultural Relativism: to battle pervasive ethnocentric attitudes in society. What is cultural
relativism? The process of understanding another culture or group of people from their own
perspective. Trying to avoid the thinking thatYOUR culture is better than another culture. Trying
not to pass judgment on other people's belief systems.
➔ Ethnocentrism: your way of life and thinking is somehow better than someone else's and/or
superior. Examples: 1492: When Columbus came over many of the explorers had ethnocentric
attitudes towards Indigenous people because they did not know what to make of these individuals.
They used this to justify their wrong doing for they thought they were superior. Forms of cultural
prejudice such as a woman wearing a Hijab and how people assume they are oppressed instead of
how it is a religious aspect. Rosa parks and sitting in the back of the bus: the segregation of blacks
and whites. This is a form of white ethnocentrism. Gay marriage legislation: this is somehow not
natural because procreation is a goal they cannot obtain and procreation is biologically “natural”.
My spiritual beliefs are better than yours and I must impose this on you. Nazi Germany and
everything Hitler did.
➔ GOAL: try to understand why cultures have particular beliefs and ideologies instead of labeling it
➔ Ethnographic fieldwork: based primarily on long term, qualitative research (i.e. living with a
group of people or in their community etc).
➔ How has the body been treated within the sciences?
➔ “Nature versus Nurture” debate
➔ Nature: privileging the idea that there is a biological basis for these behaviours
➔ Nurture: cultural and environmental factors are to blame
➔ Late 1800's is when this debate started
➔ Are our behaviours the result of biology or culture?
➔ Many human behaviours are the result of the combined affects of these two
➔ Anthro: interested in the politics behind this
➔ Nature: the idea that biology, genetics, and hereditary factors are the principle factors that shape
who we are
➔ This is obviously the case for many phenotypic variations (physical traits like hair, eye, and sin
colour, for example)
➔ SOCIOBIOLOGY: nature or genes control most of our behaviours. It is a theoretical orientation;