2-18-14 Notes - Psychological Anthropology 3

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Robin Einhorn

Focus on criticisms of her patterns of culture. Does not account for intracultural diversity; flattens out culture. She confuses individual behavior with group behavior; evaluates cultural ideals and their interactions; what is the best way to behave? Best birth best death? How do people expect other s to behabe? Does it conform to the ideals or is it different. Then what is the real behaviors? (ideal, expectations, reality); National Character Studies Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946) – • “The Japanese are both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic, both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new ways…” • Personality writ large to the scale of the nation. We all are ambivalent. We all contain all these traits. So its not so unusual to be all these things. • During ww2 Geoffrey Gorere and John Rickman, The People of Great Russia: A Psychological Study (1950) • During cold war, so we had a fear of the Russians, • There were a few characteristics to these studies. o They tended to look at national groups; all smaller groups were not differentiated. o One thing mead and benedict hadn’t addressed were the history of these behavior patterns? What gave rise to these? o So too with this, they tried to find the origins of this character and explain it o Childhood determinism. Highlighted by psychoanalysis; weaning practices, methods of giving birth, toilet training. They focused on one or the other trait as isolate to explain behavior. o Culture at a distance: mostly these researchers couldn’t live among the people they were studying. They also usually didn’t speak the language. o Arm-chair anthropology. Relied on myths, tales, proverbs. Pop culture, newspapers, magazines, movies. So Culture at a distance • The research was based on 300-400 Russian emigrants in the east and west, analysis of Russian literature • Russian culture was reduced to one practice in culture: swaddling. o They swaddle so the child cannot harm itself or other. Frustrating and painful, difficult for the child, builds up rage. It was reduced when the baby was unswaddled to be fed. Russians were manic depressive aka bipolar. They were either depressed because of the restriction of movement or they were elated with the freedom, which was always for eating, and they were big eaters and drinkers. Pendulum-like behavior. Mood swings for eating and drinking. The feeding was associated with love. Guilt resulted in confessions (during Stalin regime). o Other groups (like poles, Italians, nas)
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