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Anthro Notes 11.7.13

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Boston University
CAS AN 101
Lia Calhoun

Anthro Notes: 11.7.13 All Our Kin Families and Culture Culture and Poverty The people who populate her novels have been a part of the Great Migration - 1950-1970 - It happened in order for blacks to escape the deeply ingrained racism of the Jim Crow south - To escape sharecropping based economy - Through new economic possibilities Isabel Wilkerson - The Warmth of Other Suns - About the Great Migration What was supposed to happen in the terms of an economic shift around the 1950s to 60s, a question emerged, which is why are so many urban blacks still poor? - This was supposed to change that status? The Nature of poverty itself - What makes the poor, poor? - What makes them stay poor? APopular question of the time In 1959 Oscar Lewis - Anthropologists - Five families – case studies in the study of poverty - He outlined his theory of the structural reasons of why the poor stay poor o The argument is this:  Poor people are not only lacking resources  Their culture and value system keeps them poor - Oversimplified often o Rendered the lives of poor people (or tried)  Bothered to understand their perspective  Said that faulty systems were originally to blame  But once poor, led to a subculture • Perpetuated their inability to escape the under class His theory actually became most popular in the US - Politicians and policy makers loved this - Ahuge influence on what became the Moyhihan Revolution Moyhihan Report: 1969 - An enormously influential publication - Came out in 1965 - The man served under Kennedy - He was charged with addressing the growing problem of theAmerican under class, and specifically black people - He ended up relying on Oscar Lewis’s culture of poverty concept - Argued that a subculture develops mechanisms that tend to perpetuate, they lose aspirations and affect the character of the children that grow up there - Atangle of pathology: in black ghettos, the break down of the black family, this is the reason why they could not raise their status Identified Matriarchal society - Out of wedlock births - Single mothers - Contributed to instability - Part of the deterioration: the deterioration of the negro family President Johnson’s war on poverty - It was instantly controversial - Criticized, before it was ever published (it leaked) o Angered a lot of people - This portrayal was insulting o The focus on out of wedlock births was overly moralistic Instead attempt to show that real world data does not neatly fit into these theories… - Ellot Liebow: his book was one of the first attempts to critique Oscar Lewis’s critique of black culture o Very influential book o Provided a better explanation as to why this was culture - All Our Kin… She wants to know why poor people stay poor - Why did black people seem to be caught in cycles of poverty - She comes out with a different explanation: o She did an ethnography  Attended to the voices of black men and women struggling to raise their children in the Flats  Showed that behaviors that the broader society condemned were seen as strategies to this culture • For meeting economic needs • (ie. Young girls having babies included them in culture) o How people are recruited into kin networks o The relationship between household composition and residence patterns o The relationship between reciprocity and poverty She has certain goals and she sets herself a task here Ties together much of what we have been studying conceptually Through an ethnography Gift giving and reciprocity - As an economy - As a basis of social relations - Who is obligated to others - Who has rights over others - She looks at culture as a complex whole - Looks at kinship and marriage and socialization and how all of those things are related - She does this through a sensitive and an emic portrayal based in the US - This was radical at the time - Most anthropologists were going elsewhere at the time and she asked the same questions here in the US - Used fieldwork and participant observation o Area and subjects became our own society These were considered important social and economic questions at the time The concept of swapping - Child swapping and any type of resource - When she had a car she would drive people around - If you have something that someone else needs you need to offer it to them - They now owe you - Tied to “the Gift” - When you already do not have a lot, but you give anyway Swapping services like childcare or whether or not you are swapping stuff - Children are held in high esteem and it is seen as a huge sign of trust to lend your children to someone else - It could get you out to save your own money, but so many peopl
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