January 22 2013
Social evolutionism: the assumption that there is a law of social progress that allows
us to know our past through the present of others, to know the present of others
through our own past, anf to know their future through our own present.
Indian residential schools : were created to assimilate them, wanting to lower them.
Christianity, wanting to convert them, to get them away from their superstitious beliefs.
In these schools, they are taught in english, get rid of indian ways, physically abuse
potentially sexual, punishment used in schools to teach them proper behaviour. The
aim was to create a new generation of proper civilization amongst youth. Shape their
minds and behaviour to make them white. A lot of indians were traumatized. They
viewed aboriginals as completely different from “canadians”.
For europeans, africans were inferior.
Social evolution's thoughts and assumptions are part of european culture ?? the
assumptions that non
western culture are inferior ? It is not part of the european culture.
Social evolution conformed often the cultural understanding of colonizing.
Anthropologists tend to be a little hesitant of what culture is. They look at cultural
meanings. They pay attention to these meanings(racist) not simply as wrong but as a
certain cultural meaning informing practices. Doesn't mean that they agree with them
but are interested why they hold them and practice colonialism and those religious
schools, interested in the discourses of different cultural meaning that people will bring
to social relationships. Attempts to recognize that meaning is social life (even if it is
wacko but people hold onto them and we want to understand how it informs practices
like residential schools)
Radi-aid is a parody because it makes fun of the ways westerners help africa.
The state of development: Targets, desires and malcontents.
I. Undeveloped/Underdeveloped: Connecting and Disconnecting between withing
• Modernization approaches to development and un-development/”tradition”. They
have a particular understanding of underdeveloped to what they view of
traditional ways of living and what they think are normal ways of living. IT
approaches as soon as the problem of poverty, as soon as the people who are
suffering those condition, development aims to provide access to institutions,
modern tools and education, technology, they say people will become
developed. The problem with poverty in Africa is that they lack
development,modern amenities and they need modern technologies to become
developed. The aim of development is to be a midwife to help through the
modern ways of living, through education, farming (fertilizing etc), become better
carpenters, how to access market, sell themselves, look after themselves
hygienically, toilets etc. Often, there is an assumption that people live traditional
lives and you need to tackle these traditions to make them modern.
Anthropologists are suspicious with modernization even if they want to understand it. They want to see what forms those projects but don't promote
them. They are also suspicious because it puts everyone in the same cultural
generality of poor health,hygiene,education. They are hesitant to identify what is
tradiontal vs what is not. They look at tradition as a meaning practice and
understand what others' traditions are. They want to understand what makes
people decide if they want to become modern or if they want to keep their
• Political economy approaches to under-development and “neo-colonialism”. The
first nations were not living poor lives or lacking. They were not viewed as
needed to be modernized. T 8he state differentiates groups of people within the
territory and it leads to different economical opportunities and political
• Examine how inter-state and intra-state practices differentially identify peoples
and places, generating unequal connections and assumptions about them.
Example, in Zimbabwe, the best land was reserved to european people or
identified as europeans. By the time of independence, they took away that
social classification, and they could own good land even they were not identified
as Europeans Still, most owners were white. They benefited from the past
heritage of the land classification. Native reserves in Zimbabwe held people that
were colonized by Europeans, It was a generally poor agricultural land. They
had difficulty farming. They had to go work, on the white farms, or in towns.
They were only able to live in the town, in the African location if they had a job
with a white person. They had a pass, stamps etc. Otherwise they were evicted
to their reserve. It was a huge differentiation.
II. Targets and Desires: Development as Sociocultural Practices
Ethnography: spending time with people and observing how they live their lives. It puts
some people in an educated, developed perspective, that they are observing
A) Example: BIKAS in Nepal in the 1980s (Stacey Leigh Pigg)
The village became a way to understand Bikas. Bikas became a way Nepalis learn
how they fit in. School textbooks were distributed and there was a visual way to
differentiate different Nepalis. They differentiated between different ethnic groups.
Mountain areas people, hindus, etc.
The became a caricature, and it became the way people came to understand their
position withing the nation state. They would have interactions with other people on a
day to day basis, but when it came to the state, they would use the distinction between
bikas(lack development) and villagers. Labour: those who were poor would be
labouring for others. Medical helpers would help doctors, so they would be carrying
someone else stuff, but when they go to a village, someone else would carry their
stuff. It became a way for many of the nepalis to identify themselves as helping the
more underdeveloped people. Community and solidarity. th
January 29 2013
Material culture: objects, routes and the cultural politics of meaning
I. On globalization: an ethnographic approach
“Cheerleaders” versus political economy approaches (e.g. structural adjustment
Globalization: the ability of people to come around the world through technologies,
communication. Movement of western ideologies. Single culture. Inter dependencies
of economies, resources, information, military support. Growing integration of the
plant, people on the planet, through technologies, easier to make transaction, travel,
communicate etc. Bringing together.
Cheerleaders: Enthusiastic about globalization.
Triple economy: way of looking at the politics and the power involved. How integration
is necessary to globalization.
It can lead to inequalities. Set of policies that were mandated by the world financial
institutions. Late 1970s for countries that owed them money. Basically, open barriers,
let investors come, economies opened up. Local economies fell down to get the
country out of debt because they could not compete. It helps develop economies of
greater developed countries to the advantage of smaller economies. Does not benefit
the majority of the people.
Ethnographic specificities (e.g. glocal):
0Anthropologists are interested in what happens in particular localities and influenced
by what is happening elsewhere. Ex of big industries using local customs to expand
their economy. It is shaped by the specific historical social cultural context → glocal.
Also look at global religious movements and what each means in every locality.
Christianity is a global movement but depending on the place where it is practiced,
there are different interpretations of the christian message.
Also they want to understand the “global imaginaries”. Assumption that something is
the same wherever it is, but takes some specificity in each locality. But anthropologists
have a look at what the global itself means. Any way global is used, it carries a
different meaning. Some global imaginaries could be religions.
II. Commodities,Social Paths, and the cultural politics of meaning
Commodities are items that can be exchanges for another item, including money.
Anthropologists are interested in those.
a) Social biography (“commodity phase”). Many commodities might become
possessions, or may be back to being commodities. Or they might stay possessions
and be passed on to your children. Some objects pass the time to be exchangeable.
b) --different cultural meaning and values change the title of an object. There are some
things you can't buy, like people. You could buy their labour though.
c) social paths with their authorities, history of how the object got there, how its yours.
And the rules that are around that object. Anthropologists follow these paths.
Sometimes connections are ignored or stressed, connections like the marketing, the
importation etc. people do not think about those. III. T-shirts travel (2001)
What is the main commodity examined in the film ?
Does its meaning and value change in different contexts ?
Multimillion dollars business in the us.It is the only way some people can afford
What are some of the social paths through which it travels and who are some of the
social groups that have influence in those special paths?
Zambia: clothes come from the US, donations.Dealers import it, and sell it.People buy
a bag of clothes in the capital. Brings the clothes 10 hours away, at home.
Public transportation is involved.
Does the film provide more of an ethnographic or political approach to studying the
Defining Nations: Citizens, Immigrants, Diasporas
The capacity to shape or transform a given situation ,determine outcomes, and to act
upon the actions of others.
A) Power as Coercion
B) Power through meaning
II. Imagining the Nation: cultural citizenship and belonging
Nationalism: Social-cultural practice concerned with forging an identity of
boundedness, continuity, and homogeneity encompassing diversity in relationship to a
political state. It is not a natural thing, it is a recent phenomenon. It is a concern with a
territory, even one who might not yet exists. (Like Quebec...) Sense of having a nation
that has depth in time and a future. History in schools is to inculcate a sense of nation
to kids. There is sense of unity in diversity within a nation.
Cultural citizenship: Hegemonic form of social meaning and power that provide notions
of who belongs to the nation and who does not. The government has a legal definition
but there are social distinctions made to who belongs to the nation. Anthropologists
pay attention to the key concepts of who belongs and who doesn't.
Xenophobia: An intense dislike of those to be foreigners to the polity.
Nationalism is quite influential in people's lives. They have a sense of belonging legally
to a state, and a sense of belonging to a nation they are not native from.
Diasporas: people who view themselves as members of ethnic and/or national
communities who have left, but maintain links with, their homelands. It is an active
thinking. It can be important in national movements, can matter in elections
A) Imagined communities of the nation
B) Diasporas and immigrants: linkages and boundaries
i) beauty contests in Belize
III. We Are All Neighbors
Why did the filmmaker chose this title? What is the initial meaning of neighbour in the
film and what other social category does this become overwhelmed by as the film progresses ?
What are the cultural markers that the former neighbors start using to distinguish
themselves, forging connections with some and disconnections with other ?
According to the film, what are some of the factors that led to this change in the sense
of relationships with others in this Bosnian village ? Are some of the factors rotted in
trans local scales or only found in the village ?
Economies of Scale/Scaling Economics: Labour & Chains
I. Production and Distribution
Production is the transformation of inputs(environmental or human-created)into a form
of suitable for human use. Distribution is getting these products to people.
Anthropologists look at some questions:
Who does what type of labour ? For what remuneration ? Who controls the inputs ?
Who has access to the product itself ? (the form produced). And its disposal ?
These are research questions shaped by cultural meaning and power relations.
A)Division of Labour
Division of tasks in production processes , as well as the specialization of occupations.
One common distinction in division of labour is through gender.(Nurses vs mechanics)
The distinctions can affect remuneration. Some tasks are age restricted. (Bartending
vs politicians) Ethnicity,race,immigration status. (Cab drivers vs government) In the
house, there are certain tasks associated with the status in the family(Children vs
parents and gender again) These divisions are shaped by particular assumptions.
B) Classes: Means of Production and Labour Appropriation
i)Ethnographic Example of the cultural dimensions of economics-Farming and Religion
for Guatemalan Indians (1980s,Sheldon Annis)
March 5 2013
open book exam. 15 at 9. 3 hours. Apply concepts and ideas drawing from examples
from class, readings, films and books. Lots of writing. No computers. Bring notes and
Modeling Kinships, Marriage and Families
I. Kinship, Marriage and families-some Anthropological pointers
key domains in which people forge connections with others, draw on others in their
daily lives and count of for special moments. Full of authority, emotions, tensions and
power relations. Kinship in social relations . Can be blood relationships or not.
Marriage in term of kinship is your second family, your in-laws. Kinship is a way to
forge close relationship, godparents as an example. Close friends of family can be
called uncles or aunt. Can forge family-relationship like with a congregation or a union.
Kin is to identify who is related to you and talk about the way you constitute close
relationships with people.
a) Descent Principle based on culturally recognized parent-child connections that defines the
social categories to which people belong. Example, your mom's brother and your
dad's brother are both your uncles but in terms of kin, they both are.
Bilateral descent: (Cognatic) Principle that a descent group is formed by people who
believe they are related to each other by connections made through their mothers and
fathers equally. This is a minority system.
Unilineal descent: Principle that a descent group is formed by people who believe that
they are related to each other by links made through men only or women only. You
belong to either your mother and his female relatives (matriarchal) or your father and
his male relatives (Patriarchal). It means every child belongs to their father's
patrilineage. If it is a matrilinear society, you belong to your mother's matrilineage. It
does not mean you ignore the other gender's relatives. These are more common than
the bilateral kinship system.
A common way of thinking of kinship is biological. It is not necessary most people
understand kinship. Why do anthropologists pay attention to kin? To understand how
society is structured, to understand your and others kinship system. In your own life,
kin matters because it is a way to identify yourself, ethnic heritage. They are important
to grow up, someone you identify as a parent, someone that help you to get you
through life, people to rely on for housing, food etc. In some countries, different people
are assigned different roles and tasks according to their kinships. It influences people's
actions and behaviour.
b) Marriage transactions : Bridewealth and Dowry
Bridewealth is the transfer of certain symbolically important goods from the family of
the groom to the family of the bride to legitimate the marriage. Particularly in patrilinear
societies, the husband to be family gives a cattle or money to the bride to be family.
Without bridewealth being paid, it is not viwed as a proper marriage. It is a long
process. The children born in that marriage belongs to the patrilineage if bridewealth is
paid, if not, the mother's patrilineage will say the child belongs to them. Often, the
groom has to rely on his relatives to pay the bridewealth. It can lead to pressure on
women to remain in bad marriages, because if they divorce, the family of the bride will
have to repay the bridewealth.
Dowry: Valuables or estate transferred by a bride's relative to her, her husband, his
family , and/or her children in connection with the marriage. Anthropology talks about
different family forms, extended families, polygamy, monogamy, after marriage where
do they live etc. Typically key elements in kinships and family and marriage are issues
with generations, differences within generations, it is an important axis. Gender in
kinship and families are creating assumptions and thoughts, there are contestations
over what being a father and mother or a sibling is. Sexuality is tied up in here too. At
the minimum, there is prohibition over who you have sex with (Incest), in some kinship
systems, at certain ages or until marriage you are not supposed to have sex etc.
Punishments for not respecting those sexual practices.
II. Modeling families:thxamples of power, meaning, history
a) British missionary 19 century interventions amongst the Tshidi in southern Africa
(Jean and john Comaroff)
Focus on self-disciplined individual, self-improvement via “upper mobility” for men and “upper nubility” for women. If you wanted to advance in class , you had to marry upper
class for women and go to work for men. They also saw the importance of the nuclear
family with gendered public/private division. Wife is at home and looks after the
childrena dn man goes to work and brings money, they devote themselves tot he bible
and do good deeds, so they can go to heaven. Division refers to the role of women as
being in the house, keeping it clean, oversee the cooking, do domestic chores, and the
husband is farming or working and provides for the family. Missionaries had an
idealized view of country life. In England they lost that working the week and devoting
the Sunday to the church, and they tried to recreate it in Southern Africa. Create the
“kingdom of God” through, amongst other things, establishing private property,
methodical self-construction, and the practical arts of a civilized life: “replace existing
African society and economy into the imagined world of free, propertied and
prosperous peasant families living under God-inspired authority” in MISSION
STATION. Example: transform living spaces into enclosed, squared houses with a
yard (Private property) in a rectangular grid; make men into farmers and wives into
indoor domestic wives and mothers etc. At the mission station, they tried to impose
and enforced a new social architecture to show people how they should live their lives.
For the women, the missionaries wise would teach them home skills. The people
followed these practices because they saw them as authority or they were in a bad
position to refuse. A lot changed the way they lived. “The aim of civilizing mission was
to get Africans to build houses, enclose gardens, cultivate corn land, accumulate
property, and increase their artificial wants (e.g. for commodities)
b) contradictions between being a good wife and a good mother: asante market
women in Ghana in the 1980s (Gracia Clark)
Matrilineal & Duolocal households common. Duolocal means that husband and wife
leave in separate houses. Motherhood as including financial responsibility, even more
than physical care-giving. Mothers were responsible for the money. Father would give
some money. Chop money is money for food. Father gives chop money to the wife for
her to prepare meals, as she would cook for him too even if they lived in different
houses. Being a wife and working as well, puts lots of weight on cooking and food
preparation. The quality of the food would show others the quality of the relationship.
Spending time preparing it meant a lot of time, and less time to work at the market. It
was stress for women. Sometimes women would buy commercially made food instead
of cutting it themselves. It would mean a bad relationship though. Asking the maid to
make the food though would mean that maybe your husband might have relationship
with that younger person. As the children grew older, it became easier to have a
healthy relationship with their husband, cook and go to the market.
c) changing dowry forms amongst south Asian diasporic communities in the UK
They are twice migrants. First from India and Pakistan then moves to east Africa and
later the UK. Punjabi dowry has 4 components:
1) specially marked clothes for bride;
2) gold for bride;
3) household goods; 4) gifts for her husband and his parents;
but it has changed over the 20 century. In the early 1900s, all the gifts were given to
the husband's mother. It would be up to her to distribute them, in theory she would
give some to her daughter in law, but in practice she would give some for the dowry of
her own daughter. In 1950s,60s, as they moved to the UK, there was an increase as
the 4 gifts would actually be given to the bride. It was due to the increase of the new
family no longer living with the in-laws. Many women were working so they would
contribute to their own dowry, and contribute to their own household. The items
depended on their class and where they lived. London brides would go for specialists
designers, make special clothes. To distnguish themselves from other punjabi families.
March 19 2013
Religious Orders, Preternatural Forces & Anthropological Dilemmas
Religion is for some people a crucial aspect to understand the world. Way to forge
connections between people of the same faith. Way to make divisions and break
relationships. For many humans religions paid a role in notions of health, explaining
the world, helped creating relationships between humans and humans and other
I. Religion & Anthropology : Some themes
Are you religious ? What does it mean to be religious, what role does it play in one's
life ? Do you believe in invisible beings ? (heaven, hell, ghosts, demons, angels,
paradise) Which and why ? Pays a role in shaping one's conduct. Family expectations.
Often people who are religious have a sense of what invisible being and reals are,
from the religion or independent perspective. Anthropologist are interested in the roles
religion plays, activities defined as religious and those may be different between
people, even if they are both of the same religion. Branche