ANTHRO 1AB3 – Identity, Race and Power
Lecture 1: Ithro
January 16 2013
What is Culture?
Culture is the core concept of Anthropology (Cultural anthro, in particular). Defined in a
number of ways; the definitions pertinent to anthropology are:
E.B. Tyler (Primitive Culture) defines culture as “that complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as
a member of society.”
The field of anthropology acknowledges that culture,
I. Is learned from others in the process of growing up in a particular human society or
II. Is shared by the members of that society or group.
III. Is responsible for most of the differences in ways of thought and behavior which exists
between different human groups and societies.
IV. Is so essential in completing the psychological and social development of individuals that
a “cultureless” individual would not be considered normal by other people.
You cannot “be” a person without culture. Anthropologists use culture to emphasize the
differences in practices and beliefs amongst different clusters of humanity.
However, we also must ask, what is culture NOT?
• Cannot be ranked as better or worse
• It is not stagnant; it changes rapidly and effectively over time.
• Not by virtue of differences in biology or genetics – that would be racism.
Ways of thinking and behaving are related, but it is important to distinguish between them.
To distinguish between what people think and how they behave, anthropologists analyze the
mental and behavioral components of culture. Culture’s mental components include all the knowledge and information about the world and
society that children learn while growing up:
• Attitudes about family, friends, enemies and other people
• Notions about right and wrong
• Conceptions about proper roles for males and females
• Rules of etiquette and good manners
• Beliefs about the supernatural
• Standards for sexual behavior
• Perceptions of the world, and so on.
The behavioral components of culture encompass the regularities and habits of how people
behave in various circumstances every day – patterns and functions of behavior. This notion is
absolutely essential to the notion of studying humanity
The formal definition of cultural, for anthropological purposes, is:
The culture of a group consists of shared, socially learned knowledge and patterns of
Five elements of Culture:
I. Norms: Shared ideals, or rules, about how people should behave in society: in different
situations, in general and toward others. Usually only implicitly aware of these, yet we
follow them autonomously. If someone is to behave in a way that breaks a norm, social
sanctions are imposed upon them.
II. Values: The beliefs regarding the way of life that people consider desirable for
themselves and society.
III. Symbols: Objects or actions that represent, connote, or call to mind something else.
Gestures, signs, written languages are examples. Nothing obviously inherent about these
symbols, but by social convention we are implicitly aware of their meaning. These are
resultant through social learning, mastering of the symbol system (Reading, writing,
IV. Classifications and constructions of reality: To classify the world into categories.
Categorize and classify kinds of people, objects, natural phenomena and so forth.
V. World views: The way people interpret reality and events, and how they relate to the
world around them. The shared understanding of nature and their surroundings. How we
explain the world to us and observe our place within the world.
**Acronym to remember this: Can We Not Stroke Vaginas?** Without these cultural understandings, we cannot understand reality or thrive within the
world – we cease to be human.
Culture does not determine behavior – if it did, we would all be robots. However, it
DOES influence our thoughts, actions, behaviors and choices. People have different options in
which to act – culture, provides boundaries for socially acceptable behavior. However, people
like to push and break the boundaries of social construct. We are NOT blind lemmings, we
calculate and connive and see what we can get away with.
But WHY do people push and break boundaries?
• No two people have the exact same life experience, personality, and will thus interpret
and act upon the same situation differently
• Within every culture, there are sets of values and norms which we are encouraged to
uphold. However, norms and values can be ambiguous guides for behavior in which
dissonance or contradictions sometimes arise.
• Sometime we do so to fulfill some other cultural requirement/expectation, to access
something tangible or to further our status/reputation within society. Example, lying,
• Conflict of values: In Vietnam war, university profs would abandon high academic
standards by refusing to flunk students so as they would not drop out of school and be
Fieldwork: Archaeology, Primatology, and Cultural Anthropology
Example: Archaeology revealed that ancient (2500 years ago) Costa Rican footpaths were
visible in satellite imagery but not to the naked eye. The paths had been buried by volcanic ash,
sediment and vegetation.
Grid system: Large grids are used at dig sites to record the exact location of any artifact
or feature found at a site.
Stratigraphy: Archaeologists determine the age of artifacts and other remains through
stratigraphy. Objects buried in lower layers are older than those in higher layers. Archaeologists
are able to date these artifacts and layers, and be able to gain a perspective of the culture at the
Primatology Anthropologists who study our closest living relatives: primates. This is a subsection of
biological or physical anthropology
The principal source of cultural data about any group of people is ethnographic data. A
style of research performed by cultural anthropologists.
Different fieldwork techniques for ethnography include:
• Interviewing: eliciting of responses to researcher’s questions
- Three forms of interview: Structured, semistructured and unstructured
- Structured: Formal phone call
- Semistructure: highly conversational
- Unstructured: Speaking to PEPOLE, conversing, taking notes
• Participant observation: Fieldworkers participate in the daily lives of the people whom
they are studying.
Bronislaw Malinowski: First guy in anthropology to perform fieldwork. Developed the
method of participant observation, he was the first to fully practice what he studied. Introduced
anthropology to full cultural immersion.
E.B. Tylor, James Frazer, L.H. Morgan. “Armchair anthropologists.” Intelligent and
classically trained, but they were very ethnocentric.
They tended to have an ethnocentric view of the world, tended to slot all people of the world
into a hierarchical ordering, Savagery ▯Barbarism ▯Civilization.
Materials were brought to them by colonial observers, they read articles on researched
peoples, and ranked them in terms of different criteria. Developed a system – advent of pottery
meant that society had elevated to barbarism. Different subcategories of Lower, Middle and
EB Tylor was once asked by Queen Victoria, “Have you ever been to the parts of the world
where these savages you so eloquently write about reside?” N HE SED, NOEEEEEEEEEEEE.
Queen crey. Queen runs waif rum antrhopolgygtsda wifout eatin potart. N SHE HAS
HEMOPHILIA SO SHE FOILS. Blug getz lek everywhere. Boi runs ova 2 her, SHE DED.!!! EB
taylor crey, “I MEN TO SAY, I WAN TO HALF SAVAGE SEDX WIF U” he SCREEEMS n
FROWS ANTHRO TEXT AT WELL. A boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooootiful
rubber cyondum was insyd. LIKE DIS IF U WISH HE COULD HAVE ANTHROPOLOGIZED***~*~*~*~*~~~!!!!1!
What people say and what they do do not always coincide, therefore interviews is but one
component of field work, which may not always be reliable.
Moreover, how do you gain the ability to access the trust and acceptance of a community?
How do you establish a repor with the culture you wish to study? How do you gain “guest
Culture Shock: The experience of discomfort and loneliness when immersed in a
community incredibly different from your own, inability to effectively communicate and feeling
of vulnerability. The feeling of uncertainty and anxiety in an individual experience when places
in a novel cultural setting.
Lecture 3: Identity + the Social Person
January 23 2013
Issues in field research:
• Overcoming stereotypes
• Defining fieldworker’s role in the community and develop rapport
• Identifying and Interviewing consultants
Coming to terms with difference:
• The central tenet of humanity goes against popular assumptions: beneath the differences
of race, colour and customs, human behavior is ordered in fundamentally similar and
comprehensible ways – that is what makes us human.
• Argument: No one group of people is “better” than the others.
Should anthropologists speak out against customs which are not standard to their own society?
IE cannibalism or female circumcision? – Not their goal to change culture, instead they try to be
impartial observers of human societies.
Theoretical Framework of Identity
Social and Personal Identity:
Self as the outcome of social interaction – George Herbert Mead
• Mind, Self and Society (1934) • We CANNOT develop normally without others – we are social beings in a very profound
• The Self is a social product developed through encounters with others
• Self is divided into two parts:
o “I” represents the spontaneous, unique and natural traits of the self
o “Me” represents the social part of the self, the internalized demands of society and
the individual’s awareness of these demands
Humans become self conscious through speech
Taking the role of the other: through play and in games
The I and Me are connected through dialogue
• Main point: The self is a product of interaction – Individualization is the outcome of
• “It is as we act that we are aware of ourselves”
• Hence, the self
o Is a joint accomplishment
o Arises out of social interaction
o Is never fully ‘achieved’
o Experiences itself only indirectly
o Is reflexive, selfconscious and agentic
o Is produced by and marked by culture
• There are two selves
o The independent self:
Self describes in psychological terms (I am sincere/ambitious etc.)
Separation of self and society
Autonomous and agentic
o The connected self:
Selfdescribes in social terms (I am a student at McMaster, I am an atheist,
I am a son and grandson)
Embedded within a network of social relations
Group agency and collective change
The development of self requires:
i) Unstructured play, which imbues a sense of empathy
ii) Participating in games, which imbues a sense of fairness
iii) Development of a sense of the generalized other.
The everyday drama of the self – Erving Goffman
• The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) • Existentialist + Cynical POV: Nothing is real in society, selfpresentations and pretense
are how people succeed in groups.
• We are all actors within the Social World, a central theme in the work of Goffman
• In a sense, we are all “Fakers” or engaged in a “Con Job” on ourselves to effect other
• Therefore, Goffman argues that the self is simply nothing more than “SelfPresentation”
and “Role Performances”
• Social life is a theatre with scripts, performances, actors and roles that we perform in the
Front and Back Regions of the self.
• Depicting social life as theatre, Goffman used the term “dramaturgy”
Dramaturgy is the Impression Management. Social interaction is like a stage, divided into the
Front and Back Regions.
• Front Region
o A place where performance occurs
o In this region, the actor engages in his role and performs to the audience
o While the Self is in the Front Region of behavior, the performance of the
individual embodies certain standards
o Matters of Politeness: Relates to the way in which the performer treats the
audience while engaged in talk or gestural interactions
• Back Region
o Definition: a place, relative to a given performance, where the impression fostered
by the performance is knowingly contradicted
o Area where suppressed facts make an appearance
o Here, the performer can relax; can drop their front, relinquish speaking of lines,s
tep out of character
o Illusions and impressions are openly constructed
o The back region is a place where the performer can expect that no other member
of the audience can intrude, it is a closed space.
o Removed from the social gaze
• Impression Management
o Implies that there are attributes that are required of a performer in successfully
staging a character.
o Must act with “Expressive Responsibility”
• Expressive Responsibility o Illustrates the idea that actors must consciously choose the manner in which they
behave and interact with others (they need to know and be aware of expectations
o A perceptive audience understands that a performer is “Acting” a part and that it
does not necessarily reflect the dispositions an individual may hold privately.
What happens when an actor makes a mistake and reveals his true intentions or nature to the
If we are nothing more than “fakers” within the social world, and assuming impression
management is how we navigate through social interactions, then one asks the question is society
Coming of Age
Variations in the Life Cycle and CrossCultural Variations
Infancy: Begins at or after birth. Timine and significance of naming
Childhood: Domestic and subsistence work responsibilities. Care of younger siblings. Degree of
separation of boys and girls.
Adolescence: Degree of recognition and elaboration as an age category. Responsibilities and
privileges relative to adults. Presence, elaboration and significance of initiation rituals
Adulthood: Defined roughly by age or by life events and experiences
Old Age: Degree of respect received from younger people. Age of ‘retirement.’ Degree of control
over family resources.
Rite of Passage: A public ceremony that marks, recognizes, celebrates, or is believed to actually
cause a change in a person and his or her status, usually brought about or related to increasing
Lecture 4: Race
January 30 2013
1. Human physical variation
2. Racism and inequality Adaptations are genetic changes that give their carriers a better chance to survive and reproduce
than individuals without the genetic change who live in the same environment.
Acclimatization: Impermanent physiological changes that people make when they encounter a
new environment. Example: living in high altitudes ▯develop more red blood cells
Influence of the Cultural Environment: Culture allows humans to modify their environments, and
such modifications may lessen the likelihood of genetic adaptations and physiological
Humans are still evolving to adapt to their environment, but no longer in the conventionally
accepted manner. Physiologically, we are result of millions of years of evolution. However,
arguments can be made that our vast diversity impedes evolution by natural selection (gene pool
is too big)
Physical Variation in Human Population: Body build and facial construction
Bergmann’s Rule: The rule that smallersized subpopulations of a species inhabit the warmer
parts of its geographic rang and largersized subpopulations the cooler areas
Allen’s rule: The rule that subpopulations of a species within colder climates have shorter limbs
and more stocky bodies than those of warmer climate. ▯These two rules are complementary.
• Shorter limbs and bodies help to maintain body temperature.
Franz Boas: Found that the children of immigrants, when exposed to a different culture,
environment and diet, looked different (taller, different craniometric measurements)
The Future of Human Variation
Cloning: The exact reproduction of an individual from cellular tissue
Genetic Engineering: The substitution of some genes for others – increasingly practiced on
In the long run, the perpetuation of genetic variability
Racism and Inequality
Race as a Construct in Biology: The ,misuse and misunderstanding of the term race and its
association with racist thinking is one reason why many biological anthropologists and others
have suggested that the term should not be applied to human biological differences.
J Philippe Rushton’s 1995 book “Race, Evolution and Behavior” purports to demonstrate
behavioral differences between the “Negroid,” “Caucasoid” and “Mongoloid” “races” in terms of
sexual practices, parenting, social deviance and family structures among other practices. Race and Intelligence: Until all people have an equal education and opportunities to achieve,
there is no way we can be sure that certain people are smarter than others
If race, in the opinion of many biological anthropologists, is not a particularly useful device for
classifying humans, why is it so widely used as a category in various society?
Identity and Forensic Identification
Dignity and Respect: Most research of forensic anthropology is a form of bioarchaeology – aka
research on dead bodies. Individual victims of crimes, etc, dealing with families at low moments
of their lives.
Why study the dead? To protect the living
• Dignity of the dead, make sure they did not die in vain, make their deaths contribute to
body of knowledge
• Feelings of the living
• Prosecute responsible parties – Justice
Sudden death or missing family member
• Bewildering devastating experience – they require/need answers
Forensic: Relating to or used in courts of law – Greek origin
Forensic Science: The application of scientific techniques to the discovery, collection, analysis
and presentation of evidence in a court of law
Forensic Anthropology: Applied Anthro
Death Investigation Team: Coroner/medical examiner, police, experts, lab technicians
Forensic anthropologists assist police and the coroner to locate, map and recover human
remains, analyze human remains and present results in court
Field to Lab to Court approach:
Reconnaissance, search design, search, recovery, documentation, analysis, expert witness
The Biological Profile: Analysis of human skeletal remains to determine the individuals physical
attributes and condition.
Used in: Bioarchaeology, demography, forensic anthropology.
Analyse forensic significane – are these remains part of a crime? Life, death, crime
reconstruction and identification of bodies – comparison of remains to a missing persons list. Biological Profile:
• MNI – minimum number of individuals
o Ossuaries, multiple burials, plane crashes, mass graves, multiple homicide?
o Many methods: Pick one unpaired element eg skull, count number of element,
MNI = that #
o METRIC: Based on measurements of size
Formulae for almost every element
Males > Females for size
o NONMETRIC: Differences in shape that occur at puberty
Pelvis shape, morphology in general
Adults versus Children
• Age at death
o Always expressed as an age range
o Children: based on well known developmental markers: teeth, long bone fusion.
Reasonably accurate and precise
o Adults: Based on Degenerative changes – joints, dental wear, histology. Not as
accurate as children b/c DIFFERENT TELOMERIC LENGTH
o Skull is most reliable
o Shape of skull, orbits, nasal aperatures, jaw, teeth alignment.
o Measurement of long bones