ANTH 1020H Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Cultural Relativism, Participant Observation, Soot

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9 Feb 2016
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Culture: it is learned, shared, symbolic and arbitrary, it is the system of meanings about
the nature of experiences that are shared by people and passed from generation to
generation
- you learn culture from your family and the world around you
- it is symbolic and shared so members of one culture understand actions, gestures,
words, rituals from their cultural context
- culture is knowing what to do in your culture or your “cultural norms”
- no activity is without meaning and anthropologists can learn many things by paying
attention to the behaviour and activity
Cultural laboration: taking one item and changing it’s form and elaborating from original
version
Dealing with corpses: North America, Japan, Wari, Berawan, Tibetan
NA:
- organ transplant is common after death
- body is like a shell and the brain function is associated with life, without brain function
there is no life to the person
- the soul and body are separate
- there’s a separation of humans and nature; we value ourselves as higher on the food
chain and with no relation to animals
- funeral burials, in caskets, with flowers, body is embalmed
- memorialize the dead, gravestone to mark the spot where someone is buried
Wari
- From Brazilian rain forest
- no burying of the body in the ground because the ground is polluting
- the body and the soul are one
- the personality is explained by the flesh and bodily fluids
- kin is related by blood or exchange of bodily fluids
- they sweep all the memories of the dead away from the living as possible by burning all
possessions and living quarters of the dead
- cannibalism is a respectful way to dispose of the body after death
Tibet
- practice Buddhism and believe in karmic retribution and reincarnation
- sky burials where the body is cut up and bones are ground
- the body must be gone for the soul to be free
- no sentimentality for the corpse
- no connection or mourning for the corpse they don’t see a person there anymore just
meat
- the body is given back to the earth
- animals are associated with humans
- the soul is freed from the body and meant to travel and discover who it is
- a priest talks to the soul to get it to accept it’s death
-
Japan
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- there are two deaths: medical one decided by the doctor and social one decided by the
family
- their sense of self is associated with the belly
- they view themselves as a group not so much as individuals
- were against organ transplantation
Berawan
- four step burial process
- the body is left to decay and decompose seen as a way to free the soul
- the decomp process is important because the body can be possessed by demons if it is
not decomposed
- there is cannibalism at times as well of consuming bodily fluids from the corpse thought
to give good health and protection
- the body and the soul aren’t separate the body must be gone for the soul to be freed
Recognizing death
- culture is a human creation and no animals are thought to have it
- culture has developed from evolution
- animals don’t mourn dead bodies or babies they understand that the thing is dead, but it
doesn’t impact them the way it does humans
- animals don’t understand that they are going to die whereas humans are aware of death
and what it means
- humans have a concept of a “good death” that we understand and live by, this
understand is diverse and complex and our cultural logics dictate what we do with
corpses
- humans understand what accompanies death; physically the decomposing of the body
and mentally or spiritually what happens to the body is diverse from culture to culture
- all humans die, but how the burial is done and why certain cultures do certain rituals is
based on cultural logic
- in certain cultures death matters a great deal in relation to how to dispose of a body
Time
- Western World organizes our lives around our concept of time
- this is a highly sophisticated cultural act
- time is symbolic as we understand the numbers on the clock as times in a day
- time is arbitrary and made up but vital to us
- there is an interrelatedness of how many things in life depend on structure specific time
- Globally we function with timezones, operating hours for jobs and organizations,
seasons dictate what food is grown or flown into certain countries
- thinking about time is very specific to cultures and time is our cultural norm
- society functions with time
- the language we associate to with time changes how we use out time (time is a gift, time
is money, you’re wasting time)
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