ANT102H5- Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 44 pages long!)

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ANT102H5
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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Lecture 6
Language and Culture: A few basics
1. Language consists of symbols (words, grammatical patterns etc.)
2. Culture also consists of symbols
3. The symbols of human culture are language dependent.
e.g. Religion- a religion involves the naming of various kinds of phenomena
with language, involves various uses of language(eg. prayer), many though
not all religions involve written texts.
e.g. Kinship- involves naming various kinds of person and relations, special
uses of language (family dinner, advice), special uses of language with
particular persons (eg. respect terms, avoidance patterns).
- SO one way to think of culture is a set of interrelated systems of language-
dependent symbols.
- These systems cover all our relationships with others and with the world.
FOOD
Marshall Sahlins “Culture and practical reason”
- Main argument of the book: For humans, everything is cultural. There
is no getting outside of culture. All our relationships with the social and
natural world are mediated by culture.
- Sahlins wants to show the underlying cultural logic of the American
cultural system-eg. in Food.
- According to Sahlins organized around a basic taboo against
cannibalism. (Cannibalism is not illegal in many countries but is the object
of a strong taboo.)
- Taboo against cannibalism is a taboo against eating one’s own kind. So
it prohibits the eating of humans by other humans.
- But it also informs our ideas about what other animals should be eaten.
According to Sahlins it is the taboo against cannibalism that prohibits the
eating of dogs and horses.
Unlike cows and pigs, humans have social relationships with dogs and horses.
1. Dogs and horses are given names.
2. Dogs cohabitate with humans.
3. Dogs are “man’s best friend”.
These ideas are cultural- Thit cho(eating dogs)
- Hunmans specifically avoid entering into relations with cows and pigs.(eg.
They do not give them names, exception is dairy cows)
The Human- Dog- Horse dimension
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1. Dogs are closest because they cohabitate
2. Names are metaphoric -ie. not John or Geroge but Spot or Rover-
Metaphoric names suggest that an individual to a single dimension(contrast
with human names which are generally meaningless)
3. Revulsion to eating horse meat less that that associated with eating
dog.
- Creating distance between humans and their food through linguistic
symbols. Because our ideas about what is edibal food are organized around
the prohibition against cannibalism. We create distance.
"Meat"- consept applied to animals not to humans.
*WHAT is meat? Food system makes the slaughter of animals invisible to
cinsumers.(pack it up in boxes)
- The product of a complex symbolic and physical process.
1. Packaged: available as packages meat- no connection to animal.
2. Sectioned: available in sections, specially named with no connection to
living animal.
3. Invisible dealth: Slaughter houses are carefully placed so consumers
never see them.
- in many places animals must be killed by the very people who consume
them- results in a different attitude to food.
- If any vegans came over for dinner, i could whip them up a salad, then
explain my philosophy on being a carnivore: if God had not intended for us
to eat animals, how come he made them out of meat? I love meat. I eat pork
chops, thick bacon burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-
done steak. But I especailly love moose and caribou. I always remind people
from outside our state that there's plenty of room for all Alaska 's animals-
right next to the mashed potatoes.
Transformation of Flesh(cow) into Meat(beef) is a symbolic process.
*HOW does the food system create distance between consumers and the
animals they eat?
-Meat concept
1. Packaged: available as packages meat- no connection to animal.
2. Sectioned: available in sections, specially named with no connection to
living animal.
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