ANT 102 – Study Terms
Relativism argues that truth and moral standards are not fixed and absolute for everyone
but vary according to time, place, and context.
Socio-cultural anthropology holds/suggests that variations in human behaviour must be
understood within the cultural or social frameworks which contain them.
Ethical relativism is the notion that the business of making universal,
cross-cultural, ethical judgements is both incoherent and unfair
because moral values are a product of each culture’s unique
developmental history, and can, therefore only be judged in relation to
Eurocentrism - universalizing judgements of other people’s moral
values and ethical behavior
Linguistic anthropology: Language consists of symbols.
Socio-cultural anthropology: Culture, like language, operates through
symbols (i.e. meaning is constantly conveyed in our every-day
Symbol:A word or object or behaviour or action that represents another abstract
or concrete thing. Objects with symbolic meanings might include flags, Christian
crosses, royal crowns, all forms of dress and adornment, but also every-day
things like consumer goods
Meaning is highly context dependent - you need to know layers and
layers of (culturally specific) context to understand the meaning of a
wink. You also need to know when to wink and when not to wink,
whom to wink at and to what effect.
- The practice of interpretation: originally of religious texts, later of social situations,
focusing on the meanings those involved ascribe to an event. Ethnography, in short, is an
act of interpretation.
The hermeneuticcirclerefers to the idea that one's understanding of the
text/meaningful practice/ cultural action as a whole is established by reference to
the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference
to the whole. Neither the whole text nor any individual part can be understood
without reference to one another, and hence, it is a circle. All of this means that
the meaning of a text (or any social phenomenon) must be found within its
cultural, historical, and literary context. Questions: What is ethnographic fieldwork?
What is the anthropological
What kinds of knowledge do we produce?
“Ethnology has introduced law and order into what seemed chaotic
and freakish. It has transformed for us the sensational, wild, and
unaccountable world of “savages” into a number of well- ordered
communities governed by law, behaving and thinking according to
consistent principles ...
Ethnographic Fieldwork - consists of collecting concrete data of
Ethnography - he practice of anthropological research based on direct
observation of and reportage on a people's way of life. For the ethnographer
there are two stages, the first of which is fieldwork, which is the process of
observing and recording data. The second stage is the production of a written
description and analysis of the subject under study. Its place in post-colonial
studies has not always been as straightforward, and has on some level
contributed to our colonial assumptions
Ethnography is the process of recording and describing a culture of a specific
people, such as the Dani, and its traits, patterns, and principles of coherent
integration. Anthropologists produce ethnography on the basis of firsthand field
observation of the people who are being studied. – Website Term
Ethnology covers the theoretical aspect of anthropology. Ethnologists ascertain
how cultures differ or exhibit similarities through comparison and
generalization, suggest reasons for cross cultural regularities observed, and use
these explana tory inferences to formulate new research hypotheses.
Holism – any approach that treats the whole greater than the SUM OF ITS PARTS
Methodological Holism – aims at understanding social life through social and cultural patterns
Methodological Individualism – the individual is the basic and IRREDUCIBLE unit of explanation in
QUESTIONS for exam
What are the principles of anthropological method?
Theory of Evolution - holds that species of living things develop from
previous versions of themselves, as opposed to being created. The
term was made famous by Darwin, though the term had this meaning
from at least the 1830s.
Social evolution” is the - anthropological concept of directional change
in a society. In late-nineteenth-century studies it was supposed that
gradually evolved to greater levels of complexity
Malinowski rejected human evolution
Neoevolutionism (or neo-Darwinism) - generally applies to modern
revivals of evolutionism; in sociology it is associated with the theories
of Talcott Parsons.
Talcot Parsons Theory – attempted to establish a balance between two major
methodological traditions: the utilitarian-positivist and hermeneutic-idealistic traditions
*look up for more in depth and clear detail*
Diffusionism - is the appearance of elements of one people’s culture or
practices in another.
Example: th media, internet etc it is now happening more than ever - an example
could be the way British English is now using a lot more American slang,
pronunciation etc due to exposure to US films and TV.
Reflexivity - The process of turning in on oneself; of “reﬂecting” on
the conditions under which knowledge is produced.
Production of Knowledge - always linked to power and the
particularities of context. If we understand that all knowledge is voiced
from a particular location or position, then perfect objectivity and
neutrality are not possible.
On the other hand….Scientific Knowledge - is always forged from
particular vantage points and from within a ﬁeld of power relations.
Perspectivist-Knowledge - is not as much non-objective: it is partial. It
reﬂects an external reality but only an aspect of it, the one visible from
the particular spot, social and individual, where the anthropologist was placed.
The Multiplex Identity Explained…
* A person may have many strands of identiﬁcation available
• Different aspects of one’s identity become highlighted or relevant at
• Gender, race, class, generation
• Location, brokerage, or being an academic
Comparative Method in Anthropology WAS - a way of using ethnographic
information to place societies within an evolutionary scheme. But now it is
something that deals with - specific values, sentiments, purposes, will, reason, choice,
as well as with historical circumstances
AT most - cultures as units of comparison can at most be compared with reference to
specific traits, themes, or institutions (for example, material goods such as pottery or
technology; kinship relationships such as mother’s brother or sister’s relationship; rituals
such as national celebrations; forms of government; kinds of religion).
Things to know about Zumbagua Kinship
• there is absolutely no privileging of the relationship a child has
with the genitor (biological father) or genitrix (biological mother)
over other who are called parents
• people of Zumbagua don’t discriminate between children born to
women of the family and those born elsewhere and incorporated
• Even mothers, who so often are thought of as naturally tied to
the child (even more naturally than fathers), are in Zumbagua
very similar to men in that children can be given up (to one’s
mother, for example) or adopted by someone else (one’s
brother, for example) in unproblematic ways.
Things to know about Euro-American Kinship – they regard “ Natural Mothers
and Natural Fathers”
• Natural mothers/fathers = biological mothers/fathers
• Biological family = natural family • Natural family versus fictive kinship? – mixed families where there are mixed
lineages and races involved
← Consanguinity – is the kinship through the bloodline. Usually
opposed through affinity, which refers to relations through
← • Consanguinity (especially in its heternormative form) is treated
as the “real,” “normal,” “modern” kind of kinship. Consanguinity
however is not the basis for kinship in many parts of the world.
Nor is is the way relations are necessarily organized for all
families in Canada.
← This assumption [that Blood is Thicker Than Water] makes
biological kinship unlike any other social bonds, it has especially
strong binding force and is directly constituted by, grounded in,
and determined by the imperatives of biology.
← • Kinship is therefore thought to primarily consist of
biological bonds on which kinsmen can depend and which are
more compelling and stronger than, and take priority over, other
kinds of bonds.
← • Kinship is therefore often considered to be largely
innate, a quality of human nature, biologically determined,
however much social or cultural overlay may also be present.
REMEMBER: Kinship systems are cultural systems and not mere responses to
Temporality - refers to how Time is culturally relative in so far as people
exhibit different senses of time; they apprehend time differently and
exhibit variably modes of time consciousness.
← • There are always multiple forms of social time present
within socio-cultural groups.
← • In Euro-American though, temporality is suppressed in
the sense that natural or biological parenthood occurs only at a
single, specific moment - at the very inception of the relationship
between parent and child ... It denies the impact of history on
the physical [and relational] self (697).
← • MAIN POINT: NATURE, IN SHORT, IS PRIVILEGED CONTRA
CULTURE AND HISTORY. ← Possible multiple choice - In Los Angeles as in Latin America, poor
and marginalized communities have had to create strong, flexible kinship
systems in order to survive.
Hermaphrodite - an organism that differs from what is usually defined as standard
male or female.
• may have an unusual chromosomal makeup (male babies can be born with two X
chromosomes), hormonal differences, or a range of configurations and
combinations of genitals and reproductive organs.
What is sex? – a biological categorization based primarily on reproductive potential
What is gender? – it is the CULTURAL expression of the gender definition. is therefore
always performed according to culturally specific norms and possibilities. Scholars call
this the performativity of gender.
Question for midterm/exam – what are the GENDER NORMS or GENDER
IDEOLIGIES ? our lives and our relationship with one another
IDEOLOGY - a shared, tacit set of perceptions and feelings people have for explaining,
interpreting, justifying, and judging the world - including the people inhabiting it.
Ideologies often justify (and reproduce) inequalities.
Gender Ideology - often hold that men and women and boys and girls are fundamentally
DIFFERENT from eachother. consists of the shared, tacit set of perceptions and feelings
people have for explaining, interpreting, justifying, and judging the people in relation to
their gender (“She sits like a man”).A gender ideology often justifies gender hierarchy.
Gender is an extension of sex
NOTE – biology textbooks use hierarchies and stereotypical language that heirarchiizes
Example: Ovulation: wasteful, debris, degenerative
Sperm: remarkable, amazing, SHEER
BUT – why aren’t SPERM looked at as wasteful?
• BIOLOGY IS THE CORE INFLUENCING FACTOR FOR MALE/FEMALE
• THEREFORE SEX “CAUSES” GENDER • OR: “GENDER” IS A NATURAL EXTENSION OF SEX
ARE WOMEN “NATURALLY” PASSIVE AND MALES “NATURALLY” ACTIVE?
Questions: Does Sex cause Gender?
Answer: GENDER IDEOLOGIES (in this case of productivity and wastefulness) that
create the language through which we think about “nature.”
But is it plausible that sex does not determine CULTURE? Or PERHAPS – CULTURE
determines the way we see culture
TERM – Naturalization ~ how stereotypes come to appear as natural. Where we see the
implementation of cultural stereotypes into biology.
Actually speaking however: Culture turns to biology to naturalize relations between
people. In the case described above, it is culture that trumps biology, not biology that
QUESTION FOR MIDTERM
How does kinship relationship share differences between the zimbagwa case? *Watch
Are emotions universal?
Happiness, surprise, fear, anger, disgusts and
sadness etc are universal emotions which aer expressed with the same
Anthropologists say: even though emotions might be expressed
similarly from an anatomical point of view, cultures are really what
influence whom, how and in what context we can express emotions
Conclusively: *look at the first slide of this lecture
What do EMOTIONS MEAN?
How are they EXPRESSED depending on cultural CONTEXT
• is love a human universal or globally understood emotion?
• Is motherly love innate?
OR DEFINED by social and cultural
Answer: shaped by social context Question: why do mothers in Alto seem different than others?
Answers: women had come to expect their children to die, it was
natural and that survival was a miraculous feat. A high expectancy of
child death was a powerful shaper for maternal thinking and feeling
Question: What does “culture of feeling” look like?
Answer: A maternal feeling and practice can articulate itself through
“DELAYED ATTACHMENT” to infacnts are somethings thought of as
temporary household ‘visitors’.
The cultural expectation of child death led to the differentiation
between infants who stood a chance to live versus infants who were
born to die
GRIEF – is something that you do not feel but would rather just feel for
Term: Anthropomorphize: attribute a human form or personality to
something that is non human.
Example: infants are just angels on their way up to their heavenly