Study Guide Too
1.) When one realizes that there are other
cultural ways of asking/answering lifes questions, it
can call into question the naturalness or truth of
ones own point of view. Anthropology is the
discipline that most troubles ones sense of what is
true and shows instead that truth is usually a question of culture. Explain.
Culture has the tendency to construct turth in events and then see that truth as something being
there previously. The construct of truth might be based on ideas, schemes and practices created
by us through whom we attempt to reify our own ideas and practices based on our particular
culture. We then deney the making up of this truth and imply it to be universal, when in fact
they are completely arbitrary and based on the particular culture to which he or she belongs. This
is why different cultures tends to have different ideas.
2.) How can studying other cultures destabilize power-knowledge (expose the
arbitrariness, rattle the natural hierarchies) in ones own culture?
Powere may be definied as something different in one culture to another
3.) The very notion of being part of a culture implies an us. What is the problem
with this feature of culture?
Culture is a control mechanism through the use of taboos ect.
The use of the word us implies that there must be a them the problem with this is that it
creates bounded categories within humanity and then perceive theses categories to be real,
ANT204, study guide 2, Fall 2011 1 though which ignorance is often filled with prejudice. This results in the social distance between
cultures. Eg the categories of food and race can be used to separate us from them blacks
from whites meat eaters from junk food categories. The real problem here is that we
tend to make these categories of social distance real as something universally based on nature
when in fact they are reified through our own idea and cultural practices.
4.) Part of living in/through culture is having signs read onto our bodies. Explain.
Symbol and signs through which we associate our self with tend to leave doors open for others
premature judgments through which parasitical attachments with in that shared reality are made
in order to read/comprehend us. Eg. Signs/commodities such as a Coat and Tie are parasitically
attached to symbols of Power and Success. And Reading Glasses can also be transformed to a
symbol of intelligence. The problem here is that reality is not shared but instead perceived
differently by every individual to a certain extent.
5.) Because a persons signs can be read in innumerable ways s/he may want to
influence the way s/he is read. (a) Explain how a person can try to secure her correct
interpretation in others eyes.
We are often read by the symbols and signs we associate ourselves with and since these
associating materials allow people to read us we tend to have some control on how we are read.
We then attempt to associate our self with symbols of what we want to be perceived as with in
that culture Eg. I might wear pink dresses and skirts all the time to portray my feminine soft
personality and also wear glass to give the impression that I am intelligent. We use symbols and
codes in a shared reality, as if they have shared meaning by all to influence the way we may be
read or comprehended.
(b) [For final exam:] Explain how commodities are said to help guard against
undesirable signs being read on ones person. Hint, you might use gender for both (a) & (b).
Since symbols allow people to read us we then have some control on how we are being read
through the manipulation of those symbols with that shared reality for our benefit. However this
is only assuming that those symbols and codes in that shared reality has shared meaning by all
within that society.
ANT204, study guide 2, Fall 2011 26.) [Is this a midterm review question? I dont know. Where did I put my coffee?] In
some ways, there can be no such thing as a contained, coherent culture. The moment one
tries to define the values/ideas/sentiments of a culture, contradictions and diversity appear.
Could you, for example, make a single statement about what Canadians believe that would
include all 33 million Canadians? We could come close: Canadians believe that murder is
wrong. So Canadians who murder are still Canadian, but are going against Canadian
norms. Murderers are legible according to the norm. Murders are
criminals/deviants/madmen/etc. Thus, we can make an inclusive statement about murder and
Canada. But other contradictions come up: is Canada a Judeo-Christian nation? Some
say it is. Do Canadians believe in state health care? Many do. But people who disagree with
such ideas are measured against the norm. What is patriotism, femininity, sexiness, deviance,
or stylish? For now, think about this aspect of power-knowledge: the production of the norm.
A person is legible/knowable according to cultural norms. The norm: a preferred
interpretation of symbols. And from whence does