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Anthro Midterm Notes.doc

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Maggie Cummings

Chapter 1: Culture and Meaning - Sociocultural anthropology: an anthropological approach that retains the British focus on social anthropology at the same time as it adds the American focus on culture to produce something slightly different than either one - French philosopher Michel Foucault – shaping of human body as “political anatomy”  people’s bodies are controlled by others to operate with the necessary speed - Term anthropology comes from two Greek words: “anthropos” meaning human beings, and “logia” meaning study or knowledge of - Biological anthropology – oldest of the four subdisciplines, focuses on human beings as being one of a multitude of organisms that inhabit the earth o Some specialize in paleoanthropology – study of fossil remains of the earliest humans and attempt to understand history of biological evolution o Some specialize in primatology – study of our closest nonhuman relatives o Newest branch is forensic anthropology – study of human remains for identification and cause of death - Archaeology – studies human history and its artifacts, look at material remains of human groups in order to learn how people lived o Tools, pottery – offer clues about the social and cultural lives of societies that existed thousands of years ago - Linguistic Anthropology – examine relationship between language and culture, interested in how people use language: o Physical sense in regards to how communication is structured o Historical sense in regards to how different languages have developed and spread throughout history - Sociocultural Anthropology – look at how societies are structured and how cultural meanings are created o Eric Wolf – described anthropology as the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences - Culture: the system of meanings about the nature of experience that are shared by a people and passed on from one generation to another, including the meaning that people give to things, events, activities and people o Cultural meanings must be learned, enables humans to make sense of their experiences and understand those experiences as meaningful in particular ways o Kwakwaka’wakw – dead enter body of salmon, rural China – shrine in the home, head of family ask ancestors for advice, southern Italy – discourage dead from returning o Clifford Geertz – suggests that human beings are compelled to impose meaning on their experiences because without those meanings to help them comprehend experience and impose order on the universe – world would seem like “a chaos of pointless acts and exploding emotions”  Human beings are “incomplete or unfinished animals who complete themselves through culture” – when people share meanings they give to experiences, they share and participate in the same culture Formative Years of Anthropology - “the age of Exploration” – Christopher Columbus 1492 - Jesuit Relations – first published in 1632, describes the interaction between the Jesuit missionaries and the indigenous people in Southern Ontario - Anthropology did not emerge as a formal discipline until 1883 – Edward Tylor was appointed to the first position in Britain o Tylor wrote book Primitive Culture but did not acknowledge the biases in their writing, instead taking their work as face value  Believed that “culture or civilization, taken in its wide comparative ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a man as a member of his society”  Emphasized the shared and learned aspects of culture, but wrote about culture in the singular, believing that some might have less or more culture or civilization than others – hierarchal o Armchair anthropologists: refers to an approach to the study of various societies that dominated anthropology in the late 1800s. It involved the collection, study and analysis of writings of missionaries, explorers, and colonists who had sustained contact with non-Western peoples. Armchair anthropologists used these documents to make comparisons and generalizations about the ways of life of various groups. - In 1925, Thomas McIlwraith became the first anthropology appointment at U of T, first department of anthropology was founded in the same university in 1936 - Bronislaw Malinowski (social) and Franz Boas (cultural) – fathers of anthropology o Boas – firsthand knowledge among the Inuit and Kawkwaka’wakw o Malinowski – lived in Trobriand Islands during first world war  Fieldwork: anthropologists engage in long-term interactions (usually a year or more) with various groups of people. This often involves living with people, observing and contributing to daily chores and tasks (participant observation), and conducting interviews. Most fieldwork in anthropology has historically been qualitative in nature.  Ethnography: a written description and analysis of a particular group of people, usually based upon anthropological fieldwork - Malinowski believed through this anthropologists would be able to obtain “the native’s point of view” – emic or insider’s perspective - Ethnographic Method: the immersion of researchers in the lives and cultures of the people they are trying to understand in order to comprehend the meaning these people ascribe to their existence - Participant Observation: an element of fieldwork that can involve participating in daily tasks and observing daily interactions among a particular group - Salvage Anthropology: an approach to anthropology that arose in the late 1800s when anthropologists witnessed the extinction and/or assimilation of indigenous groups throughout the world. In response, some anthropologists, such as Franz Boas, suggested that anthropologists rapidly document the oral stories, songs, histories and other traditions before they disappeared - Regna Darnell – conducted research on the history of Canadian anthropology - Tom Boellstorff’s ethnography, Coming of Age in Second Life, documents research on a 3 dimensional, online gaming world – all fieldwork was online - Multi-sited Fieldwork: term coined by George Marcus in 1995, refers to the process of connecting localized experiences of fieldwork with broader, global processes. It necessitates understanding various issues from multiple “sites” or perspectives. o Andrew Walsh studied sapphires and the international perspective - Representation: the way in which a group of people is depicted in writing or through images. Anthropologists are increasingly conscious of the fact that when they write about a group of people, they are constructing particular representations that may have positive or negative long term effects for a group of people. - Essentialism: the act of creating generalizations or stereotypes about the behaviour or culture of a group of people - Margaret Mead travelled to American Samoa in 1925 to adolescent girls’ sexual habits – Coming of Age in Samoa, she painted a picture of Samoan society as peaceful; and noted that the girls were free to experiment with premarital sex o Premarital sex viewed as taboo in North America, mainstream public cultivated a romanticized and “exotic” representation of Samoans for a western audience - Napoleon Chagnon studied Yanomami (Amazonian indigenous group in Brazil and Venezuela) – labelled them as fierce and warlike o Terence Turner argued the label did them harm – British govt wanted to provide assistance, but instead of education/medical, spent on reducing violence - Richard Scaglion – Abelam of Papua New Guinea o Pig hunt, coconuts to explain gravity (realized he didn’t understand either) - Michael Kearney – Santa Catarina in the valley of Oaxaca, Mexico o Controlled by fate, the will of God, and witches and other harmful spiritual forces – helping doctor story – arm rashes - Claude Levi Strauss – fieldwork and anthropologists’ attempts to immerse themselves in the world of others makes them “marginal” men or women – never completely native because they cannot totally shed their own cultural perceptions o Roger Keesing – outsiders who know what it is like to be an insider - Ethnocentric Fallacy: the mistaken notion that the beliefs and behaviours of other cultures can be judged from the perspective of one’s own culture - Ethnocentrism: the tendency to judge the beliefs and behaviours of other cultures from the perspective of one’s own culture - Cultural relativism: the attempt to understand the beliefs and behaviours of other cultures in terms of the culture in which they are found o Renato Rosaldo – headhunting helps the Ilongoot psychologically manage their grief over the death of a kinsperson o Did not understand how grief could cause so much rage, until his wife died - Relativistic Fallacy: the idea that it is impossible to make moral judgements about the beliefs and behaviours of members of other cultures – no behaviour can be condemned - Ethnocentric (intellectually/methodically intolerable), relativist (morally intolerable) - Turkish Virginity Testing – Carol Delaney Seed and the Soil – agricultural metaphor of seed and soul – important for paternity for traditions revolving around fathers - Cannibalism in Wari’ – Beth Conklin Consuming Grief – European practises of consuming humans for medicinal purposes, Wari’ believed it was a compassionate thing to do because a body was a painful reminder of the deceased o Burying was negatively seen – body was cold, ground is dirty and polluting o “sweep” – change appearance of the last earthly places to which memories of the deceased might cling – separate living from the dead o Believe that spirits of the dead enter animals they depend on for food - Nancy Scheper-Hughes – observed contradiction between objectivity and politically committed anthropology – from community organizer (active) to anthro (passive) o Those who work to make a living observing and recording the misery of the world, have an obligation to reflect critically on the impact of harsh images of human suffering that we pass on the public o Womanly anthropology – concerned with how people treat each other, moral relativism no longer appropriate – must serve as witnesses or reporters of human rights abuses and of the suffering of the poor and the oppressed - E.E. Evans Pritchard noted that Nuer of Sudan have no equivalent expression for time - Sherlock Holmes – Watson’s brother’s watch – careless, untidy, alcoholic - Cultural Text: a way of thinking about culture as a text of significant symbols – words, gestures, drawings, natural objects – that carry meanings Balinese Cock Fight – Island of Bali – Clifford Geertz - Cock (sabung) has double meaning like it does in North America - Fights are about status, ranking of people, cock represents men (specifically their owners) and temporarily linked to the social fate of its owner - Cockfight is meaningful because it tells the Balinese something real about their own lives but in a way that does not directly affect their lives - Mistake to assume the people gain status by winning – cockfight illustrates what status is about for the Balinese – story tell themselves about themselves - Mistake to assume that character of the Balinese can be read from the cockfight (aggressive, competitive, violent) – Balinese are shy and avoid open conflict - Culture is ensemble of texts – collection of symbols and meanings must be viewed together to achieve a full understanding Canadian Hockey - Hockey is a ritual that creates meaning; rituals do not reflect society - Peter Collings and Richard Condon – helps people adjust to sudden change by providing a way for players to gain status, achievement, self esteem Happy Meal – Meat centre of the meal, most cultures center on carbs - Marvin Harris and Eric Ross – noted beef suitable for outside grill - Sugar is second part of fat and sugar centered diet – has no nutritional value but provides a quick inexpensive energy boost, excellent complement to fat - Consumption patterns associated with culture – create waste/ environmental damage - Applied anthropology – specializes in putting anthropological knowledge into practice outside of academia - Law and Society – inquires into the context of enforceable norms: social, political, economic and intellectual (Sally Falk Moore) o Stanley Barrett Culture and Power – argues globalization has increased conflict, power authority influence manipulation constitute the field of inquiry - Political Ecology – combines the concerns of ecology and a broadly defined political economy, challenging environment degradation and solutions to environment problems (Blaikie and Brookfield) o Usually focuses on land scarcity and access to material resources, but Tina Moffat and Beth Finnis combine a focus on access to land with access to education in a community in Nepal o Providing the school reinforced community identity and the community’s ability to get this far is evidence of the capacity of slum and squatter dwellers - Medical Anthropology - draws upon social, cultural, biological and linguistic anthropology to better understand those factors which influence health and wellbeing o Naomi Adelson – James Bay Cree of Northern Ontario – Being Alive Well  Cree do not have a word that translates to health, but talk about being alive well – relative to the health of the “land” Chapter 3: The Social Cultural Construction of Reality - Edward Tylor Primitive Culture – that religion and a belief in the supernatural developed through people’s efforts to explain basic phenomena – idea of a soul - Emilie Durkheim – Elementary Forms of the Religious Life – what led to the concept of God, speculated that the secret must lie in the beliefs of early human beings o Studied societies that were simple or underdeveloped – indigenous people of Australia – totemism: the use of a symbol, generally an animal or a plant, as a physical representation for a group, generally a clan - Ritual: a dramatic rendering or social portrayal of meanings shared by a specific body of people in a way that makes them seem correct and proper - Symbolic Actions: the activities – including ritual, myth, art, dance, and music – that dramatically depict the meanings shared by a specific body of people - Metaphor: a figure of speech in which linguistic expressions are taken from one area of experience and applied to another – understand abstract in terms of the concrete o Harvey Fiet – Cree in northern Quebec – “hunting is like gardening” suggesting that if protected and nurtured, will sustain Cree life o Key Metaphors: a term to identify metaphors that dominate the
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