ANTA02 – Introduction to Anthropology; Sociocultural, and Linguistic
Lecture 1 ▯ Introduction to Anthropology
▯Four fields of anthropology
Human communication (also nonverbal)
▯ Stereotypes of Anthropologists
Get sick in foreign country and survive
Wear tribal jewelry
Anthropologists research by participant Observation, observation of culture and social customs by
participating in them.
Lecture 2 ▯ An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube By: Michael Wesch
1. How does culture and other anthropological ideas in the film translate into online communities?
2. What are the rules and norms of the YouTube community?
3. Are their other social medias that represent other communities that have emerged?
More hours of videos on YouTube uploaded everyday than almost 400 channels worth of TV shows.
Allows to connect in new ways.
Michael Wesch posted a video the Wednesday before super bowl.
Got over 200 views in a couple days (200 views on an anthropology video is good.)
On super bowl #1 video in the blogosphere.
Media is not just tools for communication, means for human relationships.
Over 50% of videos have an 1825 featured in them.
Over 10,000 videos are addressed to the YouTube community. 2
World on instant replay.
anonymity + physical distance = freedom for hatred
Question of authenticity.
Can reinvent yourself on YouTube.
Don’t know the contest when someone messages you.
1) Pornography, taped suicides, 2008 relatively positive community.
2) Clash between authenticity and masks, who is real and who isn’t.
▯ Lecture 3 – Trust Me, I’m an Anthropologist
▯ The Nacirema
Nacirema is American backwards
Reading is a satirical essay
Purpose it to reflect on North American cultural differences and reflect on dangers of “othering” too much.
Nothing in article is untrue
Written in thick “anthropologese” how anthropologists write/talk.
▯ How is the Nacirema Clip and Article Different and Similar to Kate Fox’s Book
Both are studies done by people of the same culture.
Language is similar
Kate Fox makes fun or herself, Nacirema article and film act as a third person temporarily removing
themselves from their cultures.
View world through cultural norms.
Limited tolerance of other cultures.
Idea that your culture, group, or lifestyle is the center of everything.
Everyone is guilty of this.
The central tenet of anthropology is to suspend ethnocentrism
▯ Lessons for Anthropology 3
Easy to misrepresent everyday life, we can be blinded by apparent differences and lose sight of
similarities (“ethnographic dazzle”).
So we have Cultural Relativism (relativity), the opposite of ethnocentrism.
Every system of belief is valid and there’s tolerance of diversity.
▯ What’s Culture?
Culture as rationality, creativity, and higher order of thought.
The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors and artifacts that the
members of society use to cope with their world and with on another, that are
transmitted from generation to generation through learning.
Culture is always changing, shared, practiced and transmitted.
There are multiple cultures, we have many.
Reify – Make something abstract real.
▯ What’s Wrong with “Culture”?
Makes us think of society as static units.
Has been used to legitimate racism.
▯ Cultural Relativism
Look at a culture from the perspective of an INSIDER.
Culture cannot be judged by the values of another.
Nothing is “good” or “evil”.
▯ What about MORAL Relativism
Cultural relativism has been critiqued fro sliding into moral relativism.
The idea that other cultures must be free to practice whatever they wish without intervention or
critique (killing, violence).
Anthropology is an exercise in the arts of observation, translation, and analysis.
Anthropological tool: Deconstruction
Dichotomy – 2 opposing ideas
Lecture 4 – English Humour, Deep Play and Emotional Force 4
▯ A Critical Reading – “Watching the English”
Methods may not be “classically” anthropological
Overlooks key issues like race and religion.
Used too many personal examples.
Generalizes, but doesn’t really back it up.
No explanation to why the English are the way they are.
Says their awkward but doesn’t suggest why that is or where habit came from.
Class not attached to wealth, much more rigid.
The way the speak, accents, and the words they use.
English not earnest, give sincere and complete conviction of something.
Irony – The expression of ones meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically
Two Sides of the Same Coin – Something can be looked at in two different ways.
▯ Monty Python
Stupidity of the English class structure.
Emphasizing the stupidity of the upper class, creating a satirical skit.
English don’t always value class as much as Kate Fox continently states in “Watching the English”.
In English comedy characters take themselves way to seriously.
“Woody” words traditional, “tinny” new words.
Skit suggests that the English prefer tradition and not adapting to new things.
▯ “Deep Play”: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight
Father of symbolic and interpretive anthropology.
Defines culture as “a historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols.”
Thick Description – Behavior must be understood and described in context.
Ex. Ryle’s wink
Deep play – A game where the stakes are so high no “rational” person would play.
Ex. Cockfight – Balinese attend and participate in them, which is a kind of sentimental education for them.
Cultures contain contradictions and oppositions.
In the cockfight man and beast, good and evil, ego and it. 5
Betting is not about the money, all matches are socially relevant.
Not about what betting on what cock they think will win, about people can only bet based on their
social relationship with the person who owns the cock.
▯ Greif and a Headhunter’s Rage
About how difficult cultural relativism is.
Tried to understand logic behind headhunting (cutting off head of enemies)
Head hunting driven by rage.
Death of wife (also anthropologist) allowed him to be able to feel and understand why the headhunter
does what they do.
Depth vs. Force = Rational vs. emotional
Geertz rational and Rosaldo emotional.
Emic – The insider perspective of a culture.
Etic – The outsider’s perspective of a culture.
Evans Pritchard Witchcraft, oracles, and Magic
Granary example, termites ate at the wood and collapsed on a group of people. It was witchcraft because
those people were there at the same place and time that it collapsed.
Witchcraft is a mechanism to example a misfortune at a particular time and place that happens to
Cause and effect.
Science, out way of thinking, termites was the reason the granary collapsed and the people were there at
the wrong time.
Can’t explain with science why the termites bit through at the exact time that the people were sitting
States that witchcraft is NOT real.
Jealousy undermines all the witchcraft that goes on.
Madumo believes in Christianity but also beliefs in witchcraft
Synchretism – Blending of 2 or more religions.
▯ Lecture 5 – Witchcraft and the Anthropology of Religion
Madumo focused on one person, Ashforth gained insight of social life through studying one person.
Apartheid (19481994) – A system of racial segregation in South Africa.
Limited mobility for all races. 6
Nelson Mandela, symbol of hope for South Africans.
Ghetto – Heightened urban poverty.
“Hyperghetto” (Loic Wacquant) more segregated areas.
Middle class moved away from townships leaving the poor in hyperghetto’s.
Spiritual Insecurity – The condition of danger, doubt, and fear arising from exposure to the
actions of unseen forces bent upon causing harm.
▯ Witchcraft in Anthropology
A means of deflecting/attributing blame.
Associated with “jealousy”.
Associated with kinship, blame of witchcraft within family networks.
Was Madumo’s problem and search for a solution primarily:
A medical Quest?
A religious Issue?
A psychological Problem? (exam question)
An explanatory mechanism about the world and an articulation of a moral order.
Every religion is created by the human community that worships it (Ludwig Feuerbach).
The concept of “the sacred” being the defining characteristic of religions (Emile Durkheim).
“The sacred” = that which is set apart as holy or forbidden in contrast with “the profane”,
which is everyday, normal, and unholy.
Not “totem poles”
Is a kind of a mascot for a group, with associated prohibitions.
Sacred vs. profane NOT the same s good vs. evil.
Function of religion is group cohesion through rituals.
Religion is a projection of social values in society.
Religion is society of worshipping itself.
Collective Effervescence – Emotional state when individuals become apart of the group
usually through rituals or group activities. 7
Communitas – Intense community spirit, equality, and togetherness.
Liminality – Middle stage of ritual, time of transition.
Cosmology – A set of principles or beliefs about the nature of life and death, the creation of the
universe, relationship of individuals etc.
▯ What Do Anthropologists Got to Do With it?
Anthropologists interested in the functions of religion.
Also interested in how religion can promote the driving force for social change.
▯ Witchcraft and Sorcery
Witchcraft, the ability to harm others by harbouring malevolent thought about them.
Sorcery, the conscious manipulation of words and ritual objects with the intent of magically
causing either harm or good.
Soliciting Gifts and Negotiating Agency: The Spirit of Asking in Botswana
By: Deborah Durham
Gifts are never free they always come with a price.
Said by Philosopher Marcel Mauss.
Person giving gift has power, personreceiving gift is powerless.
Gift giving creates a power dynamic.
Gift giving always comes with expectations.
Except for situations such as giving blood, don’t know who it goes to are what will happen
with it = no expectations.
The gift represent social facts that entangles the giver and the receiver
Giver gives a part of them in addition to the actual gift.
Give controls the transaction and the receiver is forced to respond. 8
Demand things from other people, ie. Money, a coke, or a skirt.
Interactions are playful.
Never say “I don’t have…” say it is “unavailable at the moment.”
Giving and receiving is open but not expected.
Few playful demands are fulfilled.
Western culture think of asking and receiving as embarrassing.
Lecture 7 – The Gift
▯ Madumo Continued…
Ashforth takes liberties on ethnographic process.
Writes dialogue for events he wasn’t there for.
Blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction
Belief in Sesotho/Setswana is not just a matter of faith in existence of something, instead is it about
whether you “agree with” something and partake in it.
▯ The Gift 9
Marcel Mauss (18721950) – Nephew to Durkheim
Structuralism: social and cultural system have elements that are functionally related.
Society is like an organism; when one part changes, the rest adapts too.
“There’s no such things as a free gift” **
Each gift binds the giver and the recipient in a moral relationship.
Involves reciprocal exchange **
Recipient gives something in return.
• Gift entail 3 types of obligations:
1) Obligation to give gift – showing yourself as a particular type of person.
2) Obligation to receive gift
3) Obligation to return gifts – Show your self as moral
Are competitive and strategic.
Theory of social relations
▯ Valentines Day
The guys has to get the girl something, but the girl doesn’t necessarily have to give a gift in
Mana – Kind of a spiritual authority derived from having a wealth of resources to give to others to
bind them into reciprocal obligations.
Person who gives the most has the most power, and accumulate the most mana.
Give can be aggressive.
Accumulate things and give away EVERYTHING they have.
Happened amongst the Native Americans in British Columbia.
Giving away gifts in return give the giver prestige.
“My culture made me do it”
Ecological anthropology’s answer: adaptive
Mauss: A gift is a “total social fact”
Implications throughout society, In the economic, political, and religious spheres. 10
Focuses on different requests for gifts in Botswana.
Thinks she’s found an example of “the free gift”
Mauss said there was no such thing.
Gifts demanded all the time, but are usually are not granted and they do not keep track of requests.
Different types of exchanges people make over requests for stuff correspond to the different types
of social relationships between people.
Those social relationships also tell us a lot about how they think about themselves as “individuals”.
Different types of requests:
1) Playful requests among friends (equals, no obligation)
2) Formal requests (equals, no obligation)
3) Requests for petty change towards a cause (equals, create community and legitimate
the cause, no obligation)
4) Serious requests between kin (Hierarchical yet also equals, obligation)
5) Begging by indigent (hierarchy, no obligation)
Agency – In anthropology it’s the ability to act in the world – like freedom.
Freedom within the pragmatic (practical) constraints of society (its structure).
Freedom that people can practically exercise, power for acting in certain ways.
Ideology – What people think they do.
Practice – What their behaviours really say. 11
400,000 Swedish Perverts – Don Kulick
Questionnaire revealed that 187 out of 2810 had paid for sex.
More than 400,000 men in the last 18 years had paid for sex.
Sodomite – Sexuality as a behaviour
Homosexual Sexuality as an identity
Good sex has to be socially expected, mutually satisfied, content being individuals.
MUST NOT INVOLVE MONEY
Practices that diverge from “good sex” raise attention about exploitation and abuse.
State feel obliged to address
Sweden has some of the harshest sex laws in the world.
Criminalizes buyer of sex, not the seller.
Clients of prostitutes thought to be a “species”.
In 1981 first typology of clients
Made from quotation from prostitutes based on how they classify clients.
Porn and paying for prostitutes was band, and if you bought it your were a “pervert”.
2 Groups: 12
1) “ I want what I buy” – Relieve stress, wife wont do something, sex with no responsibility.
2) “There are no other women” – Shy, old, isolation.
Sex is your private parts (biological), and gender the identity you chose.
Sex = Male (penis), Female (vagina) Gender = Women/Girl, Man/Boy
Anger, Economy and Female Agency Holly Wardlow
Women in Papua New Guinea exchange sex for mo