ANT204 Midterm Notes 2014.pdf

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Diane Riskedahl

Lecture 1 Comparative anthropology comparison approach of raceThe comparative approach helps us understand a cultural group by understanding not only what it is but what it is not Primatology subfield on anthropology is a perfect example of this By carefully studying our closest primate ancestors we can learn what behaviors and biology we share what is fundamentally primate and where those similarities end what is fundamentally human Ethnocentrism the way you are is the correct way everyone else havent gotten there yetnot educated enough to be as good as youthe belief in the inherent superiority of ones own ethnic group or culture Cultural Relativism my culture but it is there yet looks are specific practices and beliefs of other cultures and tries to understand it at the frame work of that culturetrying to see their system of logicCultural relativism is the view that all beliefs customs and ethics are relative to the individual within his own social context In other words right and wrong are culturespecific what is considered moral in one society may be considered immoral in another and since no universal standard of morality exists no one has the right to judge another societys customsCultural relativism is widely accepted in modern anthropology Cultural relativists believe that all cultures are worthy in their own right and are of equal value Diversity of cultures even those with conflicting moral beliefs is not to be considered in terms of right and wrong or good and bad Todays anthropologist considers all cultures to be equally legitimate expressions of human existence to be studied from a purely neutral perspectivecan lead to moral relativismmoral relativism agreeing why their practices are acceptable Veilingpolyvalentlots of meaningsAgency To have agencypower to change your environment or something about youOwn individual choiceMove within a systemSocial phenomena Agency always go along with our social structuresIdea of agencytend to think certain females with veils do not have agencyWe all have agency but depends on how we use itwe dont have more or less Lecture 2 Article Seeing is Believingthe way we seeperceive the world is tied to sightEmpiricism our knowledge is tied to our sensory experience o Legal framework eye witnessesPreliterate a culture not having a written languagePostliterate society where technology has advanced to the point where literacy ability to writewrite is no longer necessary or commonWhere do we find more truth value in image or text o Seeing ithearing itInsider vs outsider Lecture 3 Legacy of FieldworkAnthropologists use fieldwork to collect clues to solve mysteries of a culturewhy do people do what they dohistory of one man one people one island o submerge themselves into the community o learn their language kinship systems social structures etcits the litmus test of whether you are an anthropologist or notdue to mystique and style of work you are always a bit unsure when youre working and when you are just livingHistorical Setting of the Fieldrooted in colonial enterprisebegan to flourish in the mid 1800s during a period of increased public interest in the life of savagesphoto exhibitions travel writing government expeditions and missionary workFramework of ExplanationEvolutionary Approach from 1850s and onward o Founded on ideas of Herbert Spencer and Lewis Henry Morgan o Basic idea society is an organism It began as an undifferentiated system and through evolution societies developed specialized structures such as government to perform specific functions o The more structurally and functionally differentiated a society is the more advanced a place it has in the evolutionary taxonomyCultural relativisminterpretivist approach o Formulated largely by Franz Boas in the 1880s with an interest in countering racist formulations of evolutionary theory o Cultural Relativism all cultures are equal and comparable there are no inferior or superior cultures and therefore it is impossible to rank cultures in an evolutionary schemeCulture th In the 20 century many anthropologists dropped the belief that culture is an evolutionary unidirectional and progressive phenomenon that all people are striving for realizing that different cultures are just differentCulture is conditioned by the global network of power and resources in which they are embeddedsprung from different premises of about life and from different goals and valuesIn Archaeology and cultural anthropology reference to culture is a material productionIn history and cultural studies reference to culture is signifyingsymbolic systemsan extremely fuzzy conceptborders helpthe USA is multicultural so what is the american culturethe notion of a national culturea nation was once referred to as a group of people bounded by language religion and birth not by territorial boundariesgovernmentculture vs nature who we actually areculturehigher order development of geneticsanthropology argues against thisnature vs nature o where is culture on the nature sideWhere are the boundaries of cultureCulture vs subculture o Subculture a subculture is a group of people with a culture whether distinct or hidden which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong for example if a particular subculture is characterized by a systematic opposition to the dominant culture it may be described as a counterculture o Culture the way to bestereotypes
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