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ANT207 midterm review - summer 2012 with J. Fokwang

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University of Toronto St. George

ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACH Holistic: interested in humanity in all its diversity, past and present; combines different approaches Comparative: devises concepts (such as kinship and culture) in order to study diversity; deals in concepts that can be understood and applied in the context of different societies Evolutionary: does away with the mis-applied concept of unilinear progress; studies change over time and doesn’t treat any belief or practice as ingrained CULTURE Schultz/Lavenda: at most basic, learned sets of ideas and behaviours acquired as members of society Thornton: a resource; the information humans aren’t born with but need to survive ● culture creates boundaries Wright: ● Old notions: bounded, defined characteristics, unchanging, self-reproducing, underlying system of shared meanings and “authentic culture”, homogeneous ● New notions: active process of meaning-making and contestation; not bounded, interconnected, fluid, constructed situationally; accounts for power dynamics ● decision-makers deploying the concept of culture within fields of power Functions: adapts and transforms the lived world; creates boundaries along ethnic, class, territorial, race lines Materialist: material things are culture Interpretive: symbolic, mental things are culture Romanticism: 19th c.; conceives of culture as the organic product of a people or nation (Thornton) ● German school: Goethe, Hegel; each volk with its own folk wisdom, stories, beliefs, etc. ● Enlightenment: brought in equation of culture with civilization; civilization was the result of rational thought culminating in the ideal (Thornton) ● Tylor: Romantic and Enlightenment; culture as encompassing (complex whole) and acquired as a member of society Modernism: 20th c.; retained the idea that culture is associated with particular peoples; functions to maintain society/nations ● began to embrace idea of change; culture is historical; determined and shaped by changes in ● society and economy; each culture operates as a whole within society ● Harris: acquired; emphasis on culture belonging to specific groups Victorian: social evolutionists attributed cultural differences to race Boas: little evidence for a link between biological determinism and mental or moral capacity; demonstrated that cultural differences could be explained by social learning; morphological and cultural traits varied between generations (e.g. immigrants) Universal culture: culture in the singular; all human societies have it Local culture: cultures in the plural; distinct patterns of learned and shared behaviours and ideas that are found in local regions and among particular groups ● critique that this view emphasizes differences and doesn’t acknowledge dissension within the group; assumes a wish to preserve cultural differences (Schultz) Single story: Adichie’s speech; peoples and groups in power are afforded multiple stories while the marginalized are only given a single, homogeneous story of their experience; dangerous as it does not account for the scope of human experience Politicization of culture: (Wright); culture becomes the grounds for making homogenous claims AGENCY ● interconnected with structure ● as a subject of a structure, you are meant to adhere to the rules it sets forth ● collective and individual agency Ortner’s article: ● Sherpas creating agency and resistance ● different meanings attributed to climbing (spiritual vs. financial) ● deploy their religion to create agency within this structure: drawing the gods into protecting them through rituals, validating religious specialists to deal with powerful forces, granting the gods powers in the first place, emphasizing self-restraint in the face of death/tragedy Shultz/Lavenda: individuals’ abilities to react systematically to taken-for-granted cultural practices, imagine alternatives, and take independent action to pursue goals of their own choosing ● free will disregards the embeddedness in cultural practices ● determinism doesn’t recognize individual freedom ● critique of this: consequences are not always intended, can be through lack of intervention a la Lieblich Hays: agency explains the creation, recreation, and transformation of social structures ● people make structures at the same time as structures make people ● people make choices that have significant transformational consequences in terms of social structures themselves Lieblich: means to intervene in the world, or to refrain from such intervention with the effect of influencing some process or state of affairs; some consequence, intended or not Structure/agency dichotomy: explores the relationship between the enactment of social practices and large-scale, historically-enduring social phenomena (e.g. between linguistic practices and large-scale linguistic structure) Agency on a continuum from structurally reproductive to structurally transformative ● depth and durability of the structure in place, degree of power of agents, cultural milieu ● e.g. psychiatric exams are reproductive and revolutions like the civil rights movement are transformative (reductionism in attributing any antisocial behaviour to insanity; it dismisses agency) STRUCTURE ● interconnected with agency ● social phenomena not reduceable to the individual ● we are determined by and reproduce the structure, but agents have the capacity to enact the process of change on the structure ● historical process of change is tied in ● revolutions destroy and then re-formulate a structur Giddens: sets of rules and resources actors draw upon as they produce and reproduce society in their activities; explicit or unwritten, embedded in society (rigid definition) ● repetitive acts of individual agents reproduce structure Hays: social structure is patterns of social life (fluid definition): ● are not reduceable to individuals ● are durable to withstand the whims of individuals ● that have dynamics and underlying logic of their own conceptions of social structure can accommodate flexibility (critiquing classical definitions) ● creation of and mould for humans; it would not exist without the participation of social actors - it produces them and they produce it ● enabling and constraining; it’s the basis of human power and self-understanding ● has several layers; it’s more or less open to intentional and unintentional human tinkering (feminist movement) IDENTITY Jenkins: identity is a process, not a thing ● can be individual or collective ● emerges from interplay of similarities and differences ● internal-external dialectic between self- and public image; we identify by it and others identify us ● primary identities less changeable and mutable than others ● identities can’t be understood outside the contexts of social interaction in which they are produced and deployed ETHNICITY ● everyone has an ethnic identity, if it is important to them or not ● collective identity with shared language, customs, and history that is changeable and situational ● Sharp & Boonzaier on Nama identity: collectively revived as a strategic performance speaking to their connection the land, exerting that this connection cannot be nullified by the government; self- conscious and reflexive ● Niehaus’ article: Shangaan identity include food, dress, language; intermingling with Basotho identity markers Ethnic group: a collective with shared c
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