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COMPLETE Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Notes: Part 4 [90% on final]

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Boston University
CAS AN 101

Culture 9/6/2012 12:34:00 PM One of the places that he conducted  Monticello One thing the bolynese do when they go into trance  Bite off heads of chickens  Stab themselves  Act out sex positions  Speak in tongues  Eat feces  Collapse “Culture is…  the ensemble of use, costumes, tradition, habits, history shared by a specific group of people- a mixture of tangible and intangible heritage that a community shares and transmits through time.”  The defining characteristics of a society and that society’s ways of life, what they consider normal or special to them”  The essence of a group of people that unites and defines them”  Differentiation*  Can exist on many different scales Williams essay on culture: “Keywords”  When he was graduate student in 1960s  Historian by training  Questions about how loaded words be quality: science, art, culture o How they change over time o How they give us insights into the changing understandings  How word “culture” has changed, and how we need to develop new meaning From Cultivation..  Used to refer to physical and natural processes only  First shift was metaphorical: tending nature to tending human development th  didn't happen until 18 century Human cultural development  particular to general: allowed for abstraction  word went from a process (verb, attending to nature), to a product (of that process)  verb to a noun; always was something in process before  only one “culture”, that was the product  another shift: thanks to German romanticism o Culture went from singular to plural o Dominant view in Euro thought: human history was one line (savaged to civilized), path led to apex of 18 th C Euro culture o Alternative use started to emerge (next) Pluralizing Culture th  Johan Herder: German late 18 C o Leiderhosen in one part of Germany is different from other parts o Collected different sorts of folk songs, outfits, dances, foods, architecture, celebrations o Volkgeist: spirit of the people  Saw so much variation o Instead of ranking groups on some kind of hierarchy, used lineal idea of Culture; saw value in every one of them  Difference does not lend itself to ranking  first time we have “cultures”  when you can speak of cultures rather than Culture, you start to shift understanding of different peoples relating o marked shift in how we see “difference”, not lesser or greater we recognize our own use of the word “culture” with both uses in mind (plural and singular)  still the physical process (original)  1. independent, singular, now  2. both in singular and plural, now that relates to way of life  3. as a way to talk of artistic activity; Ministry of Culture th Late 19 C: becomes a descriptive adjective  “cultural”  most words shift from verb  noun  plural noun  adjective  what's the impact of using the world “cultural” 1952: Alfred Crower and Clyde  162 different definitions of culture  tried to integrate them all into one definition "Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by human as members of society" -- EB Tylor, 1871  whole: attempt to consider the relationship among many components of a given society; how they relate to each other, rather than extracting them o multi-dimensional  acquired: not biologically inherited o must be learned o all born with a need to be nourished, but how and whom is all cultural Move from a stratographic to a synthetic orientation: think about complex whole  stratographic: layers of religion, symbols, etc.  synthetic orientation: factors can be treated as factors in a Unitarian system of analysis move away from the "quest for cultural universes"  need to look for details, complexity, contrast  some form of marriage, protection, religion, etc. in each culture o so what? Doesn’t really tell us anything about humanity o it’s because humans are cultural animals, need to control variations  do the same things in a different number of ways o details of those differences that can’t be accounted for by biology "It may be in the cultural particularities of a people—in their oddities—that some of the most instructive revelations of what it is to be generically human are to be found.” – Clifford Geertz, 1973  understanding differences  descend into terrifying complexity culture affects our physiology  lactose intolerance: most people are intolerant now, based on geography  different groups have different food taboos  cultural constructions; not born with inability to eat meat counterculture  we never do anything outside our culture  culture is never static Malinowksi 9/6/2012 12:34:00 PM islands that he conducted research: South Pacific, South Sea Islands: Trobriand Islands kula ring = system of trading Armchair anthro and travellers’ accounts  Before, had not been collected over the world  Used accounts/info written by others to propose own theories o Armchair anthropology o Problems: subjective, different people can have different experiences o People can be there for different purposes (convert, govern, etc.) o Might be asking questions towards changing what is there o People might not reveal everything of their culture; relationship btw. anyone who is gathering that information and the source of the information  At the time, this was a radical move to leave the comforts of the trader’s house and actually live among cultures Malinowksi  Born in Poland 1884  Studied physical sciences until he became fascinated with anthro (The Golden Bough)  Moved to England in 1910, began research in South Pacific  Anthro could not have any real value of understanding without going to the places and studying there o Need first hand research  Required 3 ingredients o Real scientific aims o Living alone among natives (without other “white” men) o Collecting data  Transformed many different disciplines  Difficulty: language  Came off the verandah to actually live with the people  All aspects of social life were used to fulfill basic needs o Functionalism  Not involved with how things had evolved  Wanted to see how things actually worked now  “What does it actually do in society?” o ex: magic  had to explain what an anthropologist should do while hanging out with people Skeleton  Get a sense of the skeleton of the society  Crystallized codes of conduct o Prohibitions, rules, etc.  Framework of rules and norms  Anatomy of a society  How? Surveys, interviews, “exhaustive studies” Our Skeleton  Mandatory education up to 18 years old  Written laws (no stealing, no killing, etc.) Flesh and Blood  Real behavior o “the imponderabilia of actual life”  How? Long term fieldwork, participant observation  No stealing is a rule, but some people will break the rule o Need to sustain family o Civil Rights Movement: against government o Law: go to school until 18, but most will go until they graduate  Changing the rights, laws through particular action Spirit  Subjectivity o “to grasp the native’s point of view”  How? Become fluent in local language(s), listen closely, record what people actually say (“native utterances”)  What’s their ethos? Their own perception? The volkgeist? (see earlier lecture)  Examples: o Magic in Trobriand islands o Required to go to school, but hate it o Stigma that kids who don’t go to school until they’re 16 are lower class Malinowski pg. 25: “To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behavior and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realizing the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.” Explicit vs. Tacit  Malinowski (1932:11) o “There are no written or explicity expressed code of laws, and their whole tribal tradition, the whole structure of their society, are embodied in the most elusive of all materials: the human being… The natives  explicit: what we can explain to others who don’t know  tacit: not able to articulate, not even aware of o standing really close to someone: “in someone’s space” o we have learned what is appropriate in our society o WHY? o Often we find out what tacit info is, is when it’s violated and corrected  We are after the tacit information  Grammar = skeleton, slang = tacit, playing with the language  There can be behaviors that are socially destructive o Why do people do things that harm themselves and others? Rules vs. Real Behavior  Malinowski (1932: 17) o “In working out the rules and regularities of native custom… we find that this very precision is foreign to real life, which never adheres rigidly to any rules.”  What people actually do doesn’t always prescribe to the rules  Examples: o Speed limit o Crossing the road Etic vs. Emic  Malinowski 1932:25 o “The goal is, briefly, to grasp the native’s point of view, his [or her] relation to life, to realize his [or her] vision of his [or her] world.”  comes from the word “fenetic”: extrinsic concepts/categories o based on the observer’s concepts of reality o scientist’s questions about topics  emic comes from o “bamos” vs. “vamos” doesn’t make a difference, “base” vs. “vase” does make a difference o meaningful to the people of a given group given their values  how it gets extended to the cultural realm  want to get the emic perspective!! o Insider’s understanding o Can’t impose our own belief, our own realism o Have to suspend our own judgment  Time, space, etc. *question what we assume to be unquestionable  ethnography (product) shows us that there are many ways to organize lives, experience world  not just about learning new cultures  anthropology’s subversive side o not just learning about others as “others”, opens us up to changing our own b/c we are looking at the minute details main innovation: participant observation  one step in, one step out  actively engaged in observing  can’t le
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