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University of Illinois
ANTH 103
Rahul Sirohi

Study Guide forAnthropology in a Changing World: Midterm Culture “Culture is the learned and shared knowledge that people use to generate behavior and interpret experience”-From Spradley and McCurdy Culture includes:  Beliefs  Forms of communication  Patterns of behavior  Social categories  Forms of relatedness Explicit culture: Categories of knowledge and meaning that people can talk about Tacit Culture: “the taken for granted” or “unsaid” Ethnography/Methods Ethnography is a Method It is the study of a culture to understand how people interpret and act in their world based on participant observation Ethnographers: • Study cultural groups (including microcultures) long-term  Live and work with people  Speak the language of informants  In order to: Understand systems of meaning-making from within  Learn how to interpret the world through new cultural frameworks  Understand the relationship between cultural knowledge and behavior Examples of questions cultural anthropologists might ask about climate change: How have changing weather patterns affected the livelihoods of local communities? • What are people’s survival strategies for coping with these changes? • How have political decisions about infrastructure, investment and resource distribution impacted the vulnerability of different communities to the effects of global warming? • How are activists and scientists overcoming different approaches to global warming to be able to work together? Pitfalls of Ethnography include: • Naïve realism – the belief that all people see or experience the world in the same way  Ethnocentrism – the belief that one’s own culture is best (or right) See Lee “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” and Gmelch, “Nice Girls don’t talk to Rastas” for examples Example of naïve realism in “Nice Girls don’t talk to Rastas” • What made Johanna’s perspective so culturally specific? • Being friendly and kind is enough to overcome hostilities • Everyone should be treated as equal • You don’t have to “choose sides” in a community • You should be judged as an individual (not by who you associate with Ethics: American AnthropologicalAssociation Code for Ethics includes: • Understand immediate and long-term consequences of research • Do no harm • Transparency • Informed consent • Anonymity and credit • Competing ethical obligations Clare Sterk: Ethnography with prostitutes in the age ofAIDS: Sterk found the following key to doing this research: • Access (gatekeepers and key respondents) • Building trust (dialogue, learn to listen, be flexible, research questions may change) • Reciprocity • Obtain consent (this may be an ongoing process) • Set boundaries The case of Napoleon Chagnon among the Yanomami: Nature and Culture • Bioreductivism (or Biomythology) - the idea that gender norms, sexual orientations, and social institutions are genetically “hard-wired.” (Lancaster) • Naturalization -Ascribing social and cultural features of human life to “natural” or evolutionary processes • Race is not natural or essential – it’s a category of socially, political, and historically defined groups Language and Culture • Language is a symbolic system and has referential meaning (semantics). • Ways of speaking (and inhabiting speech) communicate immediate social features of context, including: o Relationships among people (formality, power, intimacy) o Honorifics and avoidance language o Styles of talk that can be linked to certain social categories and the behaviors expected of “social types.” • Language communicates the “frames” by which we interpret social situations o Framing - organizes experiences and guide the actions of individuals, groups and societies (ex. President Obama’s inaugural ball speech, question about Cubs vs. White Sox) o Frames are signaled by forms of communication. This can include verbal and nonverbal context clues, including:  How you stand  Tone of voice  Eye-contact  Word choice and use of metaphor  Referential content  The symbolic meaning beyond referential content (invoking social contexts and categories) • Marketing and Advertising are fundamentally about framing. They create networks of associations between images, words, and desired experiences. • Language is Embodied o Social belonging and language competence isn’t just about being technically “fluent” in a language. It’s also about inhabiting the non-verbal cues and bodily gestures that are recognizable as “in-group.” • Language ideology – beliefs about language o Can include judgments people have about people based on the language forms they use o We have certain culturally specific expectations for how we think people “ought” to talk (Ex. Midwestern accent used as model for news reporters) o We make judgments all the time about people as social “types” based on features of their language o Gapun language ideologies:Anger and conflict are poisonous, language hides meaning, women express anger while men manage conflict through concealing anger. • Language use is gendered. Cultural categories include how women and men are “supposed” to talk. o Tannen vs. Kulick – how the relationship between language and gender is different amongst various cultures. Bonfiglio’s article “Race and the rise of standardAmerican” • The Mid-western version of theAmerican accent was adopted as the “norm” • Looks at historical perspe
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