Textbook Notes for Lecture 4 & 5 - Economics and Culture

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Victor Barac

Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS . 40-75),6 (PGS .164-197) AND 5.5 Lecture: Economics and Culture Chapter 2: The Meanings of Progress and Development Introduction What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Progress? - Today’s world is radically divided into wealthy nations and poor nations - Sedentary – A mode of livelihood characterized by permanent or semi-permanent settlements - Progress – The idea that human history is the story of a steady advance from a life dependent on the whims of nature to a life of control and domination over natural forces Question 2.1: How and Why Did Foraging Societies Switch to Sedentary Agriculture? - Culture Change – The changes in meanings that a people ascribe to experience and changes in their way of life - Bands – A term used by anthropologists to refer to egalitarian units of social organization, found mostly among foragers, that usually consist of few than 100 people - With groups that were small and mobile, simple economic, social and political arrangements sufficed o Formal leaders were not needed, and there was little occupational specialization - Kinship served as the main organizing principle of these societies, and social differences among people were based largely on age and gender - Slash-and-Burn – (or Swidden) Agriculture – A mode of livelihood in which forests are cleared by burning trees, and brush, and crops are planted among the ashes of the cleared ground - Since larger and more sedentary groups required more formal leadership, certain members assumed the roles of chief or elder, with the authority to make decisions - Clans – A unilineal descent group whose members claim descent from a common ancestor (groups of 200 to 500 people) - States – A form of society characterized by a hierarchical ranking of people and centralized political control - Irrigation Agriculture – A form of cultivation in which water is used to deliver nutrients to growing plants - Hereditary leaders emerged, settlements grew into cities, and competition between groups over available resources spurred the development of standing armies Does the Idea of Progress Help Us Understand the Shift from Foraging to Sedentary Agriculture? - One explanation is that human interventions resulted in better ways of doing things; human culture progressed Evolutionary Explanations for Culture Change: Lewis Henry Morgan and Leslie White - One possible reason is that sedentary agriculture was an easier less dangerous and more productive way to get food - Morgan said that human development evolved through three stages: o Savagery, barthrism and civilization - White, in the mid-20 century, saw technology as the driving force of cultural evolution o From his perspective, cultural development varied directly with the efficiency of the tools employed - Specialization led to widespread trade and the development of commerce What Are The Shortcomings of These Theories of Progress? - Technology is a true measure of progress, and that the more energy human societies can harness through the development of new power sources, the more social, economic and political problems they will solve Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS. 40-75),6 (PGS.164-197) AND 5.5 - Marshal Sahlins suggested that foraging represented “the original affluent society” with minimal work and plenty of leisure time Life Among Foragers: The Hadza and Ju/’hoansi - Foragers are often depicted as living on the verge of starvation, yet Woodburn found the Hadza area rich in food and resources o The Hadza spent about two hours a day obtaining food o Women were responsible for almost all the plant food gathered; hunting was exclusively a male activity o Considered only meat as proper food and would say they were hungry when there was none o Plant food was so plentiful that the Hadza made no attempt to preserve it - Ju/’hoansi people are another foraging society o Lived near water holes, and would wander as far as 10 kilometers in search of plant and animal food o Did little food processing, so they had to get food supplies every 3 or 4 day o Major food source was the mongongo nut, which provided 50% of the Ju/’hoansi caloric intake o Individuals averaged 2.3 days this work, which a typical working day of 6 hours The Transition to Agriculture - Population Density – The number of people in a given geographic area - Mark Cohen set out to explain why individuals or groups abandoned foraging for agriculture and why so many did so in relatively short time period o Foragers settle in a given area to collect food; then as food resources decline in one spot, they enlarge the area within which they travel in search for them - Anthropological and archaeological evidence suggests that they knew how to do this all along, but chose instead to gather crops until the labour involved in travelling to new food sources surpassed the labour involved in growing their own crops - In most parts of the world, when societies abandoned foraging, they began to utilize slash-and-burn agricultural techniques - The increase in the number of people relative to the available land creates two problems: o If there are more people then there is available land to feed them, conflict may arise between people vying for the available resources o If a growing population decides to intensify methods of growing crops, there is a need for greater societal organization Industrial Agriculture: producing Potato Calories - John H. Bodley compared the production of sweet potatoes in New Guinea with potato production in the United States - In New Guinea, people cultivate sweet potatoes by slash-and-burn agriculture o Sweet potatoes are cooked in pits and eaten - Potato farms in Canada and the U.S. produce more than twice as many calories per acre o Chemicals must be applied to maintain soil conditions and to control insects and fungus - Human and nonhuman energy required to convert a potato into potato chips is far greater than the energy expended in New Guinea to produce a more nutritious sweet potato Question 2.2: How can we explain the Vast Inequality Between the Rich and the Poor? - Industrial Revolution – A period of European history, generally identified as occurring th in the late 18 century, marked by a shift in production from agriculture to industrial goods, urbanization and the factory system - Before the Industrial Revolution in Europe, the world was significantly different in its distribution of wealth Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS . 40-75),6 (PGS .164-197) AND 5.5 th th o China was the richest county in the 16 and 17 centuries - “Putting Out” System – A means of production, common in the 16 and 17 centuriesth and surviving today, in which a manufacturer or merchant supplies the materials and sometimes the tools to workers, who produce the goods in their own homes o Advantage: gave them more control over production, it ensured cheap labour, or it brought women and children into the production process, and if demands for textiles slackened, the merchant could easily control how much was produced by limiting the materials he put out - Factory System – A system of production characterized by the concentration of labour and machines in specific places. It associated with the Industrial Revolution - The only things that made a manufacturing investment attractive were the various government subsidies or laws that ensured flow of cheap labour o Government played a major role in creating and defending overseas markets as well as sources of raw materials such as cotton - The growth of the textile industry produced great wealth and employed million of workers o It transformed England into the wealthiest country in the world The British in India - Prior to the British military takeover, India had been producing cloth that was cheaper and better than English textiles - To take advantage of the import restriction, English factories began producing copies or popular Indian textiles for sale both in England and broad - Opium was illegal in China, but the Chinese state seemed incapable of cutting off supplies - British demanded and received additional trading rights into China, further opening a market, not only for opium but for textiles as well - The British-led opium trade from India to China had three results: o It reversed the flow of money between China and the rest of the world o Estimates are that by the end of the 19 century, one out of every ten Chinese was addicted to opium o Textile exports from England to India and China increased from 6% of total British exports in 1815 Cotton, Slavery, and the Trail of Tears - The British were able to sell raw Indian cotton to China, but Indian cotton was not acceptable to European and North American markets - Slavery was not created by the need for cotton - The production of cotton using salve labour fuelled the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. - The American cotton industry grew so rapidly in part because of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin o The gin allowed a person to clean cotton 50 times more quickly than in the past - Within a decade, the Cherokee had built plantations, were holding slaves, and had their own newspaper, schools, and alphabet - Thousands of additional acres of what had been Indian land were taken over or converted to cotton production by white farmers using black slaves Progress for Whom? - The growth of the British textile industry produced great wealth for some people - In the process, it destroyed textile manufacturing in India, led to the colonization of India, escalated imports of opium into China - The growing European demand for sugar, coca, palm oil, tabacco and coffee, millions of hectares around the world were converted from subsistence farming to cash crop farming Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS . 40-75),6 PGS .164-197) AND 5.5 Question 2.3: How do Globalization, Economic Development and Cultural Diversity Relate to One Another? - As long as there was a demand for products, jobs were secure; when demand slackened, people were thrown out of work - The rate of economic growth and technological advancement was astounding and resulted in a dramatic improvement in the standard living of Western countries o People in the Third World often saw their living standards decline as their countries fell under the influence of European powers - Economic Development – The term used to identify an increase in level of technology, and by some, standard of living of a population. Others view it as an ideology based on three key assumptions: (1) That economic growth and development is the solution to national as well as global problems (2) That global economic integration will contribute to solving global ecological and social problems (3) That foreign assistance to undeveloped countries will make things better - Three key assumptions shaped the idea of economic development that emerged: o Economic growth and development is the solution to nation as well as global problems o Global economic integration will contribute to solving global ecological and social problems o Foreign assistance to undeveloped countries will make things betters - World Bank – One of the institutions created at the Bretton Woods, New Hamsphire meeting in 1944 of Allied nations. The World Bank (or the Bank for Reconstruction and Development) functions as a lending institution to nations largely for projects related to economic development - International Monetary Fund (IMF) – Formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference to regulate currency transactions among countries. The IMF now makes loans and regulates the economies of lending countries - The bank would lend money to governments for specific projects and those governments would agree to pay back he loans of a set period of time - But the World Bank was making huge loans to countries such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia The Case of Brazil - Brazil has been one of the major recipients of World Bank loans - Brazil built dams, roads, factories and industries - To repay its debts, Brazil needed to earn foreign income - Brazil did increase production of some food crops, notably beef, but because poor Brazilians could not pay as much for beef as relatively wealthy North Americans and Europeans could, most Brazilian beef was exported - Economic development also brought environmental destruction - Life threatening diseases developed, rate of malaria approached 100%, and infant mortality rates of 25 to 50% were no uncommon Do Progress and Development Inevitably Lead to Inequality? - Many argue that economic and industrial development takes time and that countries such as Brazil and India are now beginning to see a marked improvement in their economic situation Globalization and Cultural Diversity - Living in small scattered groups with little need for complex political structures or technology, they have often been no match for the well-armed, organized, acquisitive people and governments who have coveted their land and labour Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS . 40-75),6 PGS .164-197) AND 5.5 - Often the same economic forces that are undermining traditional cultures are also promoting environmental destruction - The wages they can make working for farmers or in other odd jobs are inadequate to support families; illness and disease have increased; and sucide rates in the pat ten years have more than tripled Finding Hope in the Face of Cultural Devastation - People’s views of the world, what they count as important, what they value, and what the good life means to them are all subject to sudden upheaval - The Lubicon elders decided that their young people should learn English in order to pursue their land claims - The dilemma of peasant farmers, the Guarani and the Libicon is shared by thousands of other societies and groups around the world Question 2.4: Have Progress and Development Improved Human Health? Illness and Inequality - Biomedical Model – A term, also known as Western medicine, scientific medicine, or modern medicine, that combines biology with the diagnosis and treatment of illness and that view the body as a machine, independent of social context, that must be repaired periodically - Antibiotics save millions of people from death each year, and modern diagnostic methods and equipment allow medical practioners to identify the onset of disease more easily - Your income and dwelling place determine your chances of coming into contact with a deadly pollutant - What is takes for us to die of an infection disease. Four thing have to happen: o We have to come into contact with some pathogen or vector that carries a disease o The pathogen must be virulent – that is, it must be able to kill us o If we come into contact with a deadly pathogen, it must evade our body’s immune system o The pathogen must be able to circumevent whatever measures our society has developed to prevent it from doing harm - Even if you come into contact with a deadly pathogen, you immune system is designed ot prevent it from kill you - The strength of your immune system is clearly a function of diet, and diet is determined largely by income level The Meaning of Illness - In North American society, illness is viewed as an intrusion by bacteria or viruses o Our curing techniques emphasize eliminating those agents o Death can occur when we fail to do so - In other societies, illness can be attributed to witchcraft or it may be attributed to soul loss - They believe there must be a social reason for these things to occur o Witchcraft involves relationships between people: the witch voluntarily or involuntarily afflicts someone who has caused offence - The Chewa of Malawi in southeastern Africa contend that illness and death are induced by witchcraft when someone fails to observe some social norm o A Chewa who becomes ill consults a diviner to disocer the cause of the illness - A Latin American condition called susto occurs when the soul has detached itself from the body o Symptoms: restlessness, listelessness, loss of appetite, disinterest in dress or bodily appearance, loss of strength and introversion Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS . 40-75),6 PGS .164-197) AND 5.5 o Occurs only when the patient perceives some situation as stressful and when the stress has been the result of difficulties in social relations with specific people - Interpersonal Theory of Disease – A view of disease in which it is assumed that illness is caused by tensions or conflicts in social relations o In this view, witches, spirits, and souls are mediating agents that link a social cause –tenson and conflict- to a physical results –illness or death - The Ndembu believe that a persistent or severe illness is caused either by the punitive action of some ancestral ghost o Ghosts punish people when they forget to make a ritual offering to their ancestors - Ethnomedical cures not only can be beneficial but also are affordable Question 2.5: How Can We Apply A Critical Anthropological Understanding of Progress and Development Outside of the Academy - Anthropologists bring cultural expertise to the table, and their critical and ethnographically grounded understanding of what constitutes “progress” (and what does not) can be crucial to ensuring that development initiatives are culturally appropriate Anthropologists in Development - There was no consultation with the indigenous people regarding the changes - Nobody considered the complex interactions among family structure, cultural values, economics, education and new residents - Factory Model – An engery-intensive, ecologically damaging form of agriculture intended to grow or raise as many crops or livestock as possible in the shortest amount of time - Archaeological Approach – Agricultural methods that incorporation indigenous practices of food production along with contemporary agricultural research yet preserve the environment - Development projects might begin with good intentions, but they can quickly devolve into ethnocentric, socially damaging institutions - Anthropological perspectives that carefully considers the cultures and values of indigenous people will go a long way to ease the potential pains of development Chapter 6: The Cultural Construction of Social Hierarchy Introduction The Rationale for Social Inequality - Social Stratification/ Social Hierarchy – The ordering and ranking of individuals within society. Those at the top of the hierarchy are generally afforded more power, wealth, prestige, or privileges in a society. Hierarchies can be based on race, gender, class, caste, ethnicity, national affiliation, or other factors - Social hierarchy is not an inevitable feature of human societies - Race – A culturally constructed form of identity and social hierarchy, race refers to the presumed hereditary, phenotypic characteristics of a group of people. These physical or phenotypic differences are often erroneously correlated with behaivoural attributes 6.1: How do societies rank people in social hierarchies? Class and Caste. - Social hierarchies in different societies vary along several dimensions: o The criteria used to differentiate people into one level of society or another o The number of levels that exist o The kinds of privileges and rights that attach to people at different levels o The strength of the social boundaries that separate the different levels - Class – A form of identity informed by perceptions of an individual’s economic worth or status. It is also a form of social hierarchy Notes From Reading for Lecture 4 and 5 C HAPTERS : 2(PGS . 40-75),6 PGS .164-197) AND 5.5 Class as a Form of Social Hierarchy - Social class refers to perceptions of an individual’s standing or status in society, normally based on economic criteria, status, or other factors - In North American societies, we tend to place particular value on some occupations that require years of post-secondary schooling over more “hands on” professions - Ascribed Status – An identity that is perceived as fixed and unchanging because a person is believed to be born with it. In Canadian society, race is often assumed to be ascribed at birth - Achieved Status – An identity that is believed to be in flux and that is dependent upon the actions and achievements of an individual Create as a Form of Social Stratification - Castes – A form of social stratification and identity in India where
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