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Maggie Cummings

Chapter 1 ~ Culture and Meaning Sociocultural Anthropology: an anthropological approach that retains the British focus on social anthropology and adds the American focus on culture to produce something slightly different from either one; look beyond the world of everyday experiences to discover the patterns and meanings behind them Political Anatomy: the shaping of the human body such that the body is controlled by another individual so that the body can operate with the necessary speed and efficiency; produces a docile (willing to be taught or directed) bodies Anthropology has 4 different approaches to the study of humans: o Biological anthropology o Archaeology o Linguistic anthropology o Sociocultural anthropology Biological Anthropology – focuses on human beings as one of a great multitude of organisms Archaeology – studies human history and its artifacts Linguistic Anthropology – examines the relationship between language and culture Sociocultural Anthropologists o Study how societies are structured o How cultural meanings are created o Study human beings (past and present) by collecting evidence of how and when we became human, comparing humans to other organisms, and through fieldwork – observe, interview, and participate o Look for both differences and similarities between populations Culture: the system of meanings about the nature of experience that is shared by people and passed from one generation to another o Similarity: members of one society experience the same general events as another o Difference: the meanings given to these life events are influenced by their culture o Human beings are compelled to give meanings to experiences because they help us comprehend and impose order on the universe The meaning of Death is different from culture to culture: o Death marks the passage of a person from one world to another o Death is an ending o Death is apart of a never ending cycle of birth, death, and rebirth o Kwkwaka’wakw of BC – believe that when a person dies, the soul leaves the body and enters a salmon; when a salmon is caught and eaten, a soul is released and is free to enter the body of another person o Rural China – the head of the household would address the shrine of a family ancestor to ask for their advice; thus making the dead part of the living world o Southern Italy – funeral customs were designed to discourage the dead from returning o Dani of New Guinea – requires a close female relative of a recently deceased to sacrifice part of a finger o Wari’in of western Brazil – disposed the dead bodies by eating the roasted flesh, internal organs, and ground bones out of respect and compassion for the dead Armchair Anthropologists: an approach to the study of various societies by collecting, studying, and analyzing writings of missionaries, explorers, and colonists who had sustained contact with non-Western peoples; armchair anthropologists used these documents to make comparisons and generalizations about the ways of life of various groups Ethnographic Method: investigators immerse themselves in the lives of the people they are trying to understand and thereby attain some level of understanding of the meanings these people ascribe to their existence; it entails participant observation: active participation of observers in the lives of their subjects Fieldwork: anthropologists engage in long-term interactions with various groups of people; often involves living with people, observing and contributing to daily chores and tasks, and conducting interviews Ethnography: a written description and analysis of a particular group of people, usually based upon anthropological fieldwork “Emic or Insider” vs. “Etic or Outsider” Salvage Anthropology: an approach to anthropology that arose in the late 1800s when anthropologists witnessed the extinction and/or assimilation of indigenous people; in response, they suggested that they rapidly document the oral stories, songs, histories, and other traditions of these groups before they disappear Multi-locale Fieldwork: fieldwork conducted in multiple locations due to globalization – an increasing number of fragmented communities and highly mobile groups Multi-sited Fieldwork: the process of connecting localized experiences of fieldwork in a community with broader regional, national, or global processes; it necessitates understanding various issues from multiple “sites” or perspectives Representation: the way in which a group of individuals is depicted in writing or images published by anthropologists; they are constructing particular representations that may have +/- long-term effects for that group Essentialism: the act of creating generalizations or stereotypes about the behavior or culture of a group of people by the mass media Margaret Mead – Coming of Age in Samoa o Study adolescent girls’ sexual habits o Painted a picture of Samoan society as peaceful and created a romanticized and exotic representation of Samoans – girls were free to experiment with pre-marital sex Napoleon Chagnon – Yanomami indigenous group o Labeled them as fierce and war-like people o British government had wanted to provide financial assistance to this group for education and medical clinics but after reading Chagnon’s work, decided to spend the money on reducing levels of “violence” in the community Scaglion’s embarrassing events when studying the Abelam people o Pig hung | shoveling | gravity Michael Kearney – Ixtepejanos o Witchcraft and Black Magic o Systems of belief are eminently reasonable when viewed from within that system Scaglion & Kearney appreciated the culture of their subjects and questioned their own beliefs and took themselves as subjects when immersed in the new culture Ethnocentric Fallacy: the mistaken notion that the beliefs and behaviors of other cultures can be judged from the perspective of one’s own culture; the idea that our beliefs are right and those of others are wrong Ethnocentrism: the tendency to judge the beliefs and behaviors of other cultures from the perspective of one’s own culture Cultural Relativism: the attempt to understand the beliefs and behaviors of other cultures in terms of the culture in which they are found; holds that no belief can be judged as wrong simply because it is different from our own Relativistic Fallacy: the idea that it is impossible to make moral judgments about the beliefs of members of other cultures Questioning what is morally correct: Virginity Testing in Turkey and Cannibalism in the Wari’ Cultural Text: a way of thinking about culture as a text of significant symbols – words, gestures, drawings, natural objects – that carries meaning Chapter 3 ~ Social & Cultural Construction of Reality The need to explain an event led to the beliefs of gods and spirits Totemism: a clan represented by a symbol, such as an animal or a plant Symbolic Actions: the activities – ritual, myth, art, dance, and music – that dramatically depict the meanings shared by a group of people Metaphor: a figure of speech in which linguistic expressions and meanings are taken from one area of experience and applied to another o No necessary connection between the two domains from which people draw metaphors and the domains to which they apply them o These borrowings are the products of human imagination Domain of Experience: an area of human experience – business, war, science, family – from which people borrow meaning to apply to other areas World View: an encompassing picture of reality based on shared cultural assumptions about how the world works Cree in northern Quebec o In order to protect their lands against a hydroelectric project that would ultimately flood the animals’ habitats, the metaphors “hunting is like gardening” and “hunting lands are like a garden” were used o “Garden” countered the view of the Quebec government that the northern areas were uninhabited and unproductive wilderness o Produced the image of Cree as gardeners who cared for the earth and expected their lands to be treated with respect North Americans: o Language and meaning are borrowed from the domain of war and applied to the domain of conversation or illness o “She shot down my point” or “I defended my position” or “I think I won this argument” o There can be “winning or losing” in a debate or conversation o “I’m fighting a bad cold” or “I am ill because my resistance was low” o Time is a valuable commodity, a scarce resource that is quantified, invested, and spent Key Metaphor: a term to identify metaphors that dominate the meanings that people in a specific culture attribute to their experience; most societies se
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