January notes from Cultural Anthropology
January notes from Cultural Anthropology ANT2410
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Date Created: 02/11/16
What is Anthropology? The study of human life and culture (core concept), culture is always changing and it is basically made of off human beliefs, practices and behaviors. Anthropology Field: -Physical Anthropology -Archeology -Linguistic -Cultural: Work as: International business consultant International Economic Development worker Cross-cultural trainer Refugee/Immigration counselor What do anthropologists look for? a) Patterns: Repetition of a social or cultural phenomenon a. Belief, ideology, costumes… (for example: pattern of poverty, discrimination, health outcomes) b) Symbols: Shared understanding about the meaning of certain words, ideas, attributes and objects. c) Human Universals: Characteristics found in all human societies. Perspective, approaches and methodology 1) Holistic Approach: Study the whole of the human condition (How do anthropology do that?) 2) Emic/Etic (outsider) perspective. 3) Ethnography and Participant Observation 4) Cultural Relativism a. Study human societies as systematic units b. Macro vs. Micro c. Not reductionists/Not generalizers. d. Cross-cultural comparative studies. Emic and Etic Venn Diagram join in what is called reality. Cultural relativism is the opposite to ethnocentrism. There is not right or wrong in culture, everything is relative. We need to practice neutrality and non-prejudicial language Limits of Cultural Relativism: If every society is unique: Cross-cultural comparison is impossible. No behavior could be considered immoral if the people who do it think is acceptable. Value of Anthropology: Societal: Understating can contribute to the solution of pressing societal problems. Anthropologists: -Non-Profit: 8% -Government: 12% -Self-employed: 18% -Education: 23% -Private for-profit: 40% Aims of Anthropology: Objective and not generalists. (not influenced by feelings) Reserve valuable knowledge: Emphasize in similarities and not too much on differences. Foster cross-cultural empathy. ______________________________________________________________________________ Nacirema: American backward Holy mouth-men: Dentists Latipso: Hospital The “Listener” Culture: What PEOPLE THINK, HAVE AND DO. Edward B. Tylor: First to coin the concept of culture, the father of anthropology. To be human is to be cultured (Clyde Kluckhohn) Civilization: Cultures with cities (government, writing, monuments, food system) 1) Culture is shared: a. Transmitted through groups b. When people share culture you can predict c. Culture shock d. Subcultural groups 2) Culture is learned: a. Acquired interacting with environment b. Enculturation c. Humans have little predetermined behavior 3) Culture is taken for granted and that leads to combat ethnocentrism. a. Culture is deeply embedded in our psyche b. How we act and think are often habitual c. Monochronic vs. Polychronic i. High value on time (mono) ii. Time is money (mono) iii. More value on social relationships (poly) 4) Culture is symbolic, animals can’t make symbols a. Symbols are the basis of culture b. Language is an important symbol 5) Culture is adaptive a. We adapt to our environment i. Uninhabitable places 1. Under the sea 2. Polar region 3. Outer space ii. Technology iii. Vaccines iv. Clothing v. Shelter 6) Culture is maladaptive: a. Tanning b. Drug use c. Cars d. Global warming e. Weapons 7) Culture changes: Dynamic systems (internal or external forces) a. Invention (internal): New thinking or idea b. Diffusion (external) Spreading from one culture to another one c. Acculturation: Force something on native people d. Future shock: i. Live in a culture that is constantly changing ii. Rejecting western culture 8) Culture is Integrated: a. Some parts influence one another b. People say it’s like a biological system c. Holistic d. Interconnected A. Functions of culture a. Provide for basic needs, psychological and emotional need (shelter/food) b. Facilitates social interaction (sexual and social relationships) B. Primitive culture: a. Small scale b. Egalitarian c. Technologically simple d. Preliterate e. Not stratified C. Globalization: a. Rapid transformation of cultures world wide in response to cultural and economical influences b. Contemporary globalization i. Interconnected economies c. Americanization D. Basic needs: a. Economic system b. System of marriage and family c. Educational system d. Social control system e. System of communication f. System of supernatural belief E. Cultural genocide: a. Ethnocide b. Threat to the ethnosphere (total sum of cultures) Ethnocentrism leads to cultural misinterpretation (for example: bullying, discrimination, war, genocide, intolerance). Cultural relativism stresses the importance of analyzing cultures in their own terms. Macroculture: Culture that all humans share in a general way. Microculture: Subculture, subjected to: Class Gender Age Race Ethnicity Levels of culture: International National Subculture Life is biocultural The Growth of Anthropological Theory A theory is a statement that suggests a relationship among phenomena Theories enable us to reduce reality to an abstract set of principles Theoretical orientation is the general idea about how phenomena are to be explained. Theories generate hypothesis that need to be tested in an empirical environment. Evolutionism in Brief Edward Tylor and Lewis Henry Morgan thought culture passes through developmental stages in the same order, evolution is unidirectional and leads to higher levels of culture. Also, it was ethnocentric because anthropologists put their culture on the top of the pyramid. Basic Features of Evolutionism: Ethnocentric: -Intended to evaluate cultures of the world in terms of model of Victorian England. -Underlying assumption that evolutionism culminated in England and Europe Armchair Speculation: -Early anthropologists did not do fieldwork -Relied on data supplied by untrained amateurs -Focus was the comparative method, with the assumption that societies could be arranged into taxonomy. They classified people in 1) Savages: Hunters and Gathers 2) Barbarians: horticulturalists 3) Civilized people: Citizens of modern, stratified states. Herbert Spencer tries to talk about social Darwinism and survival of the fittest in culture. Race Theory: This posited that the reason human cultures differed in their behaviors was because they represented separate subspecies of humans, or races. By the 19th century, few cultures were being “civilized” in the way Europeans expected. System naturae: Humans are classified into 4 distinct races (Americans, European, Asiatic, and Africa) each defined by physical characteristics as well as emotional and behavioral ones. Johann Blumenbach: He divided humans into 5 races: Caucasian, Mongolian Malayan, Ethiopian, American, to help classify the variety of humans that Europeans colonists were encountering. -Introduced formal hierarchical ordering of the races. Samuel Morton: He was the first to explicitly link “race” with behavior and intelligence. Crania Americana: Not only were native Americans a separate race but their behavioral differences from European Americans were rooted in the physical structures of their brains. Crania Aegyptiaca: Race” differences were ancient and unchanging. This justified the exploitive relationships of colonialism and slavery and fought Darwin’s idea of evolution. Louis Agassiz: He argued that significant and stable differences existed between people of African versus European descent. He implied that these differences illustrated God’s creation of human “races”. Francis Galton: Eugenics A social and political movement aimed at manipulating “races” by selectively breeding humans with desirable characteristics and preventing those with undesirable ones from having offspring. Franz Boas the founding father of American Anthropology. Historical Particularism. Bornislaw Malinowski, father of Modern Fieldwork. Functionalism. ______________________________________________________________________________ Diffusionism Societies change as a result of cultural borrowing from one another A deductive approach is used by applying general theories to explain specific cases of cultural diversity Overemphasized the essentially valid idea of diffusion. American Historicism Ethnographic facts must precede development of cultural theories (Induction) Any culture is partially composed of traits diffused from other cultures Direct fieldwork is essential Each culture is, to some degree, unique Ethnographers should try to get the view of those being studied, not their own view. Functionalism Through direct fieldwork (which is essential), anthropologists can understand how cultures function for the individual (Malinowsky – functionalism) and the society (Radcliffe-Brown- Structural functionalism). Society is like a biological organism Robert Merton: dysfunction (he thinks that sometimes there are things that don’t have a function) Psychological Anthropology Anthropologists need to explore the relationships between psychological and cultural variables. Personality is largely the result of cultural learning. How does personality affect culture? Ruth Benedict Margaret Mead Neo-evolutionism Resurgence of evolutionism was much more apparent in the U.S. than in Britain Idea of looking for systematic cultural changes through time fit in better with American anthropology because of its inclusion of archeology. Most important contribution was concern with the causes of change Changes in modes of production have consequences for other arenas of culture. Material factors given causal priority They looked at the environment, how is it affecting culture? Leslie White: “Culture evolution is cause by advancing levels of technology and a culture’s increasing capacity to “capture energy” and control it” Julian Seward: unilineal evolution, universal evolution, and Steward’s concept of multilinear evolution o Leading proponent of cultural ecology o How are some cultures have grown without energy? French Structuralism Cultures are the product of unconscious processes of the human mind Levi-Strauss concentrated on identifying the mental structures that undergrid social behavior o Draws on the science of linguistics o People think in binary opposites Ethnoscience A theoretical approach that focuses on the ways in which members of a culture classify their world Attempt to collect ethnographic data that does not include the observer’s own cultural biases Ethno-scientists seek to understand a people’s world from their point of view (Emic Strategy). The problem is that it is really idealistic, and that is not possible to describe all of the cultures in the world and that you need a lot of time and funding to do that. It is not practical or realistic. Feminist Anthropology System reanalysis of the role women play in the social structure. Focuses on women’s positions within society o Themes of study: Social construction of gender, work and production, reproduction and sexually, body image, and how gender influences economic, political and social power. Can men “do” feminist anthropology? Cultural Materialism (Marvin Harris) Material conditions or modes of production determine human thoughts and behavior Etic research methodology Anthropology is seen as scientific, empirical, and capable of generating casual explanations. De-emphasize the role of ideas and values in determining social life. Humanistic Anthropology a. Symbolic or Interpretive Anthropology Descriptive approach by examining how the people themselves interpret their own values and behaviors Like ethno-scientists and feminist anthropologists, this approach relies on the emic (insider) perspective. Popularized by Clifford Geertz (1926-2006) o Thick description Anthropologist is not present in his or her writing. b. Post-Modernism Research should be collaborative Claims that it is impossible for anyone to have objective and neutral knowledge of another culture. Rejects the generalization of cultures – emphasizes the uniqueness of every culture. Premodern is a point: . Modern is progress: Arrow going upward Postmodern: Arrows going in all directions and ways. Political Economy At the core: abstract issues of conflict, ideology and power and the relationship between economic production and political processes. Multi-scaled research considers the macro and micro processes that generate inequality and marginalization. Political Ecology The study of power relations among groups and how they are linked to the biophysical environment at the local, state, national, and international levels. Political economy that considers environment issues. Dimensions of Anthropology Academic/Theoretical (Ivory Tower): Research, accumulation of knowledge, formulation of theories, no practical. Applied/Action (Advocary): Putting knowledge to work, representing people & groups who might not be heard otherwise, promote culturally sensitive programs & policies. (talk to people). Applied Anthropology Definition: The application of anthropological knowledge, theory, and methods to the solution of specific societal problems. Problem-oriented research Involves three major products: sociocultural information, policy, and a plan of action or invention. Types of Applied Anthropology Biological anthropologists work in public health, nutrition, genetic counseling, substance abuse, epidemiology, aging, mental illness, and forensics Applied archaeologists locate, study, and preserve prehistoric and historic sites threatened by development (Cultural Resource Management) Linguistic anthropologists frequently work with schools in districts with various languages. Cultural anthropologists work with social workers, businesspeople, advertising professionals, factory workers, medical professionals, school personnel, and economic development experts. Anthropology Degrees Develop Skills in Critical analysis Oral and written communication Interpersonal relations Understanding of different cultures Problem solving Using scientific equipment and instruments Working cooperatively with others Adapting to varied and changing conditions Data analysis Adapting cultural theories to other populations History of Applied Anthropology th Academic anthropology had its beginning in the early 20 century Application was central concern of early anthropology in Great Britain (colonialism) and U.S. (Native American policy) During WWII and again during the Vietnam War applied and practicing anthropology experienced growth periods. Application of Cultural Anthropology Applied cultural anthropology has excelled in five areas in particular (specializations): a. Medical Anthropology Both academic (theoretical) and applied (practical) The study of disease and illness in their sociocultural context Examines which diseases and health conditions affect a particular population and why Determines how illness is socially constructed, diagnosed, managed, and treated in various societies. Three theories of Illness: Personalistic disease theories blame illness on supernatural agents Naturalistic disease theories explain illness in impersonal terms (Western medicine) Emotionalistic disease theories assumes emotional experiences cause illness (susto among Latino populations) b. Environment Anthropology Examines the relationships between humans and their environment across space and time Draws on political ecology c. Business Anthropology Apply anthropology theories, methods and skills to research and identify solutions to solve all kinds of business- and industry- related problems. d. Educational Anthropology Applying anthropological theories and methods to an educational setting Use kids as cultural beings Rely heavily in linguistics e. Development Anthropology Supplemental reading by O’Driscoll Development Anthropology (Practice) vs. Anthropology of Development (Critique) Development discourse Question: “Is it better than anthropologists get involved in development on the wrong side, for the wrong people, for the wrong reasons, than that they stay motionless on the touchline?” Ethics and anthropology Notions of right and wrong Concerns about our intentions towards others, institutions, governments… Human Terrain System Kinder, Gentler Warfare? Increase cross-cultural understanding Reduce kinetic force (a euphemism for military action involving lethal force) Human Terrain program ended. (2007-2014) Ethics: Do no harm Get informed consent and appropriate permission Make your results accessible Protect and preserve our records Maintain respectful and professional relationships __________________________________________________________________ _ Methods and Fieldwork Fieldwork The practice in which an anthropologist is immersed in the daily life of a culture to collect data Ethnographic fieldwork: purposely provides both description and explanation th Early 20 Century – Franz Boas and Bornislaw Malinowski proponents of fieldwork It is what differences the field of anthropology from sociology, psychology, etc. Data Gathering Techniques Participant-Observation: o The purpose is to allow the researcher to gain insight and develop relationships that require an active, trusting rapport with participants. o Cultural immersion o You look at appearance, verbal behavior and interactions, physical behavior and gestures, personal space, human traffic and people who stand out. o Strengths of Participant Observation: Builds rapport Allows for insight into contexts, relationships, behavior Can provide information previously unknown. Can help an anthropologist distinguish between what people say they do and what people actually do. o Weaknesses: Smaller research sample Data can be hard to code or categorize Time-consuming Recording Obtrusive effect: the presence of the researcher causes people to behave differently than they would if the researcher was not present. You are also biased by who you surround yourself as an individual with. Interviewing o Informed consent o Participant of informant: a person who provides information about his or her culture to the ethnographic fieldwork Not research subjectparticipant, collaborator. o Unstructured: More than a yes or no answer, no script, just talking to them o Structured: May have a script but more yes or no, what you are expecting. o Semi-structured: Both Census Taking Mapping Document Analysis Collecting Genealogies Photography Applied Field Methods Community Based Participatory Research Participatory Rural Appraisal Rapid Ethnographic Assessment (people with PhD, really systematic, fast) Surveys Focus Groups Ways to collect Ethnography Sometimes seen a little authoritative. Live Field: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Notes Recorder Common issues in Fieldwork Gaining acceptance in the community Selecting the most appropriate data-gathering techniques Understating how to operate within the local political structure (don’t go to jail) Taking precautions against investigator bias. Ethics and Anthropology: “Do no Harm” Areas of responsibility for anthropologists: The people under study The local communities The host governments and their own government Other members of the scholarly community Organizations that sponsor research Their own students. Part 1: (A) Why did the Victorians collect objects of “exotic people”? Why did they consider them “savages”? (B) What is an arm-chair anthropologist? What did they do? (C) Why was fieldwork so important to Malinowski? Part 2: (A) Why were the Australian Aborigines under scrutiny? How is this ethnocentric and prejudice? (B) What did Malinowski think about this? (C) What did Malinowski struggle with in Papua New Guinea? Part 3: (A) Does Malinowski take an etic or emic perspective to understanding ritual in Papua New Guinea? Explain. (B) How does Malinowski become a participant observer? Part 4: (A) What did Malinowski discover about kula in order to make sense of it? Part 5: (A) How is kula similar to other places across the globe? (B) How does Malinowski “civilized the savage and savaged the civilized” (according to Professor Jeremy MacClancy)? Part 6: (A) What is Malinowski’s greatest legacy to Anthropology? (B) Can objectivity (uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices) be achieved? Meaning, do you believe that “we are all prisoners of our own time and culture”? Malinowski Papua New Guinea His observations overturned the notions of savagery 1967 Founder of modern social anthropology. The Victorians saw the tribe as savages A savage is a person that was not fully in control of its rational thought. Savages were best studied from a safe distance. Formulated a theory in savage life, they were a an opposite of ourselves because they were a representation of our ancestors. Savages were a throwback to a prehistoric past. They were at the bottom of the ladder of evolution. Promiscuity and no family structure made them the base of cultural evolution. Yet they did have family structures just polygamy, they lived together in huts, they cooked together. He thought anthropology was biased and prejudicial. Malinowski: thought that anthropology methods of relying on what someone said about a culture was flawed He stopped being an observer but a participant observer by learning the language and immersing himself in the culture like contemporary anthropology. Malinowski was studying the canoes, as part of a tradition that made the natives leave their families for months (kula). Only important men were able to afford to go do kula, it was almost exclusive to the man of rank and the village chiefs. The rewards were the shell trinkets. There was an extensive network of kula exchange (12 islands) Each necklace and bracelet had historic semanticity. Was symbol of power and prestige. It reinforced the concept of rich and poor, having one of those trinkets made you a hero. Malinowski noticed the natives were just like English men: industrious, manipulative. Their societies were as complex as our own. Kula shells was like our crowning jewels, and gaining them was like gaining a trophy. Magic was similar to our religion. Malinowski savaged the civilized and civilized the savages. He exposed the cultural relativism. He thought he discovered the engine that drove humanity they were passions (hunger, fear, vanity and sex), motifs, aims, essential ways of thinking. All humans purpose has a function. Rituals satisfy our basic needs He called this theory functionalism, however sophisticated or “primitive” you were. He changed the way of thinking of at leas the British anthropology. Participant observation still brings out productive knowledge contemporary times. Malinowski legacy: Participant observation (observing exactly what they did, not what I thought they did). Died in 1942 In 1967 his diaries were published and his reputation was diminished. He was racist in his diaries (niggas). They thought he was not interested in the people he studied and that is why he insulted them. Even though he tried to be objective he was a victim of his own culture and ethnocentrism. “New Humanism” Religion and Beliefs Defining Religion A set of beliefs in supernatural forces and beings directed at helping people make sense of the world and solve problems All forms of religion are founded on a belief in the supernatural. Religion and Magic Magic refers to supernatural techniques intended to accomplish specific aims. Magic may be imitative (as with voodoo dolls) or contiguous (accomplish through contact) Sorcery and Witchcraft Witchcraft is an inborn, involuntary, and often unconscious capacity to cause harm to other people. Sorcery is the performance of certain magical rites to deliberately bring about harm. Wicca A modern-day movement of witches and pagans Covens are local groups of witches found in major cities in the United States, which are presided over by high priestesses. Anthony Wallace Identified four principal patterns of religious organization baes on what he calls cults. Cult: forms of religion that have their own set of beliefs, rituals, and goals. Every religion in the world under Wallace perspective is a cult. Four forms or religious organization o Individualistic (less specialized): The least complex form of religious organization Individuals intentionally seek out spirit and supernatural powers to protect and help them in their endeavors Vision quests are common in this type of cult. o Shamanistic Part-time religious specialists (shaman) intervene with the deities on behalf of their clients. Shaman gain their skills in many ways Apprenticeship or training Enduring sacrifice and hardship Miraculous life experience o Communal Societies in which groups of people conduct religious ceremonies for the well-being of the total community Rites of passage Rites of solidarity (enhance social integration) Communal cults are frequently seen in agricultural societies. o Ecclesiastical. (more specialized) Highly complex religious systems The defining feature is that it has a full-time religious practitioner (priests) Full time priests conduct ritual that occur at regular intervals. Can have a combination of priests and shamans Contrasting Priest and Shaman A priest does not necessarily have a face to face relationship with the spirit world but must have competence in conducting ritual W.A. Lessa and E.Z. Vogt (1958): a shaman’s powers come by “divine stroke”, a priest’s power is inherited or is derived from the body of codified and standardized ritual knowledge that he learns from older priests and later transit to successors. Shamanistic rites are “non-calendrical”. The priest and priestly cult organization found in societies where the ore common ceremonial is a public rite and often calendrical. Religious Specialist: Healers A religious specialist who concentrates on healing o Can refer to either a priest or a shaman Herbalist: Specialist in plant derived cures. May provide or prescribe medicines. Intimately familiar with uses of local plant life. Religious Specialist: Diviner Diviner: A religious specialist who specializes in divination. The future, the present at a distance, revealing the identity of supernatural elements in the natural world. Spirit Medium A vessel or vehicle of the transhuman entity. Religious Specialist: Prophets Someone who communicates the words and will of the gods to his or her community, acting as an intermediary between the people and the gods. Cultural Phenomena or an Issue 100-150 words abstract or summary of your topic. 2-3 Preliminary articles, book chapters, or books that you will use to write your paper (Library Catalog) Components o Introduction of the Topic o Provide a statement about your stance o Application (Specialization) — Theory and Practice o Why is this a topic of interest o Utilize Sources Why do people create this belief systems? Have an explanation of their miseries Have power over their lives. They don’t have anyone to help them Functions of Religion Social Functions o Social control o Conflict resolution o Ethics (here in the U.S.) o Reinforcement group solidarity Psychological Functions o Cognitive (it makes you understand unexplainable things) o Emotional (reduce anxiety) Ritual vs. Religious Ritual Ritual: Patterned, recurring sequence of events o These ritual activities are secular (non-religious) Religious Ritual: The symbolic behavior through which religion comes alive. General Description of Ritual Perspective Ritual: Required to be performed either by a religious text, a deity/religious authority or dictated by tradition. Situation/Crisis Rituals: Arise “as needed”, usually in times of crisis (prayers because of terrorism) Periodic (also called Calendrical) rituals are performed on a regular basis as part of a religious calendar Occasional rituals performed when a particular need arises as in marriage and death or to bring about change, or to ensure survival (wedding) Ritual Classification (Simple) Rites of passage: mark transition points in the lives of individuals (Bar Mitzvah) Rites of solidarity: maintain group equilibrium and solidarity. 5 Ritual Classification by Anthony Wallace Ideological Rituals Technological Rituals Therapy Rituals (herbs) Salvation Rituals (change the way you are. Baptism) Revitalization Rituals (return back to your old ways. Amish) Violence as Ritual Fundamental to human social existence and is central to theories regarding the nature of society. Violence may be seen as cultural expression, practice, and/or performance/ Can also unite a community. Bloods, Crips and Folks Little Rocks homicide rates surpasses New York’s and LA’s Nation union of allied gangs Hoover Folk is multiracial. G’s fellow gang members Family that is going to be with them no matter what they do (support system). Union and solidarity. No gender discrimination (=) Equality Two rituals: Beaten (show me what you are worth) or Sexualized Functions of Ritual Reinforce social bonds Relieve social tension Deal with life crisis Celebrate life cycle events Ritual is also a way a society remembers o Through habit o Through bodily practices
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