Week 1 and 2 Cultural Anthropology Notes
Week 1 and 2 Cultural Anthropology Notes ANTH 2003
Arkansas Tech University
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Anthropology Week 2 Notes August 29, 2016 Tuesday, 7pm @ Museum across from Technionary Free, open to public, Come say hey Review Name of the River: Dakel Teran Name of the people: Teduray Custom of naming parents after their firstborn children There is no higher status in their egalitarian ways. They became less independent as the land was taken over. Notes Preparing for Fieldwork o Graduate school o Preliminary Investigation Lit Review o Language Training o Social Networking Scholars and government officials o Research Proposal o Obtain Funding o IRB Approval o Buy stuff and pack Going to the field o 1 year minimum, full annual cycle to gain Anthro Cred among the rest of the cool cats. o Travel o Establish rapport (friendly, trust) o Freak out! o Obtain informed consent o Collect data o Triangulate data: use as many sources as you can o Recheck data o Return Home o Analyze data o Write-up Participant Observation o Not only watching, but joining in their culture as much as possible. o 1 year minimum o Most important, most distinctive anthropological research method. Fieldwork Research Methods o You are a reality recorder. Field notes Census taking Genealogies Surveys and questionnaires Interviews Unstructured Structured Oral histories Focus groups Time allocation studies Return Visit Ethics of Fieldwork o Do no harm o Be honest o Ask first o Make a contribution o Consider your own impact on the people you are working with. Quiz on Schlegel 3&4 Wednesday. Week 1 Notes August 23, 2016 Cultural Anthropology: Global Forces, Local Lives. Chapter 1 Introduction Culture matters, entering consciousness with vengeance, demanding examination. People have always had culture, but have not always appreciated the significance and value of differences among cultures. Not until recently have people actively and systematically set out to study and explain these differences. Instead, “our kind” was deemed to be truly human, and “other” kinds were judged as less. This is a position that nobody can afford to hold. Cultural anthropology is the modern science of human behavioral diversity. Initially aimed to describe “primitive cultures,” it always has had the ambition and the potential to be a complete subject of human ways of life, including modern, urban, technological life. There really is no such thing as a “primitive” culture. Philosophy and history of the book Change is an inherent part of culture, and the modern world is the most critical matter for all of us, since it is the world that we, modern nationstate populations and indigenous people alike, inhabit. If cultural anthropology cannot be applied usefully to contemporary life, then its utility is fatally limited. Culture does matter, and there is no more pressing task for professional anthropologists and for the educated public than to realize that most if not all of the present problems and challenges facing humanity are cultural problems and challenges – related to how we identify ourselves, how we organize ourselves, and how we interact as members of distinct human communities. Understanding Anthropology “The English Defence Leage (EDL) believes that English Culture has the right to exist and prosper in England. We recognize that culture is not static, and that other cultures make contriutions that make our shared culture stronger and more vibrant. However, this does not give license to policymakers to deliberately undermine our culture and impose nonEnglish cultures on the English people in their own land.” (www.englishdefenceleague.org) Fear is a powerful tool to manipulate the ignorant. Founded in 2009, its specific concern is the “Islamization” of English society – the imposition of Muslim shari’a law, the spread of allegedly oppressive customs like the veil for women, and of course the danger of radical Islam and terrorism. The EDL claims to be peaceful and nonracist, but has held raucous marches in Muslim neighborhoods in Britain, often with verbal and physical abuse. The group is organized into 33 regional divisions and uses the Cross of St. George, a medieval flag, rather than the current British Union Jack flag. Among its campaigns are opposition to halal or ritually slaughtered meat (similar to Jewish kosher) and an attempt to prevent the construction of mosques. (Krista’s opinion: it sounds like they’re discriminating in exactly the way they claim to be fighting against.) While the government of the United Kingdom does not condone the position of the EDL, Prime Minister David Cameron is on record saying that multiculturalism has led to a weakening of England’s collective identity and therefore to a failure to assimilate (integrate/conform) young Muslims living in the country. Such exclusionary cultural nationalism can turn deadly. In July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed dozens of young Norwegians, motivated by the same antiIslamic sentiment as the EDL, the same racist paranoid fantasy. In his manifest A European Declaration of Independence, he raged against multiculturalism and a future “Eurabia” and called for the preservation of Christian Europe. Fear, Ignorance, Conflict, Exaggeration: Fear of differences create culture clash. Most of the twentieth century was an era of ideologies like communism and Nazism and capitalism, but the end of the century and the twentyfirst century so far has been an era of culture – and often militant culture. (Krista’s opinion: we are witnessing the transition from being told how to think to wonderering how to think for ourselves, sometimes in detrimental ways, but sometimes in groundbreaking brilliant ways too.) Culture is more than just customs and traditions; it is often a marker of identity, a point of pride, or a bone of contention. It has led to both virtual and literal culture wars. In a world where Westerners and Muslims and Hebrew calendars cannot even agree on what century we are in, we are alive during a complex time of difference and connectedness. This process of “globalization” has linked human communities without eliminating human diversity, and in some ways even created new kinds of diversity while injecting elements of similarity. The local and particular still exists, in a system of global relationships, resulting in a combination that some have called “glocalization.” The conditions of the contemporary world virtually guarantee that we will encounter others unlike ourselves in various and significant ways. This makes awareness and appreciation of human diversity a critical issue. Anthropology was created for the exploration and explanation of this diversity. The Science of Anthropology Anthropology has been called the science of humanity. Anthropology shares one factor with all of the other “social sciences”: they all study human beings in action and interaction. However, all of the other social sciences only study some kind of people and some kind of things that people do. Anthropologists asks why do people live the way they do. Why do we live the way we do? Why are there so many ways to be human? Anthropology is distinguished in three ways: Questions o The questions of a science involve what it wants to know – why it was established in the first place and what part of reality it is intended to examine. Perspective o Particular and unique way of looking at reality, the “angle” from which it approaches its subject, or the attitude it adopts toward it. Method o The specific datagathering activities it practices in order to apply its perspective and to answer its questions As a unique science, anthropology has its own distinctive questions. Some sciences suggest in their name what it being studied: psychology, from the Greek psyche meaning “mind” and logos meaning “word/study,” declares that it is interested in the individual, internal and mental aspect of humans and human behavior. Sociology, from the Latin socius for “companion/ally/associate,” implies the study of humans in groups. Anthropology is derived from two Greek roots, Anthropos for “human” and logos, being named and conceived as the study of humanity in the widest and most inclusive possible sense. We can think of anthropology as the study of human diversity. Humans are diverse along two dimensions. The first dimension is the past versus present, while the second dimension the physical versus the behavioral, our bodies as opposed to the ways we organize ourselves and act. Therefore the definition of anthropology can be expanded to the study of the diversity of human bodies and behavior in the past and the present. There are several subfields for anthropology. The sub disciplines give anthropology its familiar “four fields” character. Physical or biological anthropology: the study of the diversity of human bodies in the past and present, including physical adaption, group or “race” characteristics, and human evolution. There is more than one way physically to be human. Looks at the question of evolution. Another specialization is Primatology: the study of the physical and behavioral characteristics of the category of species called primates. Nonhuman primates, human evolution over deep time, human migrations over deep time, human biological diversity today. Race is a cultural concept. Ultimately we are the human race. Archaeology: From the root arche for “beginning,” archaeology is the study of the diversity of human behavior in the past, based on the traces left behind by past humans or societies. Artifacts are the more or less portable objects that people made and used. Features are the larger, more or less immovable objects like buildings, walls, monuments, canals, roads, farms, and such. Ecofacts are the environmental remains from past human social contexts, including wood, seeds, pollen, animal bones, shells, etc. Archaeologists try to go from the objects themselves to the minds and hearts of the people who lived among those objects long ago. (Krista’s opinion: this would be a wild field for those gifted in psychometry.) Archaeologists have found that their methods can be practiced on living societies to learn how contemporary humans exploit and affect their environments. One recent form of this work has been dubbed garbology, since it sifts through contemporary trash to discover what kinds of objects humans produce, consume, and discard today. Linguistic Anthropology focuses on the diversity of human language in the past and present, and its relationship to social groups, practices, and values. Linguistic anthropologists can attempt to reconstruct “ancestral” languages – ones that link English to German and both to ancient Greek or Sanskrit – even to the point of reconstructing the very first language. Language change, differential language use, and nonverbal communication. Cultural Anthropology, also called social anthropology, is the study of the diversity of human behavior in the present. They have the advantage of living people to talk to. Cultural anthropology penetrates to the very nature of humanity. What separates one kind of human from another yet unites us all? Traditional Anthropology and Beyond More subdivisions: urban anthro, medical anthro, forensic antrho, visual anthro, ethnomusicology, ethnobotany, development anthro, feminist anthro. The Continuing Evolution of Cultural Anthropology The conventional impression of the anthropological gaze is concerned with small, traditional, “primitive” groups. Anthropology no longer remains in just that slot though. The three main phenomena that have forced a reconceptualization of cultural anthropology are Colonialism o Colonialism brought farflung societies within a single political, economic, and cultural sphere, imposing changes and inequalities. Postcolonialism independence and nationalist and indigenous movements o Independence, nationalism, and indigenous movements have transformed the sometimes “passive” objects of anthropological scrutiny into active subjects, actors, and producers of culture who speak for themselves. Modernization and globalization o Modernization and globalization have threatened and attempted to integrate cultures into a single world system which is, Thomas Friedman (2005) notwithstanding, anything but flat, if only because they are driven from centers of wealth and power and generate uneven outcomes. In the contemporary world, globalization is the most heralded cultural force, regarded as “processes that take place within groups but also transcend them, such that attention limited to local processes, identities, and units of analysis yields incomplete understanding of the local” (Kearney 1995: 548). But the local does not disappear, rather a distinct combination of the local and the global emerges, leading to a result that some observers have wryly called glocalization: a combination of the world’s globalization and local suggests the unique local and situated forms and effects of widespread and even global processes. Anthropology: the study of the diversity of human bodies, beliefs, knowledge, and behaviors in the past and present. The “Anthropological Perspective” The anthropological perspective, the unique angle or point of view of anthropology, has four components: Traditionally focused o Small scale indigenous nonwestern society Comparative or crosscultural study o Since no culture pertains to all humans, or even a majority or close to it, every culture is a minority. Whatever you do or think or feel, in the human world you are in the minority. This is why comparative studies are important: diversity. We can also make two important discoveries: The commonalities or universals that occur across culture; what is necessary for humans? The full range of variation between cultures – just how different can humans be? How many different kinds of language, personality, economics, religions, etc. are there? Just how many ways are there to be human? What is possible for humans? o Anthropology then is the study of what is possible and what is necessary for humans. How is anthropology different? Anthropology is holistic and traditionally focused on smallscale, nonwestern societies and cultures. Holism o Refers to the whole, the entirety. A culture has parts (economy, religion, settlement, kinship) These parts are interconnected in some way. Each part has its unique function and each contributes to the function of the whole, with a job to do. o All of humanity Each part as a whole and cross cultural studies o The holistic perspective has helped lead cultural anthropology into a “case study” approach. Cultural Relativism o You cannot make claims about humanity based in Western Society. o Different cultures can and do have different notions of what is good, normal, moral, valuable, legal, etc. An anthropologist investigating a headhunting society would find men with human heads in their possession, perhaps displayed on their walls or hung from their ceilings. The tendency might be to judge them with the anthropologist’s own values and norms: “Those men are all immoral criminal killers!” An outsider might want to call the authorities and have the “deviants” and “murderers” arrested. The visitor might, then, be surprised when the authorities ask us why he or she is bothering them; in fact, the owners of heads may be the authorities – the chiefs, the priests, or other leaders. That might be hard to accept, but imagine this: a man from the same headhunting society comes to your society and sees that you do not have heads on display. What would he think? He might think you are weak or inconsequential, a person of no courage, fame, or prominence, or that you are just “deviant” from the ideal of headhunting. If the headhunter visited the White House or Ten Downing Street and observed no heads, he might assume that the resident has no political authority, since great men collect heads. Notice that the headhunter got Western people wrong, just as Western people got him and his culture wrong. What do we learn by thinking this way? Not very much, at least not very much about them. We do learn about ourselves (that we disapprove of headhunting), but we already knew that. Clearly, understanding – let alone judging – others by our standards is not helpful. We might call them bad or immoral or criminal, but that does not explain why they do what they do – and they could just as easily say the same thing about us from their point of view. If anthropologists therefore want to understand the behavior of members of another culture, we cannot apply our norms and morals and values and meanings to them, because they do not use ours. They use their own. That would be like trying to apply the rules of chess to poker. The rules of chess are neither bad nor good; they just don’t pertain. If anthropologists want to understand another culture, then we must understand or judge them in terms of their own notions of good, normal, moral, valuable, meaningful, etc. That is cultural relativism. Cultural relativism asserts that an observer cannot apply the standards of one culture to another culture, at least not in an informative way. Rather, a phenomenon in a culture must be understood and evaluated in relation to, relative to, that culture. Why? First, it is always tempting and easy to conclude that different is bad: they do not do it my way, so they are wrong. Scientific observers must avoid this arrogance and shortsightedness. Second, it is quite likely to breed misunderstanding. If you impose your own cultural outlook on a crosscultural encounter, you may misjudge the whole situation. People feel culture shock when falling from the comfort of their ethnocentrism. o Culture shock– the surprise, confusion, and actual pain that one feels in the presence of the profoundly unfamiliar and unexpected. This is probably the most common experience in the world. So is the reaction: to judge people from other cultures by the standards of one’s own culture. This is called ethnocentrism (from ethno for a way of life or culture and center for putting it in the center or pride of place), the attitude or practice of assuming that one’s own cultural point of view is the best, the right, or even the only point of view. Of course, ethnocentrism is possible – it is the easy, even the automatic, thing – but it is simply not helpful. One can be ethnocentric from one’s own cultural perspective, but others can be ethnocentric from their cultural perspective. Nothing is gained by this except mutual (and probably negative) judgment. There are many fallacies and misconceptions about cultural relativism o Cultural Relativism does not mean that anything goes or judgment is impossible. Some critics of relativism insist that it will lead to no standards at all, a “feel good, do it” ethic or antiethic. This is not what cultural relativism advocates. It does not say “anything goes” but rather “here this goes, and there that goes.” It is descriptive. o Cultural Relativism does not mean that anything a culture does is good/moral/valuable/normal. “Some critics of relativism claim that taking a relativistic stance toward another culture is essentially condoning it. But to condone means to judge favorably, and relativism is not about judging but about understanding. If we encountered a culture that practiced polygamy or infanticide or “honor killing”, cultural relativism would not require us to say, “Those attitudes and behaviors are good or acceptable.” What it would require us to do is determine where those attitudes and behaviors come from and what they mean to the people who practice them. One certainly does not have to approve in order to understand. In fact, not only do anthropologists not have to but they cannot “condone” these or any other behaviors, because condoning, like condemning, is a value judgment. To say a behavior is good or bad is to judge it, and that means judging by some particular value standard. That would mean abandoning the relativistic perspective and referring to one’s own community of values, one’s own culture. As an anthropologist it is possible to understand a behavior without judging – in fact, it is only possible to understand without judging – while as a member of one’s own culture one can say that s/he does not share or condone that behavior. But you must always remember that your judgment is a product of your culture and may not be shared by all cultures.” o Cultural relativism does not mean that anything culture believes is true. If the earth flat to a culture, it is flat for them, even while it is round for us. This is a philosophical position known as epistemological relativism, holding that all knowledge and truth is relative. Value claims are judgments and therefore must be made by reference to, relative to, some value standard. But what standard? All standards are equally usable – and equally used by somebody. Therefore a value statement like “polygamy is good” is not, cannot be, true or false because it is not even a complete statement yet. If one says “polygamy is good,” the anthropological response is not “true” or “false” bur rather “please finish your statement.” Until it is clear which cultural value standard the speaker is applying, the statement is unfinished and meaningless as formulated. o Cultural relativism does not mean that cultures are different in every conceivable way, that there are no cultural universals. It just means we merely cannot assume that they exist until we find evidence of them. The lack of universal meanings or values is not the same thing as the lack of meanings or values. (Krista’s opinion: important argument for abortion.) Even if there are not universal ones, there are local ones. o Cultural Relativism does not mean that “everything is relative” including cultural relativism itself (cultural relativism is not selfcontradictory). Some things are culturally relative and some are not. CR is simply an awareness and acknowledgment of differences in human judgment about norms, values, meanings, and so on. Different cultures have different notions of good/normal/moral/valuable. o Cultural Relativism does not mean that cultures cannot be compared. CR does not mean that comparison is impossible, any more than it means that judgment is impossible. What it means is that when any comparison is being made, the terms or criteria of the comparison must be specified. In short, cultural relativism is three things simultaneously. o It is a fact: cultures are different in their standards, values, meanings, and judgments. o It is a method: if we want to understand a culture accurately, we must understand it in its own terms. o It is a theory: the explanation of how individuals and groups make their determinations of judgment and action depends on the awareness of the role of cultural meanings and standards. “Like any science, anthropology tries to maintain a certain level of neutrality and objectivity in its work. More than most sciences, anthropology appreciates the relativity of meanings and judgments: what is important – or objectionable – to me might not be important or objectionable to someone else. However, anthropologists are human beings too, and the amount of injustice and suffering in the world has led some to call for an “engaged anthropology,” even a “militant anthropology.” One of the most outspoken is Nancy ScheperHughes (1995), who argued that ethics must trump scientific neutrality and indeed cultural relativism: she went so far as to declare that cultural relativism “is no longer appropriate to the world in which we live, and anthropology, if it is to be worth anything at all, must be ethically grounded” (409). She insisted that anthropologists should be activists, criticizing and condemning injustice when they find it. But it is also true that different individuals and groups have different ethical standards. And if anthropology becomes militant and nonrelativistic, some counter that it will not be able to do its job – in fact, it may cease to be anthropology at all. What do you think?” I immediately thought of female genital mutilation happening across the world. There is a part of me that wants to stop this from happening. At first glance it seems like needless suffering. Yet there is another part of me that recognizes the fact that mothers and grandmothers perform these acts in the hopes of preventing their child’s rape and allowing their female youth a better chance for education. Who am I to tell them their way is unethical? How would Americans react if another culture told us that male circumcisions were wrong and a horrible violation to our infants that no longer needed to be practiced? I do not think becoming militant and nonrelativistic would do any sort of good, but instead further alienate people from one another, making diversity even more taboo than it already is, rather than being seen as something to be celebrated. Summary Humans are diverse. Anthropology did not create this diversity but emerged as a response to and an investigation of it. Anthropology is thus the science of human diversity; it takes as its “question” or subject matter the full spectrum of human forms and ways and the explanation of that spectrum. The diversity that anthropology observes takes the form of bodily and behavioral differences, for which specialties within the field have been established: Physical anthropology to study the diversity of the human body in the past and present Archaeology to study the diversity of human behavior in the past Linguistic anthropology to study the diversity of human language in the past and present Cultural anthropology to study the diversity of human behavior in the present. In addition to its question, anthropology is distinguished by its perspective, or the approach or attitude it takes toward its subject. This “anthropological perspective” includes: Comparative or crosscultural study, or the description and analysis of the complete range of variation of humans and our ways Holism, or the interrelatedness of all of the “parts” of culture and of the culture to its natural environment Cultural relativism, or the awareness that we can make (useful) judgments of a culture only in terms of its own standards of good and normal and moral and meaningful and legal. There are many ways to practice anthropology, only one of which is as a teacher, researcher, and writer. Anthropologists outside the academy work in business and government, among other occupations. Even academic anthropologists may be involved in consulting, policymaking, and advocacy. Most people in the modern world are not professional anthropologists (and none were until fairly recently). However, all of us today live “anthropological lives” in the sense that we will experience and deal with human physical and cultural diversity continuously, both locally and globally, both professionally and personally. Study Questions According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, what percentage of anthropologists and archaeologists worked in conventional research and teaching in 2008? 34%. The concepts and methods of cultural anthropology can be applied to: global society, primitive societies, and complex modern societies. According to cultural relativists, how many standards of judgement exist across cultures? Many. Which of these is not culturally relative: Morals, facts beliefs, or values? Facts. The attitude that you can understand or judge another culture in terms of your own culture is called: ethnocentrism. The written description of a culture than an anthropologist produces from their research is called: ethnography. The perspective that all aspects of a culture must be studied in interconnection with each other is: holism. Which of these is not part of the anthropological perspective: Crosscultural study, cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, or holism? Ethnocentrism. The notion that global forces take unique forms in or have unique effects on particular groups of people is: glocalization. Students who major in anthropology can make a living in: government/policy, business/consulting, and teaching. The field of anthropology that studies crosscultural knowledge and use of plants is called: ethnobotany. The study of the bodies and behavior of humanlike species such as monkey and apes is called: primatology. The sub discipline of anthropology that studies diversity of human behavior in the past is: archaeology. The sub discipline of anthropology that studies diversity of human behavior in the present is called: cultural anthropology. The specialty within anthropology that uses anthropological knowledge and methods to solve crime is called: forensic anthropology. The sub discipline of anthropology that studies diversity of human behavior in the past is called: archaeology. The sub discipline of anthropology that studies diversity of human bodies in the past and present is called: physical anthropology. One kind of evidence used by archaeologists is: artifacts. The study of contemporary ways of life by sifting through trash to examine what people produce, consume, and discard is: garbology. Wisdom from a Rainforest: the spiritual journey of an anthropologist. Prologue This book is a love story. In the middle of dark night in July 1967, deep in a Philippine rainforest, the author, Stuart Schlegel, realized his sixyearold son Len was sick and feverish, moaning in pain over the pounding rain of the night. They were in a place called Figel, a small Teduray settlement alongside the Dakel Teran River on the island of Mindanao. Len and his father had walked in the day before, wading across the wide river numerous times, a long, hard, full day’s trek into the heart of the forest. Schlegel finally knew when morning came as he heard the playing of the gongs which greeted the sunrise in Figel. Several Teduray friends were up and stretching in the morning mist when Schlegel called for them to come and look at his son, who had lost control of his bowels and bladder at this point. Several women and men discussed the situation. They saw Schlegel’s fear and concern, and some of the men said they would leave immediately and carry Len out to the coastal town of Lebak, where there was a large plywood factor that had his “kind of doctor.” The trail to Lebak involved fording the winding river about a dozen times as it snaked its way down to the sea. It was nearly impossible now after the night’s hard rain doubling its size and strength. People never tried to go to town under such conditions. The Teduray Schlegel knew in Figel never ever took someone’s wants or needs lightly, and so they were willing to risk their lives to take his child there. They would attempt this unimaginably dangerous trip even though they were certain that Len’s illness was due to his having unintentionally angered a spirit. The Figel people had no concept of germs or what Western doctors did, and had already quietly consulted a shaman before making the trip. Six Teduray men, Len, and Schlegel traveled all day from dawn to dark in treacherous conditions, a twenty hour nightmare. Just as morning was about to dawn they made it out of the forest and reached the road that led to Lebak, finding someone who had a jeep taking Len and Schlegel into town while the Teduray rested a few hours before starting back to Figel. The doctor informed Schlegel that his son was not all that critically ill, that he had a kind of viral flue that produced nasty symptoms but was not actually life threatening. Schlegel fondly remembers the gift of selfless love he received from his Teduray friends. In February 1972, five years later, Schlegel announced during his lecture at the University of California, Santa Cruz that the Teduray people of Figel, the community of people he lived with for two years in the rainforest, had been massacred by a ragged band of outlaws. He could not teach that morning and merely dismissed the class. Attendance Policy Attendance is extremely important in this course and will be taken daily. Beginning with the second week of class, each unexcused absence beyond 3 will result in a 1% reduction of your final grade. Please note that much of the information you will be required to know for examinations will be presented to you in lecture form. If you miss class your grade will suffer accordingly. If you must be absent from class be sure to obtain any notes and assignments you missed from another student. If you wish for your absence to be excused or if you wish to make up missed quizzes, exams, or assignments, it is your responsibility to bring appropriate documentation to Dr. Lockyer within one or two class days of your return. Excusable absences include an illness that involved a student health center or doctor’s visit, a death in the family, required military service duties, participation in Tech sporting events, a religious holiday, or a natural disaster. Absences will not be excused nor makeups given more than one week after you return to school; do not wait until the end of the semester to address these issues.
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