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UF / Religion / REL 2410 / An art should be?

An art should be?

An art should be?


School: University of Florida
Department: Religion
Course: Cultural Anthropology
Professor: Crystal felima
Term: Spring 2016
Cost: 25
Name: Week 7 (February 15-19) Cultural Anthropology
Description: These notes cover what we saw on Week 7: Art, Symbols, and Expression and a bit of Week 8: Linguistics.
Uploaded: 02/19/2016
6 Pages 27 Views 2 Unlocks

Monday, February 15, 2016

An art should be?

Art and Symbols

Definition of Symbols

∙ Shared understandings about the meaning of certain words attributes,  or objects.

Symbolic or Interpretive Anthropology

1960’s and 1970’s general re-evaluation of cultural anthropology as a  scientific enterprise

∙ From function to meaning

∙ Away from materialist theories towards idealist theories ∙ Shift towards issues of culture and interpretation and away from grand  theories If you want to learn more check out What is pavlov's legacy?

∙ Increased emphasis on the way in which individual actions creatively  shape culture

∙ Greater emphasis on meaning in definitions of culture.  

Symbolic anthropology: not a tightly organized or clearly bounded  “school” …

What are the functions of art?

Don't forget about the age old question of Why hire women?

A loosely-conceived “project” of a variety of anthropologists of varied  intellectual antecedents who see the decoding of public symbols as being the key activity of anthropological analysis

Two major approaches:  

Clifford Geertz: function of symbols in culture

Victor W. Turner: function of symbols in society.

Culture (group of ideas, values, behaviors) is not the same as society (group  of people) If you want to learn more check out How to understand unemployment?

Agreement among “Symbolicists”

∙ Culture is, fundamentally, a symbolic system

∙ Culture is used to create and convey meanings since that is the  purpose of symbols.

If meanings are the end products of culture, then understanding culture  requires understanding the meanings of its creators and users.

What is the study between music and other aspects of culture?

We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of the painting mona lisa?

Victor Turner

Talks about property of symbols…

∙ Condensation

o Many things & actions are represented in a single symbol. Falls  under the same domain

∙ Unification

o Many distinct meanings are interconnected & unified

∙ Polarization

o The symbol typically possesses two distinct poles of meaning,  one normative (moral rules of society) and the other sensory  (natural and physiological process)  

∙ Polyvalence

o Have multiple meanings and can link into many domains of the  culture and at a variety of levels. You can link it to a lot of  domains Don't forget about the age old question of What is a requirement to be a senate?

Decode symbols by triangulating between three main bodies of information:

1. External form and observable characteristics 2. Interpretations from the local people

3. Significant contexts worked out by the anthropologist. Cross Cultural Definition of Art

Art should…

1) …be creative, playful, and enjoyable and may not be practical or useful 2) …produce an emotional response

3) …be transformational.

4) …communicate

5) …highlight unique skill

Differences in Art Forms

∙ Lifestyles and settlements

∙ Social differentiation

∙ Division of labor

∙ Total Culture

Random Acts of Culture

Surprise shows to perform so that people can get access to art. Functions of art  

∙ Emotional gratification for the Individual

∙ Contributes to social Integration

∙ Social Control

∙ Preserving or Challenging the Status Quo

Graphic and Plastic Arts

∙ The Western notion refers to painting, sculpture, printmaking, &  architecture.

∙ The anthropological definition also includes such art forms as weaving,  embroidery, tailoring, jewelry making, and tattooing and other forms of body decoration.  We also discuss several other topics like How decisions are influenced?

Music as Symbol

∙ Music as a symbol used to get across the desired meaning of a ritual ∙ Music can be interwoven in the learned traditions of a culture. o In order to bridge the music symbolism gap between cultures,  some artists are employing syncretism (fusion of elements from 2 different cultures) to help convey meaning.  


Defined as the study between music and other aspects of culture.  

Four Major Concerns of Ethnomusicology

1) Ideas about music

2) Social structure of music

3) Characteristics of the music itself

4) Material culture of music.  

Functions of Dance

∙ Psychological

∙ Political

∙ Religiously

∙ Socially

∙ Educationally  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Arts, Symbols and Expressions

Sacred Art

∙ Formed from a myriad of religious symbols

∙ Not art for art’s sake (i.e. not based on creative urges of the artist). ∙ Rather art as a collection of symbols meant to convey a specific  religious message.

Sacred Art and Sacred Space

Egyptian space-time

∙ Sacred space in Egyptian architecture represents a dimension where  heavenly time reigns  

Group Discussion: Art and Mass Production

∙ Mass production and replicas are not valued as much to the culture of  origin.

∙ Mass production of art “devalue” art to the culture of origin

Friday, February 19, 2016

Body Decoration, Modification, and Adornment Satisfies aesthetic, cultural, society, and group wants/needs

Body decoration may demonstrate:

∙ Social position

∙ Gender

∙ Occupation

∙ Eroticism

Body decoration:

∙ Scarification

∙ Piercing

∙ Lip Plate

∙ Tattoos

∙ Body Paint

∙ Accessories

∙ Physical Alternations

Language and Communication

The Nature of Language

∙ A system of symbolic communication using sounds and/or gestures  that are able to be understood by all members within a society that  share the language

∙ Meanings attached to any given word in all languages are totally  arbitrary.  

Symbols vs. Signal

Signal: An instinctive sound or gesture that has a natural or self-evident  meaning.  

Human Communication Systems

∙ Capable of sending an infinite number of messages

∙ Humans speak of events from the past or in the future (displacement) ∙ Language is transmitted largely through tradition

∙ Open system of communication

∙ Phonological structure, grammar.  

Linguistic Anthropology

∙ Descriptive Linguistics:

o Phonology

o Grammar

o Morphology

o Syntax

Language Change

∙ Language is constantly changing

∙ Diachronic analysis

Historical linguistics: The study of how languages change over time.

Language in a Socio–Cultural Setting

Sociolinguistics: Relationships between language and society Gendered Speech: Distinct male and female speech patterns Ethnolinguistic: The study of the relationships between language and  culture, and how they mutually influence and inform each other.  

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

∙ Language influences perception.

∙ Language establishes mental categories that affect the ways people  conceptualize the real world.  

Non-verbal communication: Most messages are sent and received without words.

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