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January 20th Lecture Notes

by: Nadyah Hilmi

January 20th Lecture Notes ANTH1004

Nadyah Hilmi
GPA 3.9

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About this Document

These notes cover the lecture from class on Wednesday, January 20th. The topic of the lecture was Culture.
Sociocultural Anthropology
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nadyah Hilmi on Saturday January 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH1004 at George Washington University taught by Guterson in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 134 views. For similar materials see Sociocultural Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at George Washington University.

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Date Created: 01/16/16
The Culture Concept Chapter 2 th Wednesday January 20 WHAT IS CULTURE?  Anthropologists don’t agree on what culture is o Some don’t like to use the term at all  Overtime, anthropologists understanding of culture has changed  A range of definitions:  Matthew Arnold o Writer, poet, not anthropologist o Arnold’s definition: Idea that a person with “high culture” is someone who understands the arts, poetry, theatre, etc o Very elitist definition o Anthropologists do not agree with this definition  E.B. Tyler o Taylor’s definition: “The complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom…” etc o Notion that each society has its own culture  Bronislaw Malinoski o Works off of Taylor’s definition o Malinoski’s definition: Adds that culture is the way that people adapt to their unique environments’ o Founder of functionalism  Margaret Mead o Mead’s definition” “The whole complex traditions of behavior developed by the human race and successively learned by each generation” o Loosens the definition of culture  Idea that there’s not just one culture/society  Idea that culture is transmitted/learned  Culture is transmitted through absorption, or by accidently breaking the rules  Most culture is unwritten  Ward Goodenough o A linguist o Goodenough’s def: culture consists of what one has to know to operate in acceptable manners o Assumed culture is like grammar (a set of rules) o Anthropologists criticized this definition, because it is too strict, doesn’t give room for ambiguity in culture  Clifford Geertz o Interested in ambiguity o Saw culture not as a set of rules, rather as a set of hidden meanings that people interpret o Against Goodenough’s definition  Renato Rosaldo o Models culture as a “garage sale” o Everything is together, interconnected o This is the modern definition CULTURE INCLUDES:  Rules and norms (personal space)  Material objects (smartphones, baseballs, cars, credit cards are symbols of US culture)  Mental maps (maps in your head of social relationship; who is close to you, who owes you, etc)  Symbols (confederate flag, Quran, US flag, $)  Inferred meanings (winks, certain words are taboo, etc)  Power structure KEY CONCEPTS Cultural relativism: judging a culture by its own standards, idea that every culture has its own ideas, structures, norms Ethnocentrism: judging a culture by your own standards, assuming other cultures by your own standards, assuming other cultures are strange or wrong. Applying your own values Functionalism: all cultural traits are functionally interrelated and serve the needs of individuals and support society Holism: anthropologists used to see cultures as distinct holes, as separate. Now we know they are interrelated NATURE VS. CULTURE  Eating bugs: may be gross to us, but other cultures regularly eat bugs  Mead: “Warfare is only a human invention – not a biological trait”


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