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Sexuality in Cultural Anthropology

by: Melodi Harfouche

Sexuality in Cultural Anthropology Anthropology 130

Marketplace > University of Tennessee - Knoxville > Anthropology 130 > Sexuality in Cultural Anthropology
Melodi Harfouche

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About this Document

These notes cover sexuality in cultural anthropology. There are examples, book descriptions covering sexuality, with more important information which was covered in class.
Cultural Anthropology
De Pendry
Class Notes
Cultural Anthropology, sexuality, notes, Culture, sex
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Melodi Harfouche on Wednesday February 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anthropology 130 at University of Tennessee - Knoxville taught by De Pendry in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 23 views.


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Date Created: 02/24/16
Sexuality  Social and cultural constructions of sexual/erotic expressions o Ex. We’ve been taught what’s romantic/erotic (Valentine’s Day)  Practices or ways of expressing sexuality are learned   Cultures tend to mold sexual urges and desires toward collective norms o Not everyone follows the collective norms  Cultural Variations in Sexuality  Cultural Relativity  Ways in which differences and similarities related to gender and sexuality are  understood, organized, and practiced in cultural groups   Group norms can be accepted, contested, or negotiated o LGBT access to marriage (negotiated over the course of many years) The History of Sexuality  Michael Foucault (1978/1976)  o Has a lot of influence on the social sciences  o Was particularly interested in the changes that occurred from the 1600s through  the 1900s in Europe, particularly France o The “repressive hypothesis” vs. discourses that produce and shape desires Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) Margaret Mead  She was doing her research in the early 1920s  She was a student of Franz Boas  They were interested in the idea that scientists were saying that all students go through a  traumatic time (with sexuality?)  Margaret Mead went to Samoa and she wanted to see if they got as anxious about  sexuality as they did in the U.S.  She hung out with a group of girls (didn’t know Samoan and had to learn) and was asking them questions about sexuality (obviously that they might not answer truthfully)  Mead was writing her field notes believing everything they were saying but Samoa has a  very joking culture, they tend to exaggerate things and pull people’s legs   Had to be careful doing research in sexuality  She wanted to establish that different cultures have different standards of what is  accepted and what is not  Coming of Age in New Jersey Michael Moffatt (1989)   Did research at Rutgers University  About the social life in college   Tried to hide his identity, but the students later found out and toyed with him  Gender and Sexuality in U.S. High Schools  Popular boys can cross­dress and have fun because no one will assume that they are  homosexual  Celibacy Cross­Cultural Comparison  Hector Qirko  Murdoch and White’s Standard Cross­Cultural Sample (1969) = 108 cultures o 10% absent o 28% idiosyncratic; individuals but not a formal institution (non­institutional) o 44% not reported (institutional unlikely) o 18% celibacy in institutional contexts  32 societies with 41 different contexts 3 Patterns of Celibacy  Individual  o Pre European Palau (Melanesia) o Korongs = direct contact with Gods  Kin o Basque, Irish, Lapps: later­born sons and sometimes daughters postpone marriage  and help their elder siblings raise their children  Non­Kin Institutions o Christians, Buddhists o Ancient Aztects, Ancient Incas, Pawnee Kin­Cue Manipulation Practices  Close association  Phenotypic similarity ( uniforms, etc.)  Use of kin terms (brother, father, sister for nuns and priests) and other kin symbols   Young recruits  Separation from kin  The Bugis of Indonesia  5 Genders  o Women  o Men  o Calalai (lesbians or homosexual women)  Lines  Kept a pretty low profile   Had female partners o Calabai (gay males)   Dress in very short skirts and heavy makeup   More makeup and shorter skirts than normal women were allowed to wear  Had a tendency to specialize in certain professions (ex. Wedding planner) o Bissu  Androgynous (no gender whatsoever)  Spiritual  Were generally called on to bless weddings (heterosexual weddings)   They would also go to caves and perform special ceremonies Hijras of India Neither Man Nor Woman Serena Nanda (1999) (1990)  Believed to have spiritual power because of a close relationship with Goddess (Mata  Bahuchara)  Hijras o Ideal = ritual performers who have renounced sexual desire and activity o Make a living doing blessings and dancing at auspicious occasions  o Some also rely on prostitution to make a living o Live in communities o Eventually may remove male genitalia o Also regarded as ‘outcasts’ by many people  The Sambia  By Gilbert Herdt (1987) Initiating Boys to Manhood  Males and females should be separate   When women are going through menstruation they have separate huts   The Sambia have very similar beliefs


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