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ANTH 021, Week 6

by: Katherine Reid

ANTH 021, Week 6 Anthro

Katherine Reid

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About this Document

Political Anthropology, Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Teresa Mares
Class Notes
Political Anthropology, Anthro, Science, Technology, medicine, Cultural Anthropology, Mares, Teresa Mares, UVM, University of Vermont, ANTH 021
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katherine Reid on Tuesday April 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anthro at University of Vermont taught by Dr. Teresa Mares in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see Cultural Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Vermont.


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Date Created: 04/12/16
Anthropology, Class 11 Political Anthropology - What is power? How do anthropologists study it? - What are the different forms of political organization? Why is the state significant? - How is social order maintained? What happens when it isn’t? - Political Anthropology: the cross-cultural study of power (and abuses of power), and related concepts such as influence and authority - Power: generalized capacity to transform - Politics: the ways in which power relations (particularly unequal power relations) affect human social affairs; looking at different scales of power- micro and macro Different Forms of Political Leadership - Coercive Power: the ability to take action in the face of resistance, through physical force if necessary - Persuasive Power: forms of influence that transform people’s practical activities without relying on physical force - Ex.) Coercive: Police, Military; Persuasive: Supreme Court, Media, Politicians; Trump using persuasion to influence coercion Structure vs. Agency - Powerful structures such as economics politics, and media shapes cultures, influencing how people behave and think, even when they don’t realize it - Agency: individual’s abilities to reflect systematically on taken-for-granted cultural practices, to imagine alternatives, and take independent action to pursue goals of their own choosing; make individual choices - the individual is the “natural unit” rather than the collective - to what degree are we able to make choices and in what ways are we constrained? Political Ecology and Economy - Political Ecology: draws attention to the ways in which human groups struggle with each other for control of (usually local) material sources - Sites of resource production become politically charged - Political Economy: examines the political creation (and consequences) of the division of labor in society Forms of Political Organization: The Question of Scale - Bands - Tribes - Big Man/Big Woman Leadership - Chiefdom - State - Transition between these: We see a greater degree of social complexity- increased job specialization, individuals don’t have to maintain all resources on their own, emphasis on representative politics, *increasing inequality* - income/political inequality, social stratification - How do these different forms of scale affect everyday life? - Smaller scale: Daily subsistence practices vs Large Scale: not worried about gathering food everyday (for example) The State - The state is an independent political entity that controls a geographical territory with clear boundaries/borders and that defends itself from external threats with an informal army and from internal disorder with police. - All people now live in states (bands, tribes, and chiefdoms are all incorporated in some way under state structures) - Can be a provider of services, but can box us in in doing so Symbols and State Power - Leaders mat be considered deities (or partial deities) - Leaders may have special dress, housing, food, and modes of transportation - State power is very visible in the First Family of USA - Maintenance of order Social Order and Social Conflict - Social Control: includes the processes that, through both informal and formal mechanisms, maintain orderly social life - All cultures have norms; some have laws, especially states - Norm: accepted standard for behavior, usually unwritten • Ex.) Wearing clothes, proper hygiene, classroom power relations, gender norms - Law: a binding and codified rule about behavior - Punishment for Norm Violation in Small Scale Societies • Often through ridicule and shaming; goal is to restore normal social relations • Ostracism for serious offenders • Punishment is often legitimized through belief in supernatural forces • Capital punishment is extremely rare - Social Control in States • Increased specialization of roles involved in social control • Formal trials and courts • power-enforced forms of punishment, such as prisons and the death penalty Policing - a form of social control that includes surveillance and the threat of punishment - Police discover, report, and investigate crimes Laws and Courts - Court system used in many contemporary societies • Goal is to ensure justice and fairness • Biases (such as racial, ethnic, gender) influence the achievement of the goal Prisons and Death Penalty - Prison: a place where people are forcibly detained as a form of punishment, has a long history - USA imprisons more people than any other country int he world, followed by China - Executions: communicate a political message to the general populace about state’s power and strength - How social order is maintained Social Conflict and Violence - All societies experience conflict with other groups and societies, though to differening degrees - Varieties of conflict include: - Raiding and Feuding - Ethnic Conflict - Warfare Ethnic Conflict - Ethnic Conflict: can stem from an ethnic group’s attempt to gain mire autonomy or equality, or by a dominant group’s actions of genocide or ethnocide - Deeper issues often exist such as claims to material resources (oil, water, food, land) - Sectarian conflict - Often tied to/overlapping with ethnic conflict - Conflict based on perceived differences between divisions or sects within a religion Nations and Nation-State Conflict - What is a “nation?” - A group of people who share a language, cultures, territorial base, political organization, and history - Nations and other groups can constitute a political threat to state ability. - Ex.) Kurds, Maya, Tamils, etc. Two Key Thinkers on State Power - Antonio Gramsci and concept of hegemony - Michel Foucault and the concept of bio-power and govermentality - Coercion and consent joining - consenting to role of coercion - managing our biological bodies Anthropology, Class 12 Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Medicine - Introduction to Anthropology of science, technology and medicine - Specific focus on Critical Medical Anthropology and questions of inequality and health Science and Technology Studies - Beginning in late 1970s and 1980s - With growing interest in critique os science and technology, anthropologists (and other social scientists) have started to examine how science and technology affect human life, and the underlying paradigms of the different fields of science - Technology any material object or feature of culture that increased the ability of humans to act upon/ change/ reshape the world for their own purposes - Foucault: interest in power within technology - even medicine is a cultural practice Subfield of Medical Anthropology - cross cultural study of health and health problems - one of the fastest growing areas of anthropology - mainly part of cultural anthropology, but closely linked with other fields, especially biological anthropology - Medical Anthropologist. Medical Doctor Paul Farmer Three Main Theoretical Approaches - Ecological/ Epidemiological Approach: understanding how is the likelihood of survival a product of our environment - Interpretivist Approach: allow us to think of meaning we assign to health and wellness - Critical Medical Anthropology: power relationships (“critical”) within field of health and illness Ethnomedicine - Ethnomedicine: stud of cross-cultural health systems - Initially focused on non-Western health systems - Now, ethnomedicine includes study of Contemporary Western Biomedicine (WBM) - Multiple approaches to health and wellness What is a “Health System?” - All cultures have a “health system” which includes • perceptions and beliefs about the body • classifications of health problems • prevention measures • healing/healers


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