Week 5 notes
Week 5 notes ANT 170
Popular in Cultural Anthropology
Popular in Cultural Anthropology
This 12 page Class Notes was uploaded by Madison Hewson on Tuesday September 27, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANT 170 at Central Michigan University taught by McLean, Athena in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see Cultural Anthropology in Cultural Anthropology at Central Michigan University.
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Date Created: 09/27/16
ANT170 Lecture wk 5a Dr. Athena McLean LECTURE 1 Unit II (Australian Aborigines) In Unit I, we discussed basic anthropological concepts about cultural groups and their differences. Unit II will focus on Australian aborigines as a cultural group of particular interest to anthropologists. We will begin by looking a features of aboriginal society as a kind of small scale culture. (Please see Bodely, pp. 2425 on BB on culture scale.) Bodely organizes different features of societies (size, type of adaptation for survival, social and political organization and the economic system) in terms of societies of scale, from smallscale to largescale to globalscale. In the next couple weeks we will be studying the aborigines of Australia, who are an example of a Small Scale Society. So let's look at what those SmallScale features are. Features of Australian Aborigines: a Small Scale Culture 1. LOW DENSITY 2550 people 2. HUNTER/ GATHERER ADAPTATION 3. EGALITARAIAN SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATION KINBASED NO HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURES NO CENTRAL HEAD/ AUTHORITY (Bigmen lack extra decisionmaking power) DECISIONS OCCUR BY HOUSEHOLD OR COMMUNITY HEADS (e.g., about where to forage) 4. SUBSISTENCE ECONOMY EVERY HOUSEHOLD CONTROLS ITS OWN PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION EVERY HOUSEHOLD HAS ADEQUATE FOOD no poverty PRODUCTION FOR USE VALUE EXCHANGE IS RECIPROCAL 1 apple for an orange ____________________________________ Map of Australia. Case Study 1: The Australian Aborigines: Mobile Foragers for 50,000 Years (A) I. History 1. Earliest occupation: 5060,000 years ago: Northern Australia (See p. 27 for its history.) a. Evidence of ancestry from SE Asian Islands required crossing at least 44 miles of water occurred during Ice Age when Australia and New Guinea were still connected by land (the Sahul Shelf) (Thus evidence of these early people now hidden under water) 2. Over its long history, its residents intensified subsistence techniques and increasingly shaped their land resources a. Never resorted to a farming or sedentary village life b. Largest world area that did not II. Potential for a Foraging Technology 1. Its Biological Productivity Food energy stored by plants and animals a. Best predictor of potential for subsistence for foragers b. Megafauna (giant birds and marsupials, like kangaroo) disappeared during the end of the Pleistocene (about 12,000 years ago) This led to a reduction in biological resources 2. Its Geographical features a. Australia is driest continent in the world Almost no rivers or mountains b. As large as lower 48 United States c. Rainfall low and varies enormously main limiting factor in biological diversity and density d. During Pleistocene (at the end of Ice Age), ice receded and sea levels rose, separating both New Guinea and Tasmania from the mainland 3. Variations in Regions a. Population densities vary with rainfall b. Coastal regions are biological rich, esp.in tropical north and east c. Density is lowest in dry interior, esp. in Western Desert 2 4. Carrying capacity the number of people who could be supported in a given environment with a particular technology and culture a. 60% of carrying capacity optimal to allow for fluctuation and unpredictability in available resources this means that if 100 people could be supported on an acre of land, the ideal number that should use that land should be 60 to allow for the unpredictability on available resources b. Infanticide main strategy for keeping population down (up to 50%) used to eliminate deformed children used to space children out, with only one under age 34 to nurse and carry Bodley speculates that infanticide gave women some political power to control their reproductive processes in a society otherwise dominated by men/ Some speculation also that women also killed their firstborn as an act of rebellion against arranged marriages (Bodley. p. 31) but this is doubtful because: But, very unlikely as even small amounts of deliberate infanticide of girls over time would have threatened the existence of the population. c. Natural biological spacing of children occurs, however, in lactating mothers, so nursing until age 4 provided the means to do this without resorting to harsh infanticide This is less effective for women in a farming technology where high amounts of fat and carbohydrates are eaten than among foragers who consume carbohydrates and protein. (Thus women with less fatty diets can more successfully rely on natural birth control.) 5. Adaptive strategies in arid interior a. Watching clouds to read impending rainstorms 50 miles away b. Have detailed knowledge of vast terrain and its water holes Information taught in songs and poems c. Nomadism is planned according to locations of water III. Language Bodely uses in Ch. 2 towards aborigines Note the tone of admiration: For example, he says, (1) "Throughout the millennia, aborigines never resorted to farming or sedentary life. Australia was, in fact, the largest world area to avoid domestication and economic stratification and the associated burdens of agriculture. a. What is he suggesting here? He is suggesting that their never changing from foraging was a matter of choice 3 they exercised their own will, or agency, in deciding not to adopt farming. This is a departure from beliefs that they were too ignorant, or resistant to learning other ways. It also identifies limitations of farming: it has associated burdens. See what other language you can fine that supports his admiration. For next class, find at least one statement that shows how he feels about them (esp on p. 35). IV. The Dreaming: an integrative ideology 1. "The Dreaming" is a complex term that refers to multiple aspects of aborigine life: creation, the moral order, ancestors and totems, origins and the topography of their land. It also serves to organize their world. It does this in several ways. First, it provides a cosmogony This ideological system accounts for the origin of the people, nature and the universe a. "Dreamtime" is sometimes used in place of "Dreaming" to account for a specific creation time. Problem with this term (creation) is that it is etic to us, not emic to aborigines, who are not concerned with a past time of origin, but with the timeless myths of their origins as explanation for which ancestors produced their world. Thus they prefer to refer to it as the "Everywhen" or "Eternal Dreaming". Second, it provides a cosmology This ideological system explains the order and meaning of the universe and their place within it. Third, it provides moral authority for behavior as "the Law" or "the Dreaming Law". This provided cultural rules, such as who to marry, and the ranking of members in the society by age. 2. Totems in all cultures, this refers to the association of natural objects, often an animal, with a human group a. In Australia, "totem" referred to specific animals, plants or objects that originated in the Dreaming as spiritual ancestors of aborigine descent groups. The totem works to organized the society into marriageable and nonmarriageable groups of people. Thus it helps to define incest rules. (See section on Kinship below) 3. controversy in anthropology between functionalists and structuralists re. the totem. a. Functionalists (RadcliffeBrown) believed that totems were adopted from species that were "good to eat". This provided ritual and social solidarity for any given community. This theory was challenged by evidence that suggested that species not good to eat (like mosquitoes and even diseases) were also totems. b. French structuralist LeviStrauss argued alternatively that totemism is an example of "complementary opposition" a tendency to pair opposites, such as nature and "good to think". The actual totem was arbitrarily selected and meaningless. What mattered was simply its structural opposition to a human group c. Bodley rightly points out that both the functionalist and structuralist would 4 agree that totemism is a way for people to think about society in a way that they create solidarity amongst themselves. 4. Sacred Dreaming sites a. Sacred sites are places that provide a continuing present link between Dreaming ancestors (or totems) and the people themselves b. The sites are believed to be the physical remains of ancestors or their activities' and are important as they provide the physical evidence of their existence e.g., Uluru or Ayers Rock (p. 40), a monolith 1100 ft. high and 5 miles around largest in the world Various sides of the rock belong to different totemic beings and the clans they represent. Myths are told that associate these beings and their activities to current descendents. c. Throughout their land there is physical evidence in caves, stains, rock markings that, through aborigine mythology, provide living markers of totemic beings. d. These provide centers for ritual activity eg, increase fertility ceremonies for a particular species e. Sites help define territorial boundaries and regulate land use f. It also provides a spiritual connection between individuals of given clans and their Dreamings. This is not purely spiritual, but is also the life force in pregnancy. 5. Dreaming paths These are markings that stretch across the land for hundreds of miles, over territory occupied by different clans. The markings supposedly are the result of the same beings that produced the dreaming sites. 6. Adaptive feature of dreaming paths and sites These paths and sites re identified in great detail in rituals and myths to help people remember in great detail the location of permanent waterholes, vital to their survival (almost like a map). Movie on the Dreaming from excerpts of film by Maybury Lewis: “Inventing Reality”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGZK0v3JaEo NEXT CLASS: (1) Find a passage in Bodely that reveals his attitude toward aborigines, and bring in to discuss (2) Continue: “Inventing Reality” (3) we will examine bands, clans and the connection with land through totemic estates as part of the Dreaming (4) If time permits, we will begin to discuss kinship 5 Case Study 1: The Australian Aborigines: Unit II LECTURE 2 (Week 5b) Small Scale Culture: Case Study 1: The Australian Aborigines: Mobile Foragers for 50,000 Years (1) Language exercise: Bodely on Aborigines (2) Completion of movie on the Dreaming/ Dreaming paths and Dreaming Sites Movie by Maybury Lewis: “Inventing Reality”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGZK0v3JaEo II. Bands, Clans and Dialect Tribes : some definitions A. Bands vs. Clans 1. The foraging society is organized in bands. These are multifamily foraging work groups consisting of 2550 people. 2. . The clan consists of a group of people who claim (or lineage) an ancestry from a totem animal associated with an estate. That is why the clan is also called a totemic estate group. 3. People in the same band usually consist of members of different clans, or kin groups: EXAMPLE: I'm part of the SASW band of CMU, but of the McLean clan. 4. The bands are flexible and people can move in and out of them as they visit relatives in different bands at various times. Still, it maintains its own special identity. Thus during multiband Encampments, individual bands remain united. 5. The bands are tied to the land in terms of ritual estates. This is religious property (land and totemic sites) held in common by a descent, or lineage, group (called the totmeic estate group or clan). It helps to space out the area of range occupied by local bands. (The English referred to these estates as "countries.") 6. Now visitors can forage within the range of another band, with the permission of those who own it. Thus they have use rights over the land. Ownership rights over the land are confined to those who hold permanent rights to the land as an estate. Claims to use and ownership are associated with (1)descent of parents (who are members of the totemic estate group), esp of father or (2) the membership of the spouse. (3) Ownership can also be claimed by the length of stay on a given estate or (4) the burial of one's parent there (5) also conception and birth there. B. Organization /Access to land 1. Band members have either use or ownership claims to a given estate. It is clan members, however, who can claim ownership of a given estate. 1 So why do bands have members from different clans? C. Adaptive value of this system 1. Distribution of land use and ownership occurs in a way that prevents any concentration of social power and the maintenance of social equality among groups. 2. The flexibility with which people can move among bands reduces tension that might otherwise lead to conflict. D. Dialect "tribes" 1. Aborigine society is organized in bands, or at the outside, villages with no one who can serve as an authority over them. Although they are independent, they still share a culture. Bodley adopts the term dialect tribe to describe the culture and language shared among aborigine groups. However, just as Boas told us about the NW Indians, the language and cultural boundaries between these tribes are not rigid. Language and rituals are often shared and even intermarriage occurs between dialect tribes. 2. 500 is an optimum number of people in a tribe (or dialect tribe). (Bodley associates the term ":tribe" with a set of villages that have a permanent leader though differences exist among anthropologists in their use of the term so he avoids this term in use with aboriginal culture which lacks permanent settlements.) 3. Below 200 makes it hard to find a mate; over 1000 makes it hard to maintain a shared identity, III. Making a Living: a Foraging Technology in a diverse Geography 1. Foraging enables about 500 people to survive in a given environment with no help from the outside. 2. Foraging demands knowledge about possible foods both plants and animals techniques for hunting and gathering, manufacture and use of tools and food processing. 3. There is much flexibility for foragers in organizing their labor fore, selecting species in a given site and in selecting a location. 4. Labor is often organized by gender although there are definite departures. a. women gather plants and small animals in a 3mile radius b. Men hunt in a 5mile radius. 5. Security over the long run is the key survival goal for aborigines since they face so many fluctuations in rainfall and food supplies. a. One main strategy to secure this is to maintain wide access of resources over large territories by accessing their kinship ties and other social networks. B. this is why a flexible band system and land use are so adaptive 6. There is wide variation in foods accessed in different geographical regions. a. In deserts, lizards provide the major animal consumed (almost half). On the coast, over 3/4 of the animal diet is supplied by shellfish and fish. What other food do they use? Moths or larvae of moths. They also vigorously exploit the few varieties of plants they find in the desert, especially, seeds and grasses that serve as a large part of their diet, especially in the Western Desert. (See p. 41) 2 7. The oldest tools used as long as 50,000 years – Old Tool Tradition a. the digging stick: for collecting toots and small animals by women b. the wooden spear: used by men in hunting c. the firestick: fire serves to dive off game, to keep the country open for ease of travel, to burn off brush and encourage growth of preferred foods and to let groups locate one another 8. Latest innovation in tools: 5000 years ago: the Small Tool Tradition a. Involved placing small stone flakes on spear shafts, b. the dingo (a partly domesticated dog), and c. the spearthrower a multipurpose tool (shoveled, started a fire, could be used as a percussion instrument, and increased the power and precision of throw of the spear) spear thrower is similar to an atlatl? IV. Evaluating the Foraging Way of Life 1. Foragers have been called "affluent" because evidence suggests it only takes 45 hours a day to obtain and process an adequate daily food supply (Sahlins 1960). This left considerable leisure time. 2. The aborigines had encountered farming and herding from New Guineans and ever opted to adopt this adaptation strategy. Bodley believes this was because they did not find it to be an improvement over their foraging way of life. a. They preferred to horde "time" than food. This means they must restrict their needs to accord to their limited means of production. Kinship Together we are going to construct a kinship chart. But first we need to get the elements of kinship for the aborigines. I. Kinship System Like the Dreaming at a more general level, the kinship system helps to organize aboriginal society. A. Some important features of kinship are the following: 1.The kinship system divides people into significant groups that further help to organize their society. 2. The most important kin groupings for aborigines are the totemic estate groups or clans. (Remember, these are lineage, or descent groups.) They organize the 3 society by defining two important things: a. potential marriage partners Sexual reproduction b. ownership rights to spiritual property (i.e., estates). Biological reproduction 3. Kinship terms are social categories that define specific relationships between people in the society and serve as guides for social behavior. The terms derive from relationships in the nuclear family (e.g., mother, father, brother, sister, daughter and son). Kinship categories make the following distinctions: a. gender or social role based on biological sex father, son (male) mother, daughter (female) b. generation or age groups parents (higher generation) siblings (same ) children (lower) c. consanguinity relationship through blood (i.e., a shared ancestor) mother, son, sister d. affinity relationship by marriage 5. Kin terms are defined in relation to one person ("ego") e.g., "Wife's mother's brother". "Wife" here is wife to ego. 6. Everyone in the society fits into a kinship category (including people we in the West would not consider kin). 7. Since kinship terms are cultural categories, who they define by one term may differ from who we might include by that term. a. the term "mother" "mother" to us refers to a single person related to us biologically "mother" to aborigines may refer to any number of women from mother's generation within her totemic estate group (or clan). b. "wife's mother" A man might call any number of women "wife's mother" even though he is not married to their daughters. The important point is that the term identifies mothers of potential marriage partners. Note: Generation does not matter here. 4 Secret: Wife’s mother is always in Ego’s clan. 8. Thus, Kin terms contribute to the reproduction of the society in three ways: a. sexual reproduction by defining rules for marriage and b. biological reproduction by establishing rights to estates that will allow access to food resources and c. social reproduction by allowing for the continuing of the society through biological and sexual reproduction II. The Aboriginal Marriage System : Cross Cousin Marriage A. Lineage Groups and Moieties 1. Lineage groups a. All people are defined in terms of their identity with a particular lineage or descent group ( the "totemic estate group"or clan for the aborigines). 2. Moieties a. All aboriginal totemic estate groups further fall into one of two moieties. 1. Moieties are a division of aboriginal society on the basis of a. totemic estate groups and b. other criteria that divides one group from another (all people, totems, dream sites and natural objects would fall into one or the other group) (NOTE: When we talk of kin and draw a kinship chart, if we talk in terms of moiety, we are including a broader group the whole society than when we talk in terms of specific lineage or totemic estate groups.) B. Parallel Cousins 1. Europeans do not make distinctions between our cousins. 2. Aborigines distinguish between parallel and cross cousins. 3. Parallel cousins are the offspring of the samesex siblings of their parents a. children of their mother's sisters (MZ) b. children of their father's brothers (FB) a. Parallel cousins are in the same moiety as ego, so are not potential marriage partners. d. Their relations would be defined as "endogamous" (meaning "inside" the family), thus incestuous C. Cross Cousins 5 1. Cross cousins are the offspring of the oppositesex siblings of their parents a. These are children of their mother's brothers (MB) b. Children of their father's sisters (FZ) c. Cross cousins are in the opposite moiety as ego, so they are potential marriage partners. d. To a man, the female crosscousins would be combined in the category daughter of "wife's mother". Even though they may never marry him, the term "wife" indicates their potential as marriage partners. e. Crosscounsins relations would be defined as "exogamous" (meaning "outside" the family), hence safe to marry. III. Basics of the Kinship chart Let's illustrate this (class should work with me) 1. show symbols marriage siblings descent divorce or death 2. show labels: M, F, S, D, B, Z, W, H 3. Show lines indication relationships (e.g., "=" means marriage) ***4. Two rules for drawing the Aboriginal kinship chart: (1) patrilineal descent (i.e., from the father.) (2) exogamous marriage With those two rules you can draw the entire chart. IV. Drawing the kinship chart 1. begin with ego draw his brother and sister go back to ego's father's parents and ego's mother's parents 2. show the parallel and cross cousin relations 3. Show who would be called mothers 4. show who would be called wife's mother a. FZ,MB, parallel cousins (FBD and MZD) b. Again, the important point is that the term identifies mothers of potential marriage partners. 5. Show the likelihood of marrying a parallel cousin's child given generation difference between husbands and wives. 6. If time permits, Mother in Law Avoidance 6 HOMEWORK: (If basic kinship lecture completed), practice drawing a kinship chart, like the one we did today, and bring it in next class, along with any questions, to be handed in. (Kinship chart questions may be handed out or posted on BB.); if lecture not completed, you should be review lecture and be prepared to draw chart in class after lecture is completed. 7
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