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Intro to Cultural Anthropology

by: Taylor Urban

Intro to Cultural Anthropology 100

Taylor Urban

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These notes are from class on Tuesday 3/29 and Thursday 3/31
Intro to Cultural Anthropology
Professor Matza
Class Notes
Anthropology, Matza, intro, Cultural
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Taylor Urban on Monday April 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 100 at University of Pittsburgh taught by Professor Matza in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Intro to Cultural Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Pittsburgh.

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Date Created: 04/04/16
3/29/16 "The Body, Culturally" Tuesday, March 29, 2016 The body as a cultural instrument  "The body is man's first and most natural instrument"  "Techniques of the Body"  The ways in which from society to society men, and women, know how to use their bodies  These are, primarily, learned  Think, HABITUS  Culturing the body  The body as a busy intersection:  A vehicle for self-expression  A canvas onto which socialization and acculturation processes are projected  Reality TV environment  Extreme Makeover  The Swan  Big Fat Loser  As reflection of inner-selves  & as a reflection of social/political contexts  Pyotr Pavlensky, protesting the arrest of punk/protest band Pussy Riot  Nailed genitals to red square  Sewed his mouth shut  Body modification is a cultural practice that is …  A means for performing identity  An attempt to show one's "inner self"  A form of ritualized behavior indicating membership  & again, a practice shaped by norms (gender, sexuality, race, etc.)  Plastic & Identity  Aging and youth  "Facial Feminization Surgery" (transgender practice)  Reconstructive surgery  Beautification/enhancement  In Brazil:  54% of Brazilians had considered having cosmetic surgery (vs. 30% of Americans)  A desire that transcends class boundaries  A practice that carries status  Public services offering plastica, even in cases of cosmetics Setting the stage: Brazil and Inequality  Ranks among one of the most unequal countries in the world  Gini coefficient  Rio's favelas  Urban segregation  Political-economic factors  Neoliberalism (a.k.a. "free market capitalism")  Economic policies promoted by international institutions and the US promoting austerity and open markets  Spurred "growth", but also unemployment, migration, vulnerability, increasing inequality  Cultural factors  Racial politics in Brazil  Legacies of slavery, displacement of indigenous people shape the links between beauty, skin tone and body type  "beauty culture" and Bossa Nova sensuality  Norms governing "sexual attractiveness" Silicon Brazil  What is going on here?  Are women being duped?  An indicator of "cultural imperialism"?  "Breasts are invading Brazil" (Pretty Modern, pg. 42)  A symptom of patriarchal domination/false consciousness  Women will shape themselves to be what men want  A form of class oppression?  Or should we see this, instead, as a form of self-expression?  Edmonds the cultural relativist  What does plastica mean for those involved?  What does beauty mean and do for different social actors?  The meanings of plastica  Women's (modified) bodies are:  Fetish objects aligned with modernity and feminine sexuality  Tools for expressing ideas about race  Resources for the exercise of citizenship and rights  Indicators of internal trauma  Vehicle for social mobility 3/31/16 "Regimes of Beauty" Thursday, March 31, 2016 Consuming Health & self-governance  Health & ideas about …  Body forms and norms  Nutrition and eating  Consumerism  Assumptions about race, sex, and sexuality  Emotional life - esp. types of pleasure  Good vs. bad habits  "Aesthetic health"  Concerned with beauty/its appreciation  A qualitative notion of well-being that merges aesthetic (119)  Fitness craze, dieting, fit bit & the quantified self  New technologies unleashing yet more ways to measure, calibrate and alter ourselves Why enhance?  Context: "late-stage capitalism"  Post industrial  Rise of the service industry  New requirements  "how marketable are you? You have to brand yourself!"  Job requirements: not just knowledge/skills, but emotional profiles, attractiveness  Effect: markets & self-optimization  Enhancement under highly competitive labor demands  More aspects of life are now commodities  E.g. a person's appearance as a form of value  Self-governance  Not just about marketability, but also new relationships between citizens and government  From being governed to "self-government"  Self-esteem  One rationale Edmonds cites for plastica  But put in this context of self-optimization you can see how it's part of a larger trend  As you'll see, one consequence of talking about social problems in terms of self-esteem is that:  It projects social and political problems inward … (or, in the case of beauty, onto the skin)  Summary  New emphases on health and well-being can be tied to demands of new labor markets  Desirability is therefore an expression of marketability  Well-being becomes a commodity Race, comparatively  Given that race is a construct, we should expect to find different understandings of what race is in different places  In the U.S.  The "one drop rule"  A very problematic 19th century and early 20th century form of racial classification  In Brazil  A racial classification oriented around mixture, not purity (I.e. "one drop rule")  Over 130 types of describing phenotype  "mesticagem" - mixed race  A particular belief system about human differ3nde  Here mixture (as opposed to purity) is valued  Relevant to Brazilian national identity  Mesticagem & Brazilian as a racial democracy  But is Brazil really a "racial democracy"?  Edmonds also shows that:  Informal color hierarchies stigmatize blackness  Darker Brazilians are excluded from a range or social institutions  In summary:  While mainstream understandings of race in Brazil are less starkly defined than in the U.S., racial discrimination is still found there Beauty & Brazil's "Common Sense of Color"  Objectification & commodification …  … the terms of self-expression?


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