Ethnicity, Ethnocentrism and Human Adaptation

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Class presentation on ethnicity within the sociobiological / human evolutionary ecology context in anthropology. An overview from a single class in HEE.

Class presentation on ethnicity within the sociobiological / human evolutionary ecology context in anthropology. An overview from a single class in HEE.

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  • 1. Ethnicity, Ethnocentrism, and Human Adaptation Celia Emmelhainz ANTH 630: Human Evolutionary EcologyPresentation at Texas A&M, December 1 2008
  • 2. Cultural Adaptation Division and conflict between groups by ethnicity can be seen as: -Adaptive -Neutral -Tolerable -Maladaptive (Edgerton 1992)
  • 3. EthnicityViewed as Primordial:- Endogamy and Shared Descent (Hammond and Axelrod 2006)- Social Construct/Mental Shortcut (Gil-White 1999, 2001)Viewed as Socially Constructed:- Group Boundaries (Barth 1969)- Rational Choice (Economics)
  • 4. Markers ofEthnicity:Language Religion CustomsPhysicality Dress Accent
  • 5. Francisco Gil-White and the Ultimatum game- Bulgan Sum, Hovd, Mongolia- Few outward markers- Kazakhs and Torguuds- More paid to out-group members(Gil-White 2003, 2004)
  • 6. Adaptation and Ethnicity (Theories in Human Evolutionary Ecology)— Living Kinds Theory— Genetic Similarity Theory— Domain-Specific Mechanisms— Social Identity Mechanisms— Rational Choice Theory(MacDonald 2001)
  • 7. Maladaptation and ethnicity• Lost opportunities (trade, mating, cooperation)• Discrimination• Xenophobia• War• Genocide
  • 8. “ethnocentrism: the feeling that one’s group has a mode of living, values, and patterns of adaptation that are superior to those of other groups.” Columbia Encyclopedia 2000:12933 cited in Gil-White 2005
  • 9. Ethnocentrism - Reinforces group norms and increases in-group conformity - Increases discrimination against outsiders - Increases cooperation within-group and decreases it between groups - Increases tendency to think of outsiders as sub-human - Decreases costly interactions (Gil-White 2005) - Increases conflicts and misunderstandings
  • 10. Conclusion“if humans are to succeedin adapting to one anotherand to the environments inwhich they live, they mustdevise social and culturalmechanisms to controlcertain aspects of theirbiological nature.”(Edgerton 1992:61)
  • 11. Pictures used in a fair-use educational context:1. http://www.angryasianman.com/images/angry/mongol01.jpg2 . http://www.ngsprints.co.uk/popup_image.php?pID=1079623. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nozomiiqel/1099084874. http://www.flickr.com/photos/25932866@N065. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/mongolia.html6. http://www.flickr.com/photos/clydebentley/25643494517. http://www.flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/4908889518. http://www.flickr.com/photos/46329566@N00/2821552374/9. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrold/23793265010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff-bauche/223026583711. http://www.flickr.com/photos/integralfocus/7196981612. http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithpatterson/9790094668
  • 12. For more information see also:Brown 2003Edgerton 1992Gil-White 1999Gil-White 2003Hammond and Axelrod 2006Henrich and Boyd 1998Jahoda 2002MacDonald 2001McElreath et al 2003Ruston 2005Soltis et al 1995