Cultural Anthropology Test 3
April 16, 2014
1. What have you learned about gender that has changed stereotypes or ideas that you thought
were correct? Choose one topic or case study from the chapter to briefly discuss as a way of
reviewing and clearly restating the larger issue or point that was being made.
I learned that gender is determined far more by learned behavior than I had previously thought.
Another interesting fact learned in class regarding gender concerned North American Indian
males who identified themselves as female. They being seen as spiritual beings hovering in an in
between state made sense to me. I remember reading somewhere that some tribes considered
homosexual or lesbian members of the tribe as also being in between. It seems so many things
can be combined, left out or altered when a child is in the womb that a “normal” person being
born is almost a surprise.
2. Identify a “stereotype” or idea that you have had about a global conflict or particular type of
society that was modified or changed by reading this chapter. Briefly describe what you leaned,
and perhaps what it helped clarify for you in thinking about world events.
Looking over my notes I can’t find anything that particularly addresses this subject. I must have
been absent that day and the notes I’ve borrowed didn’t address it either.
I’ve lived long enough to understand that thinking in a stereotypical way is folly, even though it’s
an easy (but lazy) way of thinking it can be used to justify negative thoughts and behavior.
Reading about or seeing films about people who go out of their way, or take major risks to help
others is something shows the opposite stereotyping. For instance not all French people gave it
up to the Nazi’s in World War II. There were some that helped jews and others escape or hide.
As crazy as the internet is, it is good in that it’s harder for countries to hide their shenanigans
and get their people to swallow what they want them to believe. Especially when it comes to
the reason for getting behind a war or knowing who the good guy or bad guy is. The U.S. has
been exposed several times for being underhanded in my lifetime. As embarrassing or damaging
that exposure can be to one’s country. The exposure can be necessary for changes to be made
3. Make lists of what you think are the important indicators of wealth, of prestige, and of power in
your society as a whole. Are there overlaps between these dimensions? List what you think the
indicators are in your specific geographical region, city, or subculture. (You may wish to
interview a friend to generate the “data,” then write a brief summarizing statement of what you
Wealth – property, could include animals, real estate, owning various expensive modes of
Prestige – education, being in the top layer of society, being seen and known for who you are,
perhaps by being a benevolent person, money earned, inherited, holding a public office, being
outstanding in your profession, one’s profession
Power – money earned, inherited, stolen, formal education not necessary, but some kind of
education in understand how to get others to do what you want, holding a public office. People
who are willing to follow or fall on their sword for you.
Often those in power have wealth, and can also be in positions of high prestige. They can use
their power for good, or if they go to the dark side, for evil. Often the power is used to keep
power or to get more.
In Laramie I see the obviously wealthy could be some specialist physicians, ranchers,
homeowners who have the biggest houses, U.W. administrators (president, coaches). Those
with high prestige would also involve those at the university, and would include not just the
administrators, but also some professors, and athletes. Others seen to have high prestige are
some business owners, doctors, lawyers, mayor, and perhaps city council members. It’s my
understanding that the U.W. wields a lot of power in Laramie, as are those in Laramie who
decide what business are encouraged to develop and what business are discouraged.
4. While caste systems are generally viewed negatively by members of societies where social
mobility and upward mobility are emphasized, a functionalist perspective reveals positive
features of caste in a large-scale society. Write a brief paragraph in which you identify several
positive functions of caste India.
The unfairness of a caste system is that one is born into it and cannot break away from it. An
individual’s merit and personal achievement have nothing to do with where they are in this type
of system. However, a caste system can have its positive aspects. In India with a population of
over 1 billion people the caste system regulates who does what and who gets what, who holds
the power, and who does not. It is a way to structure a society, especially one with such a large
population. Is it a jolly good way to keep a society running? I think not, it has probably been the
cause of misery and frustration for millions.
5. If you were suddenly required to flee your homeland, but allowed to take personal possessions
that would fit into one suitcase, what items would you choose besides clothing? List these
items, indicating their significance to you. What do the possessions in your suitcase say about
you, your status, aspects of your culture, etc.
Being a follower of Christ I know I would need a bible in the suitcase to keep me going
spiritually. I would need it to remind me who God is, who I am, and what I am supposed to for
others. Supplies for drawing or even painting would be important because I respond to life and
learn in a visual way. Tossing in balls of wool yarn and knitting needles would be good because I
knit to make socks and to reduce stress. I would be tempted to toss in a few other books,
Sherlock Holmes, maybe a book of poems, but I couldn’t carry a very heavy suitcase and there
might not be any batteries where I would end up for my e-reader. My medication which would
keep me alive,at least as long as I had it. A bag of chocolate chip cookies, some almonds, and my
toothbrush would make up the remainder of my belongings.
These belongings would indicate that I was not powerful, wealthy, nor of high prestige. They
would show that I was not overly attached to material possessions, and didn’t need
photographs to remind me of those I love. It would also prove that my fashion choices were
heavy on clothes that were cheap and comfortable and that make-up and hair products were of
little concern to me. Wanting to keep my teeth intact would be indicated as would the desire to
nourish my soul (bible and chocolate chip cookies). I could also defend myself with the knitting
needles if need be.