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  • 1. SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 13: Summary and Review Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2008/2009
  • 2. REVIEW AND CONSULTATION SESSION: AS3 03-06 Thursday, November 13 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm
  • 3. “ A Man without Pigs”
    • How does John Waiko’s approach to anthropology compare to that of other anthropologists we have studied in this course? What are some of the similarities and differences ? How does John Waiko’s experience compare to that of other “strangers abroad”?
    • What is John Waiko’s status in his home village? How does that compare with and relate to his status outside his village?
    • What sort of politics and economics do you see in action in the film? How would a structural or structural-functional analysis help us to understand Bendari political-economy? How would a poststructural (discursive, historical) analysis help? What would be key features to focus on in each type of analysis?
    • How is the system of debts and relationships changing? Why?
  • 4. What is ANTHROPOLOGY?
  • 5. Anthropology
    • anthropos = humankind
    • logia = study of
    • the study of people
  • 6. The Objective of Anthropology
    • Why do people do the things they do?
    • Before Modern Anthropology:
      • Because of their race (biology).
      • Because they are less intelligent.
      • Because they are superstitious.
      • Because they are primitive or less evolved.
  • 7. Key Concepts in 20 th century Anthropology
    • Culture
    • Ways to understand Culture
      • Functionalism
      • Structural-Functionalism
      • Structuralism
      • Other Ways
        • Culture and Personality
        • Neoevolutionism
        • Cognitive Anthropology
        • Symbolic Anthropology
        • And others….
  • 8. Themes: Major Topics that Anthropologists study from a Cultural Perspective
    • Families and Kinship
    • Gender and Sexuality
    • Economics and Exchange
    • Ethnicity, Race, Nationalism and other forms of “Imagined Communities”
    • Anthropologists Study many other aspects of “the human condition”
      • Medical Anthropology
      • Religion
      • Emotions
      • And many other topics!
  • 9. The Concept of Culture
    • Holistic views of human affairs (e.g. E.B. Tylor’s definition).
    • Respect for cultures as unique ways that different people have developed.
      • Boas’s attack on 19 th theories of unilinear social evolution
      • Cultures have to be understood on their own terms (not as “stages” in human development)
    E.B. Tylor Franz Boas
  • 10. Dr. Eric’s definitions of Cultural and Social
    • Culture refers to our signaling systems (which, among other things, coordinate our actions)
      • Culture is learned, shared knowledge
      • Cultural systems are systems of meaning
    • Social refers to our behavioral systems , specifically those behaviors through which we relate to other people (e.g. exchanges)
      • Social Systems are systems of relationship and exchange.
  • 11. Socio-Cultural Systems (Summary)
    • Kinship: Cultural concepts for organizing social relationships based on family ties.
    • Gender: Cultural concepts for organizing social relationships based on sex.
    • Economy: Cultural concepts for organizing social relationships of exchange.
    • Community: Cultural processes for imagining group identities.
  • 12. Kinship
    • Kinship = Social-Cultural Elaborations of Biological Reproduction
    • Marriage = Cultural recognition of a sexual relationship; legitimization of paternity.
    • Ideas of kinship order (arrange) social relationships through cultural interpretations of biological reproduction.
    • Kinship is “based in” biology.
    • But kinship is not determined by biology.
  • 13. Sex / Gender / Sexuality
    • Sex refers to the bodies we have as a result of biological processes (e.g. genetics); Genitalia, Hormones, Baldness, Facial Hair, Breasts, etc.
    • Gender refers to social-cultural elaborations of sex ; social practices and cultural roles associated with sex characteristics.
    • Sexuality refers to social-cultural elaborations (especially identities) related to sexual behavior ; activities (ways of ‘having sex’), desires, relational identities (gay, straight, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, etc.)
  • 14. Economics and Exchange
    • Economics: the study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
    • Economy: a system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
    • Exchange:
      • Distributing Goods and Services AND
      • Creating/Enacting Relationships among People
  • 15. The Cultural Nature of Commodities (and Money)
    • Markets are SYMBOLIC systems of VALUE
    • Money – mediator of value
    • Social relationships are abstracted into money and commodities.
    • Social differentiation based on relationships mediated by money & commodities = Class
  • 16. Community
    • Communities are based in senses of belonging and identity.
    • Markers of commonality are arbitrary. They are socially and culturally agreed upon.
    • Communities exist because people imagine them to exist. (They are fundamentally cultural – shared belief, ideas, feelings).
    • Communities are not “fictional”… They are social and cultural realities .
  • 17. Culture is…
    • A system of shared meanings.
    • A system for signaling and reproducing those shared meanings.
    • Social-Cultural Systems:
      • Kinship and Marriage
      • Gender and Sexuality
      • Economics and Exchange
      • Communities and Identities
  • 18. Anthropology c.1960-1980
    • Scientific, Structural-Functional Approach
    • Cultural Relativism; Non-hierarchical (no culture is better than another; they are just different)
    • Non-evolutionary (rejection of unilinear evolution of cultural ‘stages’ from 19 th c.)
    • Societies and Cultures seen as “Whole”, functional, equilibrium systems (structures) of thought and behavior
    • Most anthropologists are white (European / American) men doing research in the “Third World”.
  • 19. Problems c.1960-1980
    • If cultures are whole, equilibrium systems, how does one account for change?
    • Entry of larger numbers women and non-Europeans into anthropology, began to question male and Euro-centric biases.
    • Critique of Ethnography: Representations of “Others” by Europeans for Europeans
    • Critique of Colonialism, Anthropology’s Role
    • Globalization, Urbanization, Rapid Change
  • 20. CULTURE & SOCIETY (The Super-Simple Versions)
    • Culture = systems of meaning
    • Society = systems of (exchange) relationships
    • From Structuralism, to Post-Structuralism, to (Complex Adaptive) Dynamic Systems
  • 21. Culture and Discourse
    • CULTURE is a Complex Adaptive System
    • DISCOURSE is the Process through which Culture Changes
    • Shift in anthropology from culture to discourse is a shift from structural to process analysis. (1980s – Present)
  • 22. 1st Generation Cultural Structures (Grammars, Words, Styles, Signifiers) 1st Generation Agents (Subjects/Individuals) (Drawing on the Structures to relate to others , influence action , interpret meanings – their own and others ) Culture as an Iterative Process Agents are “Subjects” of (“subject to”) cultural structures – they cannot operate meaningfully outside of the structure. Cultural Structures are emergent structures, dependent on the agents for their existence.
  • 23. 1st Generation Cultural Structures 1st Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Agents (Subjects) 2nd Generation Cultural Structures Culture always changes, because agents never reproduce it “perfectly”
  • 24. REVIEW AND CONSULTATION SESSION: AS3 03-06 Thursday, November 13 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm