SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 13: Summary and Review Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2008/2009
REVIEW AND CONSULTATION SESSION: AS3 03-06 Thursday, November 13 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm
“ 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?
What is ANTHROPOLOGY?
anthropos = humankind
logia = study of
the study of people
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.
Key Concepts in 20 th century Anthropology
Ways to understand Culture
Culture and Personality
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”
And many other topics!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Distributing Goods and Services AND
Creating/Enacting Relationships among People
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
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 .
A system of shared meanings.
A system for signaling and reproducing those shared meanings.
Kinship and Marriage
Gender and Sexuality
Economics and Exchange
Communities and Identities
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”.
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
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
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)
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.
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”
REVIEW AND CONSULTATION SESSION: AS3 03-06 Thursday, November 13 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm