Glossary of MC ANTH 3

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Created by MichelleChoi

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Riddle of the Sphinx
- key point:
- the questions that we ask are as valid and important as the answers we find
- 4 legs - commonality we share with animals
- 2 legs - uniqueness of humans
- 3 legs - manipulation of technology in our lives

place where people live and integrate together
key point:
does not have to be a foreign or remote place

firsthand experience with the people being studied
the usual means of obtaining anthropological information

ways to conduct fieldwork:
tape recording

Strangeness and familiarity
at first he sees cockfighting as a strange Balinese culture, but the more he gets exposed to it, becomes aware of the game rules and the deeper meaning behind cockfighting, the more he becomes familiar with it
at first he feels ignored, unwanted and invisible from the people
he is seen as an ‘other’ and a foreigner
as a film maker, he is constantly behind the camera and plays the role as the outsider filming
the movie is about otherness

Subjects and objects
subject - a person or thing that is being discussed, described or dealt with
object - a person or thing to which a specified action or feeling is directed
key point:
the object of our study are subjects
the study of the subject is how these subjects respond and react to us, using ourselves as tools
Teacher’s dream:
transition between subject to object - he dreams about a creature who he falls in love with but kills it which becomes meat

Thick descriptions
explains not just the outer description but its context as well
he uses thick descriptions to describe cockfighting
key point:
goal is not to answer the questions but the answer available to everyone

Participant observation
using oneself as tools and observing the surrounding by participating directly in the field
‘hanging out with the people’
he directly participates in the cockfighting and the running away from police
he directly asks the people for information
he criticize this understanding of asking the people
he believes we should experience it personally to understand

Ways of anthropological knowing
key point:
there are different ways to know and understand the meaning of different cultures and traditions
example: self reflexivity
inserting the anthropologist’s own experience into the text
at first, he does not fully understand the connection between grief, rage and headhunting
only after his personal experience of his wife’s death, he is able to understand the rage in grief and becomes the subject of his own study
transmitting of anthropological wisdom through film

scientific description of the customs of individual peoples and cultures
accumulation of deep knowledge and its analyzation
“in ethnography, the writer is his own chronicler and historian at the same time”
“in ethnography, the distance is often enormous between the brute observations...the ethnographer has to traverse this distance in laborious years between the moment when he sets foot upon a native beach and makes his first attempts to get into touch with the natives, and the time when he writes down the final version of his results”

Empirical data
data or information based on observation or experience rather than pure theory or logic
key point:
anthropology is neither just science or just humanity

EB Tyler’s definition:
“culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by people as members of society”
key point:
anthropologists use culture to explain certain patters and habits in society as a whole
culture is not stable
the meaning of headhunting for the Ilongot changes according to whether circumstances render it easy, difficult or impossible
"The culture of a people is an ensemble of texts, themselves ensembles, which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong"
culture is interpretation

meaning of death is that life experience such as these gives insight to people
meaning of headhunting is to find a place to ‘carry one’s anger’

the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea that can be fully understood and assessed
people only hear the sound and languages that they already know, using only their own context of language
mishearing can be useful because in some cases it can tell you certain context that you wouldn’t usually hear or find available
Pick up scene at News stand:
anthropologist saw the scene as a romantic situation where the woman was interested in the man
film maker saw the scene as an aggressive gesture from the man that was interested in the woman
people see situations using only their own context of body language

Cultural relativism
principle that individual human’s beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that individual’s own culture
Boas’ key point:
“judgements are based on experience, and experience is interpreted by each individual in terms of his own enculturation”
his solution to scientific relations

Anthropology’s early focus on primitive societies
refers to a society that is believed to lack culture, technological or economic development
modern humans - thinking and sounds are clear
primitive humans - confused and lost
she refers to the indigenous girls of Samoa, Ecuador as primitives


technique of forcing people to see common things in an unfamiliar or strange way
defamiliarizes the common view on hospital care, oral cleanliness and psychiatry
forces us to see our own society and culture in a different way
makes the familiar strange

Cultural comparison
comparing of different cultures to find out something of our own culture
compares the adolescent girls of America and Samoa
discovers the attitudes of American adolescent girls are actually modified through our culture
discovers that what we think is natural is actually cultural and that we are products of our social context

Subjectivity and objectivity
subjectivity - based on one’s own perception
objectivity - based on empirical evidence
Boas: On Alternating Sounds
he notes irregular sounds of language as subjective interpretation

Speculative fabulation
fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social changes
he created a fictional story about a boy who can never forget anything
key point:
fiction helps identify and focus the flaws of our society
confusing our own perceptions of what’s normal

Cultural critique
key point:
science fiction can be used to critique our society to make us want a better future
obsession with our physical appearance
sexuality as social currency
categorizing of people
rise of technology

Anthropology and the future
key point:
anthropology is not only about the past, it can also be about the future
anthropology can show us how we will become in the future by observing the way we live today

Science fiction and anthropology
key point:
SF is similar to anthropology in which instead of being and participating in society, one invents and creates society
Making the strange familiar and the familiar strange
key point:
we make the strange familiar in order to make the familiar strange
we’re looking for difference when we’re actually trying to understand and perceive familiarity in a different way

Culture and thought and its relation to forgetting
“to think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract”
to think and live in a society, we need to forget to some extent
key point:
culture has a ‘fuzzy’, forget quality that allows us to live comfortably in our generality

The uncanny valley

the area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with the appearance and motion between ‘barely human’ and ‘fully human’
key point:
a space of feeling comfort / discomfort and strange / familiar at the same time
blurriness of boundary between what’s human and what is not human
The Hand Thing:
voice is artificial and not human-like, appearance resembles a mannequin, gestures are human-like
human becoming less human and robot becoming more human
humorous and disturbing at the same time
The Human-like Robot:
appearance resembles a human, gestures are not as smooth or natural
extraordinary and disturbing at the same time
raise the question of life and death
humor can be uncanny as it sometimes puts unlike things together and makes situations or actions funny
laughing is psychological response to humorous or unordinary and uncomfortable situations
laughing can be a release of tensions to ease the awkwardness

Ethnographic present
key point:
refers to time
writing in present tense
giving readers the impression of presently ‘being there’
impression of boundless and timeless observation

Navel gazing
anthropologists becoming too subjective by focusing too much on oneself and losing track of the things that one is supposed to be observing
looking at the world through only one’s own perspective on life

Comprehension of self via detour of the comprehension of other
key point:
people begin to understand themselves only through interaction with those having different cultural beliefs and practices than oneself
field work and observation has a reflexive component where the understanding of a new culture or people may actually give us insight to who we are as people
self growth and reflection:
understanding ourselves in new cultural world as key in understanding that new cultural world
“comprehension of the other has been motivated by a profound perplexity about the comprehension of the [cultural] self”
to really understand other’s people’s perspectives, we need to first understand ourselves and our morals, values, etc

Anthropology as a vocation
a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation
he sees anthropology as one of the few genuine vocations
“in his search of the universe, he feels a sense of belonging and connection to the universe”
without even realizing it, we can come to understand more about ourselves by trying to find out something about the world


having no settled home or social/ family ties
key point:
the idea that anthropologists are never at home
he says that anthropologists obtain ‘chronic rootlessness’ where they feel at home nowhere and are psychologically enclosed
he is constantly questioning the roots that are familiar to him
he leaves the familiar to see the strange and as a result, feels lost at times

key point:
anthropologists represent a colonial figure
Rabinow vs Malinowski:
Rabinow - uses the colonial setting to his advantage, not critical
Malinowski - critical of colonialism

Power relations
“With Richard, I was not in a position of dominance or submission”
he felt equal to Richard
he describes his relationship with Ali as unequal
“I felt entirely at Ali’s mercy”
at the wedding, he knows that Ali was his host and informant and thus felt obliged to please him to some extent

Tradition vs modernity
he transfer of customs or beliefs from generation to generation
post-traditional period marked by the move of feudalism towards capitalism, industrialization, rationalization
key point:
dualism between tradition and modernity
viewed as this intact and impermeable construct that has not been changed
a manifestation of culture
blurring of individual states, traveling of goods

Cultural mediation
key point:
concept of mediating a culture through another culture
the transforming other ‘foreign’ cultures into readable text
“it is the culturally mediated and historically situated self which finds itself in a continuously changing world of meaning”

a member of society who establishes a working relationship with a fieldworker, providing them with information regarding that society
“the [informant] must first learn to explicate his own culture, to become self-conscious about it and begin to objectify his own life-world”
they should be familiar with their own culture, but also be an outsider to some extent to their culture to see things that others do not
“[Ali] was constantly being forced to reflect on his own activities and objectify them”
he is, to some extent, learning about himself and his culture while explaining
“the informant is always right”
he struggles with this idea after the wedding incident with Ali, where he feels like he became too immersed into his own subjective self
“the informant is simply supposed to be himself”

key point:
there is no strict line between an anthropologist’s relationship with their informants
“[I] had been convincing of [Ibrahim] as a friend because of the seeming personal relationship but he had conceptualized me as a resource”
he thought at first that Ibrahim was a friend but he realizes later on that he only used him as a resource
“[I] had established a real rapport with [Ali], more as a friend than an informant”
he is able to talk to Ali about more personal things and considers him a friend
he wants to replace his relationships with the informants with friendships
the ideal friendship is a mutual exploration of what is the right way to be human
“different webs of signification separated [me and Mohammed], but these webs were now at least partially intertwined”
despite their differences in culture, he feels connected to Mohammed through exposing himself to his friend’s culture

Anthropology as an ethical exploration
- Levi-Strauss:
- “to study and judge mankind from a point of view sufficiently lofty and remote to allow him to disregard the particular circumstances of a given society”
- Rabinow:
- “one had to completely subordinate one’s own code of ethics conduct, and world view, to suspend disbelief”
- he feels that to be a good anthropologist, he needs to put all his values and morals aside and be completely open those of the natives

Invented traditions and authenticity
key point:
although from an outsider’s view, some rituals of a culture appear very traditional, it may in fact be very historically recent
“One gets the impression that tea must be one of the oldest and most stable of Moroccan staples, but this is not the case..tea was introduced into Morocco by the English”
drinking tea was introduced by colonialism but it is practiced like a tradition in Morocco

Savage mind
to be primitive or uncivilized
thinking in the wild such as dreaming and thinking deeply
- the word “savage”, whether association it might have had originally, connotes ideas of boundless liberty, of irregularity, of something extremely and extraordinarily quaint

Fieldwork as a method
3 main methods of fieldwork
1) method of statistic documentation by concrete evidence
ex) organization of society, social structure, kinship, relationships
2) method of observing the imponderabilia of life and type of behavior
ex) participant observation, going native, entering the native’s point of view, staying away from colonials
3) method of collecting, manipulating and fixing the evidence of native mentality
ex) different ways of thinking and feeling

Ethnographic fieldwork
ethnography - description of culture
key point:
participant observation is a key aspect
insight into the complex whole of a specific culture
fieldwork involves a kind of play between being an outsider and insider
fieldwork is the main method in anthropology
“If all the conclusions are solely based on the statement of informants, or deduced from objective documents, it is of course impossible to supplement them in actually observed data of real behaviour”
fieldwork is about making the connection between analysis and experience in the field
“An ethnographer who sets out to study only religion, or only technology, or only social organization cuts out an artificial field for inquiry, and he will seriously be handicapped in his work”
fieldwork involves all objective facts, you can’t ‘cherry pick’ only the information you think is important
“Exactly as a humble member of any modern institution, where it to be the state, or the church, or the army, is of it and in it, but has no vision of the resulting integral action of the whole, still less could furnish any account of its organization, so it would be futile to attempt questioning a native in abstract, sociological terms”
fieldwork is about understanding the complex and coherent whole of culture
“fieldwork is a distinctive type of cultural [experiential, reflective, and critical] activity”
“fieldwork is a dialectic between reflection and immediacy”

Going native
key point:
concept of putting aside of our technology and our cultural thinking (ex. cameras)
developing a native mentality
he used himself as a tool and lived in the field with others and immersed into the native life
“but as the fieldwork progressed and I witnessed such performances a number of times, I began to take them largely for granted..they became part of my stock of knowledge, part of my world”

Imponderabilia of actual life
the everyday details of life that usually goes unnoticed
key points:
cannot be measured, only observed
noticing and seeing the subtle peculiarities
“a series of phenomena of great important which cannot possibly be recorded by questioning or computing documents, but have to be observed in their full actuality...such things as the routine of a man’s working day, the details of his care of the body, of the manner of taking food and preparing it…”
he is focusing on the little everyday things that may go unnoticed

Grasping the native’s point of view
key point:
anthropologists trying to understand by looking through the native’s point of view, of the way they bring meaning, things that give meaning to them and motivates them
his goal of fieldwork - “to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision and his world”

unity or agreement of feeling or action, esp. among individuals with a common interest
key point:
it’s only when one puts their guards down and allow them to appreciate and observe the differences that one can find a feeling of connection with the native people
“perhaps as we read the account of these remote customs there may emerge a feeling of solidarity with the endeavors and ambitions of this natives”

Anthropology’s relation to colonialism
key points:
colonialism structured the relationship between anthropologists and the people they studied
his colonial encounters or ‘special contacts’ were those who allowed him access to enter into the Trobriand Islands
his political problems were mediated by the colonials
his field, a middle eastern village, is visibly influenced by colonialism
he is critical towards colonialism, wants to get away from it, and thinks colonials don’t appreciate the native ways
he is indifferent towards colonialism, uses it to enter a city where he was unwanted, and thinks that it’s inevitable

refers to anthropologist’s awareness of oneself in writing after fieldwork
acknowledging one’s own subjectivity

psychoanalysis term that refers to the unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another
transferring something that belongs to you onto another
he attends a wedding, encouraged by Ali who wants him to have a good time, but he feels sick and insists to Ali that he needs to leave, but Ali ignores his wishes and takes a very long time to leave, when they do leave, he is very mad at Ali, but Ali replies as though he’s drunk even though he’s not, as an indirect way to show him that he was upset about the fact that he was sick and didn’t have a good time
when interacting with others, he learned what was happening in them or around them by looking inside himself and analyzing what was causing him to feel the emotions he was feeling

How fieldwork can make you feel uncomfortable
key point:
fieldwork is about placing ourselves in situations that make us feel uncomfortable
“I had gone into anthropology in search of otherness, meeting on a existential level was a shock which caused me to begin fundamental reconceptualization about social and cultural categories”

The ‘other’
his search for the Other leading to his discovery that he himself was being perceived as Other
after he was asked by his Arabic teacher to pay for his hotel room he reflects, "This was my first direct experience with Otherness...Within Moroccan culture this is a standardized and normal thing to do, as I was to find out"

Webs of signification
key points:
we have our own culture (web of signification) but this culture can be exposed to and grow within another friend’s culture
Mohammed and Rabinow - “different web of significations have separated us, but these webs were now partially intertwined, but the dialogue…..”

he focuses specifically on the relations between the informants and himself
“both anthropologist and his informants live in a culturally mediated world, caught up in webs of significance they themselves have spun”
“Ben Mohammed refused to be his informant”
production of anthropology as making process that happens through interpersonal interactions

key point:
writing is empowering with power
writing is a strange extension of our minds
writing is a vehicle for thoughts and a way to distribute the brain
writing allow a method of mediating between groups
“I could not help admiring their chief’s genius in instantly recognizing that writing could increase his authority, thus grasping the basis for the institution without knowing how to use it”
the chief of the Nambikwara Indian tribe didn’t get the meaning of writing but he understood the power of writing and its privilege in creating authority over his people by pretending to know the meaning

Field notes
notes recorded by anthropologists during their observation of a specific phenomenon
key point:
field notes can act as our journal in some ways
notes on notes:
mediation of creating something from your notes
a means of self-reflection with therapeutic quality
ex) “the Vakuta people irritate me with their insolence and cheekiness”
he is extremely honest about the people he encounter during his fieldwork in his notes
ex) “truly I lack character”
he is self reflexive and able to understand himself better through his notes
maintaining of relationships with people back home through letters

Thinking in images
key point:
we need to reckon with images not just as inert objects that convey meaning but as animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands, and drives of their own
dreaming is a type of drawing
dreaming is a way of communicating
Teacher’s dream:
has a dream about a pig who he first falls in love with then kills, a villager tells him that he has encountered the spirits of the pig
drawing as conducting fieldwork
ex) “drawing is more about becoming than being”
drawing is a spiritual act for him
ex) he thinks not only through writing but by drawing as well
visible vs the readable
drawing as making, a form of anthropological knowing
drawing as form of witnessing
drawing rooted in empiricism of being in the field
organic bond, reflecting reality
front page has a powerful image

Activist anthropology
anthropology that works towards social change
Nancy Schepher-Hughes:
a more ‘womanly’ anthropology [...] concerned not only with how humans think but with how they behave toward each other. This would engage anthropology directly with questions of ethics”
she is saying that doing anthropology with a moral model is seen as too ‘moved by one’s own emotions’ but in fact it is important to see the morals and ethics of that culture
“if we cannot begin to think about social institutions and practices in moral or ethical terms, then anthropology strikes me as quite weak and useless”
she thinks that moral models for anthropology is important and that it’s the basic foundation of anthropology

Anthropology and science
key points:
anthropology must have an objective, scientific approach to be precise and not too subjective
“anthropology can maintain its moral authority only on the basis of empirically demonstrable truths”
he thinks that good anthropology needs some sort of objective science that is replicable and empirical
he thinks that moral models for anthropology are too subjective, unreliable, sees in black in white, hard to change and has a tendency towards universal view of events
he thinks that objective models for anthropology are empirical and testable facts, sees in many shades of grey, can be changed by new data or arguments, and strongly multi-causal

Marx and materialism
- key point:
the way that human beings produce that determines their thinking and desires
criticism of Gramcian view of Marxism:
idea that power operates through symbolic domination more so than through physical means of domination

Emile Durkheim
key point:
idea that we cannot understand society by understanding the individual, since society has its own level of reality
structure is more important than function
analysis of aspects of human cognition, behavior, culture, and experience
he sees in the world, cultural manifestations and structural problems
he sees anthropology as seeing ourselves and the structure of our own minds

Post modernism
emphasis on including the opinions of the people being studied
sense of relativism for the practices of other cultures
rejection of grand, universal schemes or theories which explain other cultures
she thinks that post modernism is the idea that everything is relative and that certain values, morality politics are grounded
herself and D’Andrade do not agree on post modernist anthropology
- D’Andrade:

The problem of ‘grounding’ in anthropology
key points:
cultural relativism grounds anthropology by presenting objective events in the world
Barefoot anthropologists
anthropologists who approach the people with humility, not as higher figures
active, politically committed, morally engaged approach to her field

Anthropologist and empathy
her goal of anthropology is not so much to see another way of living, but seeing putting ourselves in the shoes of the people and listen, attend, witness their suffering
“too often that we see each other as better people so we don’t have empathy for the poor”

Companheira (companion)
key point:
not being passive and actively engaging ourselves in the sufferings we witness
she doesn’t want to be a passive anthropologist who simply sits around taking notes
she wants to accompany them in their struggles and be their companions

xii) Universal morality:
key point:
morality exists outside the framework
moral accountability - seeing a situation as human reality or an inhumane situation and feeling responsible to some extent
observing - passive act that links anthropology to natural sciences, anthropologists are objective, indifferent and neutral
witnessing - active act that links anthropology to moral philosophy, anthropologists are subjective, engaged and accountable

emotions, structure of feelings and a basis of morality that goes beyond culture
finds ethics pre cultural

inborn; natural
key point:
concept of innate maternal bonding and mother love
she believes that the mother and child is a special relationship and how to understand that relationship is the heart of ethics
mother and new born is a basis of stranger feeling at first

Moral relativism
key points:
refusing to take a stand
key point:
before anthropology was defined by exoticism (cultural and geographic separation from researcher to researched group)
now “home” incorporates many meanings

key points:
what helps or damages people is the way power and generalization is used
moral models has no theory of good power or good inequality and thus condemns

Listening as waiting:
Movie: Sweet Grass - Lucien Taylor and Ilisa Barbesh:
movie has no explanatory titles, no name
it let’s the image speak for themselves

Listening as becoming other

key points:
listening to others allows us to witness their humanity and see from their point of view
Agee and Evans:
ethnographic listening allowed him to see the obvious strain of a black’s living conditions during the Depression

able or willing to receive something, esp. signals or stimuli
key points:
listening as a form a receptivity of the world involves a reflectiveness to yourself
thinking in terms of many senses
imponderabilia of everyday in sound

Listening to that which is ‘not us’
key points:
listening is a form of shifting perspectives
otherness: other people are fundamentally not us

Empirical as experiential
key points:
using our senses to get evidence
learning based on sensory experience

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