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ANTH Midterm 2


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1. Using the example of “Two Crows” and the alphabet discussed in class, explore the relationship between social facts and the cultural innovations of individuals. [What impact can an individual have on culture?]
Social Facts: A way of acting (fixed or not) capable of exerting over the indiv an external constraint. General over a society with an existence of its own, indep of its indiv manifestations. Defined in law and custom, external, imposed/coerced, nec (some struc) 1) Direct (ex. direct sancion) 2) indirect (more subtle, ex. old manufacturing tech, no profits)
1) Social Facts cont.
Varying degrees of crystallization, social currents, collective effervescence (ex polit rallies) (not as crystallized yet); diff levels (before layer cake model, 1900s), Sui Generis (self generating: produces own reality) use of statistics (ex. suicide) Reified (created abstraction, social/as real) [Ex. suicide as a soc phenomenon, also mental (psy)]
1) Two Crows and alphabet cont.
Example of one person challenging a social fact. Possible: 1) Meaningful 2) Allies.
Alphabet (soc fact; ex. reversing A and Z, malleable yet solid; indiv relating to larger soc facts) How does a culture provide for certain personalities (Benedict). What to accept/favor in society (single-focus/intense not nec favored in diff societies) Ex. funerals (sec burial; feast, buried after flesh is gone, mother's brother, clans, playing a role in times as emotional as deaths.
2. Explain why it made sense to feature a Native American in an anti-pollution Public Service Announcement. Use the same framework to explain why some sports teams (cough, DC NFL team, cough) use Native American “mascots” and why Native Americans mig
***Brute, animal-like portrayals of Nat. Am.
***Treated as objects or animals, Chicago Bulls, Panthers, Nat. Am...
Romantizing Native American way of life and closeness to nature. It is one dimensional and instead of informing the public about the differences in their ways of living it merely seeks to profit from stereotypes. Americans often admire the beauty of the ‘simple’ life in passing while feeling superior (culturally, economically, etc.). It minimizes their struggles past and present.
- Not seriously considering the culture, not necessarily mocking but misrepresenting. Especially in light of past treatment by Americans (90% of population destroyed).
3. Why might we argue that certain hunter-gatherers lived in the “Original Affluent Society?” Explain both the cultural and economic dimensions of the argument
3. Affluent because they do less work, but are satisfied. Lower standards. Caloric intake is sufficient. Work only 2-3 hours per day, rest of time for leisure. Share everything; no real classes w/in society. Prodigality. Not as much material wealth, more easily transported. Uneconomic society, cooperate/ work closely with nature. Compared to our society, very satisfied: don’t want what don’t have. Indefinite perfectibility- de Toqueville
3) Affluent society cont.
Peaceful, trust in the ‘morrow. A ‘zen strategy’ of unparalleled plenty with a low standard of living.
- Sahlins: 1) Pragmatic Argument, Economic.
Economically sufficient (enough food, less work).
Calorie counting studies (do get enough to eat), worked only 2-3 hrs/day (to rest 'leisure', not nec sep) Perhaps 6 hrs/wk by later anth (Bird); Little material wealth (nomads)
(Bow and arrow are adequate for maintaining health. Varied diet and abundant food.) Borrowing and direct access to natural resources; as participate in prosperity and therefore no poor and wealthy sectors of society; poverty is a social status created by society/ civilization.
Simple division of labor, by sex.
3) Sahlins: 2) Cultural Argument cont.
Diff world view (strange and familiar), our sys based on scarcity (econ man), uneconomical humans with world view on abundance (do not worry they will not have enough) aberrations otherwise. Prodigality (do not save provisions: trust in the 'morrow) No storage and belief. Treatment of material goods, Bird: sharing ideology of everything. Desires tailored to what is available. Ex. Toqueville (desires will always exceed posessions/availability, 'indef perfectability', 1830s, among best Am ethnographies) Abundance (ex. in Am, culture fighting against nature) cooperation with nature.
- Not at the edge of existence? Nasty, Brutish, Short.
4. Explain how N:C::F:M works in Ortner’s article, then (briefly) describe Strathern’s critique. Finally, offer two of your own examples, one that fits Ortner’s model and one that undermines it.
- Ortner: Females are closer to nature (Give birth, sensitive, raise children)
Males closer to culture (More sophisticated, “train” boys to function in society)
US; every culture conquers nature to survive, culture thought of as superior to nature, women are closer to nature;
1) Body: animality is more manifest; social role: breast feeding, raise children (cultural symbolism), More time with “species life.”
2) domestic vs. public realm (the latter at a higher level with broad concerns)
3) Psyche (concrete, subjective, interpersonal) Traditional social roles yield different psychic structure.
4) Strathern’s critique:
Dichotomy is inconsistent, domestic sometimes superior to public; School teacher’s as head of towns in Old West. . .
Ex. 1) Mt. Hagan, New Guinea, no nature or culture concepts but Mbo (cultivated, rooted, planted, domestic) and Romi (wild, like our “nature”). Always separate and not struggling but accommodating. Mbo is not imposed but inherent and then become individuals.
1) Ortner fails to take into account the multivariate view of n/c.
2) Ortner assumes the ascribed interplay between n/c are both in every culture and recognized in the same ways.
3) There is no universal culture (in the sense of the cumulative works of man) and nature (to be tamed and made productive) Not projected into a “less than human world.”
4) Personal ex.
A) Women still earn less, women’s restrooms have changing rooms versus men’s rooms, there are homes for abused women/mothers versus men/fathers indicated the greater control of men.
B) Women are often seen as more abstract thinkers while men are concrete. Men are seen as more animal-like; in early times wives were seen as too pure to have sexual needs like animals versus men. Women are expected by behave more according to the rules of etiquette ways than men.
5. Compare and contrast the cultural models used to understand, and the cultural fates of, an intersex child born in Euro-America and India, based on our readings and the lecture. [talk about both sex and gender]
- Gender: Man/woman, societal role versus Sex: male/female, biological
- Botched pot: God’s mistakes.
Cast aside (perhaps socially liminal persons) or killed
- Unnatural (correctable)
Medical treatment and surgery is necessary once “true” sex is established.
In US, must choose a sex in initial weeks.
Hormone therapy.
- Supernatural Blessing
Bearers of good fortune. Ex. Greek god Hermaphroditos. Navaho category: Nadle.
5) Intersex cont. The Hijras of India
intersexed/eunuchs (erotic and sacred female man; 1) man plus woman; 2) not woman 3) Neither man nor woman 4) Man minus man) Long established role.
Gender identity subject to change. Assume social role.
Emasculation ritual necessary to achieve status.
Ascetics of Hindu mythology and the story of Siva (provides legitimacy of emasculation).
Ritual performers.
Ambivalence: Dangerous/divine power yet depended on; ascertains sex of newborn.
Membership into Hijra community entails distancing from family and friends.
Drawn from many castes, mostly lower, in Hindu society.
Community consists of teachers and disciples.
Despite British intervention and illegal status of prostitution, role not dying out.
6. Discuss the effects of globalization on three different cultures/peoples/groups from our readings or from lecture. Can you draw some general conclusions?
- 1) Female genital cutting: Older women strongest proponents; the West making safer and educating about health effects; the West seeking to understand fertility symbolism and the role of religion. Role of cultural relativism.
6. Discuss the effects of globalization cont.
Conclusions: Homogenizing, superficial effects? Changing values? Concept of power: who is gaining power from whom and what message is conveyed?
7. Explain how the gift-giving system in Nuyoo worked and what the ramifications were for the society. Contrast this system with exchange along the Kula ring.
- Solidarity: Gifts build connections between people.
(Known people giving/receiving, uneven exchange, and ties endure)
Total social fact.
Integrates society.
- Hau: spirit of the person that gave gift; the gift is active (page 11), tie between souls; give of oneself.
7) cont.
Kula Ring: system of exchange of two kinds of valuables; 1) Armshells 2) Necklaces of shells. Each has a name; gossip to get each valuable of another rank; different types of shells.
Not superficial but center of cultural attention; can achieve fame across islands.

Nuyoo: Annual saints’ festivals, three or four a year with a party.
Mayordomo as host asks for donations. Mayordomo has high status and serves as a marker of full adulthood to be able to amass a large amount of resources.
This is also a way to increase status and aspire to become a Mayordomo; people give donations today to possibly be a future Mayordomo.
There is a log book of donations.
The economy is one of gifts versus commodities with links among the people.
Exchange also serves as a moral evaluation.
8. Compare and contrast the construction of houses and the organization of social space (including the ties between people) present in a Georgian house in the American Colonies and the Tikopian House.
Bury dead inside house – in the eye/face of house for ceremonial occasions. Do not step on grave mats overlying burial.
Indigenous concepts of social space can be expanded to kinship, politics, and religion.
Two by three mile island supports only a small population. Everyone can find a kinship link to everyone else. The social person is defined by kinship status.
Houses are corporate groups with elaborate ritual lives bringing them together for marriages and funerals; they are named for their oldest house sites but represented by their senior living maember at island councils.
Tikopians have multiple fathers and can seek refuge in their mother’s house or their mother’s brother’s house.
Orderly, symmetrical with a central element, material culture.
***Corporate nature of the Tikopian culture extended to the organization of living space, of food consumption, and even of burial practices.
Form derived from books. Broad similarity among houses of re-Anglicized popular culture. Often a contemporary face to the world with a comfortable older house behind it (pre-Georgian).
*Central hall forming the front and single-room depth is retained. Visitors are welcomed by an unheated central hall, showing only doors behind which the family carried out its daily functions. The higher degree of spatial specialization in such a house not only isolated the family members from the outside but also from each other; clearly the result is the indivuation of living space.
8) cont.
**An imposed order and totally mechanical in its integration; its symmetry speaks to us like the indiv. graves and markers; from urban to rural neighbors.
***The Tikopians lived in “houses” that were corporate groups: they owned land in common, they had elaborate ritual lives bringing them together. The social person is defined by kinship status.
The Georgian-house family lived in the same house yet, through the structural differences, were symbolically/functionally more separated from their visitors, each other, and the world than the Tikopians in separate houses.
9. Use gay kinship to explain David Schneider’s critique of kinship studies and to show where kinship studies is going.
Schneider quashed kinship studies for a few decades. Kinship has symbolic construc. Of biology – available but not inevitable. We understand relatedness as shared biogenetic substance/DNA/blood – necessitates a certain code of conduct: - “Diffuse, enduring solidarity.”
(The effort to see biology as a necessary relationship is not shared by all societies.)
Nature as real and culture as artificial.
9) cont. Weston:
Genetic relationships failed code of solidarity, the expectation became denaturalized. Shifted kinship system: “being there” constituted family; emphasized “enduring” aspect, authentic.
Gay’s inverted N/C.
Thus far, there has been little done to understand the conflicting interpretations of kinship of the US in the late twentieth century. Left untheorized: how ideologies arise, the effect of argumentation on power relations between dominate and subordinate groups, and how social struggles redefine ideologies. In the US there is a strong predilection towards the “real” and “authentic” as for example families. One must consider/note what the powerful have to lose in changing the definitions of kinship. Lesbian and gay families cannot be dismissed as a fiction predicated upon the heterosexual kinship model. These families have drawn upon common categories, symbols, and appeals to authenticity to create new meanings.
10. Outline and contrast the social structures of the Nuer and the Nguni (under Shaka Zulu).
Nuer: most famous Anthropological studied group.
Acephalous (no chiefs/leaders/head)
Structural explanation; How to settle a feud: Leopard-skin chief: religious status like priest, cannot be harmed; mediator, ex. Cattle disputes.
Village residence patters: “Buth” lineage; built-in set of mediators to help kinsmen.
Segmentary lineages (page 69), clan lineages – sublineages – subsections; village lineages in official lineage.
Used status and role relationships instead of policemen and judges. The most serious matters were tried under the “court of public opinion,”
There were always people on both sides encouraging the resolution of these feuds.
10) Nuer cont.
There were means of arbitration available through the “leopard-skin chief” who could not be harmed. The Nuer feared bloodshed and therefore worked to control violence in their communities.
The feuds could continue for years but they could be settled and therefore their anarchy was not chaos. Every Nuer belonged to a particular tertiary, secondary, and primary section.
*Unlike the Shaka Zulu, the patrinileages did not constitute residential groups and Nuer could move around. Everyone behaved as if they were members of the founding lineage. The word “buth” specifies their kind of kinship link; villagers not of the local lineages avoided discussing their personal blood lines. The Nuer might avoid confrontations by belonging to the same buth as another village.
10) Shaka Zulu
Lived in dispersed homesteads, with a group of male kinsmen and their wives. They had chiefs drawn from senior houses; they engaged in warfare and raiding and some established small kingdoms. Their roles were largely ritual, but could raise armies. In the late 18th century they converted to military regiments. Shaka kept the new age-set group together even in peacetimes by training them in military maneauvers and housing them in barracks until the older group retired. Local chiefs could only raise armies by summoning the older age sets from their farms and therefore the Zulu king maintained careful control over them; the regiments prided themselves in their duties.
The Zulu nation was divided into dozens of districts administered by chiefs and subchiefs dealt with the village headmen who aided in settling disputes and keep the chiefs outside of local affairs. The king reserved the right for himself to carry out the death sentence if necessary. A village comprised several farmsteads (like Tikopian houses) with small groups of men; localized patrilineages. Everyone belonged to a clan and chiefs were addressed as “father” and the king, “father of the nation.”
12. Use two kinds of material culture to illustrate the transformation of worldview in the American Colonies from the early 1600's to beyond 1760.
The appearance of individualized sets of dishes, cups, and chamber pots after 1760 reflect the movement away from corporate ways of life. As with ceramics, there was a new emphasis on the individual.
1) The pottery of Anglo-America:
Food in the early decades of the American colonies was served directly from the cooking pots and eaten from trenchers (small wooden trays communually used with trencher mates). Beverages were also from common containers.
12) The pottery of Anglo-America:
From 1660 to 1760 pottery utensils were fully incorporated. In the 1760s was the first truly mass-produced pottery at lower costs as well as intense trade with England. The number of plates and chamber pots increased remarkably; along with matching saucers and cups. *This reflects a new accommodation between individuals and their material culture – a world view based on order, control, and balance. Before 1800 porcelain was unusual.
12) Gravestones
Death’s heads appeared regularly by the 1680s, as do the elaborate bird-flanked faces of Essex County. By the beginning of the 1700s the isolation of the rural sector was evident – as in the Plymouth Medusas. The period before the 1760s has the highest degree of regional variation. By the beginning of the third period, the cherub design was almost every where – re-Anglicanization. There was a new emphasis on the individual versus group interment and finite space. By the early 1800s the concept of the modern cemetery emerged with carefully designated lots and single bodies per grave.

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