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Folklore (ANTHRO 326)


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Children's Games:
voluntary, amusing interactions with oneself, with others, or with one's environment
Children's Games:
physical action, manipulation of objects, mental activity
Children's Games:
traditional forms of play with no organized rules (e.g., a teeter-totter)
Children's Games:
play that involves a clear goal
Children's Games:
the point is to accomplish something TOGETHER
(e.g., African foot-linking game)
Games of Skill
games that emphasize physical activity
(e.g., mumbledypeg - a knife-tossing game of skill)
Games of Strategy
games of logic that require the manipulation of symbols (e.g., chess & checkers)

*many games combine skill and strategy (e.g., football & baseball)
*emphasized in complex societies
*Murdoch: games of strategy reflect a hierarchical social structure
Games of Chance
games where chance is a major variable
(e.g., craps)

*associated with strong responsibility training
Secret Languages
playful manipulation of one's own language, usually by children; three methods: inversion, insertion, & reduplication (boys=inversion, girls=reduplication)
one culture becomes significantly like another culture in the context of a power imbalance
(e.g., replacing revenge killings with sports; baseball hats in St. Vincent, because of economic attraction)
traits from 2 or more cultures come together to make a new trait

*usually in a dialogue between two unequal classes
*Trobriand Cricket - "victory dances" derive from sexy dances
*Converted Church center pole - comes from Vodou, where it represented Danbala's "doorway" to the ordinary world
-> form-function inversion (Vodou: spirits descend; Converted: human spirits ascend)
Baseball vs. Football
baseball = agricultural worldview
- lasts as long as necessary
- one against many
- analytical
- less specialized roles

football = mechanical (industrial) worldview
- time limit: reflects
hourly salaries
- specialized roles
Edward T. Hall (mid 1950s); the use of space in communication

4 main types: public space, social space, personal space, & intimate space (probability of touching)
body language, especially gestures (related to proxemics)
(e.g., handshakes, bows)

*coyness display: a way of flirting
Material Culture:
the things a culture makes
Material Culture:
Folk Costume
traditional clothing (may not even be what we consider to be clothing at all)
Material Culture:
Folk Architecture
(e.g., NW Thailand - house on stilts, walls 4 feet high)
Material Culture:
Folk Objects
tools, toys, etc.
Material Culture:
Folk Objects -

an object that makes noise by swinging it on a string; shape varies, but typically resembled an elongated square
-> E.B. Tylor (cult. evol;
survivals): cited
Aborigines' use as a
survival with no sacred
meaning (untrue; calls
-> also expressly thunder, or
flatulence from the gods;
associated with male
Material Culture:
Folk Objects -

Sacred Flutes
(e.g., digeridoo - uses circular blowing)

*related to bullroarer
*stories of women owning flutes of power, ending in misuse & male control
*Freudian: male birth; phallic symbolism
-> bullroarer & flute represent anus
one's awareness of one's self and one's surroundings; changes all the time, because awareness changes; awareness in a very particular fashion in particular circumstances (e.g., "work mode" as opposed to watching TV)
Altered States of Consciousness
an unusual type of awareness; one is aware of things in a not-normal way
(e.g., "beer goggles")

*mostly associated with religion
-> spirits not acessable in
normal perception
-> spirit posession
- drugs
- 15 states
- methods to hurry process
Altered States of Consciousness:
Entopic Imagery
images that derive from effects from within the central nervous system
(e.g., the spots one sees when dizzy)

*Lewis Williams
Altered States of Consciousness:
Form Constants
(of entropic imagery)
imagery that is always the same in different cultures

*radial lines
*a grid
*filigree/meandering lines (tree-like)
*parallel lines
*nesting curves
Stratified Societies
a society in which groups have different access to resources, power & prestige (in this order)
Socioeconomic Class
group of people with more or less the same income & behavior
(e.g., rich people & gracefulness; Santa Monica real estate)
Socioeconomic Class:
Open Class System
class system where mobility is possible between the classes; two ways: occupation & marriage

*always the danger of falling in class
Socioeconomic Class:
Conspicuous Consumption
display of wealth to enhance status
(a closed class system)
a social class into which one is born and must remain in for one's lifetime; occupation & marriage are regulated

*best studied in India
Ritual Pollution
something about one has been spiritually polluted
Torres Strait, New Guinea
material culture: turtle masks only exist in museums & personal collections around the world
wholeness & cleanliness; ambiguity = danger

dirt: matter out of place
->every individual should be
a complete & self-contained
example of its kind & there
should be no mixing of

*Leviticus taboos
*cows in India
cannibalism; two kinds: exocannibalism & endocannibalism
eating outsiders, usually enemies; almost always in revenge (assoc. with warfare)

*rare today
eating one's own people

*very common: probably done in 1,000 culture today
*one eats one's dead relatives as a sign of respect
*a death sentence for behavior damaging to the community
Mortuary Cannibalism
always relatives; done for different reasons: respect, loneliness

*allowed to rot: mourners experience disgust of death; togetherness -- all suffer
*kuru: "laughing sickness" (fatal); New Guinea; only women & children
Folk Medicine:
Causes of Disease
*natural causes (modern Western society)
*disease-object intrusion
*spirit intrusion
*breach of taboo
the mechanical control of the supernatural; a mechanism makes it happen (e.g., "open sesame")
Disease-object Intrusion
a physical thing is inside the ailing person

*spiritual doctors
*Hebrew shamans
->hallucinogenic drugs used
to see inside the patient
->enemy shaman has evil
helpers in village who
keep putting it back
->disease shot back at enemy

*generally acknowledged as slight-of-hand, but shamans feel that people need a physical manifestation of disease
lack of interest in normal activities, great sadness, not feeling like working, etc.; described by Western medicine as clinical depression

*where did it go?
->frightened into leaving
->can be a number of souls
for each part of one's body
->soul may have got stuck
somewhere during a dream
Spirit Intrusion
can be demon posession
(e.g., pentecostal church - epilepsy & deafness)
Breach of Taboo
breaking a taboo/prohabition can cause sickness
Aspects of Successful Healing
*naming process
*personality of the healer
*patient's expectations
*techniques of healing
Naming Process
gives confidence to patient; knowing the name leads to the healing process
Personality of the Healer
a caring attitude allows the patient to feel healed
Patient's Expectations
*reputation of the healer
*length traveled to go to healer
*visual display of confidence
(e.g., diplomas on wall; skulls
& drums - traditional healer)
finding something hidden by means of the supernatural; most commonly the future

*"water witching": divining rod used to find water source for well-digging
a natural occurence believed to be a communication from the supernatural
(e.g., augery - Romans would interpret the guts from a sacrificed animal)
divination by the stars
the supernatural communicates through exposure of individuals to danger, often to reveal guilt or innocence
(e.g., Spanish Inquisition - boiling oil; God protects the innocent)
Spirit Medium
a spirit communicates through an individual; the spirit tells what one should do to solve a problem
(e.g., Ouija board; Spiritualists - automatic writing)
divination where one receives an answer to a specific question
(e.g., Bible oracle; Delphic oracle; a healer's dreams and visions)
Imitative Magic
magic that operates on the principle that like actions produce like results
(e.g., rain dance)
Contagious Magic
magic that operates on the principle that after two things have been in contact, they continue to influence eachother
(e.g., "lucky gym shorts")
objects with magical force; sometimes magic is forced into it, other times it posesses magic in itself
(e.g., red string from Rebecca's tomb; evil-eye amulets)
object with a spirit inside that can be controlled; very often a statue

*zombies: spirit in a bottle; from ground-up bones in a rum bottle, kept under bed; sometimes has mirrors & scissors attached on the outside
use of magic to harm someone; harming someone supernaturally through spells and paraphernalia (any items associated with task)

*a sorcerer wants others to know who he/she is; sorcery can be the source of power, e.g., political power
harming someone supernaturally through psychological processes only (no items & spells); no obvious way to identify the witch

*comforting for people to feel there's a controlling force, even though the source of the distress is physically undetectable to the naked eye
Evil Eye
harming someone supernaturally through envy; typically separate from witchcraft as ANYONE can do it

*amulets used against it (e.g., eye-shaped, Italian horn, red thread, etc.)
*most prevalent in peasant societies (large inequalities)
->can be an equalizer
people's relationship to the supernatural
3 Types of Religion
animatism, animism & theism

*societies change and leave behind survivals
belief in impersonal source; "force" (or "mana" - "luck", in English)

*everything has force, but some have more than others
*keep force high as possible (e.g., force is low during illness)
*maintains power structure:
->chiefs have a high amount
of mana and can harm or
cure others (sometimes too
great even to touch
a prohibition with an immediate, impersonal supernatural sanction
(e.g., impact is like sticking one's finger in an electrical socket)
belief in spirits

*spirit: a supernatural person
->anthropopsychic: spirits
have human-like
*animistic society: EVERYTHING has a spirit; usually simple societies (hunter-gatherer)
belief in god(s)

*monotheistic societies evolved from polytheism
*polytheistic: one pleas to a specific god for a specific situation
*polytheistic societies: as people begin having different jobs, so, too, do the gods; a majority of monarchs (esp. in Africa) believe in polytheism
a spirit who creates or controls some aspect of the world
a person who does spiritual work on behalf of the community through altered states of consciousness; 2 main functions: curing and recovery

*only sought out when there's a problem
a stylized, symbolic action (has meaning beyond itself); can occur on a large or individual scale
losing one's self in a larger, collective identity
(e.g., football - fans are excited as though they personally scored a touchdown)
feeling of equal unity during ritual

*differences are erased, although a priest is still a priest...
Rites of Passage
a ritual that marks a change in status; 3 parts: separation, transition, incorporation
being in-between states

*dangerous; the opposite of purity
deliberate humiliation put on new members of a group by established members of a group
Rite of Intensification
ritual that increases the feelings of a group about itself

*occurs on a regular basis
(e.g., Independence Day)
Rite of License
ritual that gives one permission to do something one normally cannot do, but only during the ritual
(e.g., Halloween)
Folk Groups:
can be conscious or unconscious
(e.g., St. Vincent church behavior: shirt must be tucked in)
Folk Groups:
stated norms
Folk Groups:
a formal rule
Folk Groups:
a reaction to behavior with the function of controlling that behavior; most common: satire (making fun of the offender)
Folk Groups:
Core Values
the values especially valued in a society
Culture-Specific Syndromes
a disease found only in certain cultures
a sudden, violent outburst; typically male (Malaysia)

core value: one must hide one's true feelings
an anxiety state where a man believes his penis is shrinking into his body; male (Malaysia)

core value: sexual modesty (every case follows some sort of overindulgence in a sexual experience)
a hyperstartle reflex (continuously startled for 15 minutes); middle-aged women

core value: a middle-aged woman is the model of proper behavior
Anorexia Nervosa
one thinks one is fat and tries to get thinner - one can't see one's real body shape; typically female, younger (Western society)

core value: an attractive person is thin
Major Cultural Institutions
*special groups
how a culture gets its food
how goods and services are produced, distributed and consumed
a socially approved union between a man and a woman
(with some exceptions, e.g., a woman in Africa can obtain equal status to men by cutting off heads in battle and by marrying a woman)
a system of rights and obligations based on categories of relatedness through blood and marriage
how power is excercised and organized
acquiring the norms and rules of society

*occurs throughout life, but mostly during childhood
a system of communication based on arbitrary symbols
forms of creative expression guided by aesthetic principles

*constantly judged according to type and as a success or failure
a culture that's part of a larger culture
(e.g., surfers)
Subculture and Group Solidarity
what adheres a subculture together that doesn't exist in larger culture

*separate channels of
*special unmet needs (e.g.,
playful, alternate language

*playing with the norms
specialized language associated with an occupation
Stigmatized Groups
groups that are marked as inferior in some way
(e.g., lepers, Jews, gypsies, gays, African-Americans)

*create own subculture
Urban Life:
Social Power
the ability to get someone else to do your will

*cities are a power
*power can be obtained in many
(e.g., money, popularity,
mutual agreements, assoc.
by family, threats, etc.)
*in any social power
relationship, it has to make
sense to both parties
Types of Political Organization
band, tribe, chiefdom, state, civilization
a small, autonomous unit; essentially hunter-gatherer
2 or more communities with something connecting them politically; almost always a military arrangement

*sedentary groups
*marriage arrangements
*when something is given, paying back is delayed
2 or more communities with power integrated in the office of chief

*major decisions made by chief
*chief cannot enforce will, but can keep people in fear because of supernatural authority and wealth
a large, complex society where the govenment has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force
living in cities
4 Reasons People Have Decided To Live In Cities
*technology (usually assoc.
with food; hydrolic theory)
*warfare (usually assoc. with
conscription - every village
sends a number of soldiers)
*trade (equal measurements)
*religion (religious officials
ask people to give up power
for supernatural assistance)
Urban Worldview
*mechanical power (e.g.,
*lack of traditional controls
*high mobility
*continuous change
*mechanical time
*record keeping
"The Lau of Malika" (video)
last two shamans commited ritual suicide; Western world and Christianity slowly taking over; the culture house containing last supernatural objects from shamans' homes
movement from one place to another, emphasizing long stays; some places have concentrations of ethnic groups
Chain Migration
migrants help their family and friends to migrate
the home country of a colonizing power
(e.g., France was the metropole of Vietnam, therefore many Vietnamese live in Paris)
people move back and forth between two or more places

*cheaper airfare during last
20 years
*emphasizes long stay
maintaining networks and identity in more than one country
(e.g., Haitians in NY; Haitian presidential candidate campaigned in NY)
the lack of resources to provide an adequate standard of living

*perception of lack of needs
within market system
Skid Row
an area of desperate poverty and substance abuse/dependency in a city
Culture of Poverty
adaptations to poverty are passed on from generation to generation
Instant Gratification
satisfaction of desires now rather than later

*any major jolt has a very
adverse effect on the
financial situation
*substance abuse
*fattening foods (cheaper)
Rotating Credit Association
each member gives a fixed sum to one member at fixed times, by turns
Social Capital
trust, cooperation and compromise built up through social interaction
(e.g., drug dealers)
Occupational Lore
e.g., cab drivers gain prestige from cleverly chatting up customers or other companies
Informal Economy
economic activity outside government oversight or control
Illegal Economy
anything legally prohibited
(e.g., prostitution & drugs)
Unreported Economy
under-table tax evasion
(e.g., waitresses not reporting tips; illegal alien work pay)

*subject to much more
inducement by reward to act contrary to acceptable behavior
a percentage, payment, or service with no added benefit
(e.g., doormen at hotels & cab companies)
demand for payment by threat
payment for something normally done for free
Facilitation Payments
payments made to hasten a legal process
Office Forwardables
anything folkloric that's been forwarded in office emails

*a form of resistance against
the management & cubicle
Chain Letter
a letter appealing to the supernatural to encourage receivers to send them on to others; 3 types: charity, petition, luck

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