Cultural Anthropology Midterm Study Guide

Anthropology 2 Midterm Study Guide: Professor Li Zhang Midterm Date: October 30, 2012 Week 1 What is the scope of cultural anthropology? Discuss its focus of inquiry, approach, and major changes over time. ?Cultural anthropology is concerned with the nature and extent of social and cultural differences among different societies. Focus on Inquiry: Why there are different cultures and how they came about and are affected or changing. Focus on Approach: Approaches could be urban, political, legal, medical, psychological, environmental, feminist, etc. Goals: ?Understanding how differences among societies are shaped. Understanding the unequal power relations between societies produced by colonialism, imperialism and contemporary global practices. ?To compare the perspectives of different societies and how each of them interprets the world. Changes in cultural anthropology over time: ?Used to be a way to proves inferiority of others and justify oppression and ethnocentrism. Now its mostly about being critical of inequality, ? We also do fieldwork in western, ‘developed’ countries. ?There is more globalization now. ?Early anthropology focused on studying isolated, tribal societies. ?Over time they began to study large urban industrial societies. Today the scope of cultural anthropology has expanded into various subdivisions, such as urban political, and medical. Compare the two major schools of early anthropological thought: British social anthropology and French structuralism in terms of their primary concern and focus. British Social Anthropology: ?Emerged in early 20th century. Main founding figure was Malinowski. ?Radcliffe-Brown, Evans-Pritchard, Gluckman, and Leach also were important figures. ?Two theoretical foundations were functionalism and structural functionalism: 0Functionalism – Explanation of why certain social institutions exist. Explains the cultural responses to basic individual needs that are biological and/or physiological. 0Example: cannibalism may be explained through a survivalist function ?Structural Functionalism – Concerned less with individual needs and actions and more with the place of the individuals in the social order. ?Figures out the relationship of individuals to the larger social body. ?Example: Cannibal Tours – colonists arrived and stripped villages of sacred objects and introduced European monetary system to make the villagers subordinate
During these early years, social anthropology was deeply intertwined with the British colonial government that provided the financial support for research and teaching in anthropology. The primary interest was in Africa – to study their languages and generate knowledge about their political and legal systems. French Structuralism ?Primary figure in school of thought is Levi Strauss. ?Focused on the elementary structures of kinship, mythology, and language. ?Some concerns include the patterns or underlying structures and how seemingly unrelated things may actually be from a complex system of interrelated parts. Form is emphasized over content. ?The internal logic of a culture and its relationship to the structures of human society and human mind. Comparison: ?Both schools of thought are concerned with studying the structure and layout of the society. ?British social anthropology is concerned more with the relation of the individual to society while French structuralism is concerned with how individuals are connected to one another to form the society (mythologies, language, human mind). Week 2: How does Edward Taylor define “culture”? Discuss the four key aspects of culture by providing one example for each aspect. Examples can be drawn from the readings, films, or other sources including your own observation. British anthropologist Edward Taylor defines culture as: “a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a man as a member of society. ” The four elements of culture are: 1. Culture is learned. ?Culture can be learned consciously and unconsciously through interacting and imitating the people around us. It can happen in informal settings such as your home, or formal places like churches and schools. Example: as children we learn to imitate words we hear adults speak and learn to speak the language. Proper etiquette is taught by looking at how others behave or from interacting with people who teach it to them. 2. Culture is shared. ?Members of a group share common beliefs, values, memories, and hope. ?Example: American culture is identified with individualism, while Chinese culture is identified with collectivism. This difference can be seen through the food and meals they choose. Americans usually don’t like to share their meals and order individual plates while the Chinese typically share their food and eat family-style. Example: “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” by Richard Lee 0For Christmas, Lee buys the largest ox to show his gratitude for the Bushmen’s hospitality during his stay. He becomes confused when everyone in the village says that the ox he bought was no good and that is has no meat on it. 0In Bushmen village, it is part of their culture and tradition to insult each other so that people don’t become arrogant. Lee learned this by asking the Bushmen about it, showing how culture is shared by communication and interaction. 3. Culture is symbolic. Creation of culture depends on the human’s ability to use symbols and be able to have symbolic thought. ?We are able to give meaning to a thing or event and grasp the meaning. It can be arbitrary and conventional and depends on the social context that is widely accepted by society. However, the context can vary for each society. ?Examples: -McDonalds has become a symbol of fast food and unhealthy eating in America, but it is viewed as high class and modern in China. ?Colors tend to have symbolic meanings attached to them. Red represents love, yellow represents life, black represents death, etc. . Culture is dynamic. ?Culture isn’t a static cage to lock people in. It is something that changes over time. ?People use their culture creatively and actively instead of rigidly following the rules. ?There are some differences in culture between groups and societies, but the differences aren’t absolute. ?Cultural hybridization allows different cultural traditions and practices to merge together. 0Examples: – Food culture: fusion of food features a combination of different elements of cultures from all over the world. – Western psychotherapy combines Buddhist meditation with western psychology.
What is ethnocentrism? Why is it problematic? In your discussion, draw examples from either Bohannan’s “Shakespeare in the Bush” or the film Cannibal Tours. How would a diffusionist argue against ethnocentrism? Ethnocentrism is the tendency to use one’s own culture as a yardstick to measure other cultural practices and beliefs. •Tendency for people to see their own culture as superior and natural. People make judgments according to their own cultural lens, giving them a narrow perspective; they see all other cultures as inferior to theirs.

Examples: Cannibal Tours: The western tourists continuously compared the natives’ lifestyle to their own and saw their culture as primitive and backwards. They saw the natives as uncivilized and poor people who lacked the technology they possessed back at home. Bohannan’s “Shakespeare in the Bush”: While reading through Hamlet, both the storyteller and the audience exhibit ethnocentrism. What Bohannan took for granted and viewed as common sense were things that the elders did not understand because it didn’t exist in their culture.
Ghosts and the afterlife did not exist in the native’s culture, and young people should not fight against their elders. Elders constantly made remarks about the play as if they knew what was going on, believing that they were telling her the true meaning of Hamlet and how her interpretation of Hamlet is actually wrong. According to Franz Boas, no culture is pure and authentic. Instead, cultural boundaries are porous and cultural exchanges have long existed in human societies. 0Diffusionism shows that all cultures are interrelated to one another, so ethnocentrism does not exist. In Ralph Linton’s “One Hundred Percent American,” he shows that cultures are not 100% from their own country and that culture is diffused and adapted by various places as part of their culture. What is cultural relativism? Discuss its pros and cons. What is your take on it? Support your argument with evidence and analysis. Cultural Relativism is the view opposite of ethnocentrism: believes that one shouldn’t judge the values and practices of other people according to their own standards. •The main idea is to see things from the point of view of those who live their lives.
This allows the anthropologist to fully appreciate another culture. Pros: ?Objective approach in doing research; helps anthropologists another culture more thoroughly. ?Promotes unity between cultures and between groups of people in general since it would help people respect and understand each other. Cons: ?Helps justify controversial practices such as female genitalia mutilation, cannibalism, animal sacrifice, etc. *I am of the opinion that cultural relativism is an important philosophy to apply to any anthropological research, however a delicate balance must always strive to be maintained.
To me, respect should always be asserted, but human rights should have authority over political correctness. ”-malinowski According to Malinowski, what is a holistic approach to doing ethnographic research and why is it important? What constitutes the proper conditions for ethnographic fieldwork? Explain three central ethnographic techniques (don’t just list them, but explain in greater detail). A holistic approach in doing ethnographic work is to understand a culture as a whole and all aspects are connected/intertwined and must be understood in relation to one another. The goal of the ethnographer should be to provide an anatomy of the culture, understand the facts and put the focus into a broader context. •You must understand that all the small institutions of a culture, such as religion, education, kinship, are all related to one another in order to grasp the meaning as a whole. •The proper conditions for ethnographic fieldwork is to observe the details of the natives’ family and communal life by staying as close in contact with them as possible and cutting yourself off from the company of anyone else other than the natives.
You must immerse yourself into the local society for a long duration because there is a difference between sporadic plunging into the company of the natives and really living with them and connecting with them. Three central ethnographic techniques: 1. Observation and participant observation. ?Careful and detailed observation is important to collect data to answer questions, which requires a lot of patience. ?You should try to be objective and keep away from any bias thoughts or else the collected data will be compromised.
You must also remember to be invisible and make sure they don’t know they are being observed or else the data will be inaccurate. ?Participant observation is when you participate in events with the natives in order to analyze and take notes. 0This allows you to get closer to the natives and helps you to better understand their culture through your experience and interaction with them. 2. Interviews. ?Interviews involve asking several individual questions to get a better understanding of the culture from a native’s point of view. The goal of the interviews is to see a pattern that emerges in the answers you receive. ?Interviews can be informal, semi-structured, or structured. ?Informal interview – an interview that doesn’t follow a straight schedule and takes advantage of the opportunity when it arises. ?Semi-structured / structured interview – interviews that are planned out with the questions you want to ask written down and planned beforehand. 0Semi-structured interviews may have some open ended questions. 0Interviews are the most effective method and are the core of ethnographic research. When you interview people you know, you may get introduced to people that you could possibly interview, and you can therefore gather up more data and opinions for your research. This is called the snowballing effect. 3. Key informants and life histories. ?Also called cultural consultants. These people are important figures that are able to give you more insight and information in various aspects of a culture. 0They are the few people who are willing to tell you more and explain in clear details while incorporating their personal experience to help you understand.
Key Informant: Someone you build an amicable relationship with, who acts as a representative of the culture. Generally someone in a high position who will be able to explain the ins and outs of the culture from an intimately informed POV. What are the core issues in the code of ethics for anthropologists (discuss at least three)? Why is it important to follow them? The three core issues in the code of ethics for anthropologists include: 1. Full disclosure. ?It is important for the anthropologist to be open and honest to the people s/he is studying. Must inform them of every aspect of the study and any consequences that may happen as a result of the study. 2. Informed Consent. ?The people being studied must be well informed about the procedure, and the anthropologist must have them sign a paper or ask for verbal consent before proceeding with the study. 0This is to make sure that they have fully agreed to the terms and have proof that they have willingly volunteered themselves. 3. Potential Harm. 0It is the anthropologist’s duty to inform the subject of any consequential harm that may come to them. The anthropologist must ensure not to harm safety, dignity, or privacy of any parties involved. ?It is important to follow the code of ethics in order to avoid any lawsuits and also to make sure that the people being studied are well informed and know exactly what they are signing up for so that no harm will come to them. Week 4: Today most anthropologists recognize that race is a social construct that does not have a biological reality. Discuss how Boas and Montagu each defend this view. What evidence from modern genetics does the film “Race: The Power of an Illusion” provide to further support this position?
Franz Boas also referred to as the “Father of American Anthropology,” talks about race as a social construction in his paper, “Mind of Primitive Man” ? He believes that racial groups never existed, and that races are not as pure as we imagine them to be because migration patterns in the past intertwined cultures together and created diverse groups of people. ?Boas talks about purity and boundedness, stating that biological significance is only possible when races have uniform, closely inbred groups where family lines are alike. However, these conditions can’t be achieved with humans, especially in large populations. He also argues about the instability of populations, meaning that the physical and psychological attributes of people are dynamic and fluctuate constantly to adapt to various circumstances. 0The biological, linguistic, and cultural traits of people are the product of historical development and the environment. Ashley Montagu in her article, “The Concept of Race in the Human Species in the Light of Genetics,” uses the idea of cooking an omelet as a metaphor for the making of race. 0When an omelet is made, the end result may all look the same, but the ingredients used to make the omelet may vary.
This is the basis for the anthropological view of race in that although groups of people may have different appearances and characteristics, everyone is essentially the same. 0His argument is based on modern genetics, stating that no two humans are genetically identical to one another, therefore races cannot categorize groups of people since they don’t share the same genetic background. ¦Racial characteristics are artificial and have no genetic base. Example of the use of modern genetics in the film, “Race: The Power of an Illusion. •In the film, a group of students performed an experiment to compare genetic similarities to other classmates using blood samples, skin color, and saliva swaps. The result of the experiment turned out to be different from what they expected. The students found that their genes were most similar to people they least expected, and that there was no correlation between their genetic patterns and their skin color. •Dr. Richard Lewontin, with the use of gel electrophesis, found that 85% of all variations among humans are between individuals of the same local population. There is as much difference between two individuals of the same race as there is between individuals of different races, so race can’t be determined biologically. What is scientific racism? Why is it flawed and dangerous? Use one of the examples discussed in the lecture to support your argument (Morton versus Gould or The Bell Curve). How do anthropologists understand gender and patriarchy? Provide two examples (from the lecture or your own observation) to show that gender roles change from society to society and from time to time.
Scientific Racism is the attempt to prove “scientifically” that some “races” are not just different, but superior to others. 0Scientific techniques and observations are usually utilized to prove this belief but the collected data is usually inaccurate and tainted with racist beliefs. Example: Dr. Samuel George Morton versus Stephen J. Gould. •Samuel George Morton attempted to prove that some races were superior to others by measuring the skulls of people of different races, ¦He believed that the cranial capacity of the skulls would tell how intelligent people were. His results concluded that white people were the superior race among other groups, because his measurements showed that they had the largest skulls compared to the others. ?Stephen J. Gould repeated the research and found several errors with Morton’s conclusion. 0Morton manipulated his data by including more female skulls for blacks than for whites, so the measurement for the skulls of the blacks turned out to be smaller. 0When Gould measured again fairly, the average size of a black person’s skull turned out to be much larger than the skull of a white person’s. The data was manipulated because of Morton’s bias. His beliefs caused him to already have the results in mind that he wanted, regardless of what is actually true. Example: The Bell Curve 0A book written by Richard J. Hernstein and Charles Murray: argues that blacks carry inferior genes of intelligence compared to whites, and so they naturally score lower on IQ tests. ¦Their low IQ scores are what prevent the blacks from attaining a higher level job, and it is also because of their low intelligence that they have a higher crime rate. The controversy that comes with this claim is that if the government agrees with it, then the blacks should not receive social welfare for their low-income families because they are genetically inferior. Scientific racism is usually incorrectly proven using data that has been deliberately altered to support bias beliefs, so the results are not accurate. The danger that can result from this if it is actually proven, the groups may be neglected or abused, or at the very least treated with social injustice. Gender – All the traits that a culture assigns to and indicates in men and women. It is a social construct of male and female characteristics and roles. ?Gender differences come from culture rather than biology. ?Patriarchy – A social and political system rule by men in which women have inferior social and political status. 0Females are carried out as subordinates to men in this system. Most common in patrilineal societies (involving counting the descent line of the father’s line, which includes property inheritance, names, titles, etc. ) Examples of gender roles changing between societies and through time: ?Forager/hunter and gatherer societies
This type of society shows a typical gender division of labor. Men were responsible for hunting and fishing while women were responsible for gathering fruits and nuts. Men would usually bring in more food than women, so the men had a higher social rank in these societies. When women are the ones to contribute more food, then the women would have an equal relationship with the men. ?Agriculture societies Men are assigned to heavy labor such as plowing the field, while women are responsible for domestic work, child rearing, and light far work around the house. These societies tend to have a stronger gender inequality. Industrial societies Gender roles in industrial societies tend to change over time in response to economic conditions and social climates. Before the 1900s, it was common for men, women, and children to work in factories. Things began to change in the 1900s with the large influx of immigrants that increased the male labor force and also brought up ideas that women weren’t fit to work in the factories and should stay home and take care of the kids instead, During WW2, things changed again as men are drafted into the military and women began working in factories again to fill the gap.
The women’s return to the factory was received in a positive notion and was even viewed as patriotic. What are gender stereotypes? What is the role of advertising in making and reinforcing gender stereotypes and normalcy? Draw two concrete examples from the film (Killing US Softly) in your discussion. Gender stereotypes – oversimplified yet strongly held ideas about the characteristics of men and women. Advertisements mainly target women and girls about beauty and the ideal body they should have, as well as a childlike / quiet demeanor. Many girls express the fear of being fat, and the number one wish of girls between the age of 11-17 is to be thinner. ?Most of the people who suffer from eating disorders are girls who are self-conscious and obsessive about their body. Examples in Killing us Softly: ?Ads of women of color tend to show them with animal prints which turn them into animals rather than human beings. ?Ads about women who lost weight typically say they were able to get married because they lost weight.
This gives the idea that women who are fat probably won’t ever get married, and this serves to lower women’s self-esteems even further and increase their drive to become skinnier and purchase products to expedite the process. ?Images of thin women are often used to silence women and put them down. ?Ads show pictures of women exhibiting passive body language such as their hands over their mouths and faces. ?When there is an ad of a man and a woman, the man is usually taller and is looking down at the woman, while the woman looks up and smiles compliantly. This encourages female submission to men and conveys the message that women should be quiet and obedient. According to Martin’s article, how do stereotypical gender roles shape scientific accounts of the egg-sperm romance? Stereotypical gender roles shape scientific accounts by how the sperm and the egg are described and how they function. ?The sperm is described as masculine, active, agile, and penetrating, while the egg is described as passive, feminine, fragile and dependent. ?The egg is portrayed as a damsel in distress who waits quietly in a still spot for her knight in shining armor, the sperm, to fight his way to her. The female reproductive system is seen as wasteful and a failure while the male reproductive system is seen as productive. ?Scientists question why women are born with so many eggs only to have most of it go to waste, yet the don’t consider the excessive amount of sperm men create as a waste. ?New research found that the sperms aren’t that forceful and what actually matters is that the surface of the egg is what traps the sperm, showing that eggs are more active than previously thought. This shows that the relationship between the egg and the sperm is interactive. Even with this new research, the egg is still viewed in a bad light. ?The more active role of the egg is seen as too aggressive and the reproductive system of women as a dangerous place since it tries to kill sperm cells that enter it. How does Ortner explain why women are universally put in an inferior position to men? Do you agree with her argument? Why or why not? Support your view with evidence. Ortner argues that the subordination of women is a universal idea by referring to how a lot of anthropological literatures show accounts of how women are devalued in society. Symbolic acts of women are believed to justify their inferior role. Menstruation is considered a symbolic act that restricts the freedom of women. During a women’s menstruation period, she was not allowed to come near sacred objects because of the fear that she might contaminate them. Menstruation was believed to be a threat of warfare. ?Social and political structures also serve to affect the status of women in societies, and exclude women from participating in areas with people of high authority. ?Women are associated with nature while men are associated with culture, and culture is typically viewed as superior to nature.
Men use their creativity to create technology and symbols that are transcendental and last for eternity, while women are restricted by their natural duties that involve reproduction and creating life. ¦Destruction of life by men has more prestige and is viewed as transcendental, while creation of life by women is regarded as less important. ¦The things that men create last forever while what women produce are doomed to die. ¦The reason why women are associated with nature more is because of their physiology, social role, and psyche. ?No I do not agree with Ortner.
I believe that these views are socially constructed, and that we’ve evolved past them. Week 5: What are the five different economic systems in the world? Define each briefly. ?Forager: hunting and gathering; moving from place to place; gender roles due to unequal division of labor, egalitarian (old people are respected). ?Horticulture: Cultivation with simple tools, fields not permanent property (slash and burn) mobility, depend on rainfall. ?Agriculture: Use animals for food and labor. These groups are less mobile, live in larger and more permanent settlements, and use advanced irrigation systems. Pastoral: Focus on domesticated animals for food; nomadic. ?Industrial: Mechanized forces, factories, and technology for mass production; increased population density. Briefly explain the three basic principles that govern exchanges according to Karl Polanyi. ?The Market Principle: Supply and Demand, Capitalism. Coffee beans they were selling. Export of crop. ?Redistribution: Socialism; Goods move from local level to center: taxation, welfare. Redistributing the pigs and wealth within the people. ?Reciprocity: exchange between those who are socially equal (gift economies); want to give back.
What is a moral economy? What is a system of total service defined by Marcel Mauss? ?Moral Economy: A type of economy in which economic activities are an integral part of social relations and moral obligations. Economic and non-economic activities and institutions are embedded in one another. Economic activities and exchange systems are governed by conceptions of social justice, norms, and expectations. ?Systems of total service – The exchange is not solely about property and wealth, but also about the social and moral obligations. Part of the more general and enduring contract.
According to Marcel Mauss, why does a gift have the special power to cause its recipient to pay it back? ?The Power – Gifts are never “free,” so they give rise to reciprocal exchanges. The giver does not merely give an object, but also a part of him/herself. This intrinsic bondage weighs on the conscience of the recipient. What is potlatch? How do Ruth Benedict, Marcel Mauss, and Marvin Harris explain why potlatch exists? ?Potlatch means to give away, or a gift; it is a festival ceremony, and its goal is to give away joy and wealth – more than the rival. Explanations – 0Ruth Benedict: Driven by obsession with prestige and status, (because the more that you give the more prestige you claim). 0Marcel Mauss: Compelled by reciprocity, (responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kindness). 0Marvin Harris: Serves an economic purpose (rational cultural adaptation). Says that potlatch is a logical cultural mechanism. Says that participating in potlatches creates a constant flow of goods. Serves as an economic purpose, human social life is a response to practical problems of earthly existence.

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