Anthropology and the Study of Culture
Anthropology – from Greek : anthropos, “human being,” and logos or logia, “reason” / knowledge.
Anthropology is the study of human beings.
Anthropologists study the biological, linguistic, social, historical, and cultural variations of humanity.
Four Fields of Anthropology
Physical or Biological Anthropology
the comparative study of human society and culture
Culture – the acquired, cognitive and symbolic aspects of existence
Society – the social organization of human life, patterns of interaction and power relations
Thomas Hyland Eriksen (2010)
How Cultural Anthropologists Work
Sustained ethnographic fieldwork, involving
Other techniques, such as mapping, photographing, surveys, archival research
Value of Participant Observation
Are cultures things?
Once upon a time…..
Today, peoples, nations, ethnic groups, and communities are not isolated (if they ever were)…
Hierarchies within groups have always been an issue affecting knowledge and perspective
Even once upon a time, things weren’t so simple as they seemed!
Opt for the adjectival form “cultural” to describe differences, rather than the more static “culture.”
“Culture” emerged as a noun that referred to the nurturing of a natural process (e.g., agriculture) that was then subsequently applied to the “cultivation” of human capacities.
Following that application, “culture” came to mean the activities of those who had been so “cultivated,” thereby distinguishing them from the “uncultured” or the “uncivilized.”
More recently (last 130 years), “culture” came to mean the historical self development of human beings.
Popular notions of culture
Popular notions of “culture” as a specialized form of intellectual and aesthetic practice, called “High Culture,” take certain works (e.g. literary or musical works) as examples of the “greatest” or “highest” achievements of humanity. Examples in the European tradition:
Beethoven and Mozart
Opera or classical music
Van Gogh or Picasso
High Culture: a standard of aesthetic excellence
Culture with a capital “C”: “the intellectual side of civilization”
Defined by‘classic’ European aesthetic forms (opera, ballet, literature, art)
The idea that only certain classes, races, ethnic groups, or educational strata have real “culture” has justified elitism, racism and ethnocentrism.
Anthropological View of culture as “a whole way of life”
Culture is a particular way of life which expresses certain meanings and values not only in art and learning, but also in institutions and ordinary behavior. The analysis of culture, from such a definition, is the clarification of the meanings and values implicit and explicit in a particular way of life, a particular culture. (Raymond Williams 1965)
Anthropological View of culture as “a whole way of life”
“…culture is the learned and shared knowledge that people use to generate behavior and interpret experience”
James Spradley, Conformity and Conflict
“The system of meanings about human experience that are shared by a people and passed on from one generation to another.”
Richard Robbins, Cultural Anthropology
In these definitions, anyone can have culture regardless of their race, class, ethnicity or geographic location and anyone can participate in more than one culture.
Attributes of culture according to anthropologists…
Culture is learned
All children must go through process of enculturation.
Learned through observation
Learned through being told
Culture is symbolic
Humans have the ability to establish arbitrary relations between signs and what they refer to.
What relationship is there between this sign and stopping?
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)
Structural linguistics and “the arbitrariness of the sign.”
Culture is symbolic
To say that a symbolic link is “arbitrary” is not to say that one can’t find some reason for it.
Example: Argument that kissing arose from act of passing chewed food to an infant.
Nevertheless, why this practice became the symbol of romantic love is historical and cultural; neither necessary nor biological…
Culture is naturalized
We come to feel that our culturally-determined way of doing things is natural, inevitable, and necessary.
It feels strange to do things any other way.
There’s nothing wrong with that – it makes life far more manageable. But it may also be like a set of cultural “blinders”…
Culture is Dynamic
It changes over time and space.
Ex: Relationships to Animals
Why do many of us in the U.S. sleep with and care for dogs and cats, but not pigs, squirrels, rats? In other places, dogs are not so much like “little people in furry suits” (C&C: 3).
Would you eat a frog? A snake? A possum?
What do you think of people who do?
Ex: Conceptions of Feminine Beauty
JaiLalitha and Denise Bidot
What contrasting messages are conveyed through the two seminar rooms?
Direction of conversation
Control over orientation, body
Flow of information, analysis
Culture can be Explicit or Tacit
Explicit cultural knowledge is knowledge we can talk about and name.
Tacit cultural knowledge is inexplicit or unconscious. It is learned by repeating and following others (Ex: grammar rules and body language)
The Work of the Anthropologist
Try to understand the patterns and meanings that lie beneath the surface of everyday life.
Interpret linguistic and non-linguistic symbols and meanings
It’s a two-way street. Anthropologists study ‘cultural others’ to understand the unfamiliar. At the same time, we reflect on our own cultural framework to make the familiar strange.
Cultural relativism – work to undo “ethnocentrism”
The Nacirema: Making the Familiar Strange
Magical beliefs and practices of the Nacirema present unusual aspects that exemplify the extremes to which human behavior can go. Many people seem to be either sadistic or masochistic.
These magic ridden people love ritual activities. The focus of their ritual activity is the human body; its appearance and health, as in this society there is a strong aversion to the natural body and its functions
In every house there are shrines where they ritualize over their bodies.
Focal point of the shrine is a box or chest built into the wall in which to keep the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he/she could live.
Key figures are the medicine man, holy-mouth-man and the listener or witch doctor.
Pathological horror and fascination with mouth, which is viewed as central to most social relationships.
Private and medical mouth rites.
Special women’s rites (like baking their head in an oven)
Latipso Ceremonies led by the medicine man
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason may is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Our essay writers are graduates with diplomas, bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college diploma. When assigning your order, we match the paper subject with the area of specialization of the writer.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH ASSIGNMENT DEN TODAY AND GET AN AMAZING DISCOUNT
We value our customers and so we ensure that what we do is 100% original..
With us you are guaranteed of quality work done by our qualified experts.Your information and everything that you do with us is kept completely confidential.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
The Product ordered is guaranteed to be original. Orders are checked by the most advanced anti-plagiarism software in the market to assure that the Product is 100% original. The Company has a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism.Read more
The Free Revision policy is a courtesy service that the Company provides to help ensure Customer’s total satisfaction with the completed Order. To receive free revision the Company requires that the Customer provide the request within fourteen (14) days from the first completion date and within a period of thirty (30) days for dissertations.Read more
The Company is committed to protect the privacy of the Customer and it will never resell or share any of Customer’s personal information, including credit card data, with any third party. All the online transactions are processed through the secure and reliable online payment systems.Read more
By placing an order with us, you agree to the service we provide. We will endear to do all that it takes to deliver a comprehensive paper as per your requirements. We also count on your cooperation to ensure that we deliver on this mandate.Read more