Discussion on Conformity and Conflict

Conformity and Conflict



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Conformity and Conflict Readings in Cultural Anthropology


DAVID W. MCCURDY Macalester College

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Credits and acknowledgments borrowed from other sources and reproduced, with permission, in this textbook appear on page 397.

Copyright © 2012, 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected by Copyright and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. To obtain permission(s) to use material from this work, please submit a written request to Pearson Education, Inc., Permissions Department, One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 or you may fax your request to 201-236-3290.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Conformity and conflict : readings in cultural anthropology / [edited by]

James Spradley, David W. McCurdy.—14th ed.

p. cm.

Includes index.

ISBN-13: 978-0-205-23410-3

ISBN-10: 0-205-23410-0

1. Ethnology. 2. Anthropology. I. Spradley, James P. II. McCurdy, David W.

GN325.C69 2011

306—dc22 2011015812

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Student Edition: ISBN 10: 0-205-23410-0 ISBN 13: 978-0-205-23410-3

Instructor’s Review Edition: ISBN 10: 0-205-06453-1 ISBN 13: 978-0-205-06453-3

á la carte edition: ISBN 10: 0-205-06460-4 ISBN 13: 978-0-205-06460-1

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World Map and Geographical Placement of Readings inside cover

Preface xiii

ONE Culture and Ethnography 1

1 Ethnography and Culture 6 JAMES P. SPRADLEY

To discover culture, the ethnographer must learn from the informant as a student.

2 Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 13 RICHARD BORSHAY LEE

The “generous” gift of a Christmas ox involves the anthropologist in a classic case of cross-cultural misunderstanding.

3 Fieldwork on Prostitution in the Era of AIDS 20 CLAIRE E. STERK

Fieldwork among urban prostitutes means doing ethnography under difficult but, in the end, manageable circumstances.

4 Nice Girls Don’t Talk to Rastas 31 GEORGE GMELCH

Interaction between a U.S. student and a Rastafarian illustrates the destructive power of naïve realism in the fieldwork setting.

TWO Language and Communication 37

5 Shakespeare in the Bush 41 LAURA BOHANNAN

Cross-cultural communication breaks down when an anthropologist attempts to translate the meaning of Hamlet to the Tiv.




vi Contents

6 Whorf Revisited: You Are What You Speak 49 GUY DEUTSCHER

New evidence supports Benjamin Lee Whorf’s contention that peoples’ mother tongue can shape their experience of the world.

7 Manipulating Meaning: The Military Name Game 57 SARAH BOXER

To frame the meaning of its military operations, U.S. armed forces try to name them positively without offending anyone.

8 Conversation Style: Talking on the Job 61 DEBORAH TANNEN

On the job, men and women use distinctive conversation styles to ask for help, leading them to evaluate performance and character differently.

THREE Ecology and Subsistence 69

9 The Hunters: Scarce Resources in the Kalahari 73 RICHARD BORSHAY LEE

!Kung and other foragers traditionally worked less and ate better than many other people with more “advanced” food producing techniques. Today, however, their survival depends more on drilling wells and keeping cattle than on collecting wild foods.

10 Eskimo Science 87 RICHARD NELSON

The knowledge developed by Eskimos to hunt successfully contains the same basic principles that underlie a more formally structured scientific method.

11 Domestication and the Evolution of Disease 93 JARED DIAMOND

Herd animal diseases that evolved to infect humans have ended up killing millions of people in the old and new world.

12 Forest Development the Indian Way 105 RICHARD K. REED

South American governments could learn much about tropical forest development from the Amazonian Indians who live there.



Contents vii

FOUR Economic Systems 115

13 Reciprocity and the Power of Giving 119 LEE CRONK

Gifts not only function to tie people together, they may also be used to “flatten” an opponent and control the behavior of others.

14 Poverty at Work: Office Employment and the Crack Alternative 125 PHILIPPE BOURGOIS

Poor, uneducated Puerto Rican men living in Spanish Harlem feel that the risks they run selling drugs are preferable to the disrespect they encounter as low-wage employees in New York’s financial and service companies.

15 Cocaine and the Economic Deterioration of Bolivia 136 JACK WEATHERFORD

The world market for cocaine robs Bolivian villages of their men and causes problems for health, nutrition, transportation, and family.

16 Malawi versus the World Bank 145 SONIA PATTEN

Malawi government’s successful state subsidized fertilizer program challenges the World Bank and IMF’s insistence on market-driven agricultural programs.

FIVE Kinship and Family 151

17 Mother’s Love: Death without Weeping 155 NANCY SCHEPER-HUGHES

Close mother-child bonds suffered in the presence of high infant mortality in a Brazilian shantytown although recent changes have reduced the problem to some degree.

18 Family and Kinship in Village India 165 DAVID W. MCCURDY

Kinship still organizes the lives of Bhil villagers despite economic opportunities that draw people away from the community and dependence on relatives.



viii Contents

19 Polyandry: When Brothers Take a Wife 172 MELVYN C. GOLDSTEIN

By jointly marrying one woman, Tibetan brothers preserve family resources and the “good life.”

20 Uterine Families and the Women’s Community 179 MARGERY WOLF

To succeed in a traditional patrilineal family, a Chinese woman had to create her own informal uterine family inside her husband’s household.

SIX Identity, Roles, and Groups 185

21 [email protected]: Jobs, Identity, and the Internet 189 BRENDA MANN

Topday’s U.S. job mobility requires “branding” one’s identity through careful use of the Internet.

22 The Opt-Out Phenomenon: Women, Work, and Identity in America 197 DIANNA SHANDY AND KARINE MOE

Why were young, educated professional women leaving high-paying jobs for a life at home and what difference has today’s tough economy made?

23 Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? 208 LILA ABU-LUGHOD

Americans should work for justice in the world, not save Muslim women from wearing burqas or following their Islamic religion.

24 Mixed Blood 217 JEFFERSON M. FISH

A woman can change her race from black to “brunette” by taking a plane from New York to Brazil.

SEVEN Law and Politics 227

25 Cross-Cultural Law: The Case of the Gypsy Offender 230 ANNE SUTHERLAND

Legal cultures clash when a young Gypsy is convicted of using someone else’s social security number to apply for a car loan.



Contents ix

26 Life without Chiefs 238 MARVIN HARRIS

Small societies based on reciprocal and redistributive economic exchange can do without officials.

27 The Founding Indian Fathers 246 JACK WEATHERFORD

Although their contribution goes unrecognized, Indian, especially Iroquoian, political structure may have served as a model that helped to produce a United States federal government.

EIGHT Religion, Magic, and World View 255

28 Taraka’s Ghost 260 STANLEY A. FREED AND RUTH S. FREED

A woman relieves her anxiety and gains family support when a friend’s ghost possesses her.

29 Baseball Magic 266 GEORGE GMELCH

American baseball players from the game’s introduction to today employ magical practices as they try to deal with the uncertainty of their game.

30 Run for the Wall: An American Pilgrimage 275 JILL DUBISCH

An annual ritual motorcycle pilgrimage from Los Angles to Washington, DC personally transforms the Vietnam veterans and others who ride in it.

31 Body Ritual among the Nacirema 287 HORACE MINER

The Nacirema display a complex array of body rituals aimed at achieving health and beauty.

NINE Globalization 293

32 How Sushi Went Global 296 THEODORE C. BESTOR

International interdependence between tuna fishermen and sushi as a Japanese culinary style becomes popular in a globalized world.



x Contents

33 Village Walks: Tourism and Globalization among the Tharu of Nepal 306 ARJUN GUNERATNE AND KATE BJORK

Advertised as a primitive tribe, Tharu villagers endure tours that falsely treat them as part of the Chitwan National Forest’s natural history and have responded by building a museum to separate their past from the present.

34 The Road to Refugee Resettlement 316 DIANNA SHANDY

Nuer refugees must develop the skill and determination to pass through a series of bureaucratic hurdles to reach and adjust to life in the United States.


Millions of women migrate from poor to wealthy nations serving as nannies, maids, and sex workers. They send money home but find it hard to separate from their countries and families.

TEN Culture Change and Applied Anthropology 335

36 Advice for Developers: Peace Corps Problems in Botswana 340 HOYT S. ALVERSON

An anthropologist discovers why some Peace Corps volunteers fail to complete their assignments in rural Botswana, citing perceptions of their role and naïve realism as the basic problems.

37 Medical Anthropology: Leprosy on the Ganges 351 RON BARRETT

Indians who contract leprosy find themselves stigmatized for life, causing them to delay treatment or amplify symptoms to enhance begging.

38 Public Interest Ethnography: Women’s Prisons and Health Care in California 359 RACHAEL STRYKER

Student ethnographers uncover institutional health care problems at two women’s prisons in California and suggest changes that result in a revision of state policy.



Contents xi

39 Using Anthropology 371 DAVID W. MCCURDY

Professional anthropologists do everything from ethnographies of automobile production lines to famine relief, but even the neophyte may be able to use the ideas of culture and ethnography to succeed in the workplace.

40 Career Advice for Anthropology Undergraduates 382 JOHN T. OMOHUNDRO

The ability to translate useful anthropological skills into “resume speak” is one way for anthropology graduates to find employment.

Glossary 391

Photo Credits 397

Text Credits 399

Index 403



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Forty-one years ago as we prepared the first edition of this book, Jim Spradley and I sought to make the communication of cultural anthropology more effective for both students and instructors. We looked for useful, engaging articles written by anthropolo- gists for non-anthropologists. We encouraged anthropologists to send us articles that fit our design for Conformity and Conflict . We sought out material that demonstrated the nature of culture and its influence on people’s lives. We included more material on Western, especially North American, cultures so students could make their own cul- tural comparisons and see the relation between anthropology and their own lives. We chose articles that reflected interesting topics and current issues, but we also looked for selections that illustrated important anthropological concepts and theories because we believed that anthropology provides a unique and powerful way to look at human experience. Finally, we organized the book around traditional topics found in many textbooks and courses.

The original features of Conformity and Conflict remain part of its design today, but the book’s content has also altered over the years to reflect changing instructional and disciplinary interests and the needs and suggestions provided by students and instructors. Part introductions now include discussion of many basic anthropological definitions for use by instructors who do not want to assign a standard text but find it helpful to provide students with a terminological foundation. Article introductions seek to tie selections to anthropological concepts and explanations in a coherent and systematic way. Articles and section parts have grown to include environmental, global, medical, and practical anthropological sub fields as well as traditional interests such as language, gender, kinship, economics, politics, law, and religion.

Several student aids are retained in the fourteenth edition. Lists of key terms accompany each part introduction. Each article is followed by several review questions. Maps locating societies discussed in articles accompany each selection. There is also a glossary and subject index at the end of the book.

What’s New to This Edition

The revision of the fourteenth edition includes a number of changes and updates:

• There are eight new articles, and two selections have been brought back from previous editions.

• Five articles found in the thirteenth edition have also been revised and updated. • Four of the eight new articles have been written especially for the fourteenth edi-

tion making fourteen original articles altogether. • Part 2, Language and Communication , has been revised to include definitions

and discussion of two new concepts, metaphor and symbolic framing. It also




xiv Preface

includes a new article on the resurrection of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis by linguist, Guy Deutscher.

• Part 3, Subsistence and Ecology , contains a new article comparing Eskimo hunting knowledge to the structure of scientific inquiry. It also includes an article by Jared Diamond on the origin and spread of crowd diseases brought back from a previous edition. Richard Reed’s article on Forest Development is updated.

• Part 6, Identity, Roles, and Groups , contains two new articles. The first, an original selection by Brenda Mann, looks at how the Internet is used by employers and job seekers to shape and present work identities. The second, by Lila Abu-Lughod urges American women to work for justice in the world, not saving Muslim women from wearing the burqa. Dianna Shandy and Karine Moe’s article is updated to reflect recent trends in women’s decisions about work and family.

• Part 9 , Globalization , now includes an original selection by Arjun Guneratne and Kate Bjork on tourism from the native viewpoint in Nepal, and another brought back from a previous edition by Theodore Bestor about the world impact of sushi. Dianna Shandy’s article on refugees has also been updated to reflect the recent vote for independence in South Sudan.

• Part 10, Culture Change and Applied Anthropology, begins with an article on Peace Corps problems in Botswanna by Hoyt Alverson. This is followed by a new original article by medical anthropologist, Ron Barrett, about the nature of leprosy and its stigmatization in Banaras (Varanasi) North India, and another original article by Rachael Stryker on public interest anthropology at work in a study of the health services afforded women inmates in two California Prisons.

Support for Instructors and Students

• is an interactive and instructive multimedia site designed to help students and instructors save time and improve results. It offers access to a wealth of resources geared to meet the individual teaching and learning needs of every instructor and student. Combining an ebook, video, audio, multimedia simulations, research support and assessment, MyAnthroLab engages students and gives them the tools they need to enhance their performance in the course. Please see your Pearson sales representative or visit www.myanthrolab.com for more information.

• Instructor’s Manual with Tests (0205064566): For each chapter in the text, this valuable resource provides a detailed outline, list of objectives, discussion ques- tions, and suggested readings. In addition, test questions in multiple-choice, true/ false, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer formats are available for each chapter; the answers are page-referenced to the text. For easy access, this manual is avail- able within the instructor section of MyAnthroLab for Conformity and Conflict, or at www.pearsonhighered.com/irc.

• MyTest (020506454X): This computerized software allows instructors to create their own personalized exams, edit any or all of the existing test questions, and add new questions. Other special features of the program include random generation



Preface xv

of test questions, creation of alternate versions of the same test, scrambling ques- tion sequence, and test preview before printing. For easy access, this software is available at www.pearsonhighered.com/irc.

• PowerPoint Presentation Slides for Conformity and Conflict (0205064558): These PowerPoint slides help instructors convey anthropology principles in a clear and engaging way. For easy access, they are available within the instructor section of MyAnthroLab for Conformity and Conflict, or at www.pearsonhighered .com/irc.

It has always been my aim to provide a book that meets the needs of students and instructors. To help with this goal, I encourage you to send your comments and ideas for improving Conformity and Conflict to me at [email protected] Ideas for future original selections are also welcome.

Many people have made suggestions that guided this revision of Conformity and Conflict. I am especially grateful to colleagues Dianna Shandy, Arjun Guneratne, Ron Barrett, and Sonia Patten for their advice and help as well as George Gmelch for his many suggestions. Thanks also to reviewers of this edition: Jane Park, Seton Hall Uni- versity; Neill Hadder, The University of Texas—Austin; Autumn Cahoon, California State University—Sacramento; Kurt Reymers, Morrisville State College; K. Jill Fleu- riet, University of Texas—San Antonio; Susan Schalge, Minnesota State University; Kristen Kuehnle, Salem State College; Joy Livergood, Columbus State Community College; Willem Clements, Arkansas State University. I would also like to thank my ed- itors Nancy Roberts and Nicole Conforti for their guidance and work on this volume.




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Ethnography and Culture 6 James P. Spradley

Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 13 Richard Borshay Lee

Fieldwork on Prostitution in the Era of AIDS 20 Claire E. Sterk

Nice Girls Don’t Talk to Rastas 31 George Gmelch

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