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What are ethnocentrism and cultural relativism and how do they affect the work of anthropologists? How do they affect your life in an increasingly diverse society?
Ethnocentrism is the tendency to view one's own culture as superior and to use one's own standards and values in judging outsiders. Cultural relativism states that it's inappropriate to use outside standards to judge behavior in a given society; such behavior should be evaluated in the context of the culture in which it occurs.
Explain and discuss some evolutionary approaches to the study of culture and how they contrast with historical or particularistic approaches.
List and explain characteristics of culture that make it an invaluable tool for human adaptation.
socially acquired (learned from others but capacity for it is biological). enables meaningful behaviors, blueprint for behavior.
culture is "out of awareness": invisible unless purposefully brought into relief, usually by comparison with different cultures.
culture is complex whole of: norms, behavior, cultural production, language, art, adaptations to the environment, and others
it is an invaluable tool for human adaptation because it is not biologically encoded, it is learned after birth.
In today's world in which people, image, and information move as never before, people simultaneously experience the local and global. Explain what this means and consider its implications on methods in cultural anthropology.
Please define and contrast "emic" vs "etic". Elaborate on the significance of both concepts for the study of human societies.
The "emic" approach is native oriented. investigates how natives think, categorize the world, express thoughts, and interpret stimuli.
-means "native viewpoint"
The "emic" approach is science oriented. emphasizes the categories, interpretations, and features that the anthropologist considers important.
Discuss the relationship between the evolution of language and the biological evolution of hominids. What is the adaptive significance of language (i.e. what adaptations to the environment language makes possible that other adaptive mechanisms don't?
All humans have the biological means to acquire language and according to Chomsky, the human brain contains a limited set of rules for organizing language, so all languages have common structural basis. It is transmitted through learning as a part of enculturation. It is based on arbitrary, learned associations between words and the things they represent. Language allows humans to conjure up elaborate images, discuss the past and future, share experiences with others, and benefit from experiences.
According to some estimates, the world's linguistic diversity has been cut in half in the past 500 years, and half of the remaining languages are predicted to disappear during this century. Why does this matter? What else do we lose when we lose a language, especially as it relates to human adaptation?
When the world's linguistic diversity decreases and languages are lost, it is important because when we lost a language, we lose an entire culture. That culture's experiences are lost.
Use the textbook and the class notes to build a coherent argument either supporting or rejecting this statement: "Race does not exist biologically, it is a cultural construct of our society. However, racism does exist (and is painfully real to some people) in our society".
Race does NOT biologically exist because there are too many genetic similarities between races. It is based simply on artificial verifications (ex. skin color, nose shap, hair, etc.) Race does exist culturally which is why we have racism.
What is an "imagined community?" Who came up with that term? Social roles such as ethnicity and nationality are important to this concept-- explain how.
Benedict Anderson came up with the term "imagined community" which means that identity and sense of belonging in such communities is not established by direct social interaction with other members but by national mass media.
In the textbook, Kottak notes that we should not view contemporary foragers as isolated or pristine survivors of the Stone Age. Why? What is his evidence to suggest this?
Do people in all societies maximize material benefits? If not, what other things could be maximized to help explain their motives in everyday life? Do anthropologists believe that the profit maximization motive is a universal? What do you think? Explain your answer.
What is the adaptive/environmental significance of competitive feasting practices such as the potlatch complex described for the Kwakiutl people in the Pacific Northwest? In what ways is "prestige" as important as actual material possessions in the context of the Kwakiutl's environment and subsistence strategy?
What are the major results and implications of food production for sociopolitical organization?
How does reliance on food production affect the social, economic, and political organization of societies that practice it?
Potlatches, as once practiced by Northwest Coast Native American groups, are a widely studied ritual in which sponsors (helped by their entourages) gave away resources and manufactured wealth while generating prestige for themselves..
Potlatches were once interpreted as wasteful displays generated by culturally induced mania for prestige, but Kottak argues that customs like the potlatch are adaptive, allowing adjustment for alternating periods of local abundance and shortage...?
Contrast EACH OF the following as political regulators, including the conflict resolution mechanisms available to each, and whether social relationships or coercion, or both, are available to each.
a) sodalities based on age and gender
b) village headmen
c) village councils
d) big men
e) pan-tribal sodalities
VILLAGE HEADMAN comes with limited authority. they must lead by example and in generosity. they settle disputes and cannot impose punishments. cannot force or coerce people to do things. he can only persuade or influence.
BIG MAN like a village head except authority is regional and they may have influence over multiple villages. they must be generous. typically achieved by hard work and amassing wealth in forms of pigs and native riches. separated by generosity, bravery, fitness, and supernatural powers. their decisions are binding. like the village headman, they cannot coerce or force people to do anything, only influence.
Chapter 10 of Kottak's book offers a brief overview of kinship-related demographic changes in the US and Canada. How have kinship arrangements changed? How do these changes relate to other cultural changes, such as changes in economic production, gender roles, industrialization, and the sale of labor for cash?
the number of nuclear families are decreasing. in 2005, NF accounted for just 23 percent of american households.
increasing representation of women in the cash work force is associated with a rise in marriage age.
between 1970 and 2005, the number of divorced americans quintupled: some 22 million in 2005 vs 4.3 million in 1970.
the rate of growth in single-parent families in the US has outstripped population growth, quintupling from fewer than 4 million in 1970 to more than 19 million in 2005.
Kottak suggests that most middle-class Americans identify a comparatively smaller range of kindred than people in nonindustrial societies.
in comparing American and Brazilian kinship, Kottak argues that adult americans tend to define family in terms of their family of procreation, whereas brazilians identify a much wider circle of kin relations.
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