Unformatted text preview: April 3rd, 8th
The Idea of Culture What do Anthropologists study? culture and society are key concepts, and inseparable, linked in very concrete ways, different meanings culture: can be broadly defined as the collective system of meanings and practices that human beings use to give order and value to their lives and to the societies in which they live. It is a form of learned behavior that is shared to some extent among communities or subgroups of people. Culture is encoded and transmitted among people through symbols. It is always subject to change in both large and small ways. Not static. Always changing. society: the community or communities of people and social institutions that share a system of cultural meanings, values, and symbols. Culture and society are in many ways inseparable, society is the institutional framework the collectivities of people and the institution they create that use, maintain, transmit, and transform culture. Geertz believed that culture can't just be seen as a lose collection of beliefs and culture patterns. Preferred to look at it as a set of control mechanism to control behavior. Think of it as a set of guidelines on how to behave in the world relative to other people culture is a system of meaning that shapes our behavior in the world. Shapes behavior IE American behavior is not always acceptable elsewhere. Like when Professor went to Japan and wore sandals on the subway. system of meaning embodied in symbols. Humans are symbolic cultures. Humans are hardwired for symbols, language that enable use to symbols gain insight of culture through symbols (public forms culture is encoded, collective symbols a group of people uses). understanding culture is an interpretative act, piece together a picture of a large culture with the smaller symbols and then gain a sense of guidelines Indonesia...hierarchal language >>hierarchal society, rich speak differently to poor and vice versa, parents and kids meaningless to speak of culture without society, culture is the coherence of society, society is a group of people with similar behavior or just lose if not there. Sociocultural anthropology focused on social institutions and how they are organized (kinship, political systems, economics, relationships) interested in values and beliefs via mythology look at symbolic practices of life more focused on meaning and value Why do people act the way they do? Motivation? What do they value? What do they think about? How do people order and classify things? April 3rd, 8th
What kind of messages communicate each other? How do people exert power over others? What makes people tick? motivation for action What leads to cultural change and effect? Impact on villager lives with the opening of free trade zones how does it affect people after the change? rising consumerism, different generational gaps, different villager wealth gaps, Anecdotes human endeavor, not look at statistics or broad trends, anthropologists talk a lot Geertz point culture is an essential of being human, being a part of humanity but because of culture varies, we think some aspects are not significant to survival we assume that there are so many possibilities take for granted that there is a physiological core to humanity. Because we need food and water....other things like art or religion don't seem essential Geertz Stratographic Model of Human Beings we carry this around everywhere assume humans are like onions (many layers) biological core in human body parents love their children...those who don't get love young are messed up Cultural Social Psychological Biological Geertz doesn't like the stratographic model it seems like we don't need humanities to survive...according to Geertz article humans evolve to need culture without culture people's behavior would be chaotic we are worse off than other animals without culture humans without culture are not humans you can't arrange these hierarchal according to Geertz what sets off people from other primates to their ability to learn so much, learning to learn in order survive critized view that it was possible to identify core aspects of humanity that were more important than others. the assumption people thought...any cultural behavior not universal is not necessary not Geertz's belief...he criticizes this idea Geertz thought this was going down the wrong path...leads to overly broad generalizations...anthro would tell us little about society...no profound understanding of cultural practices April 3rd, 8th Geertz-- Culture teaches us how to do things. Grapes into wine, wheat into bread, coco beans into chocolate. Teaches us to turn things from inedible to edible we need shelter from the elements. We build shelters...the way we build it says a lot about our cultures culture is not something we need to be conscious of in order to learn we learn by example it's rude to slurp in America. It's not rude in Japan. culture is complex. April 8, 2008 "On the Native's Point of View" Hermeneutic method Geertz anything is fair game in interpretation symbolism in the classroom? the primary goal of cultural anthropology was meaning cultures has webs of meaning (meaning in symbolic forms) what can he tell us about culture? What does culture tell about the life of these natives? (we get these answers from ethnographic field work, different ways of field work) the idea that you have to do field work to understand was not always agreed to...once upon at time there were "armchair anthropologists" sky was the first to do field work He seems to be critiquing certain approaches... don't just ask people what they think, make your own interpretations anthro role is not to magically become a native (no unnatural deep empathy) find out a lot by studying symbols, but you can only go as far into the native's mind that's not the goal of anthropology learn about how these people think of the world, primary goal abstracting another level, interpret what the devil they think they are up to anthro should say what they think is going on, translating from one culture to another (to the culture of academic western language) the way the anthro abstracts from these native...may not make sense with the people he's working with (this is a criticism of cultural anthro, analyzing natives w/o them understanding...like a neo imperialism, cultural anthro is involved with neo colonial perspective...early anthro did belong to this group initially) Alternatives to ethnographic anthropology April 3rd, 8th
it's not common for anthro to go out of remote eras, or to work with illiterate people trend for anthro to work with indigenous elite hasn't really been a good alternative for anthro then previous sentence a lot of sensitivity to the issue of power More on Geertz...make sense of his article important approach to anthro for Geertz, tack back and forth to what people say and do to a broader interpretative framework and for large analytical level anthro method involves looking cultural system as a whole and individual symbols as well compares anthro to baseball..."you can't understand a pitcher's pit if you didn't understand baseball game as a whole"..."you can't understand baseball without knowing the little things like what's the umpire....rather apt analogy, to understand whole, you need to understand parts and vice versa the best anthro studies are those that strike a good balance between ethnographic details and larger analytical some ethnographies that are painful to read...boring like Geertz he talks about experiences near and distant concepts experience near concept it's a relatively concrete concept or event that a person might easily describe his her emotions in daily life IE concept like love, fear, or shame or hunger a young woman who lives on Indonesian group in Sri Lanka (focus individual) Experience distant concept Analytic terms that experts used in a removed level psychoanalysit... object affectus anthro religious systems instead of prayers Easy to get a handle on things people participate in like a baptism and wedding (daily rights of passage instead of wedding or baptism child rearing practices instead patting them on the back Three Examples of Field Work Java Bali Morocco Geertz wants to find a middle man between general village has matrimonial system (focus on social system) Shows the different ways people in these societies think of themselves in relation to society concepts of personhood idea of self vary according to cultural contest Southwood or personwood April 3rd, 8th
Westerners have very individualistic sense of self....they think they are bounded individuals...see ourselves as self reliant...and ultimately responsible for ourselves Other societies the self is understood as they are related to other people (not strongly individual) they think about whom they're related too, responsibility (different concept of self) Possible for anthro to understand how natives understand themselves without immersing too much of themselves in Thick description description is very attuned to details, to dense level of details very influential methodology Structural Functionalism X emphasizes the adaptives functions of society X self propelling and generating machine X functionists interested in form of society, contributors of city cohesion X mechanical approach to culture are interesting important but because they allow society to function itself X very mechanical approach to anthropology X Geertz doesn't like above, oversimplified X this gradually fell out favor X Geertz paradigm came out dominant of structuralism but he gets his share of critiques too Anthropology starts out with small scale societies -HIGHLY STRATIFIED BY CLASS -AS Anthro moved to complex societies, -anthro need to pay more attention to how power works in thesesocieties -for a long time, anthro treated culture as monolithic unified system of valuesand systems -Powers should be studied So aNtho focusmore on ideological details of culture...how practicesreassert dominance of elite in society (very complex) -even now we know of culture wars, deep rifts in our society on how world should work (liberal VS conservative) -should get rid of this concept becauseits problematic and misleading (culture)....but Cultural Is still used by anthro What do things mean for people? -political in nature (not like what you think) Other two Articles by Brenner and Lila ---why doesan analysisof culture do justice to culture itself? Take up the issuedifferently Brenner's Article "Why Women Rule the Roost?" Influenced by Geertz and his camp his approach made it hard to see the difference as culture as politically neutral thing Geertz doesn't distinguish between culture and ideology ideology is a set of ideas or values that reinforce the power of one group of society over another ideology is a set of ideas or values that reinforce the power of one group of society over another (not politically neutral) April 3rd, 8th
anthro sometimes excludes some people from that view some views you read about...women are excluded (kept out of important social domains of social some views you read about...women are excluded (kept out of important social domains of social life, nonelite excluded too) tendency for anthro to pay attention to certain groups of people over others anthro who wrote about Java focus too narrowly on perspectives of privileged of male elitists anthro who wrote about Java focus too narrowly on perspectives of privileged of male elitists (views were being represented by more or less everyone in society, a truth) Who's view of Java culture was this? Pretty much everyone who had written about Java in economic standpoint...women's Pretty much everyone who had written about Java in economic standpoint...women's position was pretty good...striking from American POV to the extent women handle finances and position was pretty good...striking from American POV to the extent women handle finances and dominant in markets...women are dominant in JAVA men handle their wages to wife, wife allows him an allowance and the rest is for family village headman made a point of this women dominance a lot of people who wrote about Java say women have it good and can get divorced women are less capable of way in ways that are prestigious a society in which one should not act too concerned with money women are accused of being too concened with money and material goods thus loss of prestige women care less of prestige so they handle money, men are the opposite very status conscious society status is determined by factors...hereditary royalty, wealth, education, occupation, title, rank, JAVA has cultural ideas of status than we havestatus is tied to inner spiritual power or potency, JAVA has cultural ideas of status than we havestatus is tied to inner spiritual power or potency, certain people are able to build up a store of spiritual potency...that actually allow them to build certain people are able to build up a store of spiritual potency...that actually allow them to build high status imply women that don't have enough spiritual potency to have high status (this is a dominant view) spiritual potency improved by denying your desire for food, deny comfort, deny sex, get up in the spiritual potency improved by denying your desire for food, deny comfort, deny sex, get up in the middle of the night to pray, notion of potency, meditating all night in a graveyard, white rice with middle of the night to pray, notion of potency, meditating all night in a graveyard, white rice with salt for a number of days ...number of ways to become spirituall otent long standing tradition in Javanese society makes you more refined smooth refined demeanor about you doing these things lead to spiritual potency thus allowing you the ability to status wise and socially the dominant ideology in Java is that males have more spiritual potency then women do (men have the dominant ideology in Java is that males have more spiritual potency then women do (men have more control over their emotions, language (indicator of status), males have great natual spiritual more control over their emotions, language (indicator of status), males have great natual spiritual strength women are busy with secular things, conventional idea that even if women have economic wealth, women are busy with secular things, conventional idea that even if women have economic wealth, they are less status wise, two conflicting models of gender and prestige attuned to differences in society ...
View Full Document