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Wk10-DouglasplusBiehl(1).pdf - INTRODUCTION TO CULTURAL...

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Unformatted text preview: INTRODUCTION TO CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY PROFESSOR COLEMAN Week 10 – Purity & Danger and REVIEW Review: Theories of Religion •  Santayana: Religion is belief in another world. •  Mentalistic / Idealistic description of religion •  GeerF: Religion is structured set of symbols that connects self to world (moods & motivations / cultural differences) •  Symbolic / Cultural conception of religion •  Asad: Religion is powerful institution that is expressed in adherent’s practice and body—not just a set of ideas or an unique cultural identity, but a practice. •  Political Analysis of religions Review: Body Techniques What did Mauss write about? Body techniques—ways of training the body and communicating something by how we use it. •  How we learn to “comport” ourselves in a given society. •  Varies between societies and reveals the interaction of: •  sociological forces—the power of other people and our community. •  psychological forces—the power of our inclinations and thoughts. •  biophysical forces—training, musculature, biology. •  Examples: Table Manners / Sport / Rituals Review: Body Techniques •  Key Point! Body techniques are meaningful •  They are a symbolic system! From Body Techniques to Comparative Religion [DOUGLAS: FIRST PARAGRAPH]: “Comparative Religion has always been bedeviled by medical materialism. Some argue that even the most exotic of ancient rites have a sound hygienic basis. Others, though agreeing that primitive ritual has hygiene for its object, take the opposite view of its soundness. For them a great gulf divides our sound ideas of hygiene from the primitive’s erroneous fancies. Both of these medical approaches to ritual are fruitless.” •  What is the argument that Douglas is challenging? •  That EITHER rituals have a “medical” basis or they are basically false, obsessive habits. Matter out of Place •  Dirt is what is excluded from an orderly system •  Shoes are dirty on a table, not so much on a floor. •  Confronting dirt: “laughter, revulsion, and shock” •  Why does water feel “clean” and jello feel “gross”? Matter out of place •  “Cultural categories are public macers” •  “A private person may revise his pacern of assumptions . . . But this remains private.” •  “We must approach uncleanliness through order” •  As a symbolic system and a set of practices •  —not through its isolated qualities or its supposed hygienic benefits. From Body Techniques to Comparative Religion •  Medical or Ritual? A false dilemma •  “Are our ideas hygienic where theirs are symbolic? Not a bit of it” (Douglas, p. 34-­‐‑35). •  “Our ideas of dirt also express symbolic systems and the difference . . . is only a macer of detail.” •  Is there a difference between spiritual pollution and infection? YES. •  But is the fear of spiritual pollution less real than the fear of biomedical infection? NO. A Medical Case •  Public health campaigns in Brazil in the 1990s sought to educate people about risky or unsafe sex. •  Created new kinds of “danger.” • The state also instituted universal, free HIV testing. •  Who used the free testing services most? And what does that tell us about their ideas of purity and impurity? •  Educated, middle-­‐‑class people with low risk. •  Repeat testees—test technology meant no infection three months prior to the test would be found –“Open Window” because of single low-­‐‑risk sexual contact •  High rates of testing = A new social order of purity and danger. Review – Key Topics Weeks 1-10 •  Cultures: systems of norms and values •  Fieldwork & Ethnography: The method of anthropology •  Race and Evolution: Deep Time vs. Lived Time. •  The Gift and “primitive” exchange: Theories and examples of cycles of reciprocity (Mauss) •  Competitive Hospitality; Gender, Descent, & Social Organization (Meneley) •  Kinship and Marriage •  Kinship terminologies •  Diversity of “families” •  Social Construction of Identity •  “Body Techniques” •  Medicine, Religion, Health: Cross-Cultural Systems •  Classification, The Body, and the power of symbols ...
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