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anthropology semester paper

anthropology semester paper - Joshua Smith Anthropology 104...

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Joshua Smith Anthropology 104 David Armiak April 25, 2008 Anthropology Comparative Essay; The Relationship between Beliefs and Society In the frigid lands of Northeast Siberia Reindeer carry the Eveny Nomads across both the ice and the spirit world, meanwhile in the lands of China and Louse the Hmong are the victims of oppressive cultures and oppressive spirits from whom they must run. Beliefs are the foundation of every society but at the same time are influenced dramatically by the society itself and the environment it grows in. Throughout all of the cultures we have studied this year in Anthropology, one of the most common and widespread themes I have noticed is the power belief has over cultural interactions, and the same power these interactions have on the beliefs themselves. The Hmong throughout their history have been dealing with oppression, under constant barrage by majority cultures like the Chinese and Communists developing a fierce national identity, warfare, religion of sovereignty and avoidance. In the frozen tundra the reindeer were essential to the living and shamans to the hunting of the Eveny and they both became the backdrops of their culture and religion. In India the out casting of segments of the population has lead to the creation of the Hijra cultures and their mythological status. The hot arid temperature of the Middle East, and the strict gender roles lead to the prevalent use of the veil by females. Even in America baseball players develop beliefs, rituals and taboos as a result of the competitive environment of baseball. Although beliefs are developed by the environment from which they develop, they influence the culture and its interaction with others. Differences between cultures determine how cultures are understood by one another often creating misunderstanding and
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tension. The Hmong have developed such a fierce national identity and resistance to assimilation it is difficult for them to merge into their new environments. The reindeer people of Siberia are so dependent on hunting and reindeer that once they become victim to communism their societies start to crumble. The Hijras from India by forming a society of outcasts may gain mythological status and belonging but they also gain mistrust and anger from Indians. The wearing of the veil in the Middle East creates cultural tensions between it and more freedom oriented societies and individuals. Finally, the power of this misunderstanding itself portrayed in Shakespeare in the Bush as the Africans understand the story of Hamlet almost completely differently. “For as long as it has been recorded the history of the Hmong has been a marathon series of bloody scrimmages… over and over the Hmong have responded to persecution and to pressures to assimilate by either fighting or migrating. .. so many times… that it begins to seem a genetic trait” (Fadiman 13). Throughout history the Hmong have had the unfortunate circumstance of being a minority culture victim to a larger more powerful culture. Their origins are not entirely
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