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anp 320 exam1 - Elisabeth Platz 1 Elisabeth Platz ANP 320...

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Elisabeth Platz 1 Elisabeth Platz ANP 320 Dr. Brandt Peterson Exam 1 Tuesday, October 9, 2007
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Elisabeth Platz 2 1. According to Stocking, Boas’s contribution to our understanding of culture was very important, because it greatly facilitated the shift in the anthropological concept from the evolutionist’s singular “culture” to the modern anthropologist’s plural concept of culture. Boas argued against cultural evolutionism. He saw culture as dynamic and determinant of an individual’s behavior. His work helped to elaborate the concept of culture past race by arguing that thought, action, and choice were largely determined by an individual’s environment and particular traditions and customs. Stocking sees Boas as a foundational thinker who not only helped to transform anthropology, but the anthropologist’s world as well. I have to agree with Stocking, especially in regards to Boas’s work being greatly significant to modern anthropology.
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Elisabeth Platz 3 3. Geertz’s critique of structuralism is that it isn’t meaningful enough. He sees it as a descriptive, or “thin”, view of culture where meaning is just in codes. His model shows culture as an interaction between people and the meaning of codes. He has a “thick” view of culture, where description has to do with background context and how it makes the actual events meaningful. For example, a “thin” meaning of “winking” would be a contraction of the eye muscle; while a “thick” meaning for “winking” would be that the person winking is flirting. Geertz saw culture as the ability to read and write the text within we live. He explained culture as “webs of significance” containing webs that signify meaning, which we have made for ourselves. According to Geertz, behavior is symbolic; what people do is shaped by symbolic meaning. I see his approach as an improvement, because it views things on a deeper level. His model is more involved and dynamic. I particularly like the way he describes culture as not only having different meanings for certain codes, but also involves the importance of the individual’s interpretation of what the code means. There are several factors that affect a person’s understanding of what a particular code means. I think his view helped expand and open our minds to how complex culture really is.
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Elisabeth Platz 4 4. Abu-Lughod’s argument against generalization is the boundary it places between “self” and “other”. She sees culture as a way that anthropology encourages this separation, and therefore, a sense of hierarchy. She views the self/other distinction as central to the paradigm of anthropology. Abu-Lughod criticizes the way individuals discover their “self”, by suggesting that the way they view the “other” has a significant influence on the way they identify themselves. This leads to the issue of the “other” typically being a non-Western or minority group, while the “self” is usually Western, dominant, or even oppressive.
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