Elder abandonment is supposedly done due to harsh

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elder abandonment is supposedly done due to harsh conditions, lack of food… except that it isn’t. - a theoretical point in anthropology and sociology - So these “useful” myths were widely promoted - and are difficult to eradicate - examples of textbooks perpetuating them as illustrations of claims - textbooks illustrating cultural relativism, citing other textbooks, never checking the facts (Steckley pp. 116-117) - My more recent copy of Gary Ferraro’s Cultural Anthropology text (now Ferraro & Andreatta, 9 th edition, 2010) finally has this claim removed - textbooks illustrating environmental causation, citing other textbooks, never checking the facts (Steckley pp. 120-121) - My more recent copy of Nanda’s Cultural Anthropology textbook (Now Nanda & Warms, 10 th ed.) finally has this claim removed - Summary: this lie was created, promoted, and kept around because it served academic purposes - it was “useful” - it illustrated ideas academics wanted to explain - And finally: the effect of anthropological authority - Inuit today have a high suicide rate - Steckley fears that this is in part due to Inuit learning in school, from the same misguided academics, that suicide for the good of the group was their social norm in the good old days - they are being taught an anthropological error - about their very own culture - by people the the dominant society considers experts - even more expert than most living members of the culture they are teaching about! - this may make suicide seem like a traditional solution - making it easier to think about and act on - making outsiders’ rules against suicide seem less legitimate - may weaken outside and internal responses to the suicide problem - if Inuit and outsiders think that suicide for the good of the group is a cultural norm - which it never was - rather than a desperate, rare response to the bad results of colonialism and contact (in the past) - and a response today to specific, depressing conditions facing young Inuits - anthropologists are usurping the authority of the very people they study
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Anth 340.101: Living in our Globalized World F 2011 / Owen: Steckley Ch. 5 p. 5 - the anthropologists, who got only an imperfect understanding of the society - are now treated as more authoritative about it than the members of the society themselves! - So: who gets to say what is true about a society? - its own members? - or members of a more powerful group who that group has granted the status of “expert”? - does this play a role in any of our class cases of cultures in contact?
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  • Fall '11
  • Owen
  • Sociology, Inuit, altruistic suicide, elder abandonment

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