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ANTH 102, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
The following notes do not necessarily follow the course exactly. Some sections will be skipped in
class; others may be expanded depending on the nature of in-class discussions. Also, the instructor
may make last minute changes to the presentations which will not appear in this copy of the lecture
notes. I recommend you print the first couple of chapters first and try these notes to see if they help
you before printing all the pages. I also recommend you use two-sided printing to save paper.
Chapter 1, The Nature of Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humankind in all places and throughout time
Anthropology is a relatively new discipline
Anthropology is a social science
Anthropology is multidisciplinary
Anthropology can be divided into several sub-fields:
Physical Anthropology
Study of humans as biological organisms
Closely related to other biological sciences
Interested in origin of species and evolution
Current interest in present-day human condition
Study of material remains (usually of past cultures)
Sub-divided into historic, prehistoric, and classical archaeology
Linguistic Anthropology
The study of human language
Focus on relationships/differences in languages
Systematic description of cultures based on firsthand observation
Also called “sociocultural anthropology”
Focuses on cultures of the present
Reliance on “participant observation”
Cultural Anthropology
Branch of anthropology devoted to study of human behavior
Cross-cultural perspective
Anthropology is both a science and a humanities
Anthropology as Science
Anthropology uses a scientific approach
Start with hypothesis, collect data, propose theory, determine level of probability
Problems with anthropology as a Science
Championing of ideas
Difficult to avoid being “culture bound” (ethnocentric)
Anthropology as a Humanities
Humans sometimes difficult to explain scientifically
Humans cannot be studied from outside, must be experienced
What are some other Humanities disciplines?
History, art history, psychology, sociology, etc.
Ethical Considerations for Anthropologists
Who will use data? And, for what purposes?
Privacy issues
Introduction of new technologies into cultures not prepared for them
The anthropologists first obligation is to the informant
Chapter 2, The Nature of Culture
Culture is the ideals, values, and beliefs members of a society share to interpret experience and
generate behavior. A society is a group of people who have a common homeland, are
interdependent, and share a common culture
Common Characteristics of Culture
Culture is Shared
Members of a culture generally share ideas of right and wrong
What is proper within one culture may not be so within another
What is generally shared?
Gender roles
Age roles
Significant exceptions
Subcultures (ie Amish)
Pluralistic societies
Culture is Learned
Culture is learned, not inherited
The process of learning culture is called enculturation
Through culture, humans learn to satisfy their biological needs
Sleep, food, shelter, compassion, self-defense, sexual gratification, etc
Culture is Based on Symbols
All human behavior originates in the use of symbols
Art, music, and religion involve symbols
The most important symbolic aspect of culture is language
Culture is Integrated
Integration is the tendency for all aspects of a culture to function as a whole
Anthropologists must divide culture into units for study
Religion, politics, and economics all function relative to each other
How do Anthropologists Study Culture?
Anthropologists study the way members of a culture believe society ought to be
Anthropologists study how members of a culture believe they are observing these rules
Anthropologists study the actual behavior of members of a society
Culture and Adaptation
Cultures adapt to changing environments
Adaptation is culturally determined
Adaptation includes clothes, shelters, weaponry, etc.
Cultures do not always react to similar environments in similar ways
Cultures react as they perceive their environment
What is “wild” to one culture is not so to another
Functions of Culture
Culture provides for reproduction of its members
Culture provides for enculturation of new members (children)
Culture maintains order among members
Culture motivates members to survive
Culture must be adaptable to change to changing conditions
Culture and Change
All cultures change
Some cultures change more than others
Culture change is escalating
Culture and the Individual
Culture must balance the needs of an individual with the needs of the group
Evaluating Cultures
Hundreds of diverse cultures exist worldwide
Are some “better” than others?
Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s culture is superior to all others
Anthropologists can make value judgments
Anthropologists should seek to answer if a given culture satisfies the physical and
psychological needs of those whose behavior it guides
Chapter 3, Ethnographic Research
Two branches of cultural anthropology
Description of cultures based on fieldwork
Comparison of cultures to explain similarities and differences
History of Anthropology
Period of Colonialism
European anthropologists focused on studies of “traditional” peoples in colonies
American and Canadian anthropologists focused on studies of “Native Americans”
Salvage Anthropology
Many cultures faced with extinction or other forms of drastic change
Anthropologists made collections of material culture
Recorded photos, songs, myths, oral histories
Acculturation Studies
Acculturation is the process of culture change where traditional societies come in
contact with more powerful state societies
Traditional peoples forced to change
Margaret Mead (1932) studied changed among Omaha Indians
Applied Anthropology
The use of anthropology to solve practical problems of societies facing new challenges
US Bureau of Indian Affairs (1930s)
Studying Cultures at a Distance
Shifted focus from small societies to complex states (Russia, etc.)
Looked for “cultural personalities” or national character
Since study on site was impractical, anthropologists developed techniques using
newspapers, etc.
Studying Contemporary State Societies
Anthropology had to study ALL peoples in ALL places
Had to include study of complex societies
Race issues
Impact of mass media on public opinion
Impact of urbanization of farming communities
Spread of infectious diseases, etc
Advocacy Anthropology
Role shifted from studying other peoples to developing ways to help them adjust to changes
Sol Tax worked with Fox Indians (Iowa) to force government to let them make their own
Decisions (hunting rights, property ownership, many more)
Doing Ethnography: Research Methods
1) Site selection and research question
Funding, logistics, permits, etc.
2) Preparatory research
Maps, written histories, oral histories
Read other theoretical literature that may be related
3) Participant observation
Interviews, discussion, partaking in daily life
4) Tools and aids
Notebooks, camera, computers
5) Data gathering
Quantitative data (anything that can be recorded with numbers)
Populations, number and size of houses, etc.
Qualitative data (anything requiring description, non-numeric)
Settlement patterns, kinship relations, etc.
6) Interviewing
Informal surveys (unstructured, open-ended conversations)
Formal surveys (Question-answer surveys)
7) Mapping
Often, quality maps do not exist for a given region
Place name issues (different from one culture to another)
8) Photographing and filming
Boaz 1880s in Northwest
Effects of cameras
Challenges of Ethnographic Fieldwork
1) Getting acceptance in community
Who gets accepted and who does not?
2) Political challenges
Civil strife, internal and external conflicts
3) Challenges related to gender, age, ideology, ethnicity, and skin color
4) Problem of subjectivity
Things are not as they appear
Alcohol consumption as documented by “The Garbage Project”
5) Ethnographic Reflexivity
Observations of one anthropologist cannot exactly be replicated by another
As a result, anthropologists are expected to acknowledge their own personal or cultural
biases – called “reflexivity”
Ethnology – from description to interpretation to theory
Ethnography is descriptive
Ethnology makes cross-cultural comparisons and interprets data
Uses scientific method of theorizing and testing to determine probability
Use of HRAF (Human Relations Area Files)
700 cultural characteristics of 400 societies, 1 million pages of information
Chapter 4, The Beginning of Human Culture
Humans in the Animal Kingdom
To what group of animals do humans belong?
Humans are classified as primates
Primates are any of the order of mammals comprising man together with the apes,
monkeys, and related forms
Primates include lemurs, indris, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes
Humans are the primates most adapted to learned behavior (culture)
Do not merely adapt to environment, but can mold and change it
First primates began in tropical climates
(North and South America, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Africa)
Process of natural selection favored specific traits most adapted to tropical environments
Well-adapted individuals produce more offspring
Characteristics Common to Most Primates
44 “unspecialized” teeth
Incisors for cutting, canines for tearing/shredding, premolars for grinding and chewing
Gradual loss of number and size of teeth
Development of “bi-cuspid” molars and premolars
Sense organs
Decline in sense of smell
Increase in sense of sight (stereoscopic color vision)
Sensitive tactile capacities of fingers
The Primate Brain
Increase in brain size over time
Cerebral hemispheres grown to cover cerebellum
The Primate Skeleton
Opening to cranium positioned over center of skull (important for upright posture)
Reduction in projection of snout (prognathism)
Eyes located in a more frontal position
Heavy brow ridges to protect eyes
Placement of collarbone allowing free arm movement
Fingernails provide better grasping
Opposable thumb
Behavior of modern primates (esp. Chimpanzees) can reveal much about how our earliest
primate ancestors adapted to changing environments.
Chimpanzee Behavior
Very social, communities of 50 or more
Generally organized into sub-groupings
Rank exists, males generally rank higher than females
How Chimpanzee rank is determined
Mother’s rank, physical strength and size, ability to create alliances, motivation
Group solidarity
Grooming, embracing, touching, vocal and visual communication (signals and calls)
Social relationships
Sexes intermingle, promiscuous sexual behavior
Females and offspring constitute the core social unit
Mother/infant bond is especially strong for about 5 years
Sons/daughters move with mother
Males share some parental responsibilities (minimal)
Chimpanzees show dependence on learned behavior
Varies from one group to another
Infants learn to interact with others
Learn to make and use “tools” (termite sticks, stone hammers)
Pick up and collect objects for later use
The First Hominines
Hominines can be classified as “near-humans”
Earliest fossils are 5.6 to 5.8 million years old
Found in East Africa
Earliest fossils show distinctive bipedal traits
One species of hominine was Ardipithecus
Advantages of Bipedalism
Slower running than quadraped, but could travel longer distances
Could carry food and infants with free hands
Less of the body exposed to tropical sun
Bipedal creatures can see over tall savannah grass for security
Genus Australopithecus well established by 4.2 million years ago
Disappeared around 1 million years ago
Some anatomical features more like modern humans than other primates
Esp teeth, upright posture
Brain more like chimpanzee in form and size
Upright posture adopted before change in brain size
Evidence shows an increased reliance on meat in the hominine diet
Plants alone do not provide correct balance of nutrients
Today’s primates have an omnivorous diet
Hominine teeth were not well-suited to meat eating
Probably relied on scavenging
Probably contributed to use of stone tools
Earliest Stone Tools
Earliest tools called Oldowan tools
Mark beginning of Paleolithic Period
Date 2.5 million years old
Simple core technology
Cores were sometimes used as choppers
Core and flakes were both used
Homo habilis
Homo habilis means “Handy Man”
Tools allowed for more protein in the diet
Tools also yielded larger brains
Protein helped nerve growth in brain
Meat-eating requires less time than plant-eating—more leisure time results
Toolmaking gave an adaptive advantage to individuals with good dexterity and creativity
Homo habilis probably scavenged food
Toolmarks over the top of predator toothmarks
No weapons found from this time period
Probably scavenged kills from leopards (from tree caches)
Homo habilis Sites
Sites show pre-planning
Smaller portions of animal carcasses carried in
Toolstone stockpiled
Food processed quickly to avoid attracting predators
Homo erectus
Spread from Africa to China and eastern Europe
Stature similar to modern Homo sapiens
Not as sexually dimorphic
Larger brain, modern dentition
Choppers replaced by the hand axe
Also made cleavers, scrapers, and flake tools
Emphasis on smaller, straighter, and sharper tools
Use of fire by 1.6 million years ago
Advantages of Fire
Allowed expansion into colder climates
Cook food
Easier to chew
Lessened need for larger teeth
Some poisonous plants detoxified by cooking
Many foods made more easy to digest
Used for defense
Allowed longer days
Homo erectus, the Hunter
Homo erectus sites show evidence of a shift from scavenging to hunting
Homo erectus wooden spears in Germany
Evidence of elephant “drives” in Spain
Homo sapiens
Early forms referred to as Archaic Homo sapiens
400,000 - 200,000 years ago
Some H. erectus traits, some modern H. sapien traits
Most famous are the Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neandertalensis)
Found throughout Asia, Middle East, and Europe
Large brains, large teeth, heavy brow ridges, prognathism
Extensive use of fire
Occupied cold climates (Wurm glaciation)
Used deliberate burials, took care of elderly
Tools called Mousterian tradition
Smaller and lighter
Evidence of composite tools (hafting)
Re-sharpened flakes into specific shapes
Oldest evidence of flute, carved pendants, use of red ochre
Modern Homo sapiens
Coexisted with archaic H. sapiens until 28,000 years ago
Late Neandertals look similar to early Homo erectus
Arguments concerning origin, but most agree modern H. sapiens came from a single
group of archaic forms somewhere in Africa or Asia
First Homo sapiens also called Upper Paleolithic peoples
Fully modern in appearance
Eventually inhabited most of the world
Upper Paleolithic Tools
Complex tools increased adaptive success
More diverse raw materials
Specialized tools made for each specific environment
Introduction of pressure-flaking technique
Small flakes pressed off using antler, wood, or bone
Better control over tool form
Development of burin
Allowed precise shaping of bone and wood
Introduction of atlatl
Upper Paleolithic Art
Appears around 27,000 years ago
Portable art
Figurines, animals, pendants
Cave paintings
Multiple colors (oxides)
Emphasis on animals
Some blending of human and animal traits
Images have been linked to state of trance
Chapter 5, Language and Communication
Language is a system for communication using symbols
A symbol is any sort of sound or gesture that has assigned meaning.
The word “crying” is a symbol
A sound or gesture which has a natural or self-evident meaning is called a signal
A tear is a signal
Some animals can communicate in amazing ways, but the nature of this communication is not
well understood and most anthropologists do not consider this “language”
The Nature of Language
Language combines a few sounds (<50) in meaningful ways
ASL uses gestures rather than sounds
All languages are organized in the same basic ways
Linguistics is the scientific study of languages
Age of Discovery uncovered a rich diversity of languages
There are over 6000 known languages
Many are on the verge of extinction (ie Nez Perce)
The first step in analyzing a language is to collect all sounds and to write them accurately
The smallest classes of sound that make differences in meaning are called phonemes
Studied using a minimal-pair test
Starts with two short words that appear alike except for one sound (bit, pit)
“B” and “p” are thus phonemes
Changing phoneme changes meaning of word
Phonemes have no meaning in and of themselves
A morpheme is the smallest unit of sound that carries meaning
May consist of words or parts of words
“Cat” and “dog” have two different meanings
Called free morphemes because they have meaning in and of themselves
Adding an “s” changes meaning of both
Called bound morphemes because the “s” cannot occur unattached to other morphemes
Grammar and Syntax
Combining morphemes together into longer chains of meaning requires frame substitution
“My cat”, “your cat”, etc.
Linguist thus begins to decode rules of phrase and sentence making, called syntax
Grammar is the entire formal structure of a language
Form classes are categories of words (such as nouns) that work the same way in any sentence
Gesture-Call System
Sounds and gestures used to interpret meaning
Can fill in many details not in spoken word - fear, enthusiasm, lying, etc.
90% of emotional information is transmitted by body language and tone of voice
Written English is well-adapted at deception, very popular in the international business world
Some gesture-calls are universal (facial expressions, tears, etc.)
The method for notating and analyzing body language is called kinesics
Gestures are simple and direct kinesic messages
Body posture when standing or sitting
Some kinesic messages complement spoken languages
Nodding the head, raising eyebrows, etc.
Worldwide similarity in some body language
Smile, laugh, cry, anger, eyebrow flash
Some gestures are quite different
Shaking head for “yes” and “no”
“It is not so much what was said as how it was said”
Paralanguage consists of cries and other sounds that are not part of language.
Two different types of paralanguage:
A)Voice Qualities
High to low pitch, sharp to smooth transitions, smooth or jerky transitions, slow or fast
Can indicate speaker’s pleasure, nervousness, fear, etc.
B) Vocalization
Yawns, “oh-oh” expressions
Linguistic Change
All languages change
Historical linguistics is the study of changes in language over time
A language family is a group of languages stemming from a common ancestor
Linguistic divergence is the process of an ancestral language diversifying into other languages
Historical linguistics determines rates of language change and when 2 languages diverged.
This process is called glottochronology
Why Languages Change
Borrowing from other languages
Novelty--tendency to adopt new, clever words
Membership in specialized sects
Labeling devices (gangs, etc.)
Linguistic nationalism (purging a language of all foreign terms)
Language and Culture
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
A language provides habitual forms of expression which predisposes people to
see the world in a certain way guiding their thinking and behavior
Some people cannot distinguish between some blues and greens
can they physically not see the difference or is it cultural?
Our culture has many words related to warfare “I just BOMBED the Cultural Anth quiz!”
Nuer of Sudan have 400 distinct words for cattle, only a few words for warfare
Origins of Language
Experiments show primates can learn to use sign language up to a level of a 2-3 year old
Many linguists agree that language started as a system of gestures, accompanied by sounds
Chapter 6, Social Identity, Personality, and Gender
Enculturation is the process by which culture is transmitted from one generation to the next.
Tabula Rasa theory stated that a newborn human was like a blank slate. All individuals were
therefore equal at birth. True?
Culture is learned
Therefore, human societies must insure that culture is transmitted to the next generation
Learning starts with self-awareness
2 years old in North America, slower than most other cultures
Self-awareness is enhanced with human contact
American babies spend far less time with mothers
70% among some foragers, 20% among Americans
Babies from other cultures are in more frequent contact with others in family
Social Identity through Personal Naming
Without a name an individual has no identity
Many cultures practice naming ceremonies
Some cultures don’t name until an infant can “speak like a human”
Naming conventions
Names from ancestors
Names being called out by mom at moment of birth
Names being given when child laughs for first time
One name given at birth, others added later in life
Infants must learn about physical environment
Culture determines which things in the environment are important for infants to learn about
This helps create an orderly universe
Object orientation - defines “things” as perceived by a given culture
Spatial orientation - organizes “space”, learn place names
Temporal orientation – gives child ability to think in past, present, and future
Normative orientation - establishes values, ideals and standards
Enculturation creates an individual with a mental “map” of how the world should work
This map is an individual’s personality
Cross-cultural studies show that traits like aggressiveness can be learned
The relationship of aggressiveness to gender varies from culture to culture
The Ju/’hoansi (zhutwasi) show how culture can influence personality
Dependence Training (most subsistence farmers)
Promotes compliance to performance of tasks
Keeps individuals in the group
Common in subsistence farming societies
One adult often makes all decisions (conflict!)
Even very young help with family matters
Yields individuals who are supportive, non- competitive, obedient
Independence Training (most foragers and intensive agriculturalists)
Emphasizes personal achievement, self-reliance
Associated with industrial societies
How soon can an infant walk, feed itself, etc.?
Displays of aggression encouraged (sports, grades)
Group Personality
Child-rearing practices have a close relationship to adult personality
It is important to recognize a wide range of personality types within any society
Nonetheless, there are “cultural personalities”
Modal Personality
Modal personality is the personality typical of a society as indicated by the central
tendency of a defined frequency distribution
Determined by personality tests
Variables to measure can be complex
Must have “representative sample”
Must be administered in proper cultural setting
Do respondents truthfully answer questions?
Do language barriers confuse answers?
National Character
Concept popular in mid-1900's
Used with many cultures, most notably Japanese
Attempted to determine the reason for the perceived difference between Japanese
personality at home and at war
Data was over-generalized
Some success in analyzing “core values”
Compliance (Chinese) vs. rugged individualism (North Americans)
Alternative Gender Models
Native American “two-spirits”
Also called “berdaches” a term with negative implicaitons
Males with female characteristics (physical or behavioral), females with male
characteristics (physical or behavioral)
1% of humans born “intersexed” (60 million people worldwide)
The term “homosexual” is from the 19th century and does not accurately cover the full
range of sex and gender diversity
Normal and Abnormal Personality
Modal personality can apply to only half the population or less, what about the rest?
In American society, our range of tolerance for personality outside the norm is limited
American Indian “two-spirits” (considered deviant in our society)
Healers entering trance (suppressed by some societies)
What is “normal” must be evaluated according to the standards of a culture
Cross-Cultural Perspective on Mental Disorders
What is considered “abnormal” now may become more acceptable later
Example ADHD
“Normalcy” is culturally defined
Some abnormalities ARE universal
A few are culturally distinct
Windigo phychosis
Chapter 7, Patterns of Subsistence
Adaptation is how humans manage to deal with the contingencies of daily life
Adaptation establishes a balance between the needs of a population and the potential of
its environment
Two examples from the text:
1) Pig sacrifices among Tsembaga
Frequent hostilities over land, pig sacrifices to celebrate victories, helped
keep pig populations low
2) Sickle-cell anemia
Mosquito population (and Malaria) increased due to increase in farming, a
mutation in blood cell traits resulted in resistance to malaria (people changed
environment, but environment also changed them)
Convergent & Parallel Cultural Evolution
Convergent Cultural Evolution
Cheyenne, originally from Idaho (foragers)
Moved to Great Plains (became bison hunters)
Acquired horses in late 1700's
Became warlike and aggressive
This Non-Plains culture changed to become similar to other Plains peoples
Parallel Cultural Evolution
Similar adaptations in different areas changing in similar ways
Farmers of Mesoamerica and southwest Asia
Culture Areas
A culture area is a geographic region where a number of societies exist in similar ways
Example 1--Great Plains
31 politically independent units
All lived in a similar environment, shared common adaptations
Example 2--Great Basin
Western Shoshone, relied on wild plants
Paiute (south), similar lifestyle but added some horticulture
Northern Shoshone, more oriented toward hunting
Culture Type
The many variations observed in the Great Basin, led anthropologists to propose the
concept of culture type.
This is how a culture relates to the environment in which it lives.
Cultural Ecology
The study of the interaction of specific cultures with their environments
Two types of subsistence systems
1) Food Foragers
Hunters and gatherers
2) Food Producers
Intensive agriculturalists
Food Foraging
Today, less than .00005% of the world population (250,000) are foragers
At one time, all humans were foragers.
Of all who have ever lived, 90% have been foragers
Foragers today live primarily in marginal areas
Foraging is not necessarily “primitive” or “undeveloped”
Forager diets are ample and well-balanced
Foragers are less-likely to experience famine than are farmers
Some foragers obtain ample food working less than 20 hours per week
Often called “the original affluent society” due to quality of lifestyle
Characteristics of Food-Foraging
Foragers do not domesticate animals or plants
Highly mobile (some patterned, some random)
Small group size (often >100 in number)
Group membership can change according to needs (more or less children, etc.)
Foragers must keep populations below the carrying capacity of the land (>1 person/mi2)
Populations controlled by child-care practices such as long nursing
The Impact of Foraging on Society
Most foragers are not aggressive
Foraging may have resulted in:
Sexual division of labor
Sharing of food among adults
The establishment of a “camp” as an important place
Foragers: Subsistence & Gender
Hunting was usually a male activity
More dangerous and strenuous
Less protein intake than gathering
Results are sporadic
Requires more travel
Often is a solitary activity
Gathering was generally a female activity
Accomplished with children present
Accomplished with other women
60-70% of diet was obtained from plant foods
Success is more predictable
Foragers: Food Sharing
Food sharing is a system of redistributing resources where needed
Some cultures share results of hunting but not gathering
Food sharing appears to date back 2.5 million years
Foragers: The Camp as a Center of Activity
The camp is the location where food sharing occurs
Most foragers live in permanent or seasonal camps
Camps do not function solely as sleeping areas.
They also are used for work, eating, storage, protection, entertainment, & education
Foragers: Egalitarianism
Since foragers are highly mobile, possessions are minimal (average under 25 lbs/person)
Bounty of nature limits need to store excesses of food
This means that foragers generally to not acquire excess goods (food or belongings)
As a result, wealth and status are not acquired unequally
What is available to one is available to all (no land or resource ownership)
Domestication of plants and animals began 9,000 - 11,000 years ago
Requires more work than foraging, more monotonous
Forced populations to eat less-favorable foods
Settled Life of Farmers
Farming resulted in more settled lifestyle
Farming resulted in enhancements to material culture (tools, pottery, clothing, structures, etc.)
Farming societies began to lose egalitarianism
Types of Adaptations based on Agriculture
An “extensive” form of farming, can require lots of land due to need to move plots
Small gardens, hand tools, no irrigation
Subsistence only
An example--“swidden” farming
also called “shifting cultivation” or “slash and burn cultivation”
Rely on domestic animals for subsistence
Rely in part on products of horticulturalists, but animal husbandry remains main focus
of culture
Effective in areas that are unsuitable for farming
21 million pastoralists in Africa
Use a seasonal movement called transhumance
Animals can be moved up to 200 miles
Residences are temporary (tents)
Have tribal leaders (khans), generally well- educated
Intensive Agriculturalists
Live in cities
Rise of craft specialists
Under political control of urban elite
Stratification of society
Urbanization led to increase in speed of cultural evolution
Writing, extensive trade, metallurgy, architecture, slavery
More modification to landscape
Use of irrigation, fertilizers, plows, etc.
Grow a surplus for trade, allows rise of specialists
An Example of Intensive Agriculturalists- Tenochtitlan
Capital of Azteca
200,000 population in 1519 (5x the size of London)
Located on island lake and mainland
Founded on intensive agriculture (chinampas)
Social stratification (nobles, commoners, serfs)
City built around ordered design
canals, streets, water systems, homes, temples, plazas
Highly-developed orders of craft specialists
Long-distance trade
Chapter 8, Economic Systems
Economic Anthropology
Our study of other people’s economies tends to be ethnocentric
Our values are generally different from non-industrial societies
Important to consider “cultural” aspect of economies, not evaluate only economic aspect
Example of yam production on Trobriand Islands
Grown to be given away to show support for husbands of sisters or daughters
Yams serve as a form of currency, stored in “yam houses” like money in a bank
Gifts of yams create debts to be repaid later
Thus, trade in yams establish long-term relationships
Yam trade is therefore as much a social and political transaction as an economic transaction
From our perspective, yam trade may not make much sense
Patterns of Labor
Sexual Division of Labor
Women’s work
Tasks carried out near the home
Can be easily resumed after an interruption
Men’s work
Require physical strength
Require frequent travel
Can involve high risk and danger
Women serve as warriors
Women do 75% of work, or more
Women work long hours, difficult tasks
Flexibility and sexual integration
Seen among food foragers and subsistence farmers
35% of tasks shared by male and female
Tasks shared without loss of face
Rigid segregation by sex
Men and women rarely share joint efforts
Common in pastoral, nomadic cultures
Males are supposed to be aggressive and competitive
Combination of above two
Men and women work separately
Relationship is one of balance, not inequality
Common in West Africa and ancient North America
Age Division of Labor
Most societies divide labor by age
Young not responsible for much
May assist with raising of infants
Middle-age most productive
Elderly not responsible to contribute much
Considered “living libraries” of knowledge
Contribute spiritual knowledge
There is a problem of exploitation of child labor in third world countries
Cooperative groups found worldwide
May involve small groups or entire communities
Some group behavior is social
Most cooperation at the “family” level
Craft Specialization
Specialization common in industrial societies
Also known in non-industrial societies
Food foragers (tool makers)
Food producers (many different specialists)
Examples include salt miners, stone quarriers, architects, etc.
Control of Land
Land ownership uncommon in foragers
More prevalent among food producers
Land often owned by kinship groups
Older members control land in territory
Property not often defined by boundaries, but by resources within area (core features)
Sometimes a “feudal” system is used, land owned by chief and distributed as needed
Farmers must pay taxes
Owe allegiance to chief
Land is more-or-less permanent, it is not re-allocated unless farmer fails to use it
Technology is the various types of tools and the knowledge of how to make and use them
Foragers tools
Generally simple
Made for individual uses
Horticulturalists tools
More complex
Made by owner, but shared with someone in need
More complex tools are not shared
Leveling Mechanisms
The purpose of a leveling mechanism is to redistribute wealth
Cargo System
Pyramidal structure
Office lasts one year
All males participate at one time
Civil/religious in nature
Offices are considered “burdens”
Holder is required to pay costs of community festivals or banquets
Purpose is to keep any single member from acquiring too much wealth
Keeps wealth circulating
Types of Distribution and Exchange
Reciprocity is a transaction between two parties where goods of equal value are exchanged
Goal is to fulfill social obligations or obtain prestige
Helps with preservation of perishable resources
Generalized Reciprocity
Value of goods exchanged is not calculated
Repayment not specified
Similar to altruistic gift giving
Often within kin groups
Balanced Reciprocity
Not part of a long-term arrangement
Obligation to return gift as soon as possible
Trading baseball cards, etc.
Constitutes a form of insurance
Distribute to others when available, receive back in times of need
Negative Reciprocity
Giver tries to get better end of deal
Parties generally not related
Often accomplished using deceit
Considered proper in some cultures
The Kula Ring
An example of how trade is used for something other than economic reasons
Ceremonial exchange of prestige items
Shell necklaces move clockwise (east to west)
Arm shells move counterclockwise (west to east)
Items not held for too many years, must circulate
Traded items acquire individual fame and value
Another example of how economy and culture are intertwined, they should not be
studied separately
Redistribution is a form of exchange in which goods flow into a central place where they are
stored and ultimately re-allocated.
An ancient example was the system used by the Inca
A modern example is the IRS
Distribution of Wealth
Leveling mechanisms control accumulation of wealth in many societies
Western societies lack many of these, the result is conspicuous consumption which is the
display of wealth for social prestige
This has also been noted in some non-industrial societies such as along the Pacific Northwest
Coast (Potlatches)
Market Exchange
Market exchange is the buying/selling of goods and services, with prices set by supply/demand
Once took place in specific locales called “market places”
Under centralized control
Within defined boundaries
Prices set by bargaining
Goods not often sold for currency, but traded for other items
Provide important opportunities for social interaction
Aztecs required participation (where government news and propaganda was distributed)
Economics and Culture in World Business
Ethnocentrism can lead to biases which affect world trade
“Development” in Third World countries can contribute to poverty and other problems
Misunderstandings in advertising can give incorrect messages:
Incorrect flowers in advertisement
Product names which interpret poorly into other languages
Chapter 9, Sex, Marriage, and Family
Marriage vs. Mating
Mating is biological, all animals (including humans) mate
In the US, mating outside of marriage is increasingly common
Marriage is Cultural
Marriage is a rite that culture confers the rights of sexual access to another
In the US, monogamy is legally recognized, not the most common form of marriage
Control of Sexual Relations
Human females are different from many other mammals – can have sex at any time
Some anthropologists believe this is an early influence of bipedal locomotion, where
additional hormones were required in females to give them endurance while traveling
with their young
The opportunity for frequent sexual activity resulted in a need for culture to control
sexual encounters
Rules of Sexual Access
All cultures have rules to control sexual relations
In the US, the official ideology is all sexual activity outside wedlock is prohibited
Outside the US, only 5% of cultures prohibit sexual activity outside of marriage
With marriage, an individual establishes a continuing claim to the right of sexual access
to another person
The more complex a society is, the more restrictive is its attitude toward premarital sex
Of 141 societies in a recent study
25% prohibited premarital sex for females
25% approved premarital sex for females
37% tolerated premarital sex for females if discreet
5% prohibit all premarital sex
77% said premarital sex was common for males
65% said premarital sex was common for females
12% said premarital sex was rare for males
20% said premarital sex was rare for females
The Nayar of India provide an example of marriage customs that differ from ours
Nayar have 3 transactions related to marriage
1) Prior to a first menstruation, girl temporarily united with young male , sexual relations may or
may not occur. This man is referred to has her ?ritual husband? and the bonding makes her
an adult.
2) The adult woman enters a continuing sexual liaison with approved man. Formal relationship
-- male has sexual privileges. Male gives gifts, but has no further responsibility toward female,
he lives elsewhere. (Still defined as a marriage)
3) Formal acknowledgement of paternity. Father may give gifts, but has no further obligation
to child, that is the duty of the mother?s family (especially the mother?s brothers)
The Incest Taboo
Defined as the prohibition of sexual relations between parents and children and between
This taboo is one of few “universals” in human culture
Different theories to explain why the taboo is so common
1) Taboo protects against inbreeding
2) Freud (Oedipus complex) suggested son desired mother creating conflict with
father, taboo created to eliminate problem
3) Part of “human nature”
Expressions of the Incest Taboo
Belief that mating with relatives leads to birth defects
Common cultural requirement to mate outside residence group
Incest rules often include non-biological relatives
Incest rules can include distant relatives but exclude close relatives
Incest rules exist to encourage political alliances
Incest within family would confuse family structure
This taboo leads to the adoption of endogamy or exogamy within many cultures
Endogamy is marriage within a group of individuals
Not always applied to all members within the group equally (ie first cousins)
Used to keep divinity within families
Exogamy is a marriage outside of a group of individuals
Designed to encourage alliances with other groups (and other resources)
Forms of Marriage
Monogamy is the most common form of marriage
Polygyny is the most preferred form of marriage (preferred by around 80% of societies)
It is defined as the marriage of one man to two or more wives
Extra wives are desirable (for both spouses), they contribute to family economy
Extra wives are costly (bride price), thus only wealthy can afford more than one
Polygyny especially common among horticulturalists
Wives live separately with respective families
Polyandry is relatively rare (>12 societies)
It is the marriage of one female to several males
Lowers population growth, lowers need to subdivide land between offspring, provides
good pool of male labor
Choice of Spouse
Custom of marrying whomever we want, called Love Marriage, is unusual
Very high emphasis on youth and beauty
In most societies, arranged marriages are common
Arranged marriages serve to unite two different families
Arranged marriages serve to transfer rights (property and children)
Arranged marriages are a form of business transaction
Cousin Marriage
In many societies, marriage to cousins is preferred (depends on property inheritance)
Parallel-cousin marriage involves the marriage of a man to his father’s brother’s
daughter, or of a woman to her father’s brother’s son
Cross-cousin marriage involves the marriage of a woman to her father’s sister’s son, or
of a man to his mother’s brother’s daughter
Same-Sex Marriage
Offers solutions to some cultural problems
Woman/woman marriages are the most common form
Particularly common in polygynous families (one husband, several wives) when
husband dies
If one of the widows has no sons to inherit the dead husbands wealth
She may marry a younger woman with children (or who will have children via another
father) who can inherit her share
New “husband” behaves like a male
Marriage Exchanges
Three basic forms of gift exchange are known
1) Bride-price is the most common
Especially common where bride leaves to live with new husband’s family
Involves payments of wealth to the bride’s family to compensate for their loss
Often is given to young bride to help establish household
Must be refunded if marriage fails
2) Bride-service involves period of time when groom works for the bride’s family
3) Dowry is a payment of a bride’s inheritance at the time of her marriage
Insures woman’s support even after death of husband
Demonstrates status of bride
Considered difficult by most cultures, averages about 25% in most cultures
Breaks an economic relationship between two families
More common in some societies
Sometimes arranged by simply placing husband’s belongings by front door
Divorce is increasingly common in US, about 50% now
Serial Monogamy
Increasingly common (currently about half of all US marriages are of this form)
Serial monogamy is where a man or woman marries a succession of partners
Children often remain with mother (90% of cases)
Single mother households now outnumber nuclear family households in US)
After divorce, female income drops by 73%, male income increases by 42%
50% of cases where children are born out of wedlock, paternity is not established, thus
no child support from father
Solution for above problems is for mother to remarry
Marriage and the Family
A family is a group composed of a woman and her dependent children and at least one adult
male joined through marriage or blood relationship
A consanguine family consists of a woman, her dependent children, and the mother’s brothers
A conjugal family is the same as a nuclear family consisting of a mother, her husband, and
their dependent children
The Family
Many different kinds of families known
North American nuclear family not typical
Our definition of family comes from 4th Century (by the Roman Catholic Church)
Rise of industrialism encouraged families to become mobile (to follow jobs)
Isolated families from other relatives
In 1950, 60% of all households were nuclear families, now 26%
Functions of the Family
Nurturance of Children
Infants require mother’s assistance
Infants require long attention
Economic Cooperation
Mother’s role can be assumed by others in family freeing her for other tasks
Fathers and mothers often have comp. economic responsibilities
Establishment of residential groups allows men & women in the same group to share tasks &
serve as role models
Family and Household
Whereas families are not present in all societies, households are
Households are a basic residential unit where economic production, consumption, inheritance,
child rearing, and shelter are organized and implemented
Two Forms of Family: Nuclear and Extended
1) Nuclear Families are regarded as standard in America, though on decline
Also common among foragers and most intensive agriculturalists
Nuclear families are common in societies who live in marginal climates
Cooperation of spouses is critical (Inuit chewing boots)
Creates strong dependence on family members
Common when mobility is essential
Families of foragers often cooperate with other families
This is less so among industrial societies
2) Extended families area collections of nuclear families related by blood, that live
together in one household
Common in early historic America
Also common among horiculturalists
May include grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, brothers and sisters, and
Different generations of members resulted in group continuity
Two Examples of Extended Families
1) Highland Maya of Mexico
Sons bring wives to live in houses built on edges of plazas
Plaza is focus of family activity
2) Hopi of Arizona
Head of household is elderly woman
Members include her married daughters and their husbands
Women owned land, husbands tilled it
Five Different Residence Patterns for families
1) Patrilocal Residence
Woman goes to live with new husband’s family
Common in societies where men are major producers, or where warfare is
common, or where men wield most authority
2) Matrilocal Residence
Man lives with new wife’s family
Common where a women are responsible for most subsistence, where politics
are un-centralized, and where cooperation among women is important
3) Ambilocal Residence
Couple can choose husband’s or wife’s family
Common where economic cooperation is important or where resources are
4) Neolocal Residence
A couple forms a new independent household in a new location
Common in industrial nations, where mobility to new jobs is important
5) Avunculocal Residence
A couple lives with groom’s mother’s brother
Common in societies who promote patrilocal residence but need to claim descent
through the female line
Example is the Trobriand Islanders
Man destined to inherit leadership position will move in with mother’s brother to
see how family business is managed
Chapter 10, Kinship and Descent
Descent Groups
When a family group cannot solve problems on its own--a larger organizational order helps
These are called descent groups and are publicly recognized social entities requiring lineal
descent from a real or mythical ancestor
Unilineal Descent
Descent established through male or female line
Patrilineal descent is traced through the male line
Used when males are the breadwinners (pastoralists/intensive agriculturalists)
More common than matrilineal descent
Matrilineal descent is traced through the female line
Used when females are the breadwinners (horticulturalists)
Includes India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sumatra, Tibet, and South China
Also common in indigenous North America
Patrilineal Descent
Descent traced through male line
Brothers and sisters belong to the descent group of their father, their father’s father, and so on
A woman belongs to the same descent group as her father, but her children cannot trace their
descent through them
Traditional China as an example
Extended families traded through male lines
Tsu regarded as primary social unit
(included all men who traced ancestry back to about 5 generations)
Women belonged to fathers’ tsu but was absorbed by husbands’ upon marriage
Primary purpose of tsu was celebrate ceremonies and make offerings to ancestors
Each tsu maintained tablets with names of ancestors
Each tsu also functioned as a legal body
Patrilineal societies are very much a “man’s world”
Women, however, managed to manipulate the system in their own way
Matrilineal Descent
Descent is traced through the female line
Therefore, it is nearly the opposite of patrilineal descent
However, though descent is through females, males still retain most of the authority
(through mother’s brothers)
The purpose is to retain continuous female solidarity through the female work group
Generally found in societies where women do most of the work
A husbands role is somewhat weakened
Wife’s brothers settle disputes, administer inheritance, etc.
Husband has legal authority over sisters’ children
Hopi of SW Arizona as an example
Lived in region for 2000 years, primarily agricultural
Society based on named clans of matrilineal descent
Membership abscribed from birth
Two or more clans join to form “superclans” or phratries
Nine phratries exist in Hopi society
Members are expected to support each other
Phratries are exogamous
Though clans are important, the major unit in Hopi thinking is a lineage
Lineages are headed by a senior woman (eldest)
Lineages are landholding organizations, farmed by “outsiders” (husbands)
Harvest belongs to wife and her clan, husband has little authority over children
(discipline from uncles)
Functions of Descent Groups:
Economic units providing aid to members
Support for aged and infirm
Determine who an individual may or may not marry
Act as a repository of religious traditions
A lineage is a corporate descent group composed of members who trace their genealogical
links to a common ancestor
Lineages are ancestor oriented
Political and religious power often derived from lineage
It is “corporate” because it survives even after an individuals death (like IBM, etc.) and
has a perpetual existence
Members must find spouses from other lineages (exogamous)
A clan is a non-corporate descent group whose members claim a common ancestor without
actually knowing the genealogical links to that ancestor
Clans are formed when lineages become too large
Clans cannot trace exact relationship to ancestor due to distance/time from relative
Clans are more dispersed, generally not sharing residences
Since clans do not reside together, they often rely on symbols (totems) to reveal
common descent
Theoretically, a person is associated equally with all relatives on the mother’s and father’s side
of the family
This results in a very large group including eight great- grandparents, etc...........
This large group of related is an individuals’ kindred
People in a kindred are related to a living relative, not a common ancestor, so they are not
exactly descent groups
Characteristics of Kindred
Includes relatives on both sides of the family
A kindred is never the same for any two persons except for brothers and sisters
Thus, no two people (except brothers and sisters) belong to the same kindred
As an individual goes through life, his kindred changes (via marriages)
Kindreds cease with the death of the individual, they are not corporate groups
Kinship Terminology
Kinship terms serve two functions:
They classify similar kinds of persons into specific categories
They separate different kinds of persons into distinct categories
Six different kinship systems are known
Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Crow, Omaha, Sudanese
Eskimo System
Rare among world systems
Should look familiar to US residents
Common among food foragers and societies where nuclear families live apart from
remainder of family
Hawaiian System
The least complex system
Called “generational” since all relatives in same generation and same gender are called by
same name
Usually associated with ambilineal descent
Iroquois System
Widespread system
Common with unilineal descent groups
Father’s brother and mother’s sister given same terms
Their offspring considered brothers and sisters
Cross-cousins are set apart and often preferred for spouses
Crow System
Found in many parts of the world
Associated with matrilineal descent groups
Cross cousins on father’s side equated with father’s generation
Cross-cousins on mother’s side equated with Ego’s children’s generation
Merges women of different generations together
Omaha System
Patrilineal equivalent to the matrilineal Crow system
Cross-cousins on maternal side raised a generation
Cross-cousins on paternal side are equated with ego’s children’s generation
Sudanese System
All members are given unique designations
Most precise of all systems, but complicated
Found in southern Sudan and in few other places
Chapter 11, Grouping by Sex, Age, Common Interest, and Class
Grouping by Gender
Grouping by gender is characteristic of all societies
1) Five Nations Iroquois
Strictly divided into male (hunting) and female (domestic and farming) activities
Genders considered “equals”
Matrilocal descent (female authority)
Male-dominated politics (male leadership)
2) Amazon Mundurucu
Men and women work and sleep separately
Relationship is one of opposition
Belief is that women once dominated men, but could not hunt and lost power
Grouping by Age
Common in all societies
Establish patterns of activity, attitudes, prohibitions
United States
Friends are children of own age
Go through school years together
Voting, draft, drinking of alcohol, retirement
Age labels “teenager”, “middle-aged”, “senior citizen”
Non-western Societies
Immature, mature, old age
Elderly given utmost respect as “living libraries”
Institutions of Age Grouping
An organized class of people with membership based on age is known as an age grade
Entry is sometimes automatic, but not always
Plains Indian boys had to “buy” entry
Some age grades compete with others
An age set is a group of persons initiated into an age grade who move through life together
East Africa Tikiri
Age grades divided into 15-year periods
Age grades do not cease to exist after a number of years
Members remain associated with other members throughout lives
Age grades may own property, songs, shield signs, and rituals
Seven age sets exist (7 x 15 = 105 years)
Four age grades: Warriors (protect), Elder Warriors (administer), Judicial Elders
(settle local disputes), Ritual Elders (priestly functions)
Common-Interest Associations
Common-Interest Associations are not based on age, kinship, marriage, or territory, but
instead result from the act of “joining”
Associated with urbanism
Flexible in nature (no need to live near other members, etc.)
Military service (sometimes involuntary), labor unions (sometimes involuntary)
Kinds of Common-Interest Associations
Men’s and women’s clubs, street gangs
Service clubs (Rotary), student clubs (GENAS)
Religions organizations, political parties
Minority groups
Secret societies (Kachina, fraternities and sororities)
Men’s and women’s associations
Women’s groups once considered less developed
Resulted from time required to raise children
No longer a valid assumption
In many societies, there are as many women’s associations as men’s
Social Stratification
A stratified society is one divided into two or more categories ranked high and low in
relationship to each other
In stratified societies, low ranked individuals are given few privileges and have less
access to resources than high-ranked individuals
An institutionalized inequality -- Contrast with egalitarian societies
Class and Caste
A social class is a category of individuals who enjoy nearly equal prestige
A caste is a form of social class into which one is born and remains fixed for life
Offspring become members of parents caste (India)
Brahmans (bearers of universal order)
Warriors (powerful, but less pure, control village land)
Artisans and laborers (poor, own tools of trade, landless)
Untouchables (most impure, serve Brahmans and Warriors)
Social class structure is common in all complex societies, is it inevitable?
Role differentiation
Differentiation requires evaluation of roles (some “better” than others)
Social class structure inevitably produces an exploitable underclass
Social classes are defined by:
Verbal evaluation (what members of society say)
Patterns of association (who interacts with whom)
Symbolic indicators (possessions, wealth, etc.)
Chapter 12, Politics, Power, and Violence
Kinds of Political Systems
Uncentralized Systems – Bands, Tribes
Centralized Systems – Chiefdoms, States
Bands are small groups of related households occupying a particular region that gather
periodically on an ad hoc basis but that do not yield their sovereignty to the larger collective.
Least complicated and oldest form of political organization
Common among food foragers
Features of Bands
Bands seldom number more than a few hundred members, often less than 1 person/mi2
Most conflicts within bands are settled by gossip, ridicule, direct negotiation, or
Decisions made by all or most adult members
Leaders determined by abilities, no power to enforce decisions
Example of a band--Ju/’hoansi of the Kalahari Desert
Each band has right to territory it occupies
Head does not own property
Head determines when and where to move band, has no other duties
Organization of hunts, punishment for wrongdoing, trade, all handled by band members
A tribe is a group of independent communities occupying a specific region and sharing a
common language and culture integrated by some unifying factor
This term is often used incorrectly
Sometimes used in derogatory way
Has a distinct legal meaning (generally does not accurately represent the situation)
Centralized Political Systems
A chiefdom is a regional polity in which two or more local groups are organized under a single
chief, who is at the head of a ranked hierarchy of people
Individuals rank in society determined by relationship to chief
Features of a chief
Office of chief is usually hereditary
Chief is a true authority figure
Power is often organized like chain of command (major and minor subdivisions)
Chief controls economic activities
Usually controls surplus goods or labor (via redistribution)
Chief may amass great wealth and pass on to heirs
Example of chiefdom--Kpelle of Liberia, West Africa
Traditional tasks: hearing disputes, preserving order, seeing to upkeep of trails,
maintaining medicines
New tasks rewarded by: percentage of court fees, rice from each household, gifts from
those requesting help, uniformed messengers, clerks, many wives, gowns
Several ranks of lesser chiefs under paramount chiefs
The State is a centralized political system with the power to coerce
States probably made possible by increased food production (led to increased pop.)
Characteristics of states:
Not always stable, short-lived compared to earlier forms of political systems
181 states exist today, within them are 5000 nations
73% of today’s states are multinational
States delegate authority (police, ministries)
Example of a State--Swazi, Swaziland southeast Africa
Farmers, emphasis on cattle raising
Swazi authority characterized by dual monarchy
Hereditary aristocracy, king and mother are central figures
They preside over higher courts, allocate land, disburse wealth
Complex system of advisors and councils
Government extends from smallest homestead up to central administration
Positions held for life, but subjects may transfer allegiance to other chief
Political Leadership and Gender
Female Rulers
Women rarely hold important positions
In band societies, women often have as much say in political matters as men
Iroquois women appointed men to positions of power and could remove them
Dual-sex systems, Igbo of West Africa
Separate institutions for men and women
Male and female rulers each had councils
Men and women managed own affairs and were represented at all levels of government
Political Organization and the Maintenance of Order
A primary purpose of any political system is the maintenance of social order
Internal Controls
Internal controls are beliefs so thoroughly engrained that each person becomes responsible for
his/her own conduct
Wape of New Guinea
Ghosts protect descendents and punish wrongdoers
Successful hunting depends on hunter behaving properly
Example of modern Wape hunter using shotgun
External Controls
External controls are customs designed to encourage conformity
Sanctions are the primary form of external social control
Positive sanctions
Awards, titles, recognition by neighbors
Negative sanctions
Threats, imprisonment, corporal punishment, ostracism
Informal sanctions
Disapproving glances, chuckles
Formal sanctions
Military decorations, monetary awards
Seizure of property, imprisonment, death
Sanctions must be applied consistently
Social Control through Law
Contrast Inuit of Canada with Western Society:
Inuit of Canada
Disputes between individuals settled by “song duels”
Spectators applause to help determine outcome
Goal is to resolve conflict
If not possible, one party moves away
Western Society (ie U.S.)
Disputes between individuals settled by courts
Participants involve judges, police, lawyers, unrelated to parties
Spectators (jury) responsibility is to determine guilt & punishment
Goal is to punish guilty, not resolve conflict or award victim
Definition of Law
A law is a formal negative sanction
Difficult to define law from an anthropological perspective
Cannot always be associated with a court system
Functions of Law
Three functions of laws:
Define relationships among society members, determine proper behavior under
specified circumstances
Allocate the authority to employ coercion in the enforcement of sanctions
Redefine social relations and ensure social flexibility
Western society distinguishes between crime and tort:
Crime is a violation of public right
Tort is a violation against an individual
Non-western societies do not distinguish, all offenses are against individuals
Disputes settled in two ways:
1) Disputing parties voluntarily arrive at agreement
Negotiation arguments and compromise between disputing parties to arrive at
mutually satisfactory agreement
Mediation, use of unbiased third party
2) Third party issues binding decision, called adjudication
Two Examples of Different Ways of Settling Disputes
Kepelle of Liberia, Trial by ordeal
Hot knife application by licensed operator
Knife applied to operator’s leg to demonstrate effects on innocent
Burn determines guilt
Commonly used in Medieval Europe
United States
Trial by polygraph
Instruments applied to fingers by licensed operator
Instrument tested against operator to demonstrate effects on innocent
Positioning of needles determine guilt
Political Organization and External Affairs
War is unknown in some societies
More common among farmers (conflict over land)
All state level societies engage in war
Present about 10,000 years
Crisis proportions within last 200 years
Indiscriminant (kills children as well as soldiers)
Advent of more destructive modern weaponry
Warfare has economic, political, and ideological factors
Political Systems and Legitimacy
In centralized political systems, coercion is often used as a means of social control
Large number of individuals needed to enforce rules
Enforcers may become political power
Force may result in resentment from those applied to
Less-extreme forms of coercion sought
Legitimacy is the right of political leaders to rule
Divine right to rule (European kings)
Right by wealth (Kapauku)
Right by age (West Africa)
Right by popular vote (many countries)
Right by electoral college (US)
Chapter 13, Religion and the Supernatural
No known culture without religion
Religion serves many important functions in society
Psychological purposes of religion:
Confront and explain death
Gives meaning to life
Provides a path from earthly existence to spiritual selfhood
Social functions of religion:
Reinforces group norms
Provides moral sanctions for individual conduct
Furnishes common purpose and values upon which communities depend
Will Science Replace Religion?
Once predicted this to be the case
The opposite is occurring--a resurgence in fundamental religions worldwide
Science has created threats that religion helps ease
(Nuclear catastrophe, global warming, pollution, biotechnology, cloning, genetic
engineering, artificial insemination, mechanization of traditional jobs, etc.)
Continuing strength of religion shows it is a powerful and dynamic force in society
Anthropology cannot pass judgment on specific religions, but can show what religion
can reveal about humans and society
An Anthropological Approach to Religion
Religion is a set of rituals, rationalized by myth, that mobilizes supernatural powers to achieve
or prevent transformations of state in people and nature
Humans often attempt to manipulate the supernatural when they cannot “fix” problems using
Religion is thus behavior by which people try to control aspects of the universe otherwise
beyond their control
Religion is generally more important in societies with lower levels of technology
Religion is generally less important in societies with higher levels of technology
The Practice of Religion
Gods and goddesses
More remote beings that control the universe
Monotheism is the believe in a single, supreme being
Polytheism is the belief in two or more gods
Pantheons are collections of gods or goddesses
Gods common in patriarchal societies
Goddesses common in matriarchal societies
Ancestral Spirits
Many cultures believe that humans are made of two parts--body and vital spirit
Belief that spirit continues beyond physical death
Spirits retain active interest in society
Spirit behavior may be unpredictable (good or bad)
Spirits may behave just like living humans
Spirits may be reborn into a lineage
Animism is a belief in spirit beings thought to animate nature
All animate and inanimate objects may have spirits
These spirits are much closer to living people than gods and goddesses
These spirits may be good, bad, or neutral
Belief in animism common among foragers
Animatism is the belief that the world is animated by impersonal supernatural powers
Supernatural power is sometimes perceived as a “force” inherent in objects
Melanesian “mana”, Shoshonean “buha”
A power just beyond the reach of senses
Best described by “virtue, prestige, authority, good fortune, influence, sanctity, and luck”
Religious Specialists
Priests (most common) and Priestesses
Generally full-time specialists
Possess special traits
Skilled at contacting supernatural beings
Not full-time specialists
Receive gifts from special, personal event
Sometimes a traumatic experience is required
Common in “New Age” religions
Often associated with trance
Shamans often invoked to heal illnesses
Rituals and Ceremonies
Rituals are “religion in action”
Rites of Passage
Birth, puberty, marriage, parenthood, specialization, death
Three stages of Rites of Passage
1) Separation (boys taken from village)
2) Transition (tooth knocking or circumcision)
3) Incorporation (welcome back into village as a man)
Rites of Intensification
Involve group crisis, not individual crisis (drought, attack, epidemic, etc.)
Funerary rites
Magic, and Witchcraft
Magic is the belief that supernatural powers can be controlled to cause good or evil
Books about demons and possession are still popular in spite of science
Horoscope columns are as popular today as ever
Many practicing witches, wizards, druids, and shamans
Two fundamental types of magic
Imitative magic (using dolls to effect living person)
Contagious magic (use of hair, fingernails, teeth, etc. to effect a living person)
Ibibio Witchcraft (Nigeria)
Ibibio believe most misfortune is the result of witches
Males or females can be witches
One becomes a witch by ingesting special objects (colored threads, needles, etc.)
Can then change into animals and travel at incredible speeds
Witches identified as anyone revealing unusual behavior
Preferring to be alone, not showing grief when customary, not taking care of elderly
parents, adultery, etc.
Black witches (destructive powers)
White witches (powerful, but not normally dangerous unless provoked)
Functions of Witchcraft
Helps explain why me, why now?
Witchcraft is often used to explain illnesses, misfortune, etc.
Can also provide a potential cure
Accusation of witchcraft is sometimes used as a measure of a persons personality traits
(unfavorable traits may thus be suppressed to avoid accusations)
Psychological functions of witchcraft
Tends to manage tensions within a society (ie Navajo)
Allows expressions of hostility
Encourages people to behave properly
Witchcraft (Wicca) is not always concerned with working “evil”
Functions of Religion
Religion serves to provide an orderly model of the universe
Explains the unknown and makes it understandable
Provides a means of dealing with crisis
Sanctions a wide range of conduct
Sets precedents for acceptable behavior
Lifts burden of responsibility from individuals (some events caused by gods, not humans)
Maintains group solidarity (sharing of rituals)
Serves social function of education (such as initiation rites)
Religion and Social Change
Religion can offer hope when circumstances seem overwhelming
Revitalization movements
Deliberate attempts to create a more satisfying culture
Attempt to change many aspects of culture, not just religion
Leaders generally considered prophets
Ghost Dances (Western North America)
Cargo Cults (Melanesia)
Unification Church “Moonies” (North America)
Heaven’s Gate (North America)
Common sequence for revitalization movements
1) Normal society
2) Increased individual stress (economic, political, etc.)
3) Social distortion, no effective means to resolve problems
4) Dynamic cult captivates attention of segment of population
Chapter 14, The Arts
No culture without some form of art
In U.S., arts often perceived as superfluous
Art programs in schools first to be cut
What are the practical benefits of art?
Can an art major actually find a job upon graduation?
Art is used to communicate in the same way as speech
Everyone participates in the arts
Music, dress, movies (drama), jewelry, aesthetic choice in practical items (cars &
homes), advertising, etc.
Ancient artwork is often shown in museums, different from intention of original artists
Modern fine art has become detached from folk art or pop art
Much ancient art was designed to be temporary
Art is important as it is universal, expresses human values, and is shaped by culture
Art contributes to human well-being, gives significance to life
In this regard, it is much like religion
It is sometimes difficult to draw a clear dividing line between art and religion
Masks, statues and effigies, burial goods, ornaments, songs, dances
The Anthropological Study of Art
The cataloging and describing of all known art forms is a never-ending task for anthropologists
Generally considered very enjoyable by researchers
Imagine the challenge of recording and analyzing the art of any given culture
Ornaments, body decorations, clothing, blankets, pottery and basketry,
architecture and embellishments, masks, legends, songs, dances
Verbal Arts
Folklore is the unwritten stories, beliefs, and customs of European peasant peoples
Most anthropologists prefer the terms “oral tradition” and “verbal arts”
Oral traditions include narratives, dramas, poetry, incantations, proverbs, riddles, word
games, etc.
The easiest to study are narratives
Narratives can be divided into myths, legends, and tales
A myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world came to be in its present form
Myths are basically religious in nature
Myths generally express a culture’s worldview
Myths are products of creative imagination, works of art, and religious statements
Myths around the world often share similar themes (of great interest to anthropologists)
One-time rule by women, great floods, virgin births, destruction of earlier worlds,
replacement by subsequent worlds, positive deities above, negative deities below
Legends are stories told as true and set in the post-creation world
Reagan story of woman on welfare receiving numerous checks, proven untrue, story
still used by President (typical of legends)
Cannot be attributed to specific author
Exist in multiple versions
Told with enough detail to seem believable
Tell us something of the society they are found in
Commonly deal with heroes, movements of people, and establishment of local customs
Often used to entertain, instruct, or inspire pride
Much of “history” is legendary in nature
Some states rewrite history (Aztec, Nazi, Maya, others)
Archaeological evidence often refutes historical narratives (Utah massacre, etc.)
Long legends are known as epics
May last several hours or even days
Generally found in non-literate societies
Serve to transmit complex knowledge (legal & political matters)
Legends provide anthropologist with much information about a culture
What kinds of behavior are approved
How is incorrect behavior punished
What is brave or cowardly
What is morally acceptable, unacceptable
Tales are creative narratives recognized as fiction for entertainment
Tales around the world often share common themes (snake sewn into arm of jacket at
Many of our tales are traceable to ancient India
Common themes include:
Animal, human experience, trickster, dilemma, ghost, moral, scatological, and nonsense
Other Verbal Arts
Egyptian Bedouins use two forms of poems
Heroic poems told by men, formal in nature, usually used in ritual contexts
Little poems, told primarily by women and youth, informal, often discuss controversial
subjects, risqué themes, etc.
Music lyrics
Drama productions
The Art of Music
Ethnomusicology is the study of a society’s music
No single definition of music is acceptable to a majority of anthropologists
What is music to one person is noise to another
Music is abstract expression, not concrete ideas, difficult to study scientifically
European music differs greatly from much other music from around the world
Often other music is highly repetitive
Scales differ widely from culture to culture (7 note, 5 note, etc.)
Much non-western music sounds strange to westerners until they listen to enough to
become familiar with conventions
Patterns of beats is highly variable, western music being quite different from other
musical traditions
Functions of Music
Music has been used as a form of entertainment
Also used to call game, lure enemies, attract women
Music can be a cultural identifier (rage, rap, ethnic music)
Promote political ends (patriotic songs)
Songs are music with verbal text
Adhere to conventions of pitch, rhythm, etc.
Contain lots of cultural information
Function to soothe babies to sleep, ward off evil, advertise goods, pass time, time activities
Songs can convey information and feelings that are difficult to pass on via other forms of
Pictoral Art
Examples from all known cultures
Types of pictorial art:
Engravings on bone and shell, paintings and carvings on rock, carved and painted onto
wood, gourds, or pots, painted on or woven into textiles, painted on bodies
Two main categories of pictorial art
Representational (imitating nature)
Abstract (representing patterns or unrecognizable forms)
Southern African Rock Art
Unbroken tradition that is at least 27,000 years old
Painted or carved onto rock surfaces
Figures involve animals (elans) and humans (very animated) a geometric designs (dots, zigzags, etc)
Animals are more naturalistic than humans
Poses of humans suggest art depicts trance dances
To fully “interpret” rock art, we must understand symbols used by artists
Compare with da Vinci’s Last Supper
Modern interpretation suggests geometric images are entopic phenomena (visions of grids,
geometric designs, spirals)
During trance, brain goes through three stages:
1) Image generation, brain will begin to see geometric patterns
2) Brain will try to make sense of patterns, mapping things from everyday life (markings
on giraffe skin, etc.) onto dreamed images
3) Observer becomes part of images, images are generally very emotional (powerful
animals, etc.)
Chapter 15, Cultural Change
Cultural Change
All cultures change
Some remain stable for thousands of years, but archaeologists have shown that all known
cultures have changed
Often, cultural change is a combination of several distinct factors operating simultaneously.
Mechanisms of Change
A primary innovation is the chance discovery of a new principle
Discovery that fire hardened clay (25,000 years ago)
A secondary innovation is the development of something new as a result of the
deliberate application of a known principle
Discovery of clay vessels (6,000 years ago)
There is often a long period of time between primary and secondary innovations.
Some innovations occur when different conditions come together at the right time
Penicillin-discovery made in 1928 when mold accidentally landed on staph colony
Some innovations are discouraged when there is no perceived need
Copernicus’s discovery of planet rotation
Mendel’s discovery of laws of heredity
Why are some innovations not accepted?
Force of habit (humans are generally conservative)
Example of “QWERTY” keyboard vs. “DVORAK” keyboard (speed and accuracy
advantage of later)
Why don’t we use the metric system?
Diffusion is the borrowing of customs from one society to another
Estimates suggest that 90% of a culture’s content is diffused from other cultures
Cultural content is accepted if deemed appropriate, rejected if inappropriate
Foods we have borrowed from American Indians:
Potatoes, avocados, corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, peanuts, manioc, chili
peppers, chocolate, sweet potatoes, tobacco, etc
Other items we borrowed from American Indians:
Rubber, medicines (cocaine, laxatives, aspirin), music, games, literature.
Cultural Loss
One major source of culture change is cultural loss, where one item is abandoned when
a new one is adopted, or when the old one no longer serves a purpose
Camels replaced wheeled carts on Roman roads
Atlatls being replaced by the bow and arrow
Typewriters being replaced by word processors
Slide rules being replaced by calculators.
Forcible Change
Acculturation is when culture change is forced upon a people during first-hand contact
between cultures
Always involves some force
When two different cultures blend to form a new one (”melting pot” concept)
When members of one culture either die or when they become refugees among other
cultures (many Brazilian Indians)
Did the indigenous Shoshonean population of southern Idaho merge with Euroamerican
society or become extinct?
Genocide is the deliberate or un-deliberate extinction of one group by another
Pequot massacre in Connecticut, 1637
Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1890
Tasmania, Australia
Jewish extermination during WW II
1945-1987, 6.8 million people were victims of genocide
1945-1980, 3.34 million people died in wars.
Directed Change
Directed change is change forced upon a conquered people by conquerors
Placement in reservations
Requirement to adopt new customs, language
Responses to directed change
Movement to remote locations
Adaptation of British game of Cricket by Trobriand Islanders.
Revitalization Movements
Revitalization is the deliberate attempt by a small segment of a society to construct a more
satisfactory culture by the acceptance of multiple innovations
Black Muslims
Melanesian Cargo Cults
Paiute Ghost Cult.
Rebellion and Revolution
Rebellions occur when discontent becomes excessive
Many smaller countries are exploited by more powerful countries
Cheap labor, natural resources
Common conditions for rebellion:
1) Loss of prestige of established authority (failure of foreign policy, financial difficulties)
2) Threat to recent economic improvement (rising cost of living)
3) Indecisiveness of government (lack of consistent policies)
4) Loss of support of intellectual class
5) Emergence of a leader with charisma to mobilize discontented.
A few stats regarding rebellions:
120 armed conflicts today
98% are in the poor countries of Africa, Asia, Central America, South America
75% are between the state and subjugated peoples within the state’s borders
Rebellions are relatively modern phenomena because state level organization is only about
5000 years old.
Modernization is the process wherein developing societies acquire some of the characteristics
of Western industrialized societies.
“Becoming modern” equates to “becoming like us”
Suggests that other cultures must be changed
The process of modernization;
1) technological development (shift to scientific methods)
2) agricultural development (shift to commercial farming)
3) industrialization (shift to inanimate forms of energy)
4) urbanization (move into cities).
Example 1: The Skolt Lapps and Snowmobiles
Original society was basically egalitarian
Central economic focus was reindeer herding
Men used skis to follow and maintain herds
Snowmobiles introduced in 1960's
By 1967, nearly all Lapps using snowmobiles
Snow machines and parts were needed and expensive
Result was need for cash (men forced to work elsewhere for cash income)
Use of machines to herd Reindeer has impacted herd size (from 50 to 12) and behavior (more
Many Lapps have abandoned herding altogether.
Example 2: The Shuar (Jivaro)
Formed a federation in 1964 to help decide future of society
Secured title to 96,000 hectares of communal land
Established a herd of 15,000 cattle
Established Shuar schools with Shuar teachers
Established a radio station and newspaper.
Modernization and the “Underdeveloped” World
Changes that occurred over many generations in our society are occurring quickly elsewhere
Family structure is changing
Schools replacing family structure
Change from extended to nuclear family
Burden of modernization falls primarily on women
Commercialization of farming ignores traditional women’s land rights
Mechanization replaces women’s labor, forces women into household work
Husbands confined more to work related to farming, other family responsibilities fall
more and more on women.
Does Modernization Have to be Painful?
Is it possible for all the world to be modern?
The US (5% of world population) consumes 50% of the world’s natural resources
Many other cultures aspire to our standards
Is leading to a “Culture of Discontent” wherein aspirations far exceed bounds of local
Rural people are fleeing to cities to find “better
Chapter 16, The Cultural Future of Humanity
While culture is solving some problems, it is creating others
If humanity is to make wise decisions about the future, it is imperative we have a clear understanding
of the world today. It is here anthropologists have much to offer.
Will there be a “One-World Culture”?
Some anthropologists believe this could happen by the 23rd century
One problem with this scenario is the tendency for large states to come apart
USSR, Maya, Rome, most others
There are 181 recognized states, but 5000 national groups desiring self-control
Is a One-World Culture a Good Idea?
Some feel that certain cultures may be too specialized to survive in a changing environment.
This is not true, culture is adaptable, they have just not been given the chance to do so.
The Rise of Multinational Corporations
In 1994,10 individuals directed 37 North American companies with combined assets of $2
trillion (larger than many governments and nearly 10% of ALL corporate assets in the US)
Very few people know who these powerful individuals are.
Can you name the 5 largest multinational corporations?
Corporations have tremendous political power, often thwarting the wishes of governments
Corporations can also act in concert with governments, this is where the worst problems occur
Brazil government joined by Alcoa, Borden, Union Carbide, Swift-Armor, Volkswagen,
World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and others to log and mine huge
regions of Brazil displacing millions of indigenous peoples and extinguish numerous
tribal groups
Get consumers to pay for advertising (logos on t-shirts)
Hire cheap labor (esp women from underdeveloped nations)
Help draw people into a global system of relationships
Ethnic Resurgence
Many people resisting modernization
Overthrow of Shah of Iran, control by fundamentalists and return to traditional lifeways
To survive, a culture must instill the idea that its “ways” are best
Many governments believe that no group has the right to stand in the way of the
“greater good for the greater number”
Problems Humankind will Face
World Hunger
In 1980, 52 countries were producing less than in 1970
42 countries can’t produce enough food to feed populations
Problem is dramatic population growth
Can we grow enough food? Yes, but the problem is distribution
The US throws away $85 million a day in food (farms going bankrupt at high rate)
Genetically-altered wheat feared though it can increase yields by many times
Farm chemicals (fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides)
Burning of fossil fuels, global warming
Population control
Increase in proportion of elderly
The emphasis on individual self-interest, materialism, and conspicuous consumption characteristic of
the world’s richest countries, needs to be abandoned in favor of a more human self-image and social
ethic. These can be created from values still found in many of the worlds’ non-Western cultures.
Such values include a worldview that sees humanity as part of the natural world, rather than superior
to it.