Dirt Bro Bob
Goes to College!
Bob's notes from lectures presented by Dr. Richard L. Warms
Texas State University -- San Marcos
Dr. Warms co-edited the textbook used in this class
|Continued on Pg. 2|
August 25, 28,30 2006
What the heck is Anthropology anyway and why should anyone spend their time studying it?
Basic questions, but good ones.
Anthropology’s definition is varied and hotly debated, but it can best be summarized as a comparative, holistic (biological, historical, shared and learned culture patterns) study of human beings in all places and times. It’s a study of cultures, human’s adaptations which help them live in real world environments, which help us all make sense of how other people live. Through Anthropology we get to look at the way culture is and has been constructed in the pan-human sense.
By studying Anthropology we are making an attempt to understand ourselves and what it means to be a human being. Perhaps, if we could study all cultures ever known and throw away all of the cultural noise, or what’s different between them, we might distill out a commonality which we could call “what it means to be a human being.” And if we study the widest range of human behaviors we can get a personal perspective of this human definition.
It could be argued that study of Anthropology is perhaps the most valuable discipline of our time. Given the social problems we are living through now, studying cultural interaction has never been of more importance: Human culture studies could provide solutions to some survival problems!
Anthropology has five main
Physical or Biological Anthropology attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary and biological history of humankind. Who we are is a result of who we’ve been throughout history. It’s a big factor in the kinds of cultures we have created as adaptations to the environment based directly upon our physical limitations as well as skills.
It’s a measurement obsessive discipline, comprising study of human variation and differences of physiology. It’s a discipline which also focuses on that which is genetically inherited. It’s a discipline which studies biological processes and primate evolution, including humans. It’s a way to pin-down what it’s like to be “not-human.”
This brings up the matter of race. In fact, anthropology does not recognize race as a genuine human distinction. Race is a cultural construction, not a biological fact. The notion that all human groups have the same biological and mental capabilities is called biopsychological equality. This idea is not a new one, but one proposed by the father of anthropology, Franz Boas, back at the turn of the twentieth century.
Archaeology attempts reconstruction of cultures and cultural interactions from what’s “leftover”—ie, life patterns which are impressed upon material possessions.
Applied Anthroplogy has subdisciplines of its own such as Medical Anthropology which examines cultural factors affecting health and well-being and Forensic Anthropologists, who understand skeletal biology and assist in solving crimes. Other situations which apply anthropology expertise to problems are museum curation and display, historian, foreign aid, health care delivery, and CRM works.
Linguistic Anthropology looks at language as a complex symbolic systems that people use to transmit culture. Historical linguists study how languages are related to each other. Descriptive Linguistics is the study of sounds and syntax of languages (ie.,emphasis and inflection).
Cultural Anthropology is the study of current day societies. It is a practice of fieldwork which places the researcher within cultures, as a participant, while also gathering cultural data as an observer. This technique is therefore called participant-observation, the results of which are published in an ethnography, a description of the society.
Sometimes, since anthropology is a comparative scientific discipline, many ethnographic studies will be subjected to cross-cultural analysis. This kind of analysis is called ethnology, an analysis of societies.
Important Anthropologists and Their Ideas
Early (through the 19th century) anthropologists saw other societies in context with the known classical histories of their own European backgrounds. They were affected by the ideas of Darwinian evolution and believed that a universal human culture existed and was shared, in different degrees, by all societies. They saw societies as existing within a range of evolved states from primitive savagery and barbarism toward civilization. This state was determined by through examination of a society’s technology. Modern anthropology follows the notion that culture is something possessed by all societies, and is diverse in type and munber. Two such gentleman anthropologists were Sir Edward Burnett Tyler and Lewis Henry Morgan.
The most influential anthropologist of the first half of the 20th century is also considered the father of American Anthropology, Franz Boas.
Boas rejected the use of evolutionary themes for the models of society and culture and believed that no society was more evolved than another. Boas believed in hands-on fieldwork, that a researcher needed to become “one” with the culture being studied. He was a proponent of the participant-observation method.
Boas held three basic principles of
Boas advocated a multi-disciplinary research strategy using Cultural, Physical, Linguistic and Archaeological data called the four field approach.
Now, though there are plenty of racists in the world, most of us would not find it too difficult to agree with Boas’ ideas of biopsychological equality, but concepts such as Cultural Relativism and the Inductive Approach are ideals used for research.
For example, it would not be difficult to call a society “lesser” should it practice slavery, or other forms of racism. And it would be difficult to be entirely objective toward any other culture. So, we cannot expect ourselves to be perfect observers of societies. We must however, not stray toward having a viewpoint of too much superiority with regard to our own culture, as we would be guilty of ethnocentricity, a state which leads to things like the Holocaust. Yet, some ethnocentric notions are perhaps required for a society to stick together. History has favored ethnocentric cultures 80% of the time.
However, research needs a baseline: the Scientific Method assumes that all Nature is ordered and as such, can be observed in a consistent fashion. In such a way, anthropologists need ideal statements as baseline methods for research. In essence, this means the Ideational Approach is hands-on, participant-observation fieldwork. Before Boas, most information about cultures came from adventurers, religious organizations, collectors, military men, explorers--- all people who published books about their travels spiced up with whatever attitudes and scenes would sell more books, raise more funds. Field work needs objectivity and a lack of bias in order to be successful, and so there needs to be stated a principle such as Cultural Relativism.
Cultural Relativism should not be confused with Moral Relativism which takes the position that there are no universal moral truths and that all ethical positions are the same.
All fieldwork has its drawbacks, culture shock being one of them. Culture shock is a state of bewilderment, anxiety and depression brought about when an individual is suddenly exposed to a social and cultural environment radically different from their own. Fieldwork places the researcher in the position of a child, stripped down in status --- left to learn language and culture as a child would, indeed sounding and acting like a child.
This is a daunting thing, and many a great student has failed at fieldwork, mired down in culture shock. But in a sense the task that anthropologists set out for themselves is impossible because an outsider always remains an outsider and is never totally assimilated into the culture studied.
Some fieldwork survival tips:
Advantages and Disadvantages of Participant-Observation Methods
Human culture exists always within its biological realm and is dependent upon biological restraints and feature. In other words, things like our binocular vision, having fingernails instead of claws, etc. guarantee that what we create and how we live is a product of our biology.
Species have histories and those histories are of CHANGE.
When he got the chance to go along on an
which was to map the coast of South America he paid for his own
Mostly, he was invited to come along as a
Darwin established his fame on the voyage through the discovery of many new species and geological formations. He was quite well-known by the time the Beagle returned to England on October 2, 1836.
Darwin was especially interested in the profusion of types of finches he found on one island area, the Galapagos. Why was there sucha profusion of kinds of finches when nearby (landside), there was but one or two varieties? He believed they flew there somehow in recent geological time and became isolated on the islands.
Upon Darwin’s return to England he eventually wrote the 5 volume Voyage of the Beagle, but not after spending a decade writing about other topics such as barnacles. He became quite famous, perhaps England’s most famous naturalist, well before he was to publish his, now, best-known works.
Not until later in his life, in 1859, did he publish his Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, and in 1871, The Descent of Man, a book he feared as so controversial that he had planned for it to be published after his death.
A SUMMARY OF NATURAL SELECTION
Herbert Spencer coined the phrase, “survival of the fittest,” not Darwin, and it refers to fitness as fitness for reproduction, literally the production of offspring. This is the core of the concept of natural selection-- only traits that improve the ability to produce successful offspring matter.
Are we getting smarter? How do we evolve?
Primates are all social animals: they live in societies. Core relationships are between mothers and their offspring. Offspring learn by imitating their mother’s actions and in this way learn how to find sources of food and water and which other animals are safe or dangerous. As primates get older play becomes an important way to refine physical skills, practice solving problems and explore their world. Play is learning and, thus, learning is fun for primates.
Primate societies are male and/or female dominance societies. Theses hierarchies are created through aggression, but prevailing thought believes that this actually keeps violence down to a minimum because low-ranking individuals will rarely challenge those with more status. Status and rank offer more accessibility to sex, food and other resources. Primates offer reconciliation toward each other and can be seen grooming, lip-smacking and having symbolic sex as a means of ending a conflict.
Primates use tools. Some chimpanzee groups have been seen breaking nuts with rocks, using leaves as “sponges” to soak up small amounts of water, and “fishing” for termites with long sticks, poking them into holes and scooping out termites to eat. But since these behaviors are seen only in some groups, this proves that the behaviors are learned and not instinctive.
The critical adaptation of humans is BIPEDAL LOCOMOTION.
Humans are within the biological family of Hominidae — within this family, individuals are known by their genus (a group of similar species) and species (if you can mate with it, and produce fertile young, it’s within your species!). All human ancestry seems to have come out of Africa.
There are two genera within which all humans and their
AUSTRALOPITHECINES are the oldest, most agreed upon ancestors of humans. They lived 4.2mya – 1mya. The most famous example, first found by the Leakeys, was called “Lucy”. Australopithicines are only found in Africa. They were not very bright, having a cranial capacity of merely 440cubic cm, about the size of a softball. They were fully bipedal, and highly variable, with several sub-species. They were mostly vegetarian, eating fruit, but could have scavenged and/or killed small animals. A.Robustus was a “heavier” species with large jaws and thick skull and was exclusively a herbivore. A.africanus, was “lighter” (called more gracile) and an omnivore.
HOMO HABILIS lived 2.5mya to 1.6mya and was found only in Africa. It was also bipedal, was small-brained, but Habilis could make tools, and this is the critical diagnostic for this species of Homo. Tools, called OLDOWAN, were cobbles shattered to create a simple sharp vertices used to crack bone for marrow. Homo habilis was the 1st human to make tools.
HOMO ERECTUS, so called, not because it was the first human to walk erect, but because it was found before the others. Also referred to as Jave Man as it was found in Indonesia in the 1890’s. Of course this human lived in Africa too, but no one was looking in Africa. Homo erectus is the first group of humans to leave Africa and as such, as a species showed great inclination to migrate and thus to adapt to many environments. This being not a biological adaptation, but a BEHAVIORAL adaptation--- CULTURE! Homo erectus manufactured bowls, cups, and much improved lithic tools called ACHEULIAN. Homo erectus were hunters and had an omnivorous diet.
Homo erectus had a larger body frame than its predecessors and a brain size that sometimes reach modern volume (1000 - 1250 cubic cm). Their skulls were low-browed with bony ridges, possibly to protect themselves from blows to the head from animals or each other.
Examinations of Homo erectus skeletal remains shows a great variety evolving between 1mya and .5mya. It turns out we are not related to any of these varieties.
Though H.erectus left Africa and diversified, we still were in among a small group of H.erectus which remained there until expanding out of Africa some 200,000 years ago when there arose a “sapiens-like” erectus, Neanderthal.
By 35,000 years ago, there remained only Homo sapiens.
HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS fully modern humans, were present in Africa by about 195,000 years ago. The crtitical anatomical differences between H.erectus and H.sapiens lie in the volume and shape of the skull. Sapiens skulls lack the heavy bony ridging above the eyes, and the thick bone structure.
H.sapiens showed extraordinary sophistication in tools and culture, spreading to North America somewhere between 40,000 and 12,000 years ago. H.sapiens developed language within perhaps 100,000 years ago as best guess.
As humans evolved they developed in complexity of behavior and variability of behaviors and got more and more culture. H.sapiens developed the ability to integrate more kinds of information
There are two major theories of transition to human species:
As humans evolved, they became dependent upon their culture as less knowledge was “hard-wired” and more became the result of learned behaviors. There rose specialist classes of people who had special knowledge.
HUMANS AND PRIMATES ARE LEARNING DEPENDENT
Communication can be defined as the act of transmitting information that influences the behavior of another organism.
Some of the means by which animals communicate: gesture, smell, sound, body language, chemical.
Animals communicate sound-wise through call systems. Call Systems are a form of communication among non-human primates (and other animals) composed of a limited number of sounds that are tied to specific stimuli in the environment.
Properties of Animal call systems:
No call system is as sophisticated as human language.
LANGUAGE THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION TOOL FOR HUMANS.
Human language is unique and tied to:
Other animals (birds, gorillas and chimps for example) learn to imitate human speech but the process by which they learn is fundamentally different and speech they learn is simple.
HOW WE LEARN TO SPEAK
The human brain is adapted to speech: its functionality is linked to a specific spot on the brain—there is a “speech instinct” in humans. Speech is not part of a “conceptual” intelligence, and indeed, does not correlate very well with intelligence and seems to be somewhat independent element of the brain. An example of this would be someone who has William’s Syndrome, whereby they can be severely retarded, yet speak fluently and be impulsively outgoing.
Noam Chomsky has suggested that there is a universal grammar, or a basic set of principles, conditions, and rules that underlie all languages. Language is thus an innate property of the mind.
Humans exist through language; it is a fundamental part of being human. An inability to communicate with language threatens an individual’s humanity—this seems to be unique to humans.
Animals are born “genetically programmed” with a complete retinue of calls, whereas humans have an instinct to learn speech.
PHONOLOGY & PHONETICS
The study of the structure and content of specific languages is called descriptive or structural linguistics.
The structure of language consists of four subsystems:
Phonetics (as defined by Wikipedia) is the study of sounds and the human voice. It is concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds (phones) as well as those of non-speech sounds, and their production, audition and perception, as opposed to phonology, which is the study of sound systems and abstract sound units (such as phonemes and distinctive features). Phonetics deals with the sounds themselves rather than the contexts in which they are used in languages. Discussions of meaning (semantics) do not enter at this level of linguistic analysis, therefore.
Language is comprised of two basic bits:
ALL people share the same set of phones, but each language has it’s own set of phonemes. All people are capable of producing all phones. Languages vary in the number of phenomes – Japanese and Hawaiian have around 20, Hmong has about 80, !Xu (S. Africa) has as many as 140, while English has 35-40. English is a relatively simple language with no genders and few phenomes (compare this to French and Spanish which have 2 genders and German which has 3 genders and Swahili, which has 6 genders.)
The prelanguage spoken by human ancestors was made by blending phones—as example of early formation of phonemes.
Humans selectively learn what sounds are useful, and learn to hear certain phones as phenomes while learning NOT to hear others. This is an unconscious process.
English, as in Spanish, has many cases in which a single phoneme may be indicated by many phones—different soundswhich do not necessarily serve to distinguish words. For example, the phoneme /t/ includes at least six different phones: stick, tick can’t, Robert, water, little. The /t/ sound in each of these words is different.
The smallest unit of a language that has meaning is called a morpheme. A word is composed of one or more morphemes and is the smallest part of a sentence that can be said alone and still retain its meaning.
In English, -s, as in dogs, means plural; un- as in undo, means “negative.” These bits, because they cannot be used by themselves, but as parts of words, or in association with another unit of meaning, are called bound morphemes. A morpheme which can stand on its own, such as automobile, or computer, is called a free morpheme.
Isolating languages, such as English or Chinese, have relatively few morphemes per word. Other languages, such as Turkish, are called agglutinating languages, which allow for many morphemes within a highly regular set of rules for combination. Synthetic languages, such as Mohawk or Inuit, have many morphemes within a word and very irregular rules for their combination.
BECAUSE words have both a phonology and a morphology, an infinite combination and number of words are possible. (i.e.--- a limited number of blended sounds can be combined into a limitless number of possible utterances) This is called Duality of Patterning.
In animal calls, one phone has exactly one meaning – i.e., there’s only one level of patterning.
SYNTAX is the arrangement of words to form phrases and sentences. Languages differ in their syntactic structures.
In English word order is important (The man bit the dog. vs The dog bit the man.)—not so in other languages such as Latin, where word endings point out the subject regardless of the order in which words appear in sentences.
We can recognise a sentence as grammatical even if it makes no
A now classic example is Noam Chomsky’s:
Understanding the relationship between language and ethnocentrism is an essential part of the ethnography of communication. An example is in the “Whiteman” jokes told by the Western Apache. Never told to white men, it is a speech performance which developed because of interactions between Indians and Europeans, and underscores that the anthropologist must hear people speak in their natural setting in order to grasp their full linguistic creativity.
Emotional meaning in English words is also articulated through inflection. Some cultures add endings to their words for this purpose because their inflections change literally the meaning of a word (ex. Benihanna in japanese--- red flower, red bridge, red nose, depending upon pronounciation.)
Languages and Dialects
Some of the most misunderstood languages are pidgins and creoles. Pidgins are defined as languages of contact and trade and are composed of features of 2 or more languages. NO ONE speaks pidgin as their first, or primary language, and the vocabulary is usually limited to terms of trade and contact interactions.
Pidgins may at times evolve into creoles, which while composed of features similar to pidgin, are indeed spoken as primary languages by their speakers. Many creoles were created as Europeans expanded into Asia and the Americas. In many cases, members of the upper classes speak the “original” European language while the lower classes speak creole. An example is in Haiti where 70-90% of people speak creole, while governmental and administrative functions are performed in French, the language of the elite.
Some researchers, notably Labov, studies show that we judge people’s social status by the language they speak. Social crtitics of the 1960’s believed several varieties of English to be inferior, including Appalachian English, Dutchified Pennsylvania English, Hawaiian Creole, Gulla and emergent Hispanic Englishes. The most widely known stigmatized variety is African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). This form of English was heavily critisized. However research conducted in the 60’s and 70’s found that AAVE was indeed a different variety from Standard Spoken American English (SSAE).
It is assumed that people who speak AAVE and SSAE must code switch, the ability of speakers of two languages to seamlessly switch between them.
What is the relationship between language and thought?
Known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis proposes that the language you speak determines which things will be habitually noticed, labeled and thought about in a conscious way. In other words, we perceive the world in certain ways because we talk about the world in certain ways. These are the Morphological Effects of the hypothesis. A specific example would be the use of doublespeak words like “peacekeeper” to stand for bombs, and pre-owned, for used.
Secondly, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis claimed that cultural ideas and behavioral norms are encoded in the language—that language can make you act or not act in a certain way. While language may influence a person’s actions, it does not have the ability to make someone think a particular way.
Example----> Hopi time:
Difference in the gender of words also points out a flaw in the hypothesis, for those differences tell us nothing about the difference between men and women.
One of the most compelling facts about human languages is that they do NOT represent different cognitive worlds. Any human language can be translated into any other human language.
Chmsky states that all human languages are so similar that an alien would consider human languages all varying dialects.
Languages Change by Sound
"Sound laws are rules that help you figure out what words are related to each other in different languages. For example, the "p to pf" law tells us that the English word "apple" and the Dutch word "appel" are related to the German word "Apfel". Sound laws are accepted as being true because they apply in many cases - "Pfund" for "pound", "Pfad" for "path", "Pfand" for "pawn", etc.
The grandaddy of the sound laws is Grimm's Law, invented by the same 19th century German brothers who collected Grimm's Fairy Tales. (It was actually Jacob Grimm who invented the law). Grimm's Law shows how close Latin, Greek and Sanskrit are to the Germanic and Slavic languages. Actually this is Grimm's second Law. Grimm's first Law explains why modern German sounds so funny, as described in the first paragraph - Pf instead of p, Z (pronounced "ts") instead of t etc.
Grimm's law tells us for example that a Latin or Greek "f" corresponds to a Germanic "b". So the Latin root "flor-" which gives us the word "flower" is related to the English word "blossom". We might symbolize this law as follows:F>B Along the same lines, the Latin word "labium" is cognate to the English word "lip". B>P To complete the circle, the Latin "plens" ("full", "plenty") and the Greek "poly" ("many") are related to the English "full", and "flow". P>F
The rules are more or less as follows:
f>b, b>p, p>f
I have simplified the law for the sake of the argument (Latin has d or sometimes an f instead of th for example)."
The Great Vowel Shift
Language is historical and political
Change follows political patterns
Glottochronology is a statistical technique that uses core vocabulary to estimate the date of separation of related languages.
The reconstructed vocabulary contains words for trees and animals that existed in northern Europe suggesting that this may have been the home of the original Indo-Europeans.
No one knows if there is an “original” language or what it might have sounded like.
CULTURE: WHAT IS IT?
What is it?
CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE
1. Culture is learned behavior
Babinski' s Reflex is a "leftover" trait from our arboreal ancestry.
Babinski's reflex occurs when the great toe flexes toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out after the sole of the foot has been firmly stroked. This is normal in younger children, but abnormal after the age of 2.
Reflexes are specific, predictable, involuntary responses to a particular type of stimulation.
Babinski's reflex is one of the infantile reflexes. It is normal in children under 2 years old, but it disappears as the child ages and the nervous system becomes more developed.
In people more than 2 years old, the presence of a Babinski's
indicates damage to the nerve paths connecting the spinal cord and the
brain (the corticospinal tract). Because this tract is right-sided and
left-sided, a Babinski's reflex can occur on one side or on both sides.
Anthropologist Clifford Gertz stated that the main purpose of anthropology is to sort out whether "it's a wink, or a blink," in other words, whether a behavior is a learned behavior, or a reflex.
2. Culture is symbolic
Information storage means individuals need only to learn a fraction of this culture. Without symbols learning can only take place through direct contact or experience--- symbols extend this concept, allowing learning without direct experience.
Symbols pack great emotion, and sometimes in all directions at once: an example is a group of people's reaction to a flag, and the/or the subsequent burning of that flag.
3. Culture is shared
4. Culture is all-encompassing
5. Culture is a patterned, integrated system
6. Culture is ideological
7. Culture is adaptive
DIFFERENT CULTURES AND REAL SOCIETIES NEED ENERGY
People in the real world are constrained by the laws of physics--- living, reproducing, material goods, social structure, ideas, all need energy to happen. This energy is energy in terms of what the human body needs, i.e. food--- no food and societies die. Society is about the operation of human bodies and the "power" added to a "natural" body's energy needs. It all comes down to the production of calories and the amount of caloric use of a culture.
Production statistics see whether activities balance in positive caloric output -- in other words, whether activities produce a caloric surplus for use in other activities.
Things like art/music/religion (ideas) require and represent energy. Religion, for example, represents people paid or supported to think religious thoughts rather than to do other, perhaps more "practical" activities, represents societal energy expended.
A single human being requires approximately 640,000 calories per year to survive.
PRODUCTION STRATEGIES FOR SUBSISTENCE SYSTEMS
Industrial agriculture would seem to be the most productive system of calorie production if all we count is number of calories, supporting an incredibly complex culture with only 2% of the poipulation directly involved in means of production. But there is a flipside to it as Industrial agriculture depends upon "artificial" second-level calorie use by support industries which, for example truck the product to factories where it is further processed and/or packaged,then shipped to a complex system of final distribution.
So, there is a direct, physical relationship between production and culture and therefore, calorie output from activities determines the complexity of culture--- complex, but not necessarily better. Until a culture can generate enough calories to support them, people like religious leaders or chiefs, cannot be supported on a full-time basis.
Today, no one lives by traditionally foraging lifeways. Fifty to sixty percent of the world survives by food grown from commercial agricultural output.
Thomas Hobbes: "No arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary: poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Many philosophers thought that foragers were halfway between apes and humans but a more comforting vision of foragers is closer to reality.
In truth, Hobbes' comment bettrer reflects the lives of the serfs of his time who were struggling just to survive.
Studies of !Kung (the culture shown in "God Must Be Crazy" film) in the 1950's and 60's showed them to be examples of how foraging represented the "original affluent society."
It turns out that most foragers (excluding the aborigines and Aluits) eat little meat, mostly depending upon gathering of vegetable foods. A full 80-90% of all their calories come from gathering.
Interestingly, life expectancies for foragers were higher than
societies (at least at birth).
Costs of Foraging
All threads of social consistency were determined, driven, by
of how people were fed.
Foraging societiews were truly egalitarian-- all members of the society had equal access to everything. There was no reason, or provocation, to have a leader and centrism of power. Modern egalitarianism is law-oriented (America) or, concerns property access (French).
What is Power?
BALANCING POPULATION & RESOURCES
Foraging populations tended to reproduce at high rates, with females having 12-13 births per female (in the best times).
BUT, if humans had continued to reproduce at that rate through time, the population of the earth would have been absurdly high, so something must have occured that would keep that from happening.
In fact, forager populations grew slowly-- this means that when faced with increasing population, foragers tended to reduce demand by reducing population.
All societies have had some means, however faulty, of birth control through contraceptives. They could also control the robustness of children by the rate of breastfeeding. Taboos could be used to regulate sex. And finally, there's infanticide.
Under certain conditions young children (usually less than one year old) are killed or allowed to die. Infanticide is practiced in either active or passive fashion.
In active infanticide, direct action is taken to kill an infant...usually a neonate (a baby who is four weeks old or younger) -- infants may be strangled, bludgeoned, or exposed to the elements. Active infanticide is not easy or taken lightly. It's done because it's got to be done...and it's strongly backed by religious belief.
Passive infanticide happens when children who could be saved by extra care are allowed to die. This happens most frequently to "failure to thrive" infants.
The Ju/hoansi belief is typical: The child has not been fully born. Some of its soul has remained in the "supernatural" world. The portion of its soul that is here longs to be reunited with the portion that has remained in the "supernatural" world. Efforts to save it would be torture and denial for it, and so it is killed.
When does human life begin?
And thus, infanticide was practiced by foragers in order to keep polpulations under control.
If foragers lived in intimate contact with the environment, and surely knew about seeds, why no agriculture?
Some combination of things had to occur to change society-- and it likely changed slowly, not overnight, for sure. Possibly a slow rise in population created agriculture, or a change in the environment (after the Ice Age a great deal of megafauna died off both from a lack of animals' conventional foods disappearing, and/or overhunting), and people began to move around less, perhaps because they did indeed begin to plant small gardens.
Most people believe the domestication of crops to be one of the great inventions of humankind...maybe the invention of a single person. BUT it's more likely that people knew how to grow crops for many years before they actually did so! The thing is, domestication is A LOT OF WORK!
RISE OF SWIDDEN GARDENING
Tropical forest swiddening is by far the most common and involves slash-and-burn agriculture. Cutting down and burning forest improves otherwise poor soils by freeing nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil that would otherwise be tied up entirely within plants-- makes the soils "friable" -- it also kills off weeds and other scrub plants.
After slash-and-burn activities are concluded, people would plant seeds from what was previously gathered and concentrate labor within the newly made "swidden" (BTW, this word is a dialectal alteration of obsolete swithen, from Old Norse svidhna, to be burned.), adding variability ot the land as different plants would be grown at one time -- ex. would be corn and beans grown together. Swiddening also created genetic change by uncoscious breeding when seeds of some plants were saved while not others.
Swidden can be perfectly ecologically stable as long as two
At this technology level there are few to no ways to improve soil, so land is doomed when used over a long time.
Therefore, as more land deteriorated from use, new innovations and inventions had to be developed to keep up food production-- labor needs also increased and there soon arose some animal domestication.
Implications of Swiddening and the "gardening life":
With gardening come seasonality and a change in lifestyle to one which is predominately sedentary.
Religion begins to take on an increasingly important role and the shamans are increasingly likely to be known for their powers to curse as well as cure. Shamans may be known beyond their family or village.
Because of the organizational needs of gardening (and the notion that some people are better at it than others) there comes the dawning of power/leadership. Some people, for the first time ever, begin to have more possessions and food than others. Chiefs become increasingly common and, while leadership still largely stems from respect and authority, chiefs are increasingly powerful.
Sources of Chielfly Power
Power can come from possessions:
Possessions create possibilities for power if they can't easily be carted away.
Power can come from investment:
Power can come from threat of force:
With increases in food availability, large gatherings become common. Feasting is frequent but not always friendly.
Once a mass harvest is completed, one has but 2 choices of
what to do
with the excess:
Most of the time, a feast was more for one's enemies than friends. The feast was a whole set of events: the moment the invitees arrive they are showered with gifts... elaborate meals are served--- sometimes feasts last for days at a time! Feasting is an example of the economy of prestige.
DESCRIPTION OF A YANOMAMO FEAST IN FILM
The film follows events of a feast between two Yanomamö villages that had been friendly, then warred against each other, and now are tentatively, nervously, trying to reestablish friendly ties. The film shows many sorts of exchanges, none of which make much economic sense but all of which are part of gift giving. Asch was thinking very explicitly about Marcel Mauss and once said, not entirely in jest, that with this film he had illustrated The Gift.
Among the Yanomamö, the feast is a total social institution. Perhaps one could say that its main function is to create an alliance between two villages, but it does this by creating many ties between individuals. Food is given, of course, and fine cotton hammocks, bows, arrows, and dogs change hands. In most cases, the exchange is incomplete and must be continued at another feast on another day. The men parade their might in front of their guests, showing what powerful allies (or dangerous enemies) they will be. Although no one says so explicitly, one assumes that each side measures the other for possible brothers-in-law or sons in-law. Chagnon has pointed out that the goods that are exchanged are usually the special products of one village. What is interesting here is that even though each village has access to the same raw materials, each specializes in producing only some items such as hammocks, pottery, or bows. This specialization, then, encourages the intervillage trading that leads to alliances and to some degree counters the divisive factors (especially competition between men for women) that tend to split Yanomamö groups. We get a hint of how the Yanomamö themselves talk about these exchanges from the English subtitles of the film. People demand gifts, insist on generosity, and deplore stinginess. Like Americans, the Yanomamö choose to ignore at times the obligatorily reciprocal nature of gifts.
for more infor, visit Understanding
Conflict and Warfare
Having been gifted and feasted, the neighboring village population only has two options: throw a bigger feast, or accept/admit that the feast-holders are superior... of course, there's actually a third option--- attack the hosting village and take it over or destroy it.
In this kind of prestige system, leaders give everything away (chiefs in this system have the least possessions of anyone in the village).
Leaders, the chiefs, rise up to lead not by coercio, but by influencing others to tend his garden, all with the promise of the big feast at which time all would share in the prestige. This kind of organization is called "Big Man" Society.
More about the "Big Man":
"The American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins in particular has been a proponent of the big-man phenomenon. In his "Poor Man, Rich Man, Big Man, Chief: Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia" (1963) Sahlins uses analytically constructed ideal-types of hierarchy and equality to compare a larger-scale Polynesian-type hierarchical society of chiefs and sub-chiefs with a Melanesian-type big-man system.
The latter consists of segmented lineage groups, locally held together by faction-leaders who compete for power in the social structure of horisontally arranged and principally equal groupings (factions). Here, leadership is not ascribed, but rather gained through action and competition "with other ambitious men".
A big-man's position is never secured in an inherited position at the top of a hierarchy, but is always challenged by the different big-men who compete each other in an on-going process of reciprocity and (re-)distribution of material and political resources. As such the big-man is subject to a transactional order based on his ability to balance the simultaneously opposing pulls of securing his own renown through distributing resources to other big-man groups (thereby spreading the word of his power and abilities) and redistributing resources to the people of his own faction (thereby keeping them content followers of his able leadership)."
For more information see, Wikipedia
and Sahlins, Marshall 1963 "Poor Man, Rich Man, Big Man, Chief:
Types in Melanesia and Polynesia" in Comparative Studies in Society and
Gardening actually is the key to the source of warfare! A good gardener has all of the same organizational skills as a good general! Warfare was very common among swidden societies!
The number of people killed in organized violence in the 20th
is huge; probably somewhere between 175,000,000 and 200,000,000. By way
of comparison: In 1000 AD the total world population was probably
300,000,000 and 400,000,000.
BUT a randomly chosen 20th century person had only a 1% chance of dying in warfare and even if they were in the army, they still had about the same chances of dying!
However, one-third of all men in some swidden societies died
from warfare! Even women had a 10% chance of dying from warfare. In a
village, this is a significant number of individual casualties.
A partial summary of which reads like this:
"A fight broke out in Mishimishimabowei-teri on the second day of Chagnon and Asch's stay in this village in 1971. The conflict developed between the villagers of Mishimishimabowei-teri and their visitors from another village. The visitors had formerly been part of Mishimishimabowei-teri, and many still had ties with members of that village. Their friends in Mishimishimabowei-teri had invited them to return, but other factions were not pleased with this, reflecting a persistent tension in this large village of over 250 people. The visitors refused to work in their hosts' gardens, yet they demanded to be fed. One visiting man beat a woman who refused to give him plantains from her garden. She ran screaming and crying back to the village, where her sister comforted her while her brother, her husband, and his relatives attempted to settle the dispute, first with clubs and then with axes and machetes. Eventually the fight cooled down, as one man was hurt, others placed themselves between the two groups, and women hurled insults at each other."
Does warfare serve to control population?
In swidden societies boys are gardeners and warriors. Girls become gardeners, women, and mothers. Overall a cultural bias emerges where boys survive more than girls do!
A Model of Swidden Warfare: Imagine that there is already a war going on.
Since men fight the wars, they are culturally more highly prized than girls.This means male babies are welcomed and female babies are less welcomed.
As a result, female babies are not as well treated as are males and they die more often. This controls the population. When the males reach adolescence, they look for women, but since many girls have died in childhood, there is a shortage of women. They try to get around this problem by raiding for women from other villages.
This creates more warfare and reinforces the cultural
boys and the cycle continues.
Society is adaptation to the environment and death and horror are as much a part of reality as peace and happiness.
The most common form of food grown in this way, worldwide, is grass seed! (There are exceptions such as the Inka, who relied on potatoes.) Grass seed, while not very nutritious (compared to the foods eaten by foragers or gardeners--- and there is less variety.), nor easy to grow, is a very productive crop. It grows densely and is an efficient use of land. It is easily stored and transported. (Surplus and storage inplies wealth and power creation.)
Eventually population density requires formal agriculture and coodination of large scale labor forces which create a radical reshaping of the landscape.
Social Stratification in State-Level Societies
There are always at least three social levels: Rulers, Bureaucrats, Masses
Rulers are frequently hereditary positions and are the
The big problem is how to "liberate" calories from the producers (masses). This need by the rulers, created taxation and development of record-keeping, and thus, systems of writing and numbers. There is only one alternative to taxation and that is raiding and threats-- usually leading to tribute demands.
Civilization produces massive architecture and public works which requires a large number of laborers and much organization. Civilization enabled humans to create wonders-- 99% of anything worth producing is because of civilization and all of this is because the ruling class needs to redirect assets of calories and wealth. The flipside of this, of course, is that with civilization comes great oppression and servitude. The average person was likely to be a serf or a slave, and many times it was better to be a slave!
Class and Caste
Both castes and classes are social groups that are ranked in terms of their access to wealth, status, and power.
In theory, castes are ascribed...that is to say, caste membership is given by virtue of birth. It is permanent and can not be changed. Castes are endogamous, meaning a member of a particular caste must marry another member of the same caste.
Class, on the other hand is ranking by wealth, power, etc. and can be achieved by an individual.
Caste Society in India
(Image from Warms Class Notes)
Traditional Indian society is caste-based --- this tradition
to the Hindu creation story:
Caste implies that people are different from each other in a literal way, and therefore, that it is natural for there to be different rules for each caste.
Dharma and Reincarnation
Dharma can be defined as the essential nature of a being. Therefore a person is meant to live according to the standards of one's place in the universe-- i.e., to live by the rules of one's caste. If one wishes to be reincarnated at a level above one's present caste, and eventually to transcend the reincarnation cycle altogether and join the nature of God (and cease being reincarnated-- the true goal of reincarnation), one must live according to one's dharma.
There are obvious political implications to the dharma concept. Caste, being a top-down economic system, dharma conveys a familiar "Stay in your place, obey the king, etc." type of message we see in other philosophies and systems.
Caste is an "essential" system, where essence here means that notion that everyone has an "essence" which is a fundamental part of them--- essence is who they are after all else-- so that a Brahman has the essence of Brahman-ness and is fundamentally different from a Shudra, who has Shudra-essence. Here "essence" does not mean "necessary".
The notion is that everyone has an essence, which is an, unchanging, unchangeable part of them.
This "essential" system works by making analogies with biology so that, therefore, a Brahman should not marry outside of his caste, as this would create offspring with unclear essence and violate dharma.
Traditionally, race in the Americas in general, and the US in
is very much like caste.
The racial fallacy is human variation understood in a totally incorrect fashion.
US Racial Model
All of the above statements are obviously false.
Variations of racial traits are continuous, but ideas of race are discrete, therefore attempts to divide the world into races fail. An example is skin color-- skin color is variable and continuous in spectrum-- how black is black? All populations have a spectrum of existing color varieties. The same thing happens when one tries to look at hair type, nose size, eyecolor, or any of the other "racial traits".
Even though there are indeed discrete variations in humans (blood type, fingerprints, type of earwax), societies tend to use visible facial characteristics to sort out races. This is because people think they need to "know how to behave" toward different races. See how this sounds like caste behavior??!! We separate races because of an uneven percentage of population mix of folks from around the world. If the population mix was equal, it would be difficult to single out any one particular set of "races."
We also tend to think of "racial traits" as existing in sets of traits (i.e.-- light skin, blue eyes, blonde hair as Aryan). However, they too, tend to sort out independently-- an example would be the well-known blue-eyed, blonde aborigines of Australia. Most traits are inherited independently and thus enormous variation in traits is possible.We have the illusion that traits go together because our population is not a random sampling of humanity, but rather the result of our history. We are the descendents of specific groups of people from specific places.
We also tend to group racial traits to homelands, such as the Aryan movement does, but this fails, as racial traits are spread across the world. People from disparate places look similar--- for example, all black people do not come from Africa-- there are black skinned people who have lived in the South Pacific for 10's of thousands of years.
We may be able to trace the geographical origin of a single trait, but add several together and it becomes impossible.
Races are open! Even if one looks at a time depth of only 5000 years, all people have the same ancestors! All Europeans, Africans and Asians are related!
So, if it isn't Biology, it is an essential system, a metaphor to biology.
Race provides a simple system for visually classifying
In fact, race is face!
Race is similar to Caste
Like caste, different racial groups have traditionally been subject to different rules and laws (or differential enforcement of them.)
Like caste, there is a pervasive belief that racial classification is in some way inextricable. What does keeping it real mean anyway?
Of course, the vast majority of people do not do this. Most people in a class-based society remain in the class to which they are born.
Many aspects of a class based society may resemble caste and vice versa.
Huge differences of wealth and power can be present in class
and poverty rates can be very high. In 2003, the poverty
for a family of four was 18,400. In 2002, about 12.1 percent of
US population lived in poverty. In Texas it was 15.6 percent and
in Hays County it's about 16.5 percent.
IF the purpose of the state is "to serve the people" and since this inequity exists, then should the government permit inequality? How much? And furthermore, does inequality serve the needs of the people? There's a need to justify inequality..
Functionalist Theory of Inequality:
No modern society has an even playing field and interesting politics come from this.
continued on next page....Continued on Pg. 2
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