HUMAN CULTURE - Quinsigamond Community College

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HIGHLIGHTS OF CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY. Carol R. Ember. Human Relations Area Files. Melvin Ember. Human Relations Area Files. Upper Saddle River ...

Chapter Outlines and Notes James Duvall Contra Costa College Adapted by Gaelan Lee Benway Quinsigamond Community College Spring 2009


Carol R. Ember Human Relations Area Files

Melvin Ember Human Relations Area Files

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458

PHOTO: National Geographic Society: Members of the Beltane Fire Society perform in Edinburgh, Scotland, during the annual festival known as Fringe Sunday. They carry a giant purple egg—which will rendezvous with an equally large sperm—during a re-enactment of "creation." Photograph by Jim Richardson

© 2009 by PEARSON EDUCATION, INC. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States of America.

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ISBN 10: 0-13-603760-7 ISBN 13: 978-0-13-603760-6


CHAPTER 1: The Importance of Anthropology _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

The Scope of Anthropology


The Holistic Approach


The Anthropological Curiosity

IV. Fields of Anthropology A. Biological Anthropology B. Cultural Anthropology 1. Archaeology 2. Anthropological Linguistics 3. Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology) C. Applied Anthropology V.

Explanation and Evidence A. Explanations B. Associations or Relationships C. Theories D. Why Theories Cannot Be Proved E. Evidence: Testing Explanations F. Operationalization and Measurement G. Sampling H. Statistical Evaluation

VI. The Relevance of Anthropology

Resources for Discussion Delineating Anthropology When introducing themselves at cocktail parties, anthropologists are often asked one of two questions - Gone on any digs lately? or do you do work like Margaret Mead? Actually, the questions do reflect certain aspects of anthropology. Some anthropologists spend their time looking in the ground for fossils of early humans (physical anthropologists) or excavating sites for evidence about past societies (archaeologists), and others go off to places like Samoa or New Guinea to study the lives of peoples in other societies (cultural and social anthropologists). Many anthropologists, however, do none of these kinds of research. Instead, they may devote their time to studying the verbal games of inner city street gangs (linguistic anthropologists), the dreams and dream


interpretations of the Mehinaku Indians of Central Brazil (psychological anthropologists), or the indigenous healing techniques used in Taiwan (medical anthropologists). As communications and plans for economic development draw more and more people into the modern world, ethnographers find it increasingly difficult to study isolated groups. This trend has encouraged many to turn to the study of ethnic or occupational groups in modern society. An emphasis on more sophisticated theories and methods has also changed the ways anthropologists go about their studies. Archaeologists are less interested in unearthing art objects, and more concerned about finding materials like ancient garbage heaps that will tell them how people lived. Ethnographers are becoming more concerned with the collection of quantified data. As a result of these changes, many people find it difficult to figure out where to draw the line between anthropology and other disciplines like sociology and psychology. At times it may be difficult to make sharp distinctions among different academic disciplines, but there are characteristics that are particularly associated with anthropology. Perhaps the phrase “comparative and evolutionary science” describes the most distinctive aspects of the field. By “comparative” I mean that anthropologists are interested in people all over the world in all historical periods. They want to understand their similarities and differences. Recently, some non-anthropologists have begun to take an interest in non-Western societies. Cross-cultural psychologists study people like the Eskimo of Canada, the Temne of Sierra Leone, or the Arunta of Australia. They are interested in how people of various cultures may differ in the development of their intellectual capacities. Demographers, too, have studied groups like the Yanomamo of Venezuela, or the !Kung San of Africa to find out why fertility varies from one society to another. With all of these other people doing comparative studies, anthropologists can no longer claim exclusive access to comparison. To further distinguish anthropologists from these other researchers, we need to draw on the concept of anthropologists as evolutionary scientists. In calling anthropology an evolutionary science, I mean that anthropologists are not content with merely describing the range of cultural variation found in the world; they want to explain how that variation came to be. It is this evolutionary perspective that most tightly links archaeology (as the study of past cultures), ethnography (as the study of extant cultures), and physical anthropology (as the study of human evolution and adaptation) into a unified field, able to examine the entire history of human culture to determine evolutionary patterns and consequences. This comparative and evolutionary perspective also means anthropologists have the freedom to study almost any problem they choose (provided it relates to humans or human evolution) anywhere in the world. It is, perhaps, this holistic approach that best characterizes the discipline. What possible advantage can there be to such a broad field of study? In a world seen by many to be over-specialized, anthropologists are the social scientists who can integrate all the pieces of the puzzle or fill in the gaps between the other disciplines. Whereas psychologists or sociologists may not study a given question because they feel it is not directly related to their interests, anthropologists are often willing to consider a great variety of factors as relevant. For example: soil fertility, dreams, kinship nomenclature, and diet are all variables that interest anthropologists. In their willingness to consider all the aspects of and influences on human life, anthropologists can search out important


relationships no matter where they may be. What is Anthropology Good For? One of the first questions introductory students usually ask about anthropology is “what is it good for?” The question can be interpreted in two different ways. At a personal level, students want to know what they can do with a degree in anthropology. At a broader level, people want to know what anthropological research can do for the well-being of others. To work as an anthropologist today, an individual generally needs at least an M.A. degree, and preferably a Ph.D. Anthropologists can find work in universities, museums, government, and business. The academic market has become more difficult in recent years. A combination of fewer students and limited spending has meant fewer jobs of this type. On the other hand, jobs in government and business seem to be becoming more popular. Occasionally one sees an advertisement from a construction firm for a salvage archeologist, but generally anthropologists must find their own positions in the business world. Anthropologists are particularly well-suited for jobs in marketing research, public relations, and other jobs that require knowledge of people’s behavior. This same point also holds true for anthropologists with only a B.A. degree. Salaries of anthropologists and other social scientists are not as high as those of some people with the same number of years of education in other fields. In a study of the relationship between different fields of study and income, Kenneth L. Wilson found that education in areas like engineering, medicine, business, and law generally results in higher incomes than education in the social sciences. But the social sciences rate higher than areas like literature or religion.1 The worth of anthropology should not be rated solely on the basis of what the practitioner can get out of a degree. Anthropology is also good for the public at large. At the most basic level, applied anthropologists work directly to benefit particular populations. Sometimes they live among the people they are studying and accompany the changes that occur. Other times they serve as consultants for large government projects, like the building of hydroelectric projects, the establishment of refugee camps, or slum clearance programs. More broadly, anthropologists become directly involved in public issues. Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology, conducted studies to show the errors in what were then blatantly racist immigration laws. One of his students, Margaret Mead, became well known for her early use of data from primitive societies to criticize American sexual mores and rigid sex-role stereotypes. More recently, anthropologists have used their data and methods to address such important contemporary issues as violence and warfare, women’s rights, gay rights, development technologies in the Third World, and energy use. In the past, anthropologists could sometimes make very important points by simply showing that certain customs existed in various parts of the world. At that time, Americans were apparently more ethnocentric than they are today. The presentation of a single exception to something people assumed was universal was enough to make people rethink their old ideas. When Margaret Mead showed how the Tchambuli of New Guinea reversed many of the sex roles Americans took for granted, she challenged many practices. (Among the Tchambuli, women are the responsible breadwinners, while men,


who feel insecure, spend their time worrying about their personal appearance.) Today, it is more difficult to impress people with a single exception. Americans are well aware that other cultures often have customs radically different from our own. They have learned the lessons of cultural relativism well. Today, it is more important to explain why cultures vary. People recognize that a custom may be appropriate in some societies, but not in our own. Thus, if anthropologists seriously expect to change the public’s attitude about an issue, they must show why a particular policy would or would not be workable in any given kind of society. This means modern anthropologists must adopt more sophisticated methods to make their points acceptable. The Reliability of Anthropological Accounts One of the most frustrating tasks facing anthropology professors is helping students distinguish reliable ethnographic accounts from unreliable or fictitious accounts. In general, ethnographies by professional anthropologists are probably more reliable than ethnographies written by amateurs. But there is enough overlap that this criterion alone will not guarantee proper judgment. Anthropological curiosity existed long before anthropology ever became an academic profession. Undoubtedly, curious prehistoric humans tried to decipher their neighbors’ customs, much as do people living in primitive societies today. Written accounts describing other cultures date at least to the ancient Greeks. Explorers, traders, and missionaries have written detailed accounts of other cultures that disappeared long before trained anthropologists ever had the chance to study them. Some of these amateur ethnographic accounts are obviously more fanciful than real, such as the stories of people with tails living in the forests of Africa or South America. But other accounts appear more reliable. For example, in the 1550s the Tupinamba Indians living near the present site of Rio de Janeiro captured the Portuguese-employed sailor, Hans Staden. His accounts of these Indians whose cultures soon became extinct are among the most detailed. One of our most important sources of information about early Eastern woodland cultures comes from the Jesuit Relations, an archive of letters and other materials written by Jesuit priests working with these Indians over a long period of our colonial history. Because of the importance given professional titles in our society, ethnographic accounts by anthropologists are generally considered more reliable than accounts by others. Sometimes charges of fraud are leveled against non-anthropologists, while professionals go free of blame. One of the best-known cases concerns the famous Piltdown man fraud. On December 18, 1912, the fossilized skull and jawbone of what was believed to be an early human being was discovered near the village of Piltdown, England, by Charles Dawson, an amateur paleontologist and a solicitor by profession, and by Arthur Smith Woodward, a professional paleontologist from the British Museum. In 1955 researchers discovered that the Piltdown man was a fraud. Someone had joined a rather thick human skull with the jawbone of a young orangutan, its teeth filed down to make them appear more human. Since he was not a professional paleontologist, Charles Dawson was accused of the fraud, while Woodward, because of his professional standing, was considered unassailable. A recent investigative study showed that Dawson was probably innocent of


the charges. Another amateur paleontologist seems a more likely candidate, Arthur Conan Doyle, the inventor of Sherlock Holmes.2 Doyle lived only seven miles from the spot where Piltdown man was discovered. A doctor by profession, Doyle knew a great deal about anatomy and paleontology, had a collection of jawbones in his house, and had received visits from people who had traveled to the areas of the world from which the animal bones associated with Piltdown man had come. In addition, he had a grudge against the British scientific establishment, loved to play practical jokes, and was superb at inventing elaborate and sophisticated schemes to fool detectives. A more recent controversy in anthropology concerns the Tasaday, a Philippine group reported to have extraordinarily equal roles for males and females. Some anthropologists cite them as being as example of an “untouched” Stone Age culture, only recently contacted by the outside world, while others claim that the Tasaday were really ordinary Philippine people who were paid to play the part of a primitive people. In the spring of 1989, the members of the American Anthropological Association passed a resolution to attempt to determine the true identity of the Tasaday.5 Although amateurs may have less to lose by perpetrating academic frauds, professionals are not immune to this vice. The scandal concerning the fabrication of fictitious data by British psychologist Cyril Burt is one well-known example. Sometimes professional accounts may deceive the unwary even though the professionals themselves are not directly fraudulent. For example, Tobias Schneebaum in his book, Keep the River on Your Right, warns his readers that his account is mostly fantasy even though based on an actual fieldtrip. Nevertheless, his work has been quoted as if the group he wrote about actually had all of the customs he describes. Similarly, Carlos Castaneda’s many popular books have been misinterpreted as true accounts of what is partly fiction. Other anthropologists sometimes provide fictional accounts of other cultures based on more realistic composites—as in Elizabeth Beth Bowan’s Return to Laughter—but even here the ethnographic account is fictionalized. Students might examine popular ethnographies, movies, or television programs to determine how much they are based on actual events and how much they are fictionalized. The prefaces of different ethnographies are particularly useful.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 2: The Study of Culture _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Defining Features of Culture A. Culture is Commonly Shared B. Culture is Learned


Attitudes That Hinder the Study of Cultures


Cultural Relativism

IV. Describing a Culture A. Individual Variation B. Cultural Constraints C. Ideal versus Actual Cultural Patterns D. How to Discover Cultural Patterns V.

Some Assumptions about Culture A. Culture is Generally Adaptive B. Culture is Mostly Integrated C. Culture is Always Changing

VI. Types of Research in Cultural Anthropology A. Ethnography 1. Ethics in Fieldwork B. Within-Culture Comparisons C. Regional Controlled Comparisons D. Cross-Cultural Research E. Historical Research

Resources for Discussion Cultural Relativism and Moral Judgments A dilemma facing many anthropologists concerns the moral obligation to work for, rather than against, the people they study. The tenets of cultural relativism demand empathy with one’s informants and a respect for their culture. Often this presents no dilemma, but there are occasions when one might question particular societal customs. For example, among the Yanomamo of Venezuela, the Siona of Ecuador, the Kayapo of central Brazil, and the Dani of New Guinea, up to one-third of men’s deaths is the result of almost


constant local warfare. Should an anthropologist simply accept this aspect of these people’s cultures? While most anthropologists have little problem critiquing their own culture, they are decidedly uncomfortable with the idea of criticizing the cultural practices of others. Clifford Geertz has dismissed the very notion that we can reasonably evaluate other cultures.1 According to his view, each culture has its own internal and consistent logic, which cannot be analyzed or judged from an outside perspective. This relativistic position, however, can become a problem. For example, does cultural relativism prohibit judgements about Nazi Germany and its attempts to build an Aryan culture through the domination of Europe and the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and the infirm? What of non-European societies that practiced slavery? Or the Gusii of Kenya, who have one of the highest incidence rates of rape in the world and believe that sexual intercourse is “an act in which a man overcomes the resistance of a woman and causes her pain”?2 Or the Sambia of highland New Guinea whose initiation rites force young boys to submit to being beaten, having sharp pieces of bamboo thrust up their noses to induce bleeding, and taking part in ritualized homosexuality with the unmarried young men of the society?3 Or the societies in Egypt, the Sudan, and other parts of northern Africa that force young girls to submit to “circumcision” and other genital operations?4 Anthropologists do not generally speak out against these types of cultural practices even when, as in the case of female circumcision, other behavioral scientists do, because of anthropology’s strong belief in cultural relativism, but also because of the widely held assumption that culture is generally adaptive. As discussed in the text, if a society survives long enough to be described in the ethnographic record, it is assumed that its cultural practices are, or have been, adapted to enhance survival in a specific and social environment (and clearly this perspective links strongly to anthropology’s unique role as a comparative and evolutionary science). This assumption induces anthropologists to make “sense” of cultural practices that from the outsider’s perspective are harmful, counterproductive, immoral, or simply bizarre. For example, Marvin Harris wrote a popular book devoted entirely to explaining why cultures have such seemingly odd beliefs and practices as the Hindus’ love of cows, the Semitic taboos against eating pork, and the constant warfare of many non-industrial societies.5 In each of these instances Harris argues for their adaptiveness. This kind of analysis has its critics. Robert Edgerton, for example, recently argued that the evidence for the general adaptiveness of culture is questionable.6 In a survey of the ethnographic literature, he found, instead, widespread testimony of the maladaptive nature of human cultural systems: particular cultural beliefs and practices often put people at risk for physical or mental illness, can lead to societal discontent or rebellion, or may result in the disappearance of entire cultures and their languages. One thing that is important to realize, however, is that while Edgerton argues against the view that culture is always “adaptive,” he maintains a strongly relativistic attitude and attempts to understand what role “maladaptive” traits might play in various cultures. Indeed, he suggests that maladaptation must exist in all cultures because of such factors as inequality, conflicts of interest, and environmental change.


Cultural Integration To some extent, the history of anthropology reflects the differing ideas people have held about how culture is integrated. Malinowski stressed the ways customs worked together to satisfy the needs and desires of individuals within the culture. He saw magic, for example, as serving to relieve anxiety in uncontrollable situations. Radcliffe-Brown saw the question of integration somewhat differently. For him, “systems” had to work together in a logistically consistent fashion. For Radcliffe-Brown, it was almost irrelevant whether individuals felt any psychological need for consistency. For example, he saw Omaha kinship terminology as functioning together with patrilineages. It made no sense to say that Omaha terminology caused patrilineages or vice versa. Anthropologists could point out only that the two worked together as parts of a single logistically consistent kinship system. For Emile Durkheim, a culture’s different parts were integrated because they all stemmed from the society’s social “solidarity.” Religious feelings, for example, were neither more nor less than this feeling of camaraderie. For Ruth Benedict, “integration” had a more psychological ring to it. Cultures had psychological or symbolic patterns that formed the basis of all aspects of the society. Although Margaret Mead talked occasionally about societies that were not fully integrated, her view of culture was generally similar to Benedict’s, but she stressed the role of child-rearing techniques in establishing the kind of pattern that characterized a culture. In their emphasis on how cultures change, a few anthropologists have stressed the non-integrated aspects of a culture. Some early evolutionists, like Engels, stressed that it was those aspects of a culture that created conflicts that were the basis of evolutionary change. Many of these different emphases about cultural integration continue in the different theoretical orientations within anthropology today. Some schools emphasize the logistics of a system; others, symbolic integration, psychological consistencies, or the satisfaction of personal (practical) needs. Many stress the symbolic, psychological, logistic, or practical inconsistencies and conflicts present in the cultures they study. If you have students read supplementary articles or ethnographies, you might identify for them the authors’ views of what constitutes “integration” (or its lack). Informants’ Statements About Culture When asked why a culture has a particular custom, students often respond that you need to ask the informants to tell you. This might well be a good way to begin a search for explanations but it is often not sufficient. There are two problems with depending on an informant’s explanations. First, informants may simply not know why they do something. Often they do not have the comparative perspective that the anthropologist is looking for and, instead, give a more “localized” answer, like “I married my cross-cousin because she was pretty and my parents liked her.” This type of answer will not tell us much about why this culture has a general preference for cross-cousin marriage while others do not. The other problem with informants’ responses is that sometimes people tell overt lies to amuse themselves or to deceive the ethnographer for personal gain. One group played an elaborate joke on their ethnographer, claiming belief in a sacred rat. N. Chagnon, while working with the Yanomamo, had difficulty getting the Indians to tell him their real names. The Yanomamo played ribald jokes on Chagnon and on their fellows when


they gave Chagnon “names” for their peers—“hairy vagina,” “long penis,” “feces of the harpy eagle,” and “dirty rectum.”7 Sometimes informants withhold information because they are afraid of the consequences if they divulge the real information. People may be reluctant to talk about their extramarital affairs, for fear of problems with their mistress or kin, and they may prefer avoiding the subject of murders they are planning to commit. Missionaries working with the Kayapo Indians of central Brazil once noticed that the men were gathering in the men’s house with all their guns. It became clear from the context that the Indians were planning a raid on another group of Indians, but when asked what the men were doing, a little Kayapo girl responded that they were going on a “fishing” trip.8 One missionary politely responded that, yes, “they must be out of fishhooks.” It is not always easy to get truthful information about a culture. But while deliberate attempts to delude anthropologists can be found in the literature, they are perhaps less serious than mistaken statements that result from an informant’s lack of full understanding about his or her own culture. In our own society, researchers have attempted to understand just where misunderstandings arise. In one series of studies, psychologists compared people’s ideas about the risk of dying from various causes with the actual risks as calculated from death records. They found that people tend to overestimate the risk of dying from relatively rare causes, like botulism. But they usually underestimate deaths resulting from more common causes, like heart disease. In addition, some deaths loom much larger in the public’s imagination simply because they are more dramatic. Nuclear power and motor vehicle accidents seem like greater risks to many people than do strokes and stomach cancer. But the actual statistics show strokes and stomach cancer cause more deaths. Similarly, people rate homicides as more likely causes of death than suicide, when the actual figures show the reverse. It seems that events that are “out of sight” are also “out of mind.”9 Working through the intentional and unintentional misinformation informants give is an important part of the social scientist’s task. Sometimes relying on false information will hurt only the scholarly tasks of social scientists, but in many cases real people may be hurt because they are misrepresented. Consider the case of the development specialist who needs to design programs to help the people in the Third World. If the specialist relies on the statements of urban elites, the rural poor will be seriously neglected. The poor may have interests directly opposed to those of the urbanites.10 Consider, also, the case of misrepresentation of people in the United States. How much have mistaken or exaggerated stereotypes hurt minority groups like African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans?


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 3: Language and Communication _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Communication A. Nonverbal Human Communication B. Nonhuman Communication


Origins of Language A. Creole Languages B. Children’s Acquisition of Language


Descriptive Linguistics A. Phonology B. Morphology C. Syntax

IV. Historical Linguistics A. Language Families and Culture History V.

Processes of Linguistic Divergence

VI. Relationships between Language and Culture A. Cultural Influences on Language 1. Basic Words for Colors, Plants, and Animals B. Linguistic Influences on Culture: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis VII. Ethnography of Speaking A. Social Status and Speech B. Gender Differences in Speech C. Multilingualism and Codeswitching VIII. Writing and Literacy

Resources for Discussion Hominid Speaking Abilities The question of how human languages evolved has intrigued researchers since the beginning of linguistic studies. More recently, investigators have turned to examining the speaking abilities of fossil hominids. Since australopithecines, Homo erectus, and Neandertal did not leave written records, we have no direct


evidence of their language abilities. Researchers have attempted to interpret indirect evidence such as the brain markings on fossil skulls, the physiology of oral and nasal cavities, and the implications for brain functioning of tool manufacture. Debates on fossil hominid language abilities have generally focused on the question of whether language evolution was a sudden “all or nothing” acquisition or a gradual development in which primate call systems grew more and more complex. One of the earliest attempts to draw inferences about fossil hominid languages consisted of an analysis of the communication abilities needed for manufacturing Paleolithic tools. According to Holloway, stone tool-making suggests traditional transmission, productivity, duality, semanticity, and grammar — all considered defining features of modern human languages.1 This suggests that even some of the australopithecines (or at least Homo habilis) had language. Recently, the question of which were the first hominids to talk has been reopened. Fossil finds in Israel now suggest that Neandertals were as capable of talking as anatomically modern humans.2 This contradicts the earlier opinion that the physiology of Neandertal’s oral and nasal passages precluded the possibility of speech. How might this new discovery make us reevaluate the interaction between Neandertals and anatomically modern humans? Inspired by the ability of chimpanzees to speak gestural languages, other researchers have suggested that the earliest hominids developed gestural languages before spoken languages.3 But this view has been questioned by Falk.4 Falk argues that (1) the computer simulations suggesting that Neandertal could not speak are suspect because these same simulations also suggest that Neandertal could not swallow; (2) there is evidence of brain lateralization in quadruped primates, suggesting that brains began to evolve for language even before a gesture language could have begun; and (3) there is experimental evidence from Japanese macaques that the left hemisphere of the brain is superior in analyzing “communicatively relevant peaks of ‘coo’ sounds.” These three considerations suggest that a spoken language may well have evolved without the need for a prior gestural language. If Falk is right, which were the first hominids to talk? To some extent, there is probably a continuum of gradually increasing language ability from one early hominid to another. Laitman suggests a major change may have come about with Homo erectus5. Studies suggest that australopithecines had the typical mammalian pattern of a high larynx, which would permit simultaneous swallowing and breathing but limit the size of the pharyngeal cavity and the variety of speech sounds. The larynx of Homo erectus, although not as low as in Homo sapiens, would permit greater speech ability (as well as increase the danger of choking). “Speaking” American Sign Language Although we normally think of language as something spoken, there is at least one full-fledged human language that consists entirely of signs — American Sign Language. American Sign Language (ASL) is constructed on principles entirely different from English and is “spoken” by deaf people in many places of the world. It appears to have evolved from earlier sign systems with a good


deal of influence from French sign language, introduced into the United States in 1817. Unfortunately, few hearing people understand this language, so communication in ASL is usually limited to conversations between the deaf. There is, however, one place where ASL was commonly known by all. On the island of Martha’s Vineyard, now a popular resort off the coast of Massachusetts, a large percentage of the population in the last century was deaf and had been so for hundreds of years. The deafness was inherited genetically and passed on through generations. Because Martha’s Vineyard is an island and the population intermarried so frequently, the genes for deafness remained in the population until recently, in a classic case of the “founder effect” in genetics. In the nineteenth century, one out of every twenty-five residents of one village on the island was born deaf, and this ratio rose to one out of four in some areas of the village. Because many people had never left the island, they thought that this proportion of deafness was characteristic of all human communities. In any case, practically everyone on the island spoke sign language (ASL more recently, and its ancestor in centuries past). The deaf participated fully in community life, voting and giving “speeches” in town meetings, and conversing normally with everyone in the community. Even hearing people often resorted to ASL in special situations. Fishermen out in their boats signed to one another when out of hearing distance; children conversed in ASL during church services; and men turned away to finish their ribald jokes in ASL if a woman happened upon their conversation. Children learned ASL like they do any other language — through everyday use. Language and Thought Many anthropologists have taken a special interest in language as a key to the thought processes of the people they study. How closely related are language and thought? When people first learned that Homeric Greek lacked many of the color terms that exist in English, they debated whether the Greeks were capable of seeing these different colors. This debate continues today on a more subtle level. Researchers have designed experiments to determine just how much vocabulary and grammar affect mental activities like perception, memory, or conceptualization.6 Studies have mostly been limited to color. Although, as the text points out, there is evidence that color perception can affect language, the reverse does not appear to be true. Experiments suggest that color terms do not affect people’s perception of different hues. Even in cultures with as few as two color terms (“dark” and “light”), people have no trouble distinguishing colors on a color chart. Memory, however, is affected by language. In one experiment, Zuni and English speakers were compared on their ability to remember colors in the yellow-orange section of the spectrum. Zuni color terms do not distinguish between these two hues, but English does. As predicted, the results clarify that people remember colors better if they have accurate and easy ways to describe them, whether they have a specific term for that color. There is only one exception to this general finding. Focal colors (the colors considered by most of the world’s people as “pure” red, green, blue, black, white, etc.) are remembered equally well no matter how many or how few color terms a society has. Even the Dani of West Iran, with only two color terms, has no trouble


remembering “pure” red. There is some question about how language affects the way people categorize things. In one experiment, Navaho and English speakers were compared on the ways they divide objects into categories. Navaho verb forms require that one know the shape of the things that are manipulated by the action of the verb. This emphasis on the form of objects suggests that the Navaho might divide objects into categories based on the form of these objects, rather than on other criteria such as color. Experiments showed this to be the case. Some Americans also categorize objects on the basis of form as well, but the use of the form criterion cannot be attributed to language alone.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 4: Economics _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Getting Food A. Food Collection 1. Australian Aborigines 2. General Features of Food Collectors B. Food Production 1. Horticulture 2. General Features of Horticulturalists 3. Intensive Agriculture 4. General Features of Intensive Agricultural Societies 5. The Commercialization and Mechanization of Agriculture 6. Pastoralism 7. General Features of Pastoralism


The Origin, Spread, and Intensification of Food Production


Allocation of Resources A. Natural Resources: Land 1. Food Collectors 2. Horticulturalists 3. Pastoralists 4. Intensive Agriculturalists 5. Colonialism and Land Rights

IV. Conversion of Resources A. Types of Economic Production B. Forced and Required Labor C. Division of Labor 1. By Gender and Age 2. Beyond Gender and Age V.

Distribution of Goods and Services A. Reciprocity 1. Generalized Reciprocity 2. Balanced Reciprocity B. Redistribution C. Market or Commercial Exchange 1. Kinds of Money 2. Degrees of Commercialization


Resources for Discussion Communal Ownership in Contemporary Societies Some of the advantages and disadvantages of communal ownership of land might be examined in light of cases of communal land ownership existing among contemporary societies. Three examples include the ejidos of Mexico, Hutterite religious forms, and Indian reserves. The ejidos in Mexico were created in the 1930s and l940s as part of a general land reform in that country. Different ejidos have somewhat varying forms of organization. In ejidos, three local leaders are elected by the community to represent the ejidos in administrative and judicial affairs. These leaders also supervise land divisions and make decisions about the redistribution of lands when an agriculturalist dies. Ejido peasants may use the land allotted them in any way they wish, but they cannot sell, rent, or transfer their land, and they must not abandon it for more than two consecutive years.1 In some respects, the Hutterites (an Anabaptist religious group living in the northern United States and Canada) are the most communal of the groups mentioned here. Although they sleep in separate houses, Hutterite families eat together in communal dining halls and people are permitted only a small box of personal possessions. All economic decisions, including the purchase of new lands to establish new agricultural communities, are taken by the group as a whole and its age-graded leadership. Although their communities may seem “ideal” to many people, the Hutterites do not view their lives as utopia-like. Instead, they see themselves as living according to an exacting religious regime that demands self-denial and absolute obedience to God and the community.2 The Hutterites have succeeded in maintaining communal ownership since the sixteenth century. This feat has been attributed by some to the fact that their communities are family-sized, and that their religion, although traditional (they use the same sermons written 300 years ago), allows them to innovate with changing technology.3 Still, recent technological changes that reduce the manpower needs of the community may be undermining some of the social traditions of the community.4 Although Indian reserves grew out of the more communal land rights characteristic of less complex societies, there are at least some instances in which the wisdom of maintaining communal lands is questioned. The case of the Xokleng and Kaingang Indians in the Ibirama Indian reserve of Santa Catarina, Brazil, is illustrative. The Indians in this reserve were first pacified in 1914. Since that time, they have lived primarily from trade in the wild forest products on their land. At first they traded heart of palm. When that disappeared, they turned to the reserve’s hardwoods, and are currently in danger of overexploiting this resource as well. Some Indians complain that the reserve will eventually have nothing left to sell, and they would prefer that everyone turn to agriculture and use the forest products more rationally. But as long as some Indians sell wood, the reserve will be destroyed in any case, so it makes no sense for anyone to be left out of the profits. One Indian argued that it would be better to divide the land into private lots. In this way those who wished to preserve their own land could do so without fear that others would destroy it. He recognized that this was a question of the “tragedy of the commons”— the tendency to abuse property held in common if there is no careful regulation about use (as in air and water pollution).5


What conditions are needed to maintain common lands successfully? How important are kin ties among the community? Abundant resources? Religious and political ideals? What is the effect of outside economic forces? Comparisons with other examples of communal land ownership in complex societies such as the Israeli kibbutzim or the mir of pre-revolutionary Russia might help to answer some of these questions. Child Labor One of the questions that most interests social reformers is the problem of child labor. The topic conjures up visions of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sweatshops in which children often worked twelve-hour shifts six days a week, almost never seeing the light of day. As pointed out by Shildkrout, although children are sometimes subjected to this kind of routine, more typically children’s work takes the form of helping out with family chores.7 This may be especially true in agricultural areas. One study of farmers in Brazil’s northeast showed that families are evaluated by landowners for their sharecropping potential on the number of “hoes” the family can boast. Sons above ten years old are counted as one and one/half “hoes,” while daughters count as half a “hoe.”7 In urban areas, children often work at selling products, like foods or clothing, made by their mothers. Among the Muslim Hausa of Nigeria, seclusion customs make it difficult for men and women to come into contact with each other. It is the children, then, who must transport goods and money between the women’s world and the men’s world. In this way, the children quickly learn marketing skills. In many Latin American cities, “abandoned” children roaming the streets are not really abandoned at all. They are simply working for their family by bringing in money through selling goods, begging, or petty theft.9 Why is child labor exploited more in some situations than in others, and what are the implications of this labor for the children? One response often given to explain the use of child labor is poverty. Based on the observation that it is the poorer urban families who are most likely to send their children out on the streets to bring in money, this response is easy to understand, but it may not be entirely adequate. One study carried out among agriculturalists in northern India showed that the poorest families were simply unable to take advantage of the labor of their children.11 Their landholdings were too small to admit more workers. Only the wealthier, with more land to work, could fully use the labor potential of their offspring. Similarly, a comparison of different agricultural regions in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina showed that the poorest (lumber extracting) regions of the state had the least amount of child labor. In these areas there was simply nothing for the children to do. Lumberers lived in small company-owned houses where they were forbidden to plant even kitchen gardens. Family diets rarely included meat. Among the somewhat wealthier tobacco farmers of the state, children began working intensively in the fields with their parents from the age of five or six. By thirteen or fourteen years old, their labor was considered equal to that of an adult, yet the tobacco farmers generally owned their own land (with an average of twenty hectares per family), and their diets included three meals a day with plenty of meat and milk at each. When asked about why children began to work at different ages, farmers generally indicated that children were limited in the kinds of tasks they could perform, primarily by their sense of responsibility. Tasks like distributing seed were rarely given to children. Although farmers sometimes


cited the need for “strength” or the potential danger as a reason for not allowing children to perform certain chores, comparisons of different regions showed that opinions about what requires strength or is considered “dangerous” are relative to the types of plants grown and the usefulness of children.11 It is important to recognize that different kinds of child labor involve different levels of exploitation. Children who work hard on the family farm remain under the parents’ supervision and usually learn a diversity of skills that will serve them later when they eventually inherit part of the parents’ estate. On the other hand, children who work as salaried employees of a sugarcane company enjoy less contact with their families and have no prospects of inheriting part of the land on which they work. Children of poor urban families who work in the streets may be exposed to many kinds of noxious influences whether they are actually abandoned by their families or not. Still, even in these degrading circumstances, studies of street children in Bogota show that there are still moments of real tenderness and love.13 Minority Groups and Commerce One of the curious phenomena in societies with monetary systems is the presence of minority ethnic groups that seem to dominate in trade. Groups like the Jews in medieval Europe, the Chinese in Southeast Asia, the Indians in East Africa, and the Igbo of Nigeria often become renowned for their roles as commercial middlemen. Sometimes these roles give the merchants a bad reputation among the people with whom they trade. In the 1970s, the Communists expelled the ethnic Chinese from Vietnam (the “Boat People”), Idi Amin expelled the Indians from Uganda, Nigerians went to war over hostilities with the Igbo (the Biafran War), and the Jews have suffered numerous pogroms. Why do minority groups seem to take over trade in so many areas of the world? Why are they so maligned? One line of research has focused on the minority groups themselves, often attributing commercial success to personality or social characteristics of the groups in question. For example, in one study LeVine attributed commercial success among the minority Igbo of Nigeria to their highly developed need for achievement.14 According to LeVine, the Igbo, more than other groups in Nigeria, encouraged the desire to achieve because the Igbo way of life allowed ambitious people to move socially upward. In other Nigerian groups, upward mobility was less possible and achievement motivation was not advantageous. As a result of their “achieving personality,” the Igbo have become the economic entrepreneurs of Nigeria. LeVine’s study is not alone in emphasizing the personality and social makeup of the ethnic groups that become traders in society. Other researchers have also spoken of the Protestant ethic of various world minority groups. Another way of looking at ethnic merchants deals more with the differences between groups than with characteristics of the groups, per se. In one study, Foster studied the trading habits of the Mon minority group in Thailand.15 Foster argues that the most important aspect of ethnic identities in trade is that people do business with people with whom they have few other ties. Foster argues that trade is a conflict-ridden situation. The traders must make a profit, but the people with whom they trade may not appreciate this. Furthermore, trade involves “cheating” the buyer. In Thailand, traders and consumers alike agree that the nature of commerce is “crookedness.” The seller must try to sell his


product for more than it is worth or substitute lower quality products during transactions. As might be expected, this makes trade a conflictual situation. The easiest way to avoid serious problems is for the seller to have as few dealings as possible with the buyer. Foster’s research showed that the Mon traders had no friends among the Thais with whom they did business, and similarly, Chinese traders had no friends among the Thais (or Mons) with whom they did business. Foster’s hypothesis about the importance of ethnic differences in trade is confirmed by looking at people who act as merchants in Mon villages. Contrary to the situation elsewhere in Thailand in the Mon villages, the traders are Thais and Laos, not Mon. The Mon do not trade with themselves. Foster also showed that in the few cases where people tried to set up businesses among their own peoples, these businesses almost always failed (mostly because of requests for loans or later payments, etc., from friends and neighbors). Foster gives examples of Mon shops that failed when they were set up in Mon areas, and of Malayan shops that failed when set up in Malayan villages. Foster points out that maintaining ethnic differences is so important to trade in some areas that traders deliberately exaggerate their distinctiveness. In comparing Mon traders with Mon farmers, Foster found that the traders emphasized their “Monness,” while farmers emphasized their “Thainess.” Not all areas of the world require ethnic differences in order to maintain distance between buyers and sellers. Where large corporations set prices that salesclerks must respect, there is already enough distance between buyer and seller, so that ethnicity is unimportant.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 5: Social Stratification: Class, Ethnicity, and Racism _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Variation in Degree of Social Inequality


Egalitarian Societies


Rank Societies

IV. Class Societies A. Open Class Systems 1. Degree of Openness 2. Degree of Inequality B. Recognition of Class C. Caste Systems D. Slavery V.

Racism and Inequality A. Race as a Construct in Biology B. Race as a Social Category

VI. Ethnicity and Inequality VII. The Emergence of Stratification

Resources for Discussion Are There Different Kinds of Inequality? When sociologists say that all societies are stratified, and anthropologists insist that some are not, they are disagreeing about definitions of inequality. The sociologist is focusing on wealth differences among individuals within a society. The anthropologist is considering institutionalized differences in access to prestige, economic resources, and political power. There is a tendency for people to think that inequality of one kind is related to other kinds of inequality. Is this true? Do greater inequalities in wealth coincide with greater inequalities in prestige? Does relatively greater economic inequality among people in a society imply greater inequality in opportunity? One reason that economic inequality may coincide with inequality in prestige is that prestige may depend on the transmission of property from parents to offspring. Kelley argues that in societies where private property is very important for prestige and income, parents can pass along their advantages to their offspring.1 But where other factors like


education and experience become important, it is more difficult for parents to give advantages to their children. In a cross-cultural comparison, he also found that in countries with greater inequalities between the rich and the poor, children are more likely to have the same status and prestige as their parents. His data show that there is a relationship between absolute differences in wealth and the opportunity to acquire prestige (the correlation coefficient was .44), but Kelley’s sample was limited to stratified societies, and so not representative of the world’s cultures.1 The anthropological record describes a number of societies where there are great inequalities in access to prestige, but where economic inequities are minimal. In “ranked” societies (such as the Tikopeans in Polynesia, or the Swazi of Africa), chiefs pass on their titles to their offspring through rules of leadership inheritance, but neither the chief nor his offspring enjoy material advantages over others in society. Even where there are no rules for chiefly inheritance, there still may be tendencies for sons to inherit their father’s status. Among the Mekranoti Indians of Brazil, the chief’s sons enjoy much more prestige than others in the community. In fact, the correlation between father’s and sons’ status (.46) is as high as or higher than comparable correlations in more stratified societies. Yet the Mekranoti have very few personal possessions, and the chiefs have no material advantages over others—they may even be poorer than others. Thus, the inheritance of status is not dependent on absolute differences in wealth.2 Various researchers have emphasized the importance of distinguishing among different kinds of inequality. Beteille argues that the Soviet Union has greater inequalities in power than the United States, but that the United States has greater inequality of wealth.3 Jencks argues that it is important to distinguish between absolute inequalities and inequality of opportunity.4 He points out that sons of the wealthiest fifth of the population in the United States earn an average of 75 percent more than sons of the poorest fifth. This is a sizable difference, showing inequality of opportunity, but it pales in comparison with absolute differences in income. The wealthiest fifth earns 650 percent more than the poorest fifth. Jencks uses these data to argue that reducing inequality of opportunity will not necessarily reduce absolute inequalities in this country. Global Stratification The textbook points out that industrial societies have greater economic equality than do developing countries. The Embers use this information to argue that societies may be becoming more egalitarian, reversing the long-term evolutionary trend toward ever greater inequality. Some researchers would dispute this view. While it may be true that industrialized societies have greater internal inequality, this does not mean that the world as a whole is growing less stratified. Rather, the nature of stratification may be changing. Instead of living with the poor close by as in earlier times, people in wealthier nations can now “export” the poverty to other nations where it is less threatening. That is, the most menial jobs can now be carried out abroad. As the British statesman Cecil Rhodes (of Rhodes Scholar fame) observed in 1895: ...My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we


colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid a civil war, you must become imperialist.5 There is some evidence that worldwide inequality is increasing. One study compared ninety-five countries by their GNP per capita growth rates between 1960 and 1970 and found that growth was fastest in the wealthiest countries (as of 1965). That is, the rich countries grew richer during this interval while the poor countries grew relatively poorer.6 This same study confirmed that internal inequality was greatest in the poorest countries, as pointed out in the textbook. How might we explain the greater inequality of poorer countries? In one study, Bornshier and Cao argue that, in part, greater inequality in lesser developed nations may be a question of the ways multinational corporations affect these countries.7 The authors classified nations according to whether they were headquarters of multinational corporations or not, and whether they had multinational “penetration” without being headquarters. As with other studies, their research showed that, in general, wealthier industrialized countries have greater equality than do non-industrial countries, but when controlling for headquarter status, this relationship not only disappears, it actually reverses itself. That is, given the same degree of MNC headquarter status, poorer nations have relatively more equality than do wealthier nations. While headquarter status may improve equality in a country, multinational penetration into non-headquarter countries may actually increase inequalities (the correlation between multinational penetration and inequality is .30). This suggests, contrary to the argument proposed in the text, that the specialization involved in industrialization (at least via multinational penetration) does not improve equality but actually makes for more inequality. One reason for this increased inequality concerns the location of technical and bureaucratic jobs. Multinational corporations usually give these higher paying jobs to people in the headquarter countries, while the “penetrated” countries take charge of lower paying positions. This leaves very few people in the middle class in these countries. For example, in 1981, the Brazilian computer industry employed 560 university educated Brazilians for every $100 million worth of sales in Brazil, while foreign computer firms employed only 379.7 university educated Brazilians for every $100 million worth of sales.8 In support of this view, Bornshier and Cao showed that at a given economic level, multinational penetration generally results in fewer bureaucratic positions (r = .23), and countries with a smaller proportion of bureaucrats generally have more economic inequality (r = .53). Another reason multinational penetration may increase inequality is that multinationals generally divide worker solidarity by paying slightly higher salaries than local industries and offering sliding pay scales. The countries with the lowest proportion of workers participating in strikes or other protests are those with the greatest multinational penetration (r = .33), and the greatest inequality (r = .50). Finally, Bornshier and Cao suggest that multinationals may also influence politics in countries with a scarcity of resources and a high proportion of the economy controlled by the government. In such countries there are few local people who could buy multinational products even if the government attempted to redistribute incomes. Thus, it is to the


advantage of multinational companies to pressure the government to keep wages down for the factory workers, while concentrating sales abroad. Obviously, multinational penetration is not the only factor that affects inequality. What might be some of the other variables? Why, when excluding headquarter status, do wealthier countries have higher inequality than poorer countries? What might be the role of valuable natural resources like oil in accounting for how wealthy non-headquarter countries have high inequality? The Problem of Ranked Societies Ranked societies are often placed in a unilinear evolutionary scheme somewhere between stratified and egalitarian societies, but there is really no evidence to support the idea that societies pass through a ranked stage before becoming stratified. There is also some confusion with regard to what scholars mean by ranked. For some, ranking implies deference (such as bowing one’s head) given to prestigious individuals in the community regardless of how they acquired their prestige. For others, ranking implies the inheritance of a prestigious position. While anthropologists often assume that these two characteristics go together, there is really no evidence that this is so.9 Probably, for most people, the question of inheritance is most important. Why, in some societies with no wealth differentiation, do people inherit positions of prestige? Anthropologists have offered various arguments. According to one of the most popular, but unverified, views, it is redistribution that causes ranking.10 Prestigious redistributors may not be able to horde the wealth they receive in order to pass it on to their offspring, but there are other ways they could favor their children. In their regular redistributions they could give more to their sons. Although the sons might not be able to keep this wealth for long, the fact that the goods pass through them would give the sons the status of economic provider. Their reputations for generosity would help them acquire prestige. Another popular argument suggests that inheritance of leadership positions (and also perhaps of other prestige positions) comes about because people want to avoid the harmful factionalism that might occur when the old leader dies. Passing the position along to one of the leader’s sons maintains the old loyalty networks. This avoidance of factionalism would be more common in sedentary societies. Other arguments stress that a leader’s sons might simply learn the job better than others because of their close contact with the leader, or they may be “born” with leadership qualities. In one study of a South American Indian society with tendencies toward ranking, Werner used path analysis to evaluate these arguments. The chief’s sons were not particularly known for their generosity and did not have the same social networks as their father, so the “redistribution” argument and the “avoidance-of-factionalism” argument did not seem to explain their prestige. Nor did they appear to have acquired any special knowledge or personality traits that might have helped their careers. The best explanation for their prestige had more to do with their contact with outsiders. The chief’s sons were known for their close contacts with Westerners in their village. The reason for this is fairly simple. Westerners usually do not spend very much time in their village, and so do not have time to become acquainted with many people. Because they must get along with the chief, they tend to limit their interactions to the chief’s family. As a result, they get to know his sons. Since Westerners are important people for the Mekranoti (they control the


supply of Western goods), contacts with them are very important, and these contacts are best made through the chief’s family.11 This “culture-broker” argument might explain ranking in other societies as well. In the ranked Polynesian societies, the chief had to make periodic rounds of the islands (presumably accompanied at times with his sons) in order to coordinate the trading and other affairs among the islands. Of course, the sons would gain from these travels by getting to know the chiefs and their families in other places. It is these acquaintances that might explain their leadership roles. Perhaps the culture-broker argument could also be extended to other societies where contacts between different groups were sporadic but important.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 6: Sex and Gender _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Gender Concepts


Physique and Physiology


Gender Roles A. Productive and Domestic Activities

IV. Relative Contributions to Work A. Overall Work B. Subsistence Work V.

Political Leadership and Warfare

VI. The Relative Status of Women VII. Personality Differences A. Misconceptions about Differences in Behavior VIII. Sexuality A. Cultural Regulation of Sexuality: Permissiveness versus Restrictiveness 1. Premarital Sex 2. Sex in Marriage 3. Extramarital Sex 4. Homosexuality B. Reasons for Restrictiveness

Resources for Discussion Genetic and Environmental Influences on Biological Sex Identity One of the perennial debates in academia regarding sex roles concerns the relative influence of nature versus nurture in determining male and female identities, personalities, and social roles. To get a handle on how environment interacts with genes, John Money and his associates have looked at the development of biological sex differences from conception until adulthood. Some of their discoveries are rather dramatic testimony to the role of environment, in conjunction with genes, in shaping biological sex characteristics.1


Money reports one example of a woman who came to the hospital in order to find out why she was unable to bear children. The woman had never doubted her femaleness, and in puberty she continued to develop externally as a normal woman, although she never menstruated. When the doctors performed a test of her saliva to learn about her chromosomes, they discovered she was genetically male! She had XY chromosomes instead of the usual XX chromosomes of women. Today we know that there are men and women with X, XXX, XXY, and XYY chromosomes. The characterization of men as having XY and women as having XX chromosomes simply does not correspond to reality. Research with animals and with people born with ambiguous genitalia is revealing the processes that lead to the biological differentiation of males from females. As it turns out, a fetus becomes male or female according to the hormones that are released in the mother’s placenta. Sometimes an XY fetus fails to receive male hormones. In this case, the child develops as a female with all of the normal external female organs. On the other hand, an XX fetus will become male if male hormones are released. Research on killifish shows that genetically masculine but biologically feminine fish are fertile as females and can actually produce offspring with YY chromosomes. Biologically female but genetically male humans are sterile. When masculine hormones are released at some points during the fetus’ development but not at others, the child (regardless of its genes) will be born with ambiguous genitalia. It is impossible to tell whether the child has vaginal lips or a scrotum, a penis or a clitoris. Today doctors usually “correct” the child’s genitals one way or the other, basing their decision not on the child’s genetic makeup, but rather on the appearance of the sex organs themselves, opting for whichever corrective surgery appears easiest. Comparisons of hermaphrodites that began life with similarly ambiguous genitalia, but that were corrected differently (some as males, others as females) show that the child’s sexual identity develops easily according to the sex assigned them by the doctor’s surgery. Since this identity cannot be attributed at all to genes, it is clear that environment plays a great role in determining sexual identity. The genetically interesting phenomenon of the guevedoces in the Dominican Republic is also revealing about the development of sexual identities. Guevedoces are children born apparently as females who later (around puberty) begin to develop male characteristics. (The word guevedoce means “testicles at twelve years old.”) The guevedoces have XY chromosomes, but because of a genetic mutation their bodies do not produce the hormone dihydrotestosterone, responsible for a male appearance at birth. During puberty, their bodies begin to produce testosterone, which causes them to go through a typically male adolescence. What they had assumed was a clitoris begins to grow into a penis, their testicles descend, their voices deepen, and their bodies develop a masculine musculature. The most interesting aspect of the guevedoces is that after twelve years of being brought up thinking they were girls, they suddenly develop masculine identities, express sexual desires for women, get married, and raise normal families.2 We cannot yet tell whether this dramatic change is due to the biological changes their bodies undergo at this time, or to the different expectations of their peers with respect to their sexual identity, but one thing seems very clear — a person’s sexual identity can change fairly easily, even after twelve years of upbringing. Theories about adult sex roles that


have recourse exclusively to childhood influences may need to be revised. Sociobiology and Sex Since sociobiology is based on the premise that animals behave so as to maximize their reproductive fitness, it is not surprising that sociobiologists have devoted a great deal of attention to sexual behavior. Some of their hypotheses about sex have received some cross-cultural support. Because a woman can be fairly sure of who her children are, while a man can never be absolutely sure, sociobiologists argue that men are more likely to be jealous of their wife’s sexual encounters than women are of their husband’s sexual encounters, but a man’s jealousy may not be equally strong in all situations. Theoretically, a man should be less jealous of his brothers’ sexual encounters with his wife than of a stranger’s sexual encounters. This is because brothers share many of the same genes, so that even if a man’s wife’s child were not his own, it would still make evolutionary sense for him to help raise these children, who after all are his nephews and share many of his genes. Cross-culturally, then, sociobiologists predict that jealousy should be less intense where women are most likely to have sex with a man’s brothers, rather than with non-kin — for example, in endogamous societies. There is some cross-cultural evidence to support this view, but the correlations are not very strong.3 Paternity certainly may also affect the willingness of men to invest time and effort in their wife’s offspring. In societies where men are less sure about being the father of their wife’s children (i.e., societies with a good deal of extramarital sexual freedom), men are more likely to pass on their wealth or legal rights to their sister’s children rather than to their wife’s children. A man can be sure that the children of his sister (from the same mother) share at least some of his genes.4 By the same token, in societies with a good deal of premarital sexual freedom, boys cannot be sure that their girlfriend’s child is their own. Premarital sexual freedom also tends to be more common in matrilocal and matrilineal societies.5 Another sociobiological theory that has received some support concerns the geneticdefect argument for the incest taboo. Although a few societies permit, and even encourage, incestuous relations at certain times,6 incest leading to marriage and offspring is extremely rare, and seems to have been limited to a few royal families in ancient Korea, Thailand, the Incas, Hawaiians, and several African kingdoms including ancient Egypt, Ankoe, Buganda, Bunyoro, Nyanga, Monomotapa, Shilluk, Zande, and Dahomey. One study used sociobiological theories in an attempt to account for these cases. According to this study, royal incest is evolutionarily viable only where kings are permitted many wives. Thus, if his sister fails to produce viable offspring, the king still has many other children by other wives. The sister’s child is favored in succession because it shares even more of the reigning monarch’s genes (75 percent in the first generation of incestuous marriage, and as high as 99 percent in the thirtieth generation).7 Other sociobiological arguments have received less cross-cultural support. According to one sociobiological argument, homosexuality should be most common in endogamous societies because a gene permitting homosexual behavior would make evolutionary sense


only in societies where the homosexuals could help their siblings raise more children. Where people move away upon marriage, homosexuality would be less viable. Yet there is no correlation between the frequency of homosexuality in a society and endogamy.8

Differences in Gender Identity and Sex Roles Attitudes about sexuality show remarkable variation within even one culture, and when these attitudes come into conflict they can be the source of sharp antagonism. This being true intraculturally, just imagine the problems when there are intercultural differences in sexual attitudes. For example, let us imagine what would happen if a !Kung woman married a Sambia man. Shostak presents a portrait of Nisa, a !Kung woman, as outgoing and sexually active.9 In contrast, Herdt describes Sambia boys as socialized into a warrior society through ritualized homosexuality, taught to think of women as dangerous sources of pollution, and warned about the dangers of heterosexual contacts.10 Moreover, the Sambia are characterized as having intense shame regarding sex. Both children and adults hide their sexual activities, and adultery is so strongly condemned that people often attempt suicide if they are discovered. Nisa, on the other hand, speaks of open sex play among children, the absence of shame concerning adult sexual intercourse, and adultery as being an integral feature of !Kung marriages. The real question presented by a comparison of these cultures is not whether this marriage could ever be viable, but why do the !Kung and the Sambia have such extraordinarily different sexual attitudes? To answer that question we must examine the development of gender identity and gender roles. The process by which a child answers the question, “Am I male or female?” is universal but not uniform. While virtually all humans learn to think of themselves as either male or female, gender identity and sex roles — the assigned social categories of “Who does what?” — vary dramatically across the world’s cultures. In light of this, why are the !Kung and the Sambia so different? Why are their gender identities so in opposition to one another that it is almost impossible to even imagine marriages between individuals of the two cultures? One method of explaining the apparent differences is to examine the social and natural environments of the !Kung and Sambia in order to account for their disparate notions in this area. Until quite recently, the Sambia were engaged in almost constant warfare. This meant that the culture could survive only if Sambia boys grew up to be warriors; otherwise, their enemies would overrun the Sambia. These exigencies may account for the extreme nature of Sambia gender identities and sex roles. On the other hand, the !Kung are egalitarian hunter-gatherers who have lived traditionally in small, scattered groups. Draper suggests !Kung gender identity and sex roles are a product of the hunting-and-gathering context in which women have a greater degree of autonomy and influence.11 The foraging way of life means that women make a substantial subsistence contribution, distribute and control the food they gather, and enjoy a similar degree of mobility as the men.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 7: Marriage, Family, and Kinship _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Marriage A. Why is Marriage Universal? 1. Gender Division of Labor 2. Prolonged Infant Dependency 3. Sexual Competition 4. Other Mammals and Birds: Postpartum Requirements B. How Does One Marry? 1. Economic Aspects of Marriage C. Restrictions on Marriage: The Universal Incest Taboo D. Whom Should One Marry? 1. Arranged Marriages 2. Exogamy and Endogamy 3. Cousin Marriages E. How Many Does One Marry? 1. Polygyny 2. Polyandry


The Family A. Variation in Family Form B. Extended-Family Households C. Possible Reasons for Extended-Family Households


Marital Residence and Kinship A. Patterns of Marital Residence B. The Structure of Kinship 1. Types of Affiliation with Kin C. Groups in Unilineal Descent Systems 1. Lineages 2. Clans 3. Phratries 4. Moieties 5. Combinations 6. Patrilineal Organization 7. Matrilineal Organization D. Functions of Unilineal Descent Groups E. Ambilineal Systems F. Explaining Variation in Residence 1. Neolocal Residence 2. Matrilocal versus Patrilocal Residence


3. Bilocal Residence 4. Avunculocal Residence G. The Emergence of Unilineal Systems

Resources for Discussion Singlehood in Other Cultures Although all societies seem to encourage marriage among their members, many societies around the world have substantial numbers of single people, and some have institutional means to handle them. One place where singlehood is rather common is in the highlands of New Guinea. In the Upper Tor territory of West Irian, bachelors formed a distinct interest group. They lived in a bachelors’ hut and performed certain tasks (some kinds of hunting) that married men did not do. These bachelors remained single throughout life. Among the Raipu Enga and the Kokoli, bachelors needed to attach themselves to another household and were not organized into any kind of organization. Among the Huli, who had special bachelors’ huts, some men remained single throughout their lives, presumably because they were leaders of the bachelors’ associations. Finally, among the Wahgi Valley peoples, there was a serf class of unmarried individuals. Women, too, may remain single throughout their lives in some non-stratified societies. Among the Mekranoti Indians of Brazil, many women never marry. Some of these single women adopt instead a role known as kupry. The kupry have sexual relations with the village’s men in exchange for presents of beads or meat. They may bear many children, even though they remain single until they die in old age. Why do some people remain single throughout their lives in some societies? In one study from the United States, Spreitzer and Riley argue that a child’s early experiences with the family into which he or she is born affect later expectations.1 They found that people who were the only child in their families were more likely to remain single in adulthood than were other people. Possibly, an only child simply does not expect a large family because, having grown up without the accoutrements of large family living, he or she has no reason to expect them later. How well does this explanation account for the data from New Guinea? In one article, N. Bowers showed that the “only children” in some New Guinea societies are, in fact, more likely than others to remain single.2 Still, the experience with small families argument is not consistent with other data from New Guinea. There are some societies, like the Etoro, where men do not remain bachelors, but where there is clearly no desire for large families. The Etoro even prohibit heterosexual sex during most days out of the year, giving them an unusually low birth rate. Another argument explains high rates of bachelorhood as a result of a skewed sex ratio in favor of men. Many New Guinean groups were formerly quite warlike, and lost men in battle. They previously adopted customs such as polygyny to compensate for the skewed sex ratio in favor of women resulting from heavy male mortality. They may also have practiced female infanticide to help compensate for heavy male warfare casualties.


In earlier times, these customs would have allowed all of the women and all of the men to get married, but in more recent years these groups have terminated their warfare. As a result, males are no longer killed in battle, and the sex ratio now favors men over women. For example, the Raipu and the Kakoli had sex ratios of 123 men to every 100 women, and the Waligi Valley peoples had 111 men for every 100 women. With skewed sex ratios in favor of men, and with the continuance of polygyny, many men may have remained single simply because there were not enough females available. Sex ratio may also help explain why some Mekranoti women never marry. Because of recent high male mortality in warfare, there are many more Mekranoti women than men. Usually, a society like the Mekranoti would practice polygyny. So the sex ratio explanation for single Mekranoti women must be considered incomplete. The New Guinea bachelors generally came from poorer groups, suggesting that the bachelors were forced into their positions by a lack of alternatives. Similarly, the Mekranoti kupry were generally less privileged than other women. Kupry were considered less pretty, less friendly, lazier, and more promiscuous then other Mekranoti women. They were also more likely to have lost their mothers before they grew up and were unlikely to have received a special name bestowed during the elaborate ceremonies Mekranoti parents sponsored for their children.3 Sex ratios may help explain singlehood in societies like the Mekranoti or those of highland New Guinea, but sex ratios would not explain singlehood in more complex societies. What might be some of the factors responsible for singlehood in the United States? Dowry and Bride Price As the text points out, 47 percent of the world’s societies require the groom’s kin to present gifts to the bride’s kin upon marriage, yet only 4 percent require the bride’s family to come up with presents for a marriage — and here the presents sometimes go, not to the groom’s family, but rather to the bride or groom. Why do so few societies require a dowry and so many a bride price? In one analysis of changes in dowry payments in Sicily, Schneider argues that toward the end of the nineteenth century, Sicilian girls were required to make embroidery and lace for their dowry for several reasons.4 On the one hand, changes in the accessibility of cloth permitted poorer women to emulate the wealthy by investing time in making clothes and bed linens that imitated those of the aristocratic class, even though the linens and lace may never have been used. (There are cases of women who even embroidered sanitary napkins!) People also appreciated the fact that this “make work” kept the girls and married women safely away from the street and guaranteed their purity in a society whose values stressed the concepts of honor and shame. Still, these two factors alone could not account for the changes in dowry payments that occurred in recent Italian history. Schneider argues that to understand these changes, we must realize that the embroidery and lace work also served as a treasure that could be sold or pawned (albeit clandestinely) as a last resort if a family were in desperate straits. Linens worked better than gold or silver as an investment. They were more accessible to the peasant classes and could take advantage of the women’s labor at a time when unemployment was high enough to send many Sicilians emigrating to the United States or northern Europe in search of work.


While Schneider’s study focuses on the employment problems of one society, other researchers have examined the payment of bride price and dowry with larger crosscultural samples.5 They discovered that in societies requiring a dowry, women usually contribute little to subsistence. Conversely, in societies where women contribute a great deal to subsistence, a bride price is required. If Schneider’s argument about Sicilian dowry can be extended cross-culturally, these results suggest that building a dowry may be a way to occupy a woman’s time in societies where, because of general unemployment problems, women have few opportunities to work elsewhere. Since such unemployment problems are likely to be solved over time, anthropologists are unlikely to find it in many societies. Bride price, on the other hand, may be a way to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of her subsistence labor. Since women contribute a good deal to subsistence in most societies, bride price is more common than dowry. Regardless of why some societies have bride prices or dowries, there is some evidence that these practices may affect other aspects of a marriage. Where bride prices or dowries are high, for example, divorce is less likely, apparently because the high economic investments in the marriage make couples think twice before breaking up and attempting to arrange expensive second marriages.6 Also, high bride prices may make bride theft a more common type of practice. Bates reports that among the Yoruk pastoralists of Turkey, almost 20 percent of all marriages result from kidnapping.7 Bride theft is a risky business, which may result in the abductor’s execution by the bride’s enraged kin. It is carried out primarily by poor men who cannot afford wives or by those who do not have the proper relatives to marry. After the bride’s relatives have calmed down, they usually settle for a compensation payment to end hostilities — a payment that is generally less than the original bride price would have been. Social Networks, Marital Closeness, and Treatment of the Aged In many societies, people consider other social ties to be more important than marriage. For example, among the Mekranoti Indians of Brazil, a woman mourns much more intensely for a deceased brother than for a deceased husband. A woman can always get another husband, they explain, but brothers are irreplaceable.8 The same emphasis on family of origin over family of procreation may occur in some sectors of contemporary societies. In one study of marriage ties in England, Bott showed that when men and women can continue social ties established before marriage, these ties often substitute for marital closeness.9 In such cases, husbands and wives are unlikely to do many things together — visit, party, shop, etc. Women spend more time with their relatives, while men spend their time with co-workers and old friends. In general, their friends all know each other and form a tight social group. In contrast, when husbands and wives cannot maintain their premarital social ties, they are forced to depend on each other for moral, economic, and social support and are likely to do many things together. Their mutual friends are also unlikely to know each other. In part, the different marital styles may be related to certain practical questions. Many lower-class people spend their entire lives in the same neighborhoods. Their longestablished friendships can continue even after marriage. Professionals must often leave


the places where they grew up in order to acquire professional training or jobs. Often they must move several times during their lifetimes in order to obtain career advancements. This means they cannot depend on long-established friendships for economic, social, and moral support. They have only their spouses to turn to. A high dependency on one’s spouse for social and moral support may make romantic love more difficult. One cross-cultural study found that romantic love is most common in societies that are not neolocal.10 It seems that the need to depend on one’s spouse for economic, social, and moral support means that young people must judge each other shrewdly on such practical characteristics as work abilities, and cannot afford the luxury of idealizing each other’s characteristics. Spending one’s entire life near the same people may also have implications for the way older people are treated. Among the endogamous Suya Indians of Brazil, for example, older people who can no longer care for themselves are fed by the entire village in exchange for the entertainment they provide through their comic antics.11 In many Indian villages without endogamy, elders are often mistreated. Once their children have grown up and left home, they are left alone to fend for themselves among people they have not watched grow up. What might be some of the other implications of spending one’s life with the same people? Are people apt to talk about different things? Does their language actually change? Are people surer of themselves when surrounded by the same people they’ve known since childhood? Are people less likely to judge each other on superficial traits like appearance if they know each other well? One study suggests that competition may be less pronounced where people know each other well.12 Are competitive games less likely in endogamous societies? Comparisons in the United States between small, relatively endogamous communities, and comparable communities made up of newly arrived families (sometimes city neighborhoods will do) might help answer some of these questions.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 8: Political Life _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Types of Political Organization A. Band Organization B. Tribal Organization 1. Kinship Bonds 2. Age-Set Systems C. Chiefdom Organization D. State Organization E. Factors Associated with Variation in Political Organization


The Spread of State Societies


Variation in Political Process A. Getting to Be a Leader 1. “Big Men” 2. “Big Women” B. Political Participation

IV. Resolution of Conflict A. Peaceful Resolution of Conflict 1. Avoidance 2. Community Action 3. Negotiation and Mediation 4. Ritual Reconciliation—Apology 5. Oaths and Ordeals 6. Adjudication, Courts, and Codified Law B. Violent Resolution of Conflict 1. Individual Violence 2. Feuding 3. Raiding 4. Large-Scale Confrontations C. Explaining Warfare


Resources for Discussion Elderly Leaders Early anthropologists were often impressed with the high prestige given to elders in the societies they studied. In some places, such as among the Australian Aborigines, the Shavante Indians of Brazil, and the Samburu-Masai of Kenya, elders formed the governing council of the society. These elders sometimes wielded great power. They decided when to hold ceremonies, where to hunt, and whom people could marry. Even where elders did not join together in councils, they could still exercise power individually. Among the Jivaro of Ecuador, for example, chiefly office required that one be an elder. And the word for “chief” literally meant “old one.” Among the Kogi, one’s status was said to increase steadily with age, so that growing old was considered a pleasant experience. But not all societies granted increased prestige and power to elders. For the Trumai, advancing years were a stigma. The Siriono considered the elderly to be “excess baggage.” And the Caraja sometimes killed the elderly. Why do some societies grant power and prestige to elders, while other societies give them reduced status? Anthropologists have offered various explanations. One argument emphasizes the kinds of social ties elders accumulate during their lifetimes. One’s own offspring may be particularly important. A Basseri informant once told their ethnographer that “a man’s influence depends not on what he has here (pointing to the head), but on what he has here (pointing to the genitalia).”1 The implication of this statement was that the way to gain power was to have children who, as adults, could lend their support (and their spouse’s support) to their parents. Other anthropologists have offered other explanations for the influence of elders. One argument stresses the economic contributions elders can make to their society. In some cultures, elders continue to be productive — at childcare or other tasks — until the day they die. In other places, elders accumulate wealth during their lifetimes and may be able to give some of this wealth away, as they become older. One cross-cultural study found some limited support for this argument. Still other arguments stress the knowledge or experience acquired with age. Among the Kogi, for example, old people are respected for the advice they can give. Kogi feel that “it is necessary to be old in order to know much.”2 It is difficult to say at this point just why older people gain influence in different societies, but there is evidence from one society that some aspects of aging are more important than others. In a statistical treatment of data from one South American Indian group, Werner examined different variables to assess which ones best “intervened” between age and influence in the causal sequence: age = influence.3 Economic and personality variables could not account for why Mekranoti elders enjoyed more prestige and influence than younger Mekranoti. Having a large number of sons seemed to be somewhat important, but the main reason Mekranoti elders gained influence was their knowledge — especially their knowledge of ceremonies.


Cross-cultural data also suggest that knowledge is especially important to an elder’s acquisition of prestige. Where elders control information, they are more likely to be influential.4 If influence for the elderly is contingent primarily upon their knowledge, then what does this imply about the status of the elderly in modern societies? Does the rapid obsolescence of knowledge in our society reduce the influence of the elderly? What Makes the Rules? The nature of rules is sharply debated by anthropologists. One theoretical orientation is typified by Bourdieu, who argues that rules are merely schemes to enable people to manipulate their social environment for personal gain.5 However, Edgerton, who calls this position “strategic interactionism,” points out that it typically ignores or denies the existence of inflexible rules which carry with them no exceptions.6 Furthermore, it posits a cultural universe in which flexibility is the norm when, in fact, it may be argued that, “The fundamental problem in bringing about social order is to make behavior predictable and controllable” and that rules press for such regularity.7 Edgerton defines the term rule as “a shared understanding of how people ought to behave and of what should be done if someone behaves in a way that conflicts with that understanding. Rules, then, prescribe or proscribe behavior.”8 Finally, where Bourdieu claims that discussion of rules in technologically simple societies is absurd, Edgerton cites ethnographic evidence to demonstrate that even among the world’s smallest societies there is a tremendous amount of variation in the nature of rules — from very flexible to very strict. For example, the Mbuti of Central Africa have very flexible rules, while the Cheyenne of North America enforced their laws with extreme strictness. The Walbiri of Australia and the traditional Japanese also demanded that all members of society adhere to the rules categorically, while the Mehinaku of Brazil and the !Kung of southern Africa were societies in which rules were flexible and malleable. But why should this variation exist? Edgerton suggests three influences, which might make for strict enforcement of rules. First, social inequality is likely to lead to strict rule making, so that the powerful can maintain their positions of authority. Second, a strong need for cooperation (in rituals, games, subsistence, etc.) will also probably result in strict rules. Finally, the most important determinant in the formation of strict rules is the “perception” of danger. Edgerton notes that danger can be both real and imagined. In addition to threats upon one’s life (e.g. famine, flood, plague, etc.), there are culturally constructed threats to honor, respect, and dignity, which may be thought of as no less dangerous than physical danger. Therefore, assuming that humans are reluctant to circumscribe their lives with strict rules, but that cultures with strict rule systems do exist, Edgerton posits that people will establish strict rules only when they believe it would be dangerous if they did not do so. Otherwise, rules will tend to be flexible. The Social Contract Philosophers and social scientists have long pondered over why and how humans first came to organize themselves into a state of commonwealth. Two classic works on this


subject are Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and John Locke’s An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. Hobbes and Locke disagree about the reasons for the existence of the commonwealth. For Hobbes, the state was formed as a mechanism of control. Such power to control is the only means by which to prevent humans from falling into complete anarchy, which is referred to as the “war of all against all.” Locke, on the other hand, proposed that humans first joined together to form society because they realized that by themselves each person could not supply himself or herself with all the desired amenities of life. Where Locke saw “enlightened” and common self-interest, Hobbes saw only savage chaos in people trying to assure themselves of contented lives because, he wrote, there is in humans “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power that ceases only in death.” For Locke, the commonwealth is the defender of private property, a homeostatic alliance marching in eternal stability; whereas for Hobbes it is a nuclear reactor lurching toward meltdown, barely contained by graphite control rods. Whether the commonwealth was formed to prevent the war of all against all or to insure the preservation of property, Hobbes and Locke do agree that it was necessary for humans to “reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will” (Hobbes). For Locke this translates into the rule of the majority, while for Hobbes it is the rule of the monarch. In either case, both agree this collective sublimation of wills was brought about by the mutual consent of the governed. Do either of these views help us understand how humans have organized themselves into political states? What relevance do the works of Hobbes and Locke have in regard to non-state societies? How does their work relate to how societies formulate rules of behavior? What special contributions can anthropology and archaeology make to our understanding of these issues?


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 9: Religion and Magic _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Variation in Religious Beliefs A. Types of Supernatural Forces and Beings 1. Supernatural Forces 2. Supernatural Beings B. The Character of Supernatural Beings C. Structure or Hierarchy of Supernatural Beings D. Intervention of the Gods in Human Affairs


Variation in Religious Practices A. Ways to Interact with the Supernatural B. Magic 1. Sorcery and Witchcraft C. Types of Practitioners 1. The Shaman 2. Sorcerers and Witches 3. Mediums 4. Priests 5. Practitioners and Social Complexity


Religion and Adaptation A. Religious Change 1. Revitalization Movements: The Seneca and the Religion of Handsome Lake B. Religious Conversion 1. Christianity on Tikopia C. Fundamentalism D. The Appeal of Religion

Resources for Discussion Magic Rites One of the perennial interests of anthropologists has been the use of magic in different cultures. People sing nonsense words, dance strange dances, collect obscure plants and other materials, and brew up bizarre concoctions, all to influence the course of some event. Magic has been used to cure illnesses, decide where to hunt, divine a guilty person, find a mate, or look for a job. Why do people turn to magic in these situations? After studying the use of magic to solve navigation problems (including the building


of seaworthy ships) among the Trobrianders, Malinowski argued that magic is used in situations where the outcome is important, but where people have no way of influencing the course of events. He pointed out that people do not use magic for unimportant things, and that they prefer to use more rational ways to solve problems when rational solutions are at all possible. Magic solves the human need for explanation when all else fails. Actually, humans may not be the only creatures to “need” explanations for important events. In experiments with pigeons, Skinner found that these birds exhibited “superstitious” behavior when there was no way for them to control how they received food. Skinner began his experiments by training pigeons to peck at certain buttons or do other things in order to get food. Later he altered the experiments so that some behaviors resulted in food, but more often than others. (He wanted to see how good pigeons were at judging the probability of receiving food.) Finally, he made food-getting strictly random. At this point, the birds’ behavior was totally irrelevant to food-getting and the birds began to do bizarre things, such as hopping on one foot or turning in circles. One might argue that the birds were trying out various “hypotheses” to see if they would bring food; if so, birds, as well as humans, may have a need for explanations. Evolutionarily, such a need makes good sense. Animals can survive better if they have a need to try out different behavior patterns when other behavior fails. Careful studies of the custom of water witching in New Mexico have supported Malinowski’s argument about magic. Water witching is a divinatory ritual in which specialist “water dowsers” use forked sticks or metal rods to help them determine where people should dig wells for water. E. Z. Vogt gathered data on exactly who was using water dowsing to find water in areas of rural New Mexico.1 He found that the practice was most common in places where water is hardest to find, and where even sophisticated geological surveys are of little or no help. This supports Malinowski’s contention that magic is used only when more rational techniques are improbable. Vogt also found that use of water dowsing was unrelated to one’s education. Thus, it could not be attributed to “ignorance.” Nor was tradition a very good explanation of why some people used water dowsing. New immigrants to the areas with scarce water picked up the practice, even when they had never used it before. And those who moved out of the water-scarce areas dropped the practice as soon as geological surveys proved more valuable. Thus, Malinowski’s argument proved to be the best explanation. Supernatural Beings and Political Groups One of the most interesting explanations for why humans believe in different kinds of supernatural beings suggests that supernatural beings are really representations of decision-making groups.2 It is very hard for the average person to understand how abstract political entities affect their own lives. In such cases, it is easier to represent these groups as people or animals. In the United States, for example, Americans often find it easier to think that they are paying their taxes to Uncle Sam than to an abstract government. It is also easier to think of political parties as elephants or donkeys. Part of the problem with thinking about decision-making bodies directly is that these groups cannot be identified by a group of individuals. Individuals come and go, but the decision-making groups continue, no


matter who makes up their membership. No wonder, then, that even historians sometimes talk of countries as if they were people who “want” things. In arguing that supernatural beings are really ways to think about decision-making groups, Swanson hypothesizes that the kinds of supernatural beings a society has should somehow resemble the decision-making groups they represent. To take an example from another source, Nash describes the supernatural beings worshipped by miners in Bolivia.3 The mines in which they work were originally run by tin barons from England or the United States. Decisions about the mines were made in these faraway places and they were sometimes quite arbitrary (from the miners’ point of view), involving sudden changes in the world price of tin. The Bolivians who work in these mines pay homage to a “devil” called Tio who lives in the mine, and who arbitrarily causes periodic disasters, such as explosions, or lack of air. Since the decisions about the mines have been made in foreign countries, Swanson would predict that the Tio should somehow resemble these foreigners. Sure enough, Nash describes the Tio in dreams as looking like “a gringo— tall, red-faced, with fair hair and beard, wearing a cowboy hat.” The representations of Tio in the mines smoke American cigarettes. To test his theories about supernatural beings, Swanson coded societies on the kinds of decision-making bodies they had, and on the kinds of supernatural beings they had. He found that the two were often related. For example, where decision-making bodies are organized into a hierarchy, so are the gods. Swanson sees the head god as representing the largest political unit. Lesser gods may represent more local units (in Christianity, God and Father may represent a large political unit, but saints are more localized in their sovereignty). Where occupational groups are important decision-making bodies, Swanson found occupationally specialized gods, such as war gods for soldiers, and sea gods for merchant sailors. (Religions with occupationally specialized gods are sometimes called polytheistic.) And where kinship groups are important decision-making bodies, Swanson found that people represented these groups with ancestor worship. Finally, it is also possible that morality in religion is simply a way of representing decision-making groups that pass judgments on people’s actions. The gods pass moral judgments in societies with social classes where debts can be accumulated. One of the areas where Swanson attempted to apply his theories was in explaining why some societies became Protestant while others remained Catholic during the Protestant Reformation. Swanson argues that acceptance of Protestantism depended on a country’s political organization. Protestantism was accepted where local populations had some say in their administration. In England, for example, local populations had to approve the king’s appointed administrators. In Switzerland, local populations had even more control over how they were to be administered. But in Catholic countries, decisions that came from the central authorities (whether a king, as in France, or a governing council, as in some Italian states) passed directly to the local populations. There was no stage at which local populations had to approve of actions. Swanson argues that this political theme was played out theologically in the debate over how God’s grace passed to people. Catholics thought people received this grace automatically. The grace of the high God was similar to the decisions of the central political bodies. Swanson uses historical data from a random sample of European areas to show that the adoption of political systems preceded the adoption of Protestantism or Catholicism.4


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 10: Culture Change and Globalization _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

How and Why Cultures Change A. Discovery and Invention 1. Unconscious Invention 2. Intentional Innovation 3. Who Adopts Innovations? 4. Costs and Benefits B. Diffusion 1. The Selective Nature of Diffusion C. Acculturation D. Revolution


Culture Change and Adaptation


Types of Culture Change in the Modern World A. Commercialization 1. Migratory Labor 2. Nonagricultural Commercial Production 3. Supplementary Cash Crops 4. Introduction of Commercial and Industrial Agriculture B. Political and Social Change

IV. Ethnogenesis: The Emergence of New Cultures V.

Globalization: Problems and Opportunities

VI. Cultural Diversity in the Future

Resources for Discussion The Green Revolution Some of the most far-reaching changes in the Third World have been brought about by the introduction of high-yielding varieties of grains (especially wheat and rice) in the agriculture of different countries. Prior to the 1950s, most of the world’s agricultural expansion was due to an increase in agricultural lands, but since that date agriculture has expanded primarily by increasing the yields per unit of land. What have been the effects of these changes? 42

At the beginning of the “green revolution,” some supposedly high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat, in fact, resulted in lower yields because of inadequate attention to such risk factors as heavy rains, plant diseases, and droughts. Most of these problems were eventually resolved. Griffin provides data from various countries, showing that yields in fact have increased since the introduction of the higher yielding varieties.1 For example, in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, rice yields per hectare on small and large farms increased approximately 22 percent between 1965 and 1970. At the same time, they increased about 53 percent on medium-sized farms. The green revolution’s agricultural increases are laudable, but they were accompanied by serious economic and social problems that make many doubt their value. One of the most serious problems has been an apparent increase in inequality as reflected in land ownership. In a sample of ten nations for which data were available, Miller showed that in countries adopting high-yielding varieties of rice on 40 to 66 percent of their lands, the percent of land owned by small landholders decreased significantly.2 At the same time, in countries that adopted high-yielding varieties on less than 15 percent of their lands, the percent of land owned by small landholders increased. Griffin cites several possible explanations for the increased inequality associated with the green revolution. Since high-yielding varieties almost always entail increased demands for water control and fertilization, privileged access by the wealthy to these resources might account for how the wealthy managed to buy up the poorer farmers’ lands. Another explanation sees greater ease of mechanization with higher-yielding varieties as leading to greater economy of scale, thus favoring the wealthy. Still other arguments point to the presumed ability of the wealthy to better absorb the risks involved in innovation, or to factors like political “pull” in government decisions on road building or in obtaining credit to buy seeds, fertilizer, and agricultural equipment. Whatever the reasons for the increased inequality, the skewed land distribution has serious implications for the world’s food supply. Griffin provides data from the Philippines, Mexico, and Colombia to show that agricultural productivity per unit of land is generally lower on larger farms than on smaller farms. However, the productivity per unit of labor is higher on the larger farms, only because of increased capital input. This same result has been noted in comparisons of Amish and Anglo farms in the United States.3 The sorry result of land inequalities is that unemployment increases while agricultural productivity is not as high as it could be. The U. N. World Food Council reports that 50 million people starve to death each year, 450 million show signs of serious malnutrition, and 250,000 children yearly become blind for lack of vitamin A. In spite of technical progress, a combination of population increases and poor distribution have increased the mortality rates from starvation to levels higher than any in the nineteenth century.4 Various solutions have been offered to solve the world’s food problems. Some of them are obviously inadequate. For example, the world cannot adopt highly productive U.S. agricultural techniques because U.S. agriculture is extraordinarily dependent on energy (oil) inputs. The world’s oil supplies would soon become exhausted if everyone tried to do things the American way. Also, U.S. agriculture leads to heavy erosion, which may soon spell catastrophe even for agriculture in this country.5 Others suggest greater aid from developed countries in the form of grain donations,


coupled with better means to guarantee that the donations reach their intended beneficiaries. Yet as some researchers point out, such “donations” could have negative effects in the long run by discouraging agricultural development in Third World countries.6 At the present, the world is awash with excess grains and meat, and many developed countries (with highly subsidized agriculture) sell their products abroad below cost.7 Since Third World leaders are under pressure from their urban populations to keep food prices down, these leaders often opt for importing most of their food, while putting price controls on food. As a result, local farmers are discouraged from working their lands. Although they may not agree on other specifics, most researchers do agree that part of the solution to world hunger requires a more egalitarian distribution of land. Work and Acculturation In the short run, technological inventions appear to decrease work inputs for specific tasks. For example, anthropologists have verified that metal axes are more efficient than stone ones at cutting down forest trees for firewood, honey, or garden-clearing.8 Research has also shown that shotguns are more efficient at killing game than are bows and arrows.9 Yet despite the short-term advantages of these technological advances, in the long run, acculturation seems to require longer working hours. In part, the longer working hours may result from outside encroachment on the territories of previously isolated groups, forcing them to overexploit their resources. With large areas of land, natives can cut down relatively small areas of forest to make their gardens, because the fertile land will produce abundantly. When they can no longer be so choosy about their garden sites, natives must cut down larger areas in order to obtain the same produce as on the less fertile soils.10 Hunting returns also diminish when people are forced to prey more intensely on the available game. Usually large animals disappear first because they have longer gestation periods and smaller litters. Studies from various South American Indian groups show a clear preference for hunting larger game animals—mostly because they require less work per kilogram of meat obtained.11 When large game disappear, people (like other predator species) are forced to turn to the more expensive smaller animal species.12 Changes in the economic equations behind native subsistence strategies cannot help but affect culture. For example, because Kanela Indians of Brazil must now plant larger gardens farther from their main villages and must periodically weed their plants, these Indians now build temporary shelters at their garden sites, and spend more and more time there, neglecting the rich ceremony of traditional village life. Because technological innovations and territorial restrictions have changed the economics of hunting, the Ache Indians of Paraguay have altered their traditional taboo systems. Animals that previously were not taboo, now are, and vice versa.13 Most Indian rights groups complain that the main issue in guaranteeing their right to be different is land. How true is this argument? How important are such factors as land demarcations, mass communications, and the attraction of outside goods in accounting for the changes previously isolated groups undergo upon acculturation? How important is brute force? How can we tell?


Why Peasants Revolt Many people are interested in finding out why peasants sometimes revolt— governments, political parties, and businessmen. Early research tends to concentrate on the peasants themselves. A great deal of attention was devoted to such factors as “relative deprivation” and the educational level of peasants. Wolf suggests that it is the middle-level peasant who is most likely to revolt.14 Peasants at the very bottom are too concerned about their own survival to be able to devote energy to rebellions, while peasants who are a little better off may also enjoy the benefits of educating their sons in the cities. More recent studies question this view. Paige argues that researchers are most likely to look at reactions of the landowners if they want to understand why peasants make the kinds of protests they do.15 He argues that when landowners’ incomes are dependent totally on the amount of land they own, they have no way of giving in to peasant demands without losing money of their own. But when incomes depend primarily on capital investments, such as expensive machinery, then landlords can sometimes give in to demands and still maintain profits if they are willing to improve their capital. By partially giving in to peasant demands, landlords can often avert a peasant revolt. Paige backed up his argument by marshalling statistical data from seventy different countries. He found that the kinds of crops peasants grew for export affected land tenure patterns, which in turn affected the ways peasants expressed their demands for improvements. For example, where peasants grew crops that could be greatly reduced in bulk before export, landlords tended to place machines on the land to reduce the bulk of crops before any transportation was required. The reason for this was strictly economical — it saved on transportation costs. The result was a kind of “factory-in-the-field” situation, that Paige labeled a “plantation” system. Crops that resulted in plantation systems included sisal, tea, sugar, palm oil, and rubber. With such a system, landlords were more willing to give in to peasant demands. They could improve their profits by improving the processing machines. Peasants, then, were unwilling to risk large-scale revolts. Instead, they limited themselves to labor strikes in which they demanded higher wages. The strikes of lowland Peruvian sugar-cane workers are one example. With other kinds of crops, capital improvements cannot increase productivity or profits. This is especially true with wet-rice cultivation. In wet-rice cultivation, manual labor is needed to get the highest yields. The great care people take in planting, weeding, fertilizing, and irrigating crops could not be duplicated by clumsy machines. Thus, landlords cannot improve profits by investing in capital. In these situations, sharecropping tends to be the major land-tenure system. Peasants keep only a portion of the crop they raise, giving the rest to the landlord. With this system, peasants are also susceptible to being thrown off the land if the landlord is dissatisfied with productivity. When peasants protest, the landlords are unwilling to make concessions. Peasants are then forced to turn to violence, and they make revolutionary socialist demands. The beginning of the Communist movement in Vietnam’s Mekong delta is one example. Migratory labor is similar to share-cropping. In some colonized places in the world, natives worked on the estates of foreigners on a temporary, migratory basis. Coffee was a


common crop to be raised this way. Again, landlords generally could not improve profits with capital investments and were reluctant to give in to peasant demands. The violence that resulted generally had a nationalist flair and called for nationalist revolutions. The liberation of Angola from the Portuguese is one example. Unlike systems where peasants relied on wages or a portion of the crop to meet their livelihood, with commercial haciendas workers were sometimes given their own land to farm, from which they could meet their subsistence needs. (Hacienda systems may be more common in areas where poorer quality lands on the mountain slopes surrounding a fertile valley make landlords more willing to give some of the poor lands to peasants.) But tensions may still rise high in this kind of land-tenure system if landlords are unwilling to give in to peasant demands. The resulting violence is likely to include a call for land redistribution, although the radical changes demanded under sharecropping and migratory labor systems are unlikely. An example of such protests comes from the peasant calls for land reform in highland Peru. There is one final land-tenure system that Paige discusses. This is the small farm system found in the United States and elsewhere. In these systems, farmers own their own capital and their own land. They are most likely to make protests about the prices paid for their products, or the interest rates on loans. Demonstrations such as the Washington tractor demonstration of the 1970s are the most common form of protest. Paige’s correlations between different land-tenure systems and types of protests are an important step in understanding why peasants revolt. His study clearly points out the importance of understanding how landlords react in different systems. It also suggests that some of the variables deemed important by earlier researchers may not be so critical. While earlier researchers emphasized education, for example, Paige’s study found that education was not that important. In examining some areas where protests began, Paige also discovered that it was not only the middle-level peasant who revolted, but also those on the very bottom. Other researchers have also noted that the intellectual leaders of many revolutions, in fact, usually enter the fray long after civil conflicts have arisen.16


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 11: Global Issues _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Natural Disasters and Famine


Inadequate Housing and Homelessness


Family Violence and Abuse A. Violence against Children B. Violence against Wives C. Reducing the Risk

IV. Crime V.


VI. Terrorism VII. Making the World Better

Resources for Discussion An Ever Changing World The world as we know it will not exist in just a few years. As the population continues to climb, new problems are invented by humanity while old ones are exacerbated. Natural disasters, once a rarity, are now commonplace. Recent earthquakes have killed tens of thousands, while volcanoes, landslides, and the occasional tsunami kill thousands more each year. Why, you may ask? Perhaps the earth is becoming an unstable place! But no, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and other natural disturbances of the earth are no more pronounced than they were in the past. Instead, we humans are populating the coastlines densely. And it is the coastlines that have most of these violent phenomena. Of course this increase in population density leads to other problems, such as increases in overall crime rates. In this new world of ours, we have only one choice: to attempt to make the world a better place. The following are just a few ideas on how to deal with this nearly intractable topic in your classroom: •

A variety of guest speakers could contribute meaningful current information on the topics in this chapter. You might invite specialists in the areas of economics, biology, population control, environmental education, and energy consumption; historians or 47

sociologists specializing in developing nations; religious leaders interested in the conflict between religion and secularism; and many others available in your community. A combination of different speakers engaged in discussion or debate might be an interesting way to cover these topics. An interesting film on a familiar company in an unfamiliar land is The Colonel Comes to Japan. It describes how Kentucky Fried Chicken penetrated the Japanese market. Some other interesting films that can encourage discussion are: The Kyocera Experiment; One Man’s Multinations; Hong Kong Dresses Up; and The Buck Stops in Brazil. Some interesting short films on ecology are Ecological Realities—Natural Laws at Work; Ecology: Checks and Balances; and Ecology: The Silent Bomb.


_____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER 12: Applied and Practicing Anthropology _____________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE I.

Motives for Applying and Practicing Anthropology


Ethics of Applied Anthropology


Evaluating the Effects of Planned Change

IV. Difficulties in Instituting Planned Change A. Resistance by the Target Population B. Discovering and Utilizing Local Channels of Influence V.

Cultural Resource Management

VI. Forensic Anthropology VII. Medical Anthropology A. Cultural Understandings of Health and Illness 1. Concepts of Balance and Equilibrium 2. Supernatural Forces 3. The Biomedical Paradigm B. Treatment of Illness 1. Medical Practitioners C. Political and Economic Influences on Health D. AIDS E. Undernutrition