Annual Editions: Anthropology 10/11 / Edition 33 available in Paperback
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Table of Contents
Annual Editions: Anthropology 10/11
UNIT 1: Anthropological PerspectivesUnit Overview
1. Before: The Sixties, Conrad Phillip Kottak, Assault on Paradise, McGraw-Hill, 2006
An anthropologist's first fieldwork is especially challenging since it involves living in a strange environment with people whose culture is stranger still. Yet, as Phillip Kottak describes such an experience in a small community in Brazil, the reward is a greater understanding of and appreciation for another culture.
2. Eating Christmas in the Kalahari, Richard Borshay Lee, Natural History, December 1969
Anthropologist Richard Borshay Lee gives an account of the misunderstanding and confusion that often accompany cross-cultural experience. In this case, he violated a basic principle of the !Kung Bushmen's social relations—food sharing.
3. Tricking and Tripping: Fieldwork on Prostitution in the Era of AIDS, Claire E. Sterk, Tricking and Tripping: Prostitution in the Era of AIDS, Social Change Press, 2000
As unique as Claire E. Sterk's report on prostitution may be, she discusses issues common to anthropologists wherever they conduct fieldwork: How does one build trusting relationships with informants and what are the ethical obligations of an anthropologist toward them?
4. Yanomamo, Leslie E. Sponsel, Encyclopedia of Anthropology, (H. James Birx, ed.), Sage Publications, 2006
As one of the few indigenous cultures remaining in the Amazon rain forest, the Yanomami have become increasingly endangered from outside contact. In calling for more social responsibility and relevance in anthropological research, the author questions whether it is any longer "justifiable" to collect scientific data merely to feed careerism and the vague promise of "contributing to human knowledge."UNIT 2: Culture and CommunicationUnit Overview
5. Whose Speech Is Better?, Donna Jo Napoli, Language Matters: A Guide to Everyday Questions About Language, Oxford University Press, 2003
Although we cannot explicitly state the rules of our language, we do choose to follow different rules in different contexts. Depending on the situation, we manipulate every aspect of language, from simple differences in pronunciation and vocabulary to the more complicated changes in phrasing and the sentence structure.
6. Lost for Words, Kate Douglas, New Scientist, March 18–24, 2006
What is the relationship between a people's language, culture, and interaction with their environment? One linguist's findings may not have settled the issue once and for all, but they have certainly added fuel to the fire.
7. Do You Speak American?, Robert MacNeil, USA Today Magazine, January 2005
It is a common assumption that the mass media is making all Americans speak in a similar manner. Linguists point out, however, that while some national trends in language are apparent, regional speech differences are not only thriving, but in some places they are becoming even more distinctive.
8. Fighting for Our Lives, Deborah Tannen, The Argument Culture, Random House, 1998
In America today, a pervasive warlike tone seems to prevail in public dialogue. The prevailing belief is that there are only two sides to an issue and opposition leads to truth. Often, however, an issue is more like a crystal, with many sides, and the truth is in the complex middle, not in the oversimplified extremes.
9. Expletive Deleted, Laura Spinney, New Scientist, December 22, 2007–January 4, 2008
While swear words have varied historically and cross-culturally, they seem to take on certain linguistic forms as well as involved particular cultural content. They may even have a neurological basis that centers on our brain's emotional center.
10. I Can't Even Open My Mouth: Separating Messages from Metamessages in Family Talk, Deborah Tannen, I Only Say This Because I Love You, Random House, 2001
Because family members have a long, shared history, what they say in conversation—the messages—echo with meanings from the past—the metamessages. The metamessage may not be spoken, but its meaning may be gleaned from every aspect of context: the way something is said, who is saying it, or the very fact that it is said at all.
11. Shakespeare in the Bush, Laura Bohannan, Natural History, August/September, 1966
It is often claimed that great literature has cross-cultural significance. In this article, Laura Bohannan describes the difficulties she encountered and the lessons she learned as she attempted to relate the story of Hamlet to the Tiv of West Africa in their own language.
12. At a Loss for Words, Sarah Grey Thomason, Natural History, December 2007–January 2008
Along with the impending disappearance of at least half of the world's languages will go, not just the variety of communication forms, but also a loss of so many ways of thinking about the world, as well as knowledge itself.UNIT 3: The Organization of Society and CultureUnit Overview
13. The Inuit Paradox, Patricia Gadsby, Discover, October 2004
The traditional diet of the Far North, with its high-protein, high-fat content, shows that there are no essential foods—only essential nutrients.
14. Ties That Bind, Peter M. Whiteley, Natural History, November 2004
The Hopi people offer gifts in a much broader range of circumstances than people in Western cultures do, tying individuals and groups to each other and to the realm of the spirits.
15. Playing Indian at Halftime: The Controversy over American Indian Mascots, Logos, and Nicknames in School-Related Events, Cornel D. Pewewardy, The Clearing House, May/June 2004
The persistent use of American Indian mascots, logos, and nicknames in school-related events plays an important role in warping American Indian children's cultural perceptions of themselves. Over time, such stereotypes have evolved into contemporary racist images that prevent millions of school-age students from understanding American Indians' past and present experiences.
16. Sick of Poverty, Robert Sapolsky, Scientific American, December 2005
While it has long been known that people with low socioeconomic status have higher disease risks and shorter life spans, new studies indicate that material deprivation may only be part of the explanation. Perhaps an even more important aspect has to do with the psychosocial stresses that go with their place in society.UNIT 4: Other Families, Other WaysUnit Overview
17. When Brothers Share a Wife: Among Tibetans, the Good Life Relegates Many Women to Spinsterhood, Melvyn C. Goldstein, Natural History, March 1987
While the custom of fraternal polyandry relegated many Tibetan women to spinsterhood, this unusual marriage form promoted personal security and economic well-being for its participants.
18. Death without Weeping, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Natural History, October 1989
In the Shantytowns of Brazil, the seeming indifference of mothers who allow some of their children to die is a survival strategy, geared to circumstances in which only some may live.
19. Arranging a Marriage in India, Serena Nanda, Stumbling Toward Truth: Anthropologists at Work, Waveland Press, 2000
Arranging a marriage in India is far too serious a business for the young and inexperienced. Instead, the parents make the decision on the basis of the families' social position, reputation, and ability to get along.
20. Who Needs Love!: In Japan, Many Couples Don't, Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, February 11, 1996
Paradoxically, Japanese families seem to survive, not because husbands and wives love each other more than American couples do, but rather because they perhaps love each other less. And as love marriages increase, with the compatibility factor becoming more important in the decision to marry, the divorce rate is rising.UNIT 5: Gender and StatusUnit Overview
21. The Berdache Tradition, Walter L. Williams, The Meaning of Difference, Beacon Press, 2000
Not all societies agree with the Western cultural view that all humans are either women or men. In fact, many Native American cultures recognize an alternative role called the "berdache," a morphological male who has a non-masculine character. This is just one way for a society to recognize and assimilate some atypical individuals without imposing a change on them or stigmatizing them as deviants.
22. Where Fat Is a Mark of Beauty, Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times, September 30, 1998
In a rite of passage, some Nigerian girls spend months gaining weight and learning customs in a "fattening room." A woman's rotundity is seen as a sign of good health, prosperity, and feminine beauty.
23. but What If It's a Girl?, Carla Power, New Statesman, April 25, 2006
In some parts of Asia, a combination of the traditional preference for male heirs, increased consumerism, and population control efforts has resulted in an imbalance in the sex ratios, an increase in violence toward females, and a potentially "hyper-macho society" of "sex-starved males."
24. Rising Number of Dowry Deaths in India, Amanda Hitchcock, International Committee of the Fourth International, July 4, 2001
Traditionally, a dowry in India allowed a woman to become a member of her husband's family with her own wealth. However, with the development of a cash economy, increased consumerism and a status-striving society, heightened demands for dowry and the inability of many brides' families to meet such demands have led to thousands of deaths each year.UNIT 6: Religion, Belief, and RitualUnit Overview
25. Shamanisms: Past and Present, David Kozak, Religion and Culture, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008
This article explains how few generalizations about shamanism do justice to the varying social contexts and individual cultural histories of the shamans, and discusses the past perceptual biases on the part of ethnographic observers.
26. The Adaptive Value of Religious Ritual, Richard Sosis, American Scientist, March/April 2004
Rituals promote group cohesion by requiring members to engage in behavior that is too costly to fake. Groups that do so are more likely to attain their collective goals than the groups whose members are less committed.
27. Understanding Islam, Kenneth Jost, CQ Researcher, November 3, 2005
As the world's second largest religion after Christianity, Islam teaches piety, virtue, and tolerance. Yet, with the emphasis of some Islamists on a strong relationship between religion and state, and with an increasing number of Islamic militants calling for violence against the West, communication and mutual understanding are becoming more important than ever.
28. The Secrets of Haiti's Living Dead, Gino Del Guercio, Harvard Magazine, January/February 1986
In seeking scientific documentation of the existence of zombies, anthropologist Wade Davis found himself looking beyond the stereotypes and mysteries of voodoo, and directly into a cohesive system of social control in rural Haiti.
29. Body Ritual among the Nacirema, Horace Miner, American Anthropologist, June 1956
The rituals, beliefs, and taboos, of the Nacirema provide us with a test case of the objectivity of ethnographic description and show us the extremes to which human behavior can go.
30. Baseball Magic, George Gmelch, Original Work, 2008
Professional baseball players, like Trobriand Islanders, often resort to magic, in situations of chance and uncertainty. As irrational as it may seem, magic creates confidence, competence, and control in the practitioner.UNIT 7: Sociocultural ChangeUnit Overview
31. Why Can't People Feed Themselves?, Frances Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins, Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity, Random House, 1977
When colonial governments force the conversion of subsistence farms to cash crop plantations, peasants are driven into marginal lands or into a large pool of cheap labor. In either case, the authors maintain their stand that the farmers are no longer able to feed themselves.
32. The Arrow of Disease, Jared Diamond, Discover, October 1992
The most deadly weapon colonial Europeans carried to other continents was their germs. The most intriguing question to be answered here is, why did the flow of disease not move in the opposite direction?
33. The Price of Progress, John Bodley, Victims of Progress, Mayfield Publishing, 1998
As traditional cultures are sacrificed in the process of modernization, tribal peoples not only lose the security, autonomy, and quality of life they once had, but they also become powerless, second-class citizens who are discriminated against and exploited by the dominant society.
34. Of Ice and Men, Cameron M. Smith, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Summer, 2008
The U.S. Government's decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species is perceived by many as an acknowledgment of global warming. To the Iñupiat—an indigenous Arctic people—the decision actually avoids the issue and will harm the very wildlife it is purported to protect.
35. Inundation, Austin Blair and Casey Beck, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Summer, 2008
As sea levels rise, small island nations such as Kiribati are seeing their drinking water diminish, their croplands disappear, and their homes flood. For some people, global warming is not a potential problem of the future. It is here and now.
36. Isolation, Lucas Bessire, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Summer, 2008
In South America's Gran Chaco, voluntarily isolated indigenous groups are still dodging the rampant development of the region, and with good reason: those that have already come out have found that even greater isolation awaits them.
37. Seeing Conservation through the Global Lens, Jim Igoe, Conservation and Globalization, Wadsworth, 2004
Before economic globalization took hold, most traditional peoples lived in ways that ensured the continued availability of resources for future generations. Because most Western models of conservation are based on the total exclusion of indigenous peoples, it is not surprising that they speak of conservation with disdain.
38. What Native Peoples Deserve, Roger Sandall, Commentary, May 2005
What should be done about endangered enclave societies in the midst of a modern nation such as Brazil? The main priority, says Roger Sandall, must be to ensure that no one should have to play the role of historical curiosity and that those who want to participate in the modern world should be able to do so, whether on the reservation or off it.
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