Category Archives: Thoughts

Savage Minds on the Occupy Movements

On an unrelated note, here is a posting from Savage Minds (i.e., the best Anthro blog out there) regarding “how anthropology and the occupy movement” overlap.

Academia and #OWS: An open thread

by  on October 21st, 2011

There have been a couple of good posts online about the links between anthropology and the Occupy Wall Street protests. See, in particular, these links: …


New Find: anthro.pophago

In my search to find sites that Make Anthro Public, I found a real winner today at

Rather than describe it, I’ll allow suspense and the following definition to lead the way.

anthropophagy can refer to:

  1. human cannibalism
  2. human consumption (that is, the tendency of certain animals, such as leeches or trichinae, to eat or similarly harm humans)

the word derives from greekanthropos, “man” + phagein, “to eat”. 

How many Wives did he have? Polygyny Polyandry Polygamy: Food for Thought

Why might POLYGAMY be as common as it is?

The general term “polygamy” is often used as is in the form of a man married to many women.  In truth, there are several forms of alternative marriage arrangements in the world.  Three most common ones are when one man is married to many women (Polygyny), one woman is married to many men (Polyandry), or when several men and women are married together to one person (Polygamy).  Most societies (Middle East countries, African Nations, Tibet, South American, and Asian cultures) outside of industrialized western societies, gain economic, better survival, and religious moral values and expressions in such family organized arrangements.  Most societies have reasons for their motivation and social acceptances, which provides benefits to the adults and children.  This ensures a higher survival rate and better living conditions to many groups world wide, than if more societies practices monogamous relationships. 

Besides many of the industrialized western societies, monogamous relationships end in separation, divorce, or unfaithfulness, seeming to lack suitability for durability within those societies.  This could bring up the idea and understanding of monogamous relationships into question since currently the divorce rate in general is raising and marriage decreasing or happens later in life.   

I think polygamy might go beyond cultural beliefs; there were many accounts of evidences that could have supported the idea of polygamy as a better way to ensure human survival and success outside of westernized societies.  Social structure of marriage does become a part of someone’s believes form birth.  If a form of polygamist family structure is all ones knows, it is practiced for a reason; cultural, economical, religious, survival, improved living conditions, land, politics, etc. that then becomes the social “norm” and is accepted for what it is: Family.

What do you think? 

Wikipedia has a good page about Polygamy if you want to further your general understanding of this form of marriage.





What Gender are you Speaking?: Food for Thought

Do men and women really talk differently?  If so, can they “communicate”?  How can understanding the work of DeSaussure help us today?

I would say that every person talks differently, but the differences in how the genders communicate are very unique.  In the Maltz and Borker article “A cultural Approach to Male-female Miscommunication”, they point out about five major differences in male and female communication and interaction.  Women ask questions more, maintaining routine interaction, minimal response, silent protests and more pronoun usage in communicating with others.  Men are more likely to interrupt, challenge, ignore others comments, control or shift the topic and make more declarations of facts/opinions.  Men and women approach talking to each other differently and use a different communication structure that often leads to miscommunication of the sex’s co-interaction.  Some of the classic miscommunications are ones that the PowerPoint presentation alluded to over friendly interaction between men and women.     

Despite the differences in gender communication, men and women are constantly communicating.  Miscommunication happens often enough, but this does not stop people from communicating.  When the different genders understand that this linguistic and cultural barrier exists, they can be more aware and understanding when miscommunication occurs.   

All people can communicate, even if they do not speak the same language, people have been bridging the gaps of language for centuries, not always in the clearest interpretation, but communication is not a perfect science.     

DeSaussure’s sturcturalist views of language and culture are useful in understanding human linguistics and its cultural relation.  Today, people struggle with understanding what other people say, often leading to miscommunication.  When people are able to understand the complexity of human communication with words and actions, they are better equipped to understand a person’s cultural background and the way others communicate differently.  

“Structuralists are interested in the interrelationship between UNITS, also called “surface phenomena,” and RULES, which are the ways that units can be put together” (DeSaussure’s).  In the article, he refers to tinker toys as aspects of subcultures interlinked into the main culture.  Interacting and surviving in harmony within a larger picture.  This example implies differences, yet enough similarities to allow others to understand the trivial or profound differences within the complex structure of culture and for DeSaussure’s human language.  

Here are some links to this topic and articles:

Linguistics 156: Language and Gender

A cultural approach to malefemale miscommunication.  3kCached

After clicking the above web link find the link below to access an PDF file of this particular article

A cultural approach to male-female miscommunication. Language and Social Identity. J. J. Gumperz. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 196-216.,

Be Ebonics Real-Dog?: Food for Thought

Is Ebonics a language? 

According to Rickford it is.  Ebonics is just like a language in that it has a structure, grammar and vocal inflexions that all have particular meanings and rules of usage.  Ebonics is a newly formed and widely spreading language that often is mixed into English and other languages and self-expressions for cultural and language communication.  Ebonics and its roots seem more uncertain, since it is a language that has been formed over many years and now, like in Oakland California considered a foreign language. 


 Simply because Ebonics’ sounds “unintelligent” to English speaking people does not mean it is a lazy or uneducated form of communication, only different and foreign to people with such rigid minds and cultural insensitive. 

Rickford and Oakland education progarms have worked to help inform others of the language value of Ebonics, while others state how it is simply a less educated dialect of the American English language. Now, you look at some of the points on both sides and then you deside where you stand on how languages are created.  





“What Race are you?-I am in a Race?”: Food for Thought

Does Race exist?  Is it valuable to continue discussions of racism?  If Franz Boas (One of the fathers of Anthropology) defined much of these issues 100 years ago, why are we redefining them now?

Race exists in the sense of inherit cultural ideas of races rather than a biological fact.  “Race without Color” article by Jared Diamond focuses on the fact that race is nothing more then a cultural concept and hold little to no true aspect for how particular groups of people value the word “race”. 

I would say depending on the view of race, it exists or it does not.  The current concept of race in many human cultures, particular the highly developed and civilized, would say and yes, race– the visual differences, skills and characterizes value by humanity for success or failure for advancement is real and is important for human classification or grouping.  Other more naturalist and primitive less technological grouped humans would possibly view race– the custom, belief practice, and culture that differs from other groups geographically that make them harder to under motivation of actions when cross-race relations try to communicate.  This example shows that the understanding of race varies and many definitions do not really understand the other groups interpretation of what race means. 

Race might simply be a word that humans use to replace the word unusual, different,  peculiar, unfamiliar, foreign, strange, bizarre, weird, abnormal, incorrect etc. I would say that race exists in the mind and eye of the beholder, but biological and scientific facts have no value or true bases for existences for humans to uphold.

Since racism is in our cultural, political and daily life, it would cause the need for continued discussion on this topic.  This topic has been implanted and maintained, as Peggy Mclntosh article “White Privilege” indicates, into the system of the life we led.  Not discussing it will not make it magically disappear from our culture or our beliefs of the value and meaning of racism.  Action and expression is necessary for change and a better comprehensive understanding to take place.

 Franz Boas pioneered the use of scientific approach to anthropology, demonstrating the necessity of studying a culture in all its aspects, meaning religion, art, history, language, and physical characteristics.  Boas also addressed the importance that “no truly pure race exists, and that no race is innately superior to any other” (Boas).   

People over a century later continue discussing this issue of race, purity, and superiority over other people that have been categorized into “labels”.  These cultures need of proving, documenting, and maintaining historical evidences of that particular human groupings  success, failure, and longevity by the same group showing the why’s and how’s to justify their existences.   

Race is being redefined still due to the world’s globalization of interaction, interfacing, and economic market causing to world and her people to become increasingly connected on a global scale.  The power is growing, the groups are multiplying, and the world is engaging within this close network to reveal motives and exploitation.  Race is redefined to allow for expanding comfort of those in power, trying to maintain power and continue the hierarchy of control through solace manipulation of the massively growing multicultural and racial audience of the world lulling them into compliance of their inferiority. 

The Nacirema-A strange and primative people?: Food for Thought

Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema
The Nacirema article from the AAA (American Anthropological Association) website and other links at the bottom of the  42kCached  

What was the point of the Nacirema article? 

The Nacirema or “American” article pointed out the ethnocentric mind set of people in “civilized and advanced societies”.  Often people look at other cultures as primitive and uncivilized, backward and illogical, but this article depicts Americans as a strange and savage culture convincingly to other Americans.  The article tries to show how things could be misinterpreted and ethnocentric views cloud judgment and understanding of another’s open mindedness.  It focuses on the rituals of the bathroom, body image, and the medical field with doctors, dentists, and therapists.  The article also shows some of the differences with male and female body image alteration such as shaving and breast implants.  One of the possible motivations of this article was to show Americans what they might look like to other civilizations that we have viewed in the past or currently as exotic and mystical cultures among the people of the world. 

It is a cultural anthropologist’s way of humbling the modern westernized cultures and the arrogance of Americans of their lacking cultural respect and efforts to understand, instead of pointing fingers and looking through the glass a different way.

Have Five Years of War Taught Americans NOTHING?: Food for Thought

From the Culture Inscribed blog, I read a write up they did on a Panel at California State University of Fresno where they had professionals and students engaging the issue of what has been learned about the five-year war in Iraq.  Go and read the blog and see if you think Americans have learned anything from the War on Terror.

I think that the topic of the Iraq war is often filled with raw emotion and not enough personal thought and research.  People want others to do the work for them in how they understand the war.  Developing thoughts and ways to “help solve and end the war” causing people to find themselves talking about other peoples opinions and other peoples facts and information.  They have not really done any real thinking about the Iraq war, war on terrorism, or America helping to rebuild Iraq.  People listen to what others say and I have found that there are many that have not talked to the soldiers or heard the people working on the different special projects in Iraq in the efforts to try to help them rebuild their great nation without the chaos of the past repeating itself.


People need to be better informed by their own efforts instead of relying on the mass media, politicians not personally involved, protestors or supporters that have nothing, but emotion drive fed by their favorite movie star.  Find the real stories from the people living it or do something about it over the past five years.  I believe that more of their voices need to be heard and considered valuable to see what people and Americans have really learned from this war.  Americans are in this war if they like it or not and too, many of them listen and learn from the masses sitting safely on the sidelines.


Mother Nature VS Mothering: food for Thought

These are other peoples understanding and arguments about this controverisal debate.  Read these Nature vs Nurture articles and see where you stand on the issues of biology and psychology influences.

What is the Nature/Nurture dichotomy? Is it helpful to discuse and what do you think?

Nature is the biological and physical aspects of human development programmed into people and will not change through education, culture or outside means.  Nurture is the cultural and behavioral knowledge and experiences a person is bombarded with through watching and interacting with others around them.  The human act of learning from others and ones environment is strong enough to change a person’s outcome within the world.  These forms of human development have been placed against each other, as the “classic dichotomy” between chemical reactions of the body and chemical reactions of the care one receives.

It is like science vs. sociology when in fact they are not as different as they try to be.  They are both a part of being human and a living species.  Biologically and socially, humans are linked to the need for social interaction for survival of the species through learned improvements.  In truth, the human development would not be important enough without the dichotomy being such a close fight.  I would say that if you behavior that humans can learn and change, they “evolve”, differently enough to make what they have learned seem biological, even to the point where it could evolve to a biological change, promoting new learned behaviors, which continue the cycle. 


It is a circle of human development both nature and nurture working together to created each other.  It might be as useful to ask another classic dichotomy: what came first, the chicken or the egg?


I think people needed to understand the dichotomy and see both sides of the coin to be able to decide where they stand on the issue.  These types are both within biological and cultural anthropology in how it is applied.  These different angles of application of anthropology have value points that help make important decisions for which a choice should go. 

What was the worst mistake in human history?:Food for Thought

 The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race” by Jared Diamond (PDF/Adobe Acrobat) View as HTML

Easter’s End by Jared Diamond- example of a study about a vanished civilization

 Do you agree with Diamond? Was the Neolithic revolution our worst mistake? Can Technology save us from ourselves?

Diamonds perspective on human civilization is that it is a ticking time bomb unless something, if there is still time, can be done to stop the destructive people of human civilization.  He put forth several books that focus on this topic and the bomb of human.  I think that the historical evidences are striking in his favor of the end of the world being produced my people.  One of Diamonds best supporting historic evidences is the Easter Islands rise and fall and destruction of what he viewed a smaller interpretation of the world.

 I can see what he means and think that his conclusion holds great amounts of truth that people should not ignore.  Massive amounts of consumption and globalization of human beings networking together has and will cause the earth’s human population to grow astronomically out of control.  Over time, just like the Easter Island people, there will be nothing left of land and resource for the type of human growth we witnessing now.  The great empires of the past did not fall into ruin quickly, but slow slipped down to extinction.      

When you look at the evidences of human health, work and relaxation and efficiency, 3 out of 4 say that hunting and gathering was the better way for humans to live, not as an agrarian society.  There are six deadly sins of “civilized” living for humans: malnutrition, starvation, epidemic disease, social class division, warfare, and autocracy.  The Neolithic revolution happened most lily form the increase in human survival rates and basic human population growth growing beyond hunter and gather sustainability causing people to turn towards farming.  I thing that it could be the beginning of a long line of worst mistake humans have made such as nuclear war, resource exploitations, chemical warfare, genocides of selected “inferior” human groups, plant and animal extinction, pollution of the world resources, greed etc.  True that many of them came after the Neolithic revolution, but it could be said to be the beginning of the end.   

Technology is a double edge sword that will get us all killed or possibly save us, depending on how we use it.  Humans are such complex animals and unique drives of survival.  I think it could but not all of us.  I would say that technology would likely destroy the majority of human life and a few would have found away to survive with the use of different technology.  Humans in a civilized world tend to be more warfare and destructive people and it only takes a few to destroy many.  Countless wars and human atrocities in our history have shown the statement to be true.  I think some can be saves through technology, but more will be lost first before we all realize the consequences of our actions.– Adrienne Elder 



Which Sex is better?: Food for Thought

Is the equality between the sexes in the US? Will there ever be equality between the sexes in the US?



It is possible that in the future, there could be equality between the sexes but there would have to be a lot more equality between other differences as well.  It might not be possible since America is continuously gain new immigrants and changing since it is labeled as the land of opportunity, it always for a new group to be at the bottom of the social food chain.  With such social discrimination, gender inequality would continue since it seems to be in our society’s nature and animalistic instinct to show dominance over outsiders before allowing them social acceptances to a point within the social hierarchy.  It would be a great thing to see happen, but I do not know if it could be possible in reality, it seems to have very little chance of it existing in the future, but anything is possible.

It is true that women in our society have come a long way, I would not consider what women have today equal to men.  Hillary Clinton is a woman in a man’s world and therefore acts like a man.  Her becoming elected would add to the list of job options for women in the future, but that does not mean that women are equal to men in such positions.  Other examples of inequality for women in the work world are women surgeons, they still have a hard time with being treated equal within the mostly male dominated field.  Women that mirror male behavior are in typically male dominated position, become labelled negatively for their aggressive tendencies and arrogances.  While a man is viewed as having confidences and authority. 

Then there is the concept of gender inequality over pay.  It is true these things could change, but I do not see such a monumental shift is American social hierarchy or structure in the near future with a female President turning American society upside-down.  Anything is possible, but probability is another issue.

I was Born that Way?: Food for Thought

Garfinkel’s Agnes was a report on a project about socialized gender and what would allow Agnes to pass as a “normal” women.  This particular story will bend your mind around the idea of gender biologically, socially and personally.  Article:









What does Garfinkel’s Agnes teach us about gender?


Gender seems to be based on social acceptances and biological correlation.  The irony is that biological can be changed and adjusted for the behavioral and social acceptances of ones gender that is outwardly expressed.  Agnes story was presented in such away that the reader is to believe that Agnes is in fact a feminine women and has always been such, despite “her” male biology at birth.  The article could cause people that might normally consider Agnes a man with physiological sexual identity problems to be really a woman with unique biological abnormality.  Gender seems to be more a construction of society, cultural norms and individual identity more than true biology, which can be changed.


“That is just the way God made you” statement just does not seems to justifiable answer today’s individualism crisis of gender identity.