Saturday, September 17, 2011

Foraging Timothy Liles

I feel that anthropologists study foraging cultures so that they put what they learn towards future use. What I mean by this, is future very possible apocalyptic events. Albert Einstein once said "I know not with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones." Albert Einstein already foresaw how the world may end up. If certain events lead to the downfall and disappearance of modern technology and modern means of how to obtain food. It is very important for societies not just the current foraging societies to know how to hunt, farm and gather plants, fish and how to properly prepare the food. As well as learn how to survive on the extremes of hot or cold, depending on how the world ends up. It is a necessity for societies to know how to do these things in order for them to survive.
Chapter 5 - Foraging
I believe that anthropologist study foraging societies because we can use that knowledge for the future. We all used to be foraging societies. We used to go out and get our food and supplies. Over time we have transformed from an agriculture society to an industrial society. It is all about how much you can make, how fast you can make it, and how much it will cost you to make it. So many people have lost their jobs in our industrial society to machines who can do their job for less money. People can no longer afford to get the food and supplies that their families need. Anthropologists can use what they have learned from foraging societies and help societies that can no longer thrive successfully in an industrial society.

Chapter 5: Making A Living- Abbey Dahl

Reading this chapter reminded me of a saying that is something like, "in order to know where you're going, you must know where you came from." Anthropologists study foraging societies because it allows them to find out how we evolved from simply a foraging society to a global industrialized society. I find it so fascinating that there were cultures like the Pintupi of the Gibson Desert of Australia that went to such extremes to survive. Personally I would never be able to adapt to living in a mere 120 degrees on a daily basis. This is what makes studying culture interesting. This is most likely how society began before money and a profit became a primary way of measuring success. People had to quickly adapt to extreme climatic changes. They had to know what it was like not having water and/or food for an a lotted amount of time. Although living in these intense conditions is incredible from my perspective, this was just everyday life for them. Also, they may not have had processed food, or peanut butter, but the fact that the Pintupi people could accurately name,"126 plants, serving 138 different social, economic, and medicinal functions,"(106) is remarkable.
We can learn so much from these foraging groups. I believe that if people can live a full life like this in today's society, we should be able to go back to agricultural farming. It is sad to come to the realization that just over 100 years,"less than one-half of 1 percent of the population, listed farming as their primary occupation,"(117). It is great how organic goods are becoming more and more popular globally. In the beginning there was such rapid change to make things be produced faster and in bulk. From this we see inflation and other negative aspects affecting our society. With things growing so quickly we began to care less about the healthy aspects of the food we eat on a regular basis. Seeing that foraging groups can be successful, has enabled us to take a stand to gross, and fatty foods, and make a change for the better. I envy how these groups can survive on the bare minimum. They are very practical, unlike our society where the bigger is better. Slowly, but surely a change is being made, and going back to our original roots of foraging is gaining momentum and popularity.

The Study of Foraging

Anthropologists study foraging societies because it is the oldest form of adaptation to the environment for human beings to survive. To learn the fundamental origins and traditions of a culture, anthropologists have to study its history and what aspects of life have passed on through generation to generation. Foraging is one such characteristic that still continues, though in very few regions of the world. No doubt, these regions and tribes are special points of interest to many anthropologists. At one point in time, all mankind survived by foraging. So, those who still make their living this way are showing us a real image of what life was like for our ancestors, something most of us have lost all contact with.

The amazing endurance and adaptability of the human being is something I think we can learn from people who still live by foraging. Even in the harshest conditions on Earth, humans have been able to survive by developing their hunting skills, studying animal behavior, using their limited resources wisely, and migrating seasonally to food-rich areas. People like this truly understand what the essentials of life are; and the practice of ningiqtuq (sharing) is an amazing outcome of close cooperation and dependency among each other’s family groups.

Foraging Societies

Having knowledge of foraging societies is important because it shows how humans evolved and adapted to their surroundings. The timeline it gives shows anthropologists how new tools and new survival skills helped the society keep going. Because there were so many foraging societies in the past worldwide it helps compare and contrast several cultures or the past. Also, with today's foraging societies we get to see the traditions that were past down from their ancestors and understand a different way of thinking that doesn't involve so much technology.

Foraging Societies - Becca Libby

"the entire continent, sheathed in intricate
webs of knowledge. Taken as a whole,
this composed a vast intellectual legacy,
born of intimacy with the natural world."

This is my favorite line from any of the readings, and it really portrays how I feel about foraging societies, especially compared to our own. It also connects to why anthropologists study these people. For as long as people have existed (until the boom of agriculture) we have been foragers, hunters, people that must know and love the land in order to survive. These people, even though they worked incredibly hard and were put in danger often, they were healthy and happy. If they could see our culture/society they might just feel bad for us. Even though we have all of these wonderful technological gadgets designed to make our lives easier, many of us are miserable. Depression, obesity, suicide, and little to no connection with the world we live in are just a few things that plague our so called advanced society. Also I don't mean everyone in our society, just generally speaking. I believe this is why it is so important for anthropologists to study these people, so we can attempt to use some of their ideas about life and harness them.

The book talks about human adaption, through which we have the technologies to feed and sustain ourselves without hunting and gathering. However, our population has outgrown the number of crops we can produce to feed all the people of the world. We continue to make more and more farmland to cultivate more food for the growing number of people on earth, but we won't catch up unless some kind of large global catastrophe occurs. The article by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins mentions the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and its use for cultivation of rice fields. I just recently watched a documentary on this beautiful environment and what the agriculture had done to the surrounding wildlife. The Mekong Delta has incredibly diverse wildlife, which has been slowly fading, partly due to the use of the surrounding lands for rice patties. Basically, we need to take a lesson from the people who knew what was up, foragers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Study of Foraging, Sam Stangl

I think that anthropologists study foraging cultures because it is important to know how they hunt, farm, and gather food. Due to the fact that they most likely learned these traditions over many, many years from their ancestors, learning the ways that these people find food can give us a hint or even a full view of they way that the primitive peoples from that place hunted, gathered, and farmed themselves. The societies and cultures that forage today are very intelligent and have great wisdom and knowledge regarding their environment and the geography surrounding them.
Anthropologists are aware that this is only credit of the thousands and thousands of years of practice- trial and error, rinse and repeat- and that we can study the ways of modern foraging societies in order to gather a decent amount of information about their previous ancestors' societies and cultures.

San "Persistence" Hunt

Communication and Language

Language is a critical part of our cultural identity. We think about our world in the language that we know. Therefore, that language, by definition, must affect the way we view the world. For example, the Navajo do not have a word for war in their language. So, if we know that, it is not surprising to learn that conflict avoidance is an important characteristic of their culture. On the other hand, we use many words and phrases that relate to war and conflict. So, it is not surprising that we see a lot of conflict in our society.

Language is also an important social marker. We will talk more about this in the section on social stratification. However, a few points can be made here. Language, along with the clothes we wear, our hairstyles, the music we listen to, the car we drive, etc., are indicators of the social groups that we belong to. As we change groups – temporarily or permanently – we change those markers. Teens dress a certain way to demonstrate their differences from older generations. Their language operates in the same way. However, most young people learn that as they grow up and take on more responsibility – job and family – they must leave many of their teen markers behind them. When they go on a job interview they speak differently than they do with their friends and they dress differently (or they are unlikely to get that job).

In the same way, our dialects demonstrate our membership in certain cultural groups. All languages have many dialects. And, as your text explained, all dialects are correct in grammatical terms. I know that your English teachers have drilled into you that you must speak and write “correct” English. Linguistically, there is no such thing as correct English. There is only the dialect that our society has chosen to be the standard. And that standard changes. The standard dialect is connected to power and influence. The more powerful and influential group, the more their language, and other aspects of their culture are likely to be the standard for the society. We hold various groups up as “better” and hence their behavior and language are perceived of as “better.” Southern culture, particularly Appalachian culture has been viewed as less than by large portions of our society. Therefore, the dialects spoken there have been perceived of as less than. And, many judge people who speak those dialects as less than. One student mentioned that Ebonics was "acceptable."  I think we need to make it clear that what is "correct" is not always "acceptable."  Ebonics is not considered acceptable in the larger society, but it is correct.  Even though the various dialects in our country are grammatically correct, they are not all "acceptable."

A study was conducted using different dialects when calling to inquire about an apartment. The person renting the apartment judged the person on the other end of the call by the way they talked. This is ethnocentrism. That doesn’t mean that we should not learn Standard English. We must if we are to be successful in our society. However, it is important for us to understand, and our teachers to teach, that Standard English is important in many contexts, but does not necessarily need to replace one’s own dialect. I think we do a disservice to minority groups by portraying their dialects as “incorrect.” Basically, by doing that we are telling them that their culture is “incorrect.” Asking people to change their language is asking them to change their identity. Yet, altering our language and other social markers in specific contexts, is important for success in our culture.  These issues of language and our understanding of language have important implications for policy, particularly in how we teach our young people.

I want you to think back to the discussion about ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. Is one of these ways of speaking – Navajo or English speaking American – better than the other? I think the more important question is, “Why do these languages have such different vocabularies?” Are they adaptations to a particular environment – physical, political, social?

The danger of examining one’s own culture is that our initial tendency is to be critical of what we see. While we may be confrontational and argumentative, there are reasons for that. The important question is what are those reasons? To truly understand a culture – anothers or our own – these are the questions we need to ask ourselves. We can reserve judgment for later. Understanding must come first.

We will continue to discuss various aspects of culture that will force you to look at your own culture. One of my goals for this class is for the students to examine other cultures, as well as their own, and begin to understand why cultural diversity exists. Try to refrain from judgment and focus more on why those differences exist, what function do they serve for that particular society, and are those differences adaptive.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Foraging Societies - Stephanie Reynolds

Forgaging societies have played a large part in the developement of later societies seen today. Our ancestors survivied on foraging or hunting for food, and had to learn new survival skills in order to adapt to the changing environment. Anthropologists can gain a wealth of information from foraging societies since they learn when "true humans" evolved and what the world was like back then. Not only did these socieities give anthropologists a good timeline of evolution, but they were also widespread across the continents. Because of this, it makes it much easier for anthropologists to compare various socieities, found both in North America and Africa, and find the similarities between them. Societies who remained as foragers, even to this day, need to be studied as well to find out why they did not evolve into more complex social forms. To truly understand technology, no matter how advanced it's become, anthropologists must also understand where it all began. It's similar to the saying "in order to understand the future, we must not forget to understand our past and where we came from [foraging societies.]

Anthropologists can learn so much from these groups, especially what factors led to Revolution and innovation. Also, we learn about evolution of a species, and how it affected the surrounding environment, or how the environment affected evolution. When the tools and artifacts associated with foraging were found centuries later, anthropologists discovered even more about an individual foraging society. For example, with the discovery of a spear, an anthropologist learns: (1) the society relied on hunting for survival, (2) what kinds of materials were needed to make the spear and where they were found, and (3) what types of animals could be huntied during that time. By compiling all of this information together across all of the continents, except Antartica, anthropologists get a better idea if how our original foraging society compares to those all over the world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Making a Living

For this week (Sept. 12-17)  read Chapter 5 -  Making a Living - and the following articles:
Understanding Eskimo Science
The Inuit Paradox
Why Can't People Feed Themselves

Discussion Assignment:
Why do anthropologists study foraging societies? What can we learn from these groups?
Respond to at least two of your classmates.

This assignment should be completed by midnight, September 17.

Monday, September 12, 2011


If you are having problems commenting on other student's post, but can publish a new post, create a new post in which you identify and address two other student's post.  I am investigating this issue.  However, it seems to be affecting only a small number of students and we can get around it this way in the meantime.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Communication, Dawn D

Drawing on this module's readings discuss the ways in which language shapes a people's concept of reality. Does the language that we use affect the way we see the world, or does the way we see the world affect the language that we use?

Humans communicate with one another using a dazzling array of languages, each differing from the next in innumerable ways.

We are symbol makers because we can conceptualize. A symbol is an empty sound until we associate a meaning with that sound, until we fill the symbol with an idea, a notion, a concept. We look at nature and we name things, categorize items, classify types, and define the properties of objects. The symbols become numinous, take on lives of themselves, then spread like viruses from person to person, from generation to generation, from age to age.

Without symbols, humans would never have left the caves, would never have learned to speak, to write, to create abstract mathematical formulae for the creation of engineering and architecture; without symbols, humans would never have created music or art or poetry, or publish progressive magazines.

But words also have the power to destroy, to hurt, to spread hatred because preconceived notions are passed from person to person, from generation to generation, from age to age. What you can imagine about a place, an object, or a person depends upon the knowledge you were given by your parents, by your prophets, by your teachers, and your peers.

Language shapes reality because we create symbols that represent objects and abstract concepts. In our minds the symbol becomes the thing. Language users manipulate those symbols in order to shape reality to fit their own agendas. These manipulators of language know our needs, our values, and our desires. These manipulators understand how we emotionally react to symbols, and most importantly understand that most of their audience either can't decipher the argument or they are too complacent to bother.

People who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human

Chapter 4 Language

I think that people's concept of reality is shaped by language. People in their own cultures tend to have similar views on topics, which is what makes a culture. Some people thought that Ebonics was less important to teach than Standard English. They stressed that it was inferior and they related Ebonics to lower class, unintelligible social groups. Soon most people started seeing Ebonics in the same light.
I think that the way we see the world affects the way we see certain languages. I see Paris, France as this beautiful, romantic place. So I associate speaking and listening to French as beautiful and a romantic language. I see the Country accent in America homey, comforting, and relaxed. I like this accent opposed to the New York accent. I think that is sounds obnoxious and rude. People in that culture may not be rude and obnoxious but that's how I perceive them because of the way I see their accent.