1. Referring to the genealogical diagram linked below, POST on the Discussion Board a message in which you explain in your own words the statement of a noted anthropologist who said that, in Kwakwaka’wakw [formerly Kwakiutl] society (a Northwest Coast chiefdom), “every person was in a class by himself”.
In fact, members of the Kwakwaka’wakw society were in a class by themselves because they had their own niche in the society and could identify themselves with a specific class. In addition, their ancestors preserved their position in the society and focused on the specific functions holding a particular social status. In such a way, the belongingness to the class refers to the ancestry of the person and the position of individuals in the Kwakwaka’wakw society, which influences the self-perception of each individual. The development of the concept of class is highly individualized since each member of the society holds his/her own place in the society and belongs to the specific class.
2. Do you think that the status of women in U.S. American society is higher than that of women in the non-Western societies that you have read about in this course? Think about the Kung San, Pygmies, Tshimshian, etc., and especially consider the case studies presented in the assigned readings. How can we evaluate and compare the “status of women” in different societies? What sorts of criteria would you use to “measure” the status of women? What difficulties would you encounter if you wanted to compare women’s standing in different societies?
Basically, the social status of women in the US society is traditionally perceived as being higher compared to the non-Western societies. However the assessment of the social status of women in the society should be grounded on the existing traditions and social norms. For instance, in some societies women are high respected, while in the US society, such respect to women may be perceived as the manifestation of the supremacist attitude to women. In some societies women are respected by men and such respect may have multiple manifestations, such as giving women treats or presents, while American women can perceive such attitude to them as supremacist. For instance, if a person in an Oriental society let a woman enter the room before him, it is a norm for them, but for American women such behavior may be offensive since it implies their weakness and inferiority. In fact, the measurement and assessment of the status of women in the society is determined by existing social norms and standards and attitudes of women to their position in the society. If women do not consider their position to be inferior or disadvantaged, then there are no discrimination of women and their status is high. For instance, in some African societies, women are viewed as mothers and wives above all and their success in the family life is prior for them, while a successful career and failed family life will make their life purposeless.
3. How does the American Anthropological Association define “race”? Why is skin color not an objective criterion by which to define “race”?
The American Anthropological Association defines race as the concept that involves specific, distinct physiological features of the particular social group, common ancestry, history and culture. In fact, the concept of race elaborated by the American Anthropological Association is not limited to the skin color solely but includes the broader concept and issues, which refer not only to physiological features but also to cultural norms and traditions along with common ancestry and history. The concept of race is complex because race has multiple implications. In such a way, the skin color cannot be an objective criterion to define race because people may comprise the common unity, one racial group, although their skin color may vary. At this point, it is possible to refer to African race. African people may have considerable variations in the color of skin but they still represent the same race because they have the same origin, background, and history.
4. How do you think academic anthropologists contribute to solving real-world problems?
Academic anthropologists contribute to solving real-world problems. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that academic anthropologists conduct the in-depth study of the life of the society, history of the society and the life of diverse social groups. In such a way, academic anthropologists can uncover the essence of human social life and the relationships between individuals within the society. The academic anthropologists can help to uncover basic principles of functioning of the society that helps to understand the essence of social relations. Such findings are very important in regard to the development of effective social policies and the prevention of conflicts within the society. To put it more precisely, the society has complex social relations, since people interact with each other and affect the development of the entire society. At the same time, the society comprises multiple social groups, which comprise the entire society. However, the interaction between different groups raises the problem of possible conflicts between these social groups. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that these conflicts emerge because policy makers fail to understand causes of conflicts within the society, while academic anthropologists help to understand the essence of the behavior of different social groups, their motives, values and normal behavioral patterns. In such a way, the understanding of the lifestyle of different social groups, their values and cultural norms help to elaborate effective policies that can prevent conflicts within the society that involve different social groups. In addition, academic anthropologists can help to understand how conflicts between social groups may be resolved effectively. In fact, the development of effective policies should be grounded on meeting interests and needs of different cultural and social groups. In this regard, policy makers can help to elaborate strategies that determine the steady and sustainable development of the society in a long run perspective. Basically, the development of the contemporary society depends on the effectiveness of interaction between different social groups that leads to the effective development of the entire society.
Moreover, academic anthropologists help to understand the internal structure of the society and relationships within the society. In this regard, studies conducted by academic anthropologists can help to develop effective policies that prevent internal conflicts and contradictions between different classes within the society. Therefore, the society can become more balanced and tolerant due to findings made by academic anthropologists. In such a way, academic anthropologists facilitate the interaction between people and help people to develop positive relations and prevent problems that may arise within the society.
5. Examine this list of nationalist assumptions. Do you believe that these are valid and objective criteria of nationhood? How do you stand on the “primordial” vs. “imagined” debate about the nation? Do you see logical flaws in either position?
The concept of nationhood is very important since it determines the belongingness of individuals to certain nation. In such a way, the development of the concept of nation is closely intertwined with criteria that imply the unity of the nation and common features of the concept of nationhood. As the matter of fact, nation is the unity of people that is united on the ground of the common territory, history, traditions, and values. On the other hand, it is important to distinguish the concept of nation and culture, which are closely intertwined but a nation may comprise diverse cultures. What makes the nation united is the unity of the nation within a state, since they share the same territory, they have the common economy, politics and international relations. In such a way people living within a nation may have different cultures but still can and do comprise one nation because their unity is grounded on common values, which share all members of the society. For instance, they obey to the same laws; they have the similar legal ground; they have the same economy; and often they have the common history that makes people united. In this regard, the primordial view of nation is basically inaccurate this view overestimates the role of nation, while nations did not exist in the Medieval Europe, for instance, while today, the concept of nation also fades away as the contemporary global community becomes more and more homogeneous. In this regard, the imagined concept of nation is more relevant because it mirrors the definition of unity as the ground for the unification of people comprising certain social group.