Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Language (week 3)

Part 1
I found attempting to communicate without speaking somewhat difficult. Especially anything that couldn’t be pointed at.
 I noticed my partner asking me questions trying to figure out what I was trying to get across. It was extremely difficult trying to communicate anything with any detail. Charades with a fifteen minute time limit and a whole conversation to guess not just one word. It was a lot of work.
I feel that the culture that is able to speak would definitely have the advantage. Also, the speaking culture would probably feel they are superior to the non-speaking culture.
The deaf, the blind, as well as physically handicapped persons all have some difficulty communicating with spoken language. I feel it greatly limits the interaction that they have with people that do speak. Having in depth detailed conversation would be painfully tedious. Those that do speak may slow down there speech and emphasize their pronunciation.
Part 2
I think the most difficult thing was restricting facial expression and tone of voice.
This experiment shows that “signs” are a very important part of our language. For example if someone could not change the tone or emphasize the urgency when yelling “FIRE”. Or if someones criticism wasn’t conveyed when they spoke and they were taken literally. It could be disasterous.
Yes, there are people that have difficulty reading body language. Body language helps convey if someone is telling the truth, is attracted to another, is nervous, mad, etc.. and can also help clarify what is being spoken.
Part 3
I think the experiment in Part 1 would have been easier if I could have written. However, the “tone” may be lost in written form and the writing and reading  would still take up unnecessary time.
Written language benefits a culture by providing a record and history. A culture could learn from past events without the need for someone from that time being there. 
An author is enabled by written language to convey a message without actually having to be at a given place or time. Ideas could written down and then translated if needed spreading the benefits to the far reaches of the world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zulu / Andean Indians

The Zulu people live in South Africa which is located in the southern hemisphere. The average 
temperature there ranges from 16 to 25º C in winter and during the 
summer months temperatures range from 23 to 33º C (between September and April). January 
is generally Durban’s hottest month, with an average daily temperature of +/- 32ºC. ("South Africa Travels") According to SA Places the average rainfall is  633mm. ("SA Places")    

Living on a continent located in the southern hemisphere exposes the Zulu to more sun and therefore a greater amount of solar radiation. It has been proven that too much exposure to this radiation can cause changes in DNA resulting in skin cancer. That being said a solar radiation is a environmental stress and having skin with increased amounts of melanin is definitely a physical adaptation that works for the Zulu people.

A cultural adaptation of the Zulu people would have to be there clothing or lack thereof. Greater skin exposure allows sweat to evaporate. Also allowing the Zulu to live in an arid climate while maintaining homeostasis.

As for a Race I would have to say they are African (South African to be more accurate).

I would have to say the adaptive form of describing the Zulu is definitively more accurate. While the Zulu make up a good portion of the African population there are other cultures that differ from the Zulu.

. "KWaZulu Natal Weather and Climate." South Africa Travels. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr 2012. <>.

. "South Africa Climate: Monthly Temp & Rainfall Chart ." SA Places. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr 2012. <>.

The Andes mountains are located in Chile. The average of temperature of northern Chile is 64°F, and the southern area has an average temperature of 71°F.  In the summer it usually averages 68°F. In the winter months the the temperature averages to about 52°F.

The rain fall in the summer averages less than 8 in. In the winter it averages less than 4 in. These numbers are from variou biomes in and around the Andes Mountains.(Christian)

An obvious environmental stressor if you are familiar with the Andes mountains is the elevation.

A physiological adaptation to the extreme elevation is an increase in the size of the nostrils. This allows additional air intake allowing sufficient oxygen to be absorbed.

The Andean Indians also adapted to their high elevation culturally. With their severe winters they had learned to  store foods in giant warehouses that lined the Inca highways.

Andean Granary
The race I would say best describes the Andes Indians is Hispanic.

Again I would have to say that the adaptational route of describing a population is more accurate. Although physically the Andean Indians resemble many other populations of the America's they have adapted to a severe environment that others would find uninhabitable.

Christian, C.. "Climate of the Andes." Andes Mountain Range. N.p., 2002. Web. 18 Apr 2012. 

"Andean peoples." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. 

Price, Weston. "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.". New York London: Medical Book Department of Harper & Brothers, 1939. Print.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nacirema (Part B)

Nacirema (Part B)
1) As an American I feel the words I chose to describe the Nacirema were fair and mostly unbiased (it was difficult not to be even though I knew Horace Miner was writing about Americans). 

2) I feel that none of the words I chose exhibited ethnocentrism otherwise I would not have used them. They may be somewhat biased since these are words that I chose from my life experiences. Ritualistic-is a word I would use to describe many cultures including my own. Fraught-I believe the American culture even today is filled with rituals to prevent illness or physical decay. Reticent-This is probably the most biased of all the words I chose. It 's not that the Nacirema are secretive it was just the lack of understanding. Specialized-I think all cultures have specialized persons in their society. These people are most likely specialized in different areas that would aid in survival or enhance the quality of life depending on their environment. Self Conscious-This I believe is just human nature. I believe most cultures and I can even think of a  few animals that groom themselves. Of course it does seem that the women are objectified a little more in the Nacirema culture which could vary from other cultures.

3) If I was to change a word it would be reticent. I think that if there was additional information we would find the Nacirema would discuss the "secretive" information if it was at an appropriate time. Also the language of the medicine men is not secretive it is complex (after all they are doctors).

4) I believe it is important to describe other cultures in a manner as free from personal cultural bias as possible because it allows the reader to learn without prejudice towards a right or wrong. Hopefully to see a culture for what they are or where they have been. A blank slate. I believe that it is not completely possible to avoid cultural bias as a Cultural Anthropologist. I also think as mentioned by Ken Barger it is easier to control or recognize our biases and the most we can do is try realize when we are not understanding because that is when the opportunity for learning ends.-Steven Fulton

Barger, Ken. "ETHNOCENTRISM." Indiana University Indianapolis , 2011. Web.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Five words describing the Nacirema (American's of the 50's)

  1. Ritualistic-as mentioned by Miner a large portion of the day in the life of these people is spent performing rituals. I would even venture to say that the Nacirema's life is consumed by rituals.Where did these rituals come from? I imagine that they were developed over time and passed down from generation to generation.
  2. Fraught-It seems that so many of rituals are performed to prevent any sort of illness or problem that the life as a Nacirema may be somewhat overbearing. “It is hard to understand how they have managed to exitst so long under the burdens which they have imposed upon themselves." There are the mouth rituals, the latispo, and the ritual fast to make fat people thin and ceremonial feast to make thin people fat.
  3. Reticent-in many aspects, the Nacirema are a secretive people. There is the certain ritual with the shrine that is performed privately and is only discussed with children when first being initiated. Also there is the secret language of the medicine men. 
  4. Specialized-The Nacirema have dedicated roles for example the medicine men, holy mouth men, vestal maidens, the "listener". It is my belief that specialization indicates many decades or more of "evolution" or  gradual change which in turn generates these specialized social roles.
  5. Self conscious-All of the rituals are performed to maintain ones appearance and health. In the article in states that this is not unusual but the philosophy are unique. It mentions that women will have never seen there husband in an excretory act until after entering the latipso. As well as the fact that their society has "general dissatisfaction with breast shape" and it is said that the "ideal form is virtually outside the range of human variation."
Horace Miner
1956 Body Ritual of the Nacerima. American Anthropological Association
-S. Fulton