Saturday, May 16, 2009

Extra Credit #3

An article by Segun Ogungbemi called "An African Perspective on the Environmental Crisis" along with a video by Jane Goodall [] on helping animals and humans living together opened my eyes to some of the environmental problems in poor countries in Africa. It was interesting to find out that Africans want the Western modern lifestyle and how they are destroying the ecosystem by doing anything and everything to achieve that kind of life. It’s was also disturbing to hear how human activities have greatly affected the simple things in life like land, water and air. This idea is reinforced in Jane Goodall’s presentation. She explained how they are cutting down trees and using as much resources as they can find which leaves little or no resources and chimpanzees without their natural habitat. I think developing countries should know the negatives or problems associated with the Western lifestyle so they stop desiring it and save themselves from the destruction of the environment. That is another problem that I find unbelievable. Many people in Africa are poor and uneducated so they don’t understand what is affecting what in the environment. This is unfortunate because education can help with a lot of issues. In regards to population, I think Jane Goodall mentioned how as women became educated, the birth rates dropped. If more woman continue to be educated, then this will help with the issue of overpopulation and in turn control the rapid destruction of the environment.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Discussion #12

Reflect on the readings from C&C chapters 11, 13, 17, 37, and 38. Pick three of these to discuss in detail in relationship to the film "Black Gold."

First, based on these case studies and the film, what do you think the relationship is between environmental sustainability, economic development, and human health?

What roles could applied anthropologists play in assisting people in these goals?

And finally, do you think cultural survival is possible with economic development? Why or why not? How could applied anthropologists assist in ensuring cultural survival along with improvement in people's material lives?

Based on the case studies and the film, I think that increased economic development leads to less sustainable environmental practices and a decline in human health. It seems like when people try to develop economically they tend to exploit their resources to get the most they can out of it, and this can result in starvation and poor health. Health and sustainability don’t seem to be important until later when the problems build and are realized. In the article on the Malawi versus the World Bank, we see how economic development led this small country to overuse or exhaust their land, which then led to a decrease in the production of maize. With less maize being produced, the people begin to starve. Another example of this is the article on Easter Island. People began to use too much of their environmental resources and the bird and sea mammal populations, which were a major source of their food. This all became depleted and eventually led to the destruction of their society.
I think anthropologists could play the role of an educator. They could help people focus on what is important to their culture and can inform people, especially the poor, of economic development and it’s effects. They should provide information on the current problems and issues associated with environmental sustainability and human health and how to deal with them so they can avoid them. Also, it would be beneficial to learn what is or what isn’t a sustainable practice. This idea reminds me of Tadesse Meskela because he is an educated individual who helps the people of Ethiopia who are not able to receive an education. He tries to provide justice and fairness to the people of Ethiopia and I think that is important for poor countries. In the article by Richard Reed we see how combining a traditional technique like slash-and-burn agriculture with commercial harvesting of natural products is sustainable. From this, anthropologists could show people how to combine sustainable practices like those used in the past with modern practices.
I think cultural survival is possible with economic development but can be difficult. Cultures need to remember what is important to them and know both the positives and negatives associated with economic development. I think the problem with some societies is that they get way ahead of themselves and want to make money fast and exploit whatever, and as much as they can without considering the consequences. Development does not need to be fast, and could take time. To avoid the problems of environmental sustainability and human health, cultures should practice sustainable techniques and use only what they need (moderation). Again, applied anthropologists could educate. Those that are uneducated will need help in understanding the various problems and issues and how to solve them. They should also encourage people not to overuse their resources and try to use only what they need. They can then help cultures to develop in better ways.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Discussion #11

During the video I felt a sense of unity as many people all over the world came together to join in on the dancing. It made me smile to see all of these different people dance, laugh and have fun in different locations. It made me want to dance! I also felt joy and hope because dancing is something many can relate to and brings people together. Even though the video was shot in different locations it all feels like one joyous place for self-expression through an art like dancing. This is probably why it resonates with so many people. The video inspires joy and hope to those who watch it through people coming together to experience the joy in movement.

The arts seem to be a human universal because it allows creative expression. People can express their life or emotions in various ways through the arts. A lot of times I see the arts impact emotion. They can bring about various emotions and vice versa. I guess this can integrate with culture by allowing people to use the arts to creatively express what their culture is about or their feelings and emotions. We see cultures use art for emotional purposes when they sing songs to help them through hard times or when people create and write plays through their own emotional life experiences. We can also understand and see variations in cultures by their different techniques in paintings or different movements in dance. Additionally, the arts not only help develop people's individuality but they also help in other areas of life. It can influence people to become more creative in developing new technologies or improving/solving issues and problems. Overall I think art is an important aspect of a culture and contributes to a good balance in life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Discussion #10

What commonalities among all the religions can you perceive?
What was one new thing you learned from the film about another particular religion or religious leader?
What do you think the value of understanding other religions is?

After watching the film on the various religious leaders it seems like religion focuses on bettering people for the common good of humanity and life. One of the leaders in the video mentions how religion is a source of great compassion to humanity. We see this as religion helps people to understand life and how to live it. With Buddhism, their religion focuses on how they can change their behavior to have a good life and be happy. Some religions have religious text that provide valuable information or readings that help guide people's behavior. The video mentions how the clergy or religious leaders are there to help guide others and even correct behavior by showing them right from wrong. This is another way for people to better understand life. I think all religions recognize that there is a conflict in life between good and bad and religion helps people to focus on goodness and kindness. Another commonality of religion is the community aspect. I saw in the video how many people come together as a group in different settings, like a churches or temples, to practice their religion.
I learned a lot from the film and was intrigued by a couple of different things. It was interesting to see how the Islamic religious leader would listen to the problems of her people and put herself in their position so that she could understand and essentially feel what they are feeling. This was surprising for me because I haven't really seen a religious leader work with individuals on somewhat of an intimate level before.
There is great value in understanding other religions. There are so many people all over the world that are religious and I think it is important to understand the different religions because many of these people apply it to their life. If we begin understanding these different religions then we can begin understanding and accepting other people. I also think that each religion has something great to offer. If we look into these religions we may find that some religious practices and principles could contribute to a better life on Earth and help with current issues that are happening in the world today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Discussion #9

I think the purpose of marriage is to legally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally unite two people that are in love and committed to each other. I also believe that marriage is an important step that precedes having children. In terms of a family I think “normal” is just having people whether they are blood related or not love, support, and care for one another. My family consists of me, my brother, parents, and relatives. My family’s purpose in my life is to love and care for me, provide for me and help me grow, as well as support me until I’m ready to leave and live independently or whenever I'm in need of it.

This is different from other cultures. It was surprising to see how marriage is used for economic purposes. In the Masai culture, men married many women in order to increase wealth and security. The more women a man married, the more children he could have and the more workers he had to do work. In one of the readings of the Tibetans in Northern Nepal, groups of brothers were married to only one woman. This helped to preserve their family resources and prevent instability. These marriages are also different from my view of marriage because people are allowed to marry more than one person. The arranged marriages of the Bhils in India are different from my view of marriage in that families decide who you marry and you basically have to live with a total stranger. There is no time for dating or building up a relationship, which I think should come before marriage. The approval of lineage mates in an arrange marriage is similar to how families in the US meet up with the family of who their child is marrying to discuss plans of marriage. In both types of marriages, family or lineage is an important part of the process. Another difference I noticed is how in the marriages of India or the Masai culture, women may leave their home to live with their husband and his family. They not only give their self to the husband, but also their labor, loyalty, and children. Men and women in the US have more of a choice of where they want to live and what they want to do. It seems like in the cultures that we learned about, there are a lot of rules or expectations for what a family has to do or how to behave but in the US there is more choice. The diversity in how people view sexuality, marriage, and family did not surprise me because there is already a lot of differences here in the US alone so I figured there would be even more throughout the whole world. Many cultures have their own ways of doing things and I have realized that different things work for different people because we are not the same.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Discussion #8

One of the similarities in gender of our society and the Masai is that woman do a lot of “caring work.” In the Masai video we see how women care for their children and the husband’s cattle and they do household chores. In our society women mostly are the ones who take care of children and do household work. Women in the Masai seem to not have as much of a freedom in what they do. They have to attach to a male and have children in order to have a good life. Males in that society receive status through having many wives and children and large land. In the US males achieve status through wealth and their occupation. Women have more freedom in what they do instead of being forced to marry.

There is value in having genders in that roles are different and so there is variety in who does what. Traditionally, men have specific roles and women have other roles so they know what their job is. One of the challenges in gender is dealing with inequality. One gender may be seen as more “dominating” and therefore causing people to be upset. Another problem with this is that not everyone wants to stick to those roles. We see this as roles in the US change. In the article of Global Women in the New Economy, more women are joining the workforce. The problem with this is that as both males and females are in the workforce, the issue of who takes care of the children arises. Children are having to be cared for by people other than the parents. For the Masai culture, if for example the women were given more or different rights, then their original roles would need to be fulfilled by someone else.

There are times when cultural worldviews about gender tie in to human rights. Many times in various cultures, women are treated unfairly and unequally. We see this in the Masai culture as men are allowed to beat their wives and not given much choice. It is difficult to say if something can be done in cultures where there is gender inequality. Sometimes people in cultures of gender inequality accept it. To use the Masai culture again as an example, women accept gender stratification as a result of women’s mistakes in the past. They blame their given role and decreased rights or abilities in their society on the women who neglected their herd long ago. I don’t think others can tell people of other cultures what’s wrong or right so cultures should make the decision to change on their own. When inequality exists and becomes a major problem for the majority of the population, then something really needs to be done.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Discussion #6

There are many things that can be done to help improve the lives of people all over the world. I think it's important to educate people about the concerns and issues of consumerism so they can understand the situation. Maybe more commercials about the negative effects of these problems and how people can do their part will motivate some. Consumer habits need to change. It would be great if people only consumed things that they needed to survive, nothing extra or more. With this idea, there would need to be a stop in producing the many things we don't need. I think attitude also needs to be changed. The government's focus needs to shift back to the people. People should stop worrying about achieving more power or being in competition with others. Shopping as a way of life should stop being promoted because it makes people buy more and more things that are unnecessary. Instead of shopping people should spend their time on things that matter, like with family or friends. Maybe if people did activities that involved interacting with the environment they would appreciate it more and do less to destroy or exploit it. This may lead to better waste management and preservation of the environment. Outsourcing and overusing resources needs to stop. Resources should be used in a way that it can keep up with the demand and prevent from being depleted. Corporations need to stop thinking about themselves and not exploit those in third world countries and take land from people. These are just some ideas but I think combined they will help lessen the gap between the rich and poor and begin to make life more sustainable.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discussion 5

It seems that people in small-scale subsistence-based societies make a living through hunting and gathering and sharing/trading. In Ongka's Big Moka they did this through pigs, and turtles in the Miskito tribe. They both are very dependent upon these animals to provide them with what they need. This system allows for social interactions between various people and closeness among the community. Because these people gather enough just to survive, they avoid depleting their resources. One of the difficulties they face is dealing with natural disasters. What do they do when their resources get destroyed because of a drought, flood, etc? Another difficulty is dealing with the pressure to change and keep up with technology. This system differs from our own market-based capitalist system in that focus is placed on the individual, rather than the community. Everyone thinks of themselves and how to invest their money to make profit.

Modernization and the global economic system and negatively affecting these small-scale societies. For the Miskito tribe, it has caused the turtle population to decline. Once the turtle population becomes depleted, how will this society make a living since it was what they depended on for income? This is also causing some conflict in some societies about whether or not they should stick to their original cultural ways or conform to the current system.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Discussion 3

Roots – God, respect, trust, hard work, kindness, love and care.

Trunk – dance, sing, sports, cook/bake, play instruments, over think, silly, shy, religious, honest, friendly, loving, helpful and thoughtful.

Branches – Asian, female, young adult, Roman Catholic, Middle Class, student

I don’t think my values or actions connect to the labels because those labels don’t define who you are as a person or people. Being Asian doesn’t make you a person that values this or does that. There are many young adult, Asian, female, Roman Catholic, Middle Class students but none of them are exactly the same. Values and actions differ around the world and can change as we grow so it’s very difficult to connect them with labels.

Who Are My People?
My people can be this or that
We vary as individuals
But we all share a common bond
We are Filipino.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

World Conversations 2008 Olympic Games: A Coach's Perspective

Colleen M. Hacker described her experience in Beijing as being amazing and remarkable. The culture was exciting and new and the people of China were very friendly and eager to help her and the team. There was so much to see but she made sure they had an important balance between experiencing the culture and focusing on the Olympics. Security was so tight there that every conversation was monitored and they made sure to hide any flaws because they didn't want it to leak out. To train the athletes she mentions using heat and humidity chambers to help them get used to high heat and humidity. As a mental skills coach she doesn't need to motivate the athletes. She helps them with action plans, using imagery, control attention and distractions, sleep, self confidence, injury, team building, self-talk and more. First these skills need to be analyzed and observed, then they self-evaluate, next they learn them and apply it in training which then is applied in competition, and finally it can become automatic. Also in her lecture she discussed some of the differences between the US and Chinese sport system. In China, children as young as 4 years old become active in sports and are measured to decide what they should get into. Sports is their primary focus, not school. In the US, people are able to decide what sport they want to get into. Also, education comes first and then sports. Overall Colleen Hacker had a wonderful experience going to Beijing and being a part of a world wide union through sportsmanship. She was very proud of her country and being able to represent it. This is definitely an unforgettable experience.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Human Rights & Anthropology

A unique challenge in doing research on prostitution was gaining entry and acceptance. Places of prostitution aren’t listed in a directory obviously so the researcher had to ask around. When she did find various places it took awhile to get anyone to talk to her. She took it slow and luckily managed to get noticed by someone. She was then put through a “Streetwalker 101 test.” Other times she had to prove that she wasn’t an undercover cop. Another unique challenge was being careful of who she associated with. Some people were nice enough to talk to her but that affiliation, like those with a negative reputation, limited her access to others. Also, being in the environment of prostitution was dangerous because she did not know anyone and so she may place trust in the wrong people. Other obviously unique challenges were researching something that was illegal as well as the ethical issues that arose- like women being physically abused. The researcher was put into difficult situations that she did not really know how to handle.

The author of MFH mentions that the code of ethics “promotes discussion and education, rather than to investigate allegations of misconduct.” In situations where anthropologists witness behavior that is not acceptable to them they should always remember that their main obligation is to the people that they are studying. It is important for the anthropologist to observe and analyze so that they get their point of view and gain an understanding of why they do what they do so they can then educate others about their culture and views. I don’t believe it’s the anthropologist’s job to reach out to the public or get involved with activism because we can’t tell them what’s right or wrong. They are researchers so their job should be to research and not try to change or judge their ways. Various cultures are going to have different ideas of what’s acceptable and what’s not and that’s what makes us all unique from each other.

Universally humans do deserve certain rights, like the basic right to life for example, but I’m not sure as to how those standards should be set because it’s very difficult to determine that especially with all the factors involved. Even if universal standards were set, it is most likely that not everyone will agree. Whatever the universal standards may be, they should not affect or interfere with a cultures' already established practice. Some cultures have existed for so long and they shouldn’t be forced to change their ways, but rather change on their own. These universal standards also should not try to make all cultures the same because diversity should be kept. People would become very upset if they had no freedom of choice and had to conform to other ways. I think cultures should be able to what they please just as long as it doesn't negatively affect the safety and well-being of other people in other cultures. Basically they should be able to practice the way they like to within their culture. These are just ideas but overall I think universal standards should be simple to where everyone can agree, considering all cultures.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


It seems very unusual that the Nacirema people continually go back to the holy-mouth-man to prevent or remove tooth decay even though it really never improves or goes away. It’s also shocking that even if no decay or holes are present, the holy-mouth-man will remove teeth to make a hole to put “magical” substances. A familiar concept is their concern for their appearance and how they seek specialists to help them with their problems. Various cultures, including ours, do different things to improve our appearance and health. To solve an issue or problem, we seek the people we think to be respected and know the most.

Within cultural context the behavior of the Nacirema makes sense because they’ve practiced their traditions for so long and it is all they know. They continue to do what they’ve done because it is what works for them. It’s hard to compare and contrast the Nacirema with Americans because they’re both quite similar. Like I mentioned earlier, we both care a lot about our appearance and health. Their concepts are clearly similar to that of Americans but the way the author describes their techniques seems awkward and somewhat painful.

This article shows how it is important to choose the right words when describing a culture. I realize now how careful anthropologists need to be when writing because this article and the authors word choice depicted the American culture in a totally different way, which is probably how the “outsider” may view it. Romanticism and exoticism are not ideal in this kind of writing because the culture needs to be portrayed exactly how it is. Cultures can be misinterpreted by this mistake.