Exchange is strange. What does it mean?
Here are two videos which look at the complexity of the gift from different angles. In the first Sheldon Cooper thinks he’s cracked the code on how to properly exchange gifts, but then is surprised to find that something of no monetary value could be of such great value to him.
The second video is from a British game show called Golden Balls. In the final round of the show, the two remaining contestants are put through a version of the Prisoners’ Dilemma, a well studied problem in game theory. The contestant on the right has done his homework!
When I was an undergraduate this was one of the first ethnographies I was assigned to read, Nisa, the life and words of a !Kung woman / Marjorie Shostak. There are so many different topics here you are almost certainly guaranteed to find something relevant to any research project you might be currently working on.
Perry Library also provides Internet access to media resources about the Kung you may find interesting.
This is an excellent video resource that I’ve used in class before, The !kung san [electronic resource] / by Claire Ritchie and John Kennedy Marshall.
- Resettlement — this segment provides video on modern Kung life, particular the difficulties their culture faces in living a sedentary life dependent on welfare. It also demonstrates the prejudice directed at them by white Africans.
- Traditional Life — this segment has many excellent stories about hunting and gathering, as well as ritual practice and rites of passage
I haven’t spent time with this resource, but it sounds interesting! The music of!Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, Africa [electronic resource].
As some of you many know, Dr. Martin Luther King began his academic career as a sociology major at Moorehouse College in Atlanta. In honor of his birthday this past Jan 19, Huffington Post ran a piece on King and science. It included this quote demonstrating King’s awareness of anthropology’s contribution to the critique of race as biology.
So men conveniently twisted the insights of religion, science, and philosophy to give sanction to the doctrine of white supremacy…they will even argue that God was the first segregationist. ‘Red birds and blue birds don’t fly together,’ they contend…they turn to some pseudo-scientific writing and argue that the Negro’s brain is smaller than the white man’s brain. They do not know, or they refuse to know, that the idea of an inferior or superior race has been refuted by the best evidence of the science of anthropology. Great anthropologists, like Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Melville J. Herskovits agree that although there may be inferior and superior individuals within all races, there is no superior or inferior race. And segregationists refuse to acknowledge that there are four types of blood, and these four types are found within every racial group.
That second to last sentence is key because it is a variation on the maxim I recite in class that variation within racial groups exceeds variation between racial groups.
In this week’s readings we encountered some marriage patterns from other cultures that are markedly different than traditional American marriage patterns. The article “Polyandry: When Brothers Share a Wife” gave us the example of a typical household in Tibet with multiple husbands and one wife, while the article “Kinship in Village India” presented the elaborate rituals that go into an arranged marriage. In the comments section below reflect and react to one of these readings.
In about four sentences, answer the following questions for one of the articles.
- What seem to be the pros and cons of this marriage pattern for the people who practice it?
- If you could ask someone from this culture anything about their marriage custom, what would you say?
- How would you like to be a spouse in such a marriage? Justify your opinion.