Midterm Information and Study Guide

Version 1: 8 September, 2014

The online exam consists of material from weeks 1-6. It will draw upon both the readings and lecture material. It is worth 20% of your final grade. There will be an assortment of multiple choice and short answer questions. You will log into iLearn to take it.

The midterm will be available from 9:00am Thursday 18 September to 23:59 Saturday 20 September.

The midterm is timed (the length is still to be determined, expect 40-60min). It is likely that you will not have adequate time to look up the answers. Be well prepared in advance (use this guide). Once you start the exam, you will not be able to stop and continue it later.

Be sure that you are familiar with the main concepts within all of the required readings. I will not ask about random details. Questions will not be drawn from the optional/recommended readings. Several questions might be application questions, where you will be asked to analyse an example and identify a key concept within the example.

Below are some themes and questions from the lecture to help focus your preparation. This is not inclusive and does not include material from the readings; however, it should help you determine areas to focus on. The questions below are organized according to topic. Many of the weekly topics connected with or extended into the subsequent week.

Weeks 1 and 2: Introduction to Anthropology and Thinking Anthropologically

What is anthropology (sociocultural anthropology specifically)?

Describe the three distinguishing features make anthropology unique?

What was necessary for anthropology to develop as a discipline (what distinguished it from travel writing)?

What methods do anthropologists use? What are the characteristics of ethnographic fieldwork (how is it done)? What are the key elements of participant observation?

What is cultural relativism? Ethnocentrism? What are some ways we can think/operate relativistically?

What is culture? Where do we “see” culture (that is, where can it be found)?

What are the key characteristics of culture?

What is enculturation?

What are the emic and etic perspectives?

What is the difference between the ideal culture and the real (or discourse and practice)?

What is the difference between structure and agency? Biological determinism vs cultural constructionism?

Required Readings:

Sterk, C. E. (2007). Tricking & Tripping: Fieldwork on Prostitution in the Era of AIDS. In Applying Cultural Anthropology: An Introductory Reader. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Wood, G. Anthropology, Inc. (2013). The Atlantic. Read pages 1-6 (or, ideally, all of it).

Kluckhohn, C. (2008). The Meaning of Culture. In Classic Edition Sources: Anthropology.

Week 3: Economic Systems

What is an economy from an anthropological perspective?

What is a mode of production?

What are the differences between a market and non-market based economy (or system of exchange)?

What is generalized reciprocity, balanced reciprocity, and negative exchange/reciprocity?

What are the rules around gift giving? Why are gifts powerful; that is, what can gifts “do”?

Think of an example of an exchange (giving, receiving or both) that you participated in and apply the principals we learned about exchanges and social relationships.

Required Readings:

Mauss, M. (1923). The Gift (pgs. 31-45). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Counts, D. (1998) Too Many Bananas, Not Enough Pineapples and No Watermelon at All: Three Object Lessons in Living with Reciprocity.

Week 4: Kinship and Marriage

What does kinship do? Why do we study it, or what can we learn about a community by studying kinship?

What are some ways to define a family?

What is the difference between your family of orientation and procreation?

What are the differences between bilateral, matrilineal, or patrilineal kinship systems?

Refamiliarize yourself with the basics of a kinship diagram

How do anthropologists think about/define marriage?

What are rules of exogamy and endogamy?

Think about the diversity in preferences for marriage partners. What factors might an individual/family consider in a possible mate? Beyond starting a family or having child, why do people get married (what factors influence marriage choice)?

What gift arrangements are associated with marriages? Why are gifts given with marriage?

What are the various forms of marriage (polygamy, etc…)? What might be the benefits of a non-monogamous marriage system?

Required Readings:

Goldstein, M. (1987). When Brothers Share a Wife. Natural History 39-48.

McCurdy, D. (2012), Family and Kinship in Village India. In Conformity and Conflict.

Week 5: Reproduction and Childhood

Why is it important for foraging societies to limit births and have significant intervals between births?

Why are many children often preferred in agriculturalist societies?

Why might many industrialized societies have birth rates that are lower than replacement levels?

What factors or circumstances influence fertility decision-making (fertility rates)?

What does the context of common Western biomedical birth practices tell us about our culture?

What do we mean when we say that childhood is largely a category constructed by a society?

What factors might define or shape how childhood is experienced?

What are the general variations in how societies perceive childhood?

Required Readings:

Small, M. (1997). Our Babies, Ourselves. Natural History Magazine (October):42-51.

Abu-Lughod, L. (1995). A Tale of Two Pregnancies. Women Writing Culture.

Week 6: Race, Ethnicity, and Social Stratification

(Changes will be made after the week 6 lecture if the actual material covered differs)

What does it mean when we say that race is socially or culturally constructed?

What does it mean when we say that physical and genetic traits vary in “clines?”

What is ethnicity? What are some of the characteristics or traits one would look for or identify that constitute ethnicity (or an ethnic group)?

In what ways might ethnicity be difficult to use? Specifically, describe the discrepancy that people might face in regards to ethnicity.

What is social stratification?

What is the difference between ascribed and achieved status?

While the common use of power refers to the ability to transform a given situation on the interpersonal level, what does it mean when we speak of “structural” form of power and violence?

When considering appropriating images, symbols, or other traits from another culture, what are some things to keep in mind while making your decision?

Required Readings:

Fish, J. (1995). Mixed Blood. Psychology Today.

McIntosh, P. (1988). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. In White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.

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