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The Anthropological Concept of Culture

Currently, disability scholars utilize several social or sociopolitical models of impairment and disability. Seeing disability as a constructed category rather than a concrete absolute demands conceptual clarification. We want to briefly give you our working definitions of the terms we use. These are fluid pragmatic research definitions that are also orientated toward satisfying our epistemological cravings for understanding. Individuals are impaired if they experience (or are perceived by others to experience) physiological or behavioral statuses or processes which are socially identified as problems, illnesses, conditions, disorders, syndromes, or other similarly negatively valued differences, distinctions, or characteristics which might have an ethnomedical diagnostic category or label. Societies may or may not perceive impairments as resulting in functional limitations. These functional limitations may or may not be disabling dependent on culture and situational criteria including stigma and power. Disability exists when people experience discrimination on the basis of perceived functional limitations. A disability may or may not be a handicap, or handicapping, dependent on management of societal discrimination and internalized oppression, particularly infantilization and paternalism, and on cultural and situational views of cause and cure and of fate and fault.

Many aspects of current scholarship including cultural studies and a critical movement within anthropology itself cause us to question anthropology's hold on the concept of culture. We need to talk about shifting definitions of culture because disability studies uses the word, and in a not unambiguous way. In European society the original largely agricultural usage of culture (from the Latin colo), as in to culture (Jackson, 1996), underwent some significant changes in meaning by the eighteenth and through the nineteenth centuries. Culture came to denote intellectual, aesthetic, and artistic refinement and products in art, music, poetry, and architecture and legitimated a hierarchy of social distinctions. Anthropology slowly divested the concept of culture of its explicit elitist reference and culture became a more generalized attribute of human groups. Thompson (1990) presents the two most common anthropological orientations to the concept of culture. In the descriptive conception, "the culture of a group or society is the array of beliefs, customs, ideas and values, as well as the material artifacts, objects and instruments, which are acquired by individuals as members of the group or society (1990, p. 129). In the symbolic conception, "culture is the pattern of meanings embodied in symbolic forms, including actions, utterances and meaning of objects of various kinds, by virtue of which individuals communicate with one another and share their experiences, conceptions and beliefs" (p. 132).

That is what this Guide is all about -- making the writing of anthropology term papers easier.

Kroeber's classic study of the last survivor of a Calif.

The American Anthropological Association and Disability Research

Under Gross, D.R., you find the following information.Gross, Daniel Russel (ed) Peoples and Cultures of Native South America: An Anthropological Reader.

You look in the index for 1980 under the subject heading Brazil and find that it says, among other things:You then turn to the anthropological research heading.

Suomen Antropologinen Seura ry. / The Finnish Anthropological Society

To use the library effectively for anthropological research, you have to know the functional relationship between critical reference works (that is, various indexes and bibliographies) and the anthropological literature.

Anthropological Study of Disability and Engagement with Disability Studies

Active within these four subfields is Applied Anthropology, which is the application of the method and theory of an anthropological subfield to the analysis and solution of real world situations and practical problems....

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People enter the field of anthropology for a variety of reasons.


This means that they did not intend on becoming an anthropologist.

Anthropology, as defined by the American Anthropological Association is, “the study of humans, past and present.” In the United States, anthropologists are educated in one of the four areas, sociocultural anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics.

While Roy Wagner takes the anthropologist view and dissects it.

Yet, compared to the plethora of work on illness and healing, medical anthropological research on disability has been minimal. Linton (1998) would argue that in part this is because there are so few anthropologists with disabilities. She is right. Secondly, Linton argues that disabled scholars are marginal to the academy. She is right again. Even when anthropologists win the Mary Switzer Fellowship, the most prestigious national disability research fellowship, as have Steven Kurzman and Drs. Lois Keck and Devva Kasnitz, anthropology fails to recognize the honor. Furthermore, anthropology appears to be parochial. Most anthropologists writing about disability, even when they are conversant with cross-disciplinary disability studies, do not quote scholars who are neither anthropologists nor French.

This, however, is not the only form of anthropology.

Anthropologists, both disabled and non-disabled, are under represented among disability studies scholars. Although some anthropologists choose to study disability, for the most part they remain aloof from a commitment to helping develop disability studies as a legitimate liberal arts field or concentration in its own right. This is both a loss for disability studies and a lost opportunity for anthropologists. Has anthropology's self-reflection also made it insular and contributed to its employment crisis?

(1) Anthropology: the nature of the field. Haviland: Chpt. 1

The following elaboration of these elements and their implications to thought and action is based on Hunter Mead's , which I highly recommend for further study. For each worldview element I pose for you some important questions whose answers constitute your corresponding beliefs. I suggest a few possible answers you could give to these questions. Then I present some of the implications those beliefs could have to your thought, other beliefs, and action.

What are the stages of an anthropological study?

Case:
The remains submitted to your forensic laboratory are found to be human and are from
one individual. The hands (including the wrists) and the feet (including the ankles) are
found to be missing. The hyoid is also found to be missing. The decedent is determined to
be female with an age range of approximately 30-39 years. You determine the ancestry of
the individual to be white/Caucasian. You find the individual has evidence of projectile
trauma on the frontal bone and occipital bone. As the forensic anthropologist, you were
able to assist the forensic pathologist with a positive identification.

1980 Signs of the Self: An Exploration in Semiotic Anthropology.

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