Looking at the World Around Us

Growing up, everyone comes from different walks of life. Everyone has different perspectives on the way the world works and the people who make up the population of this planet. But are we limited to what we learn from within our own culture? Given that in America, we should be just one big culture, but we’re not. We are mixed with cultures from all over the world! Hermeneutics  is basically an individual’s knowledge of the world being conditioned by their own culture, their identities and their own social position, (Moberg PG.315) But, when you think about it in a sense of what cultures have given to the world, such as food, new inventions, old inventions and their languages, perhaps the idea of how we look at cultures is not so far fetched?!

The Italians gave us pasta, the French gave us pastries, Indian’s gave us incense or was it the Chinese? These are assumptions, but also facts about the world around us. These are things we either learned by going to restaurants, shopping at stores and we were taught in class. These are already implanted in to our brains about how we perceive a culture and their own worth. We watched the news or read the newspapers and it shows us the world around us is constantly at war with one another over something. A long feud that has been going on in the Sudan, with loss of life and hardships thrust upon people. Some people perceive the people of the Sudan to be helpless because they choose to be, but is it perhaps that they do not have the resources that some of the bad guys have? Tribes that reside in the South Sudan are suffering and being oppressed over what they have or because they won’t give in to the nasty attitudes of those who want to destroy what is left of their cultures. But, what someone might see here and I have heard it and read it, ” They can take care of themselves. Why should the American’s help them every single time? Let the government help them, that’s what they are there for.” These to me, are very ignorant answers and shows me that a person is not at all open minded or at all knowledgeable of the people and the world around them. The same could be said about Mexican’s and the assumptions of why they come up here to the U.S. illegally. What anyone ever see’s or hears is that Mexican’s are dirty, they bring disease, they offer nothing to society, but take freebie’s and bring drugs and gang violence here to the U.S. These are assumptions based off people’s experiences, what they have read in the news and possibly learned at home. However, just like any culture, you have the good and the bad people who set everyone back and some how, lumps everyone in together. In Mexico, there is already a huge cartel/drug problem, but most people actually do not know this. The cartel snatches people right off the street to work for them or to prove a point by killing them. There is a lot people do not know and sympathizing for other’s is really not some people’s strong suits.

Something to touch on about the South Sudan, is that they are going out of their way to put the children warriors they have caught back in to school. They want better for the children in South Sudan. The government is trying to bring these children back home to their families that they were separated from. This is a culture that does care and they are trying to do better for their children, no matter what the consequences might be.

When it comes to culture, I know I have been guilty of making assumptions in the past about people and where they come from. This being from bad experiences when I moved back to Wisconsin and lived in a very rough neighborhood. I watched a woman bite my mother’s finger off, she was black. For the longest time, I was angry and thought everyone from her culture was as bad as she was. That everyone did drugs like she did and stole like her children did. No, that was not the case at all. Not everyone is the same and there are people who can rise above those stereotypes about them and prove to the world that they are worth something and that they are here and they understand the world around them just as much as the next person. Assumptions about culture’s is something that is created through experiences and who you are surrounded by during the early stages of the learning process. The good news is! You can change your crappy attitude about people and become even more understanding of people and why they are the way they are. If you can’t, then that is your loss and maybe some day you can rise above it all and be a better person. Culture is something that reminds me of tradition, because everyone has tradition they learned while being a part of a culture!


Why It’s Hard to Get South Sudan’s Former Child Soldiers Back to School. Skaras, Merethe. May, 1st, 2018.

Engaging Anthropological Theory. Moberg, Mark.


Gender Roles in Societies

” Her goal was to show that the sex-specific roles we in western society consider appropriate and “natural” are not universal, and that gender expectations are subject to as much variability,” as stated by Mark Moberg in his book Engaging Anthropological Theory.  Margaret Mead believed that your role in society as a male or female is malleable and culturally-determined and this was something she argued against the American view on gender roles. Americans believed that male and female roles were inevitable, that the males were seen as the breadwinners and females were seen as playing domestic roles.

In America, those roles seem to be switching. I myself work with a man who works part-time and stays home to take care of both his and his wife’s children. He even says he prefers this. He works nights, where-as his wife works during the day. His wife herself works a fairly decent job and they are able to afford a home. For the husband to be considered the breadwinner these days seems kind of far fetched and a notion that is disappearing some what. Wives are becoming extremely successful with more opportunities now open for women in the job market. Men seem to enjoy staying home with their kids these days as opposed to working a job where they rarely get to see their own families.

However, Margaret Mead’s idea of your gender role is not so far fetched either. I believe there is a mixture of culture and just a personal choice that goes on when it comes to gender roles.
“One in three men surveyed do not allow their wives to wear the clothes of their choice, 66 percent of the men believed they had a “greater say than their wife/partner in the important decisions” that affected the family and 75 percent of men expected their partner to agree to sex.” This quote I took from an article that speaks of a study done in India. This article proves as just one example that shows culturally how men view their women in society and who plays a larger role when it comes to decision making and basically who “wears the pants” in the relationship. In India, the women are looked down upon and are not seen as being capable of making important decisions within the household, let alone their own decisions on what clothes they would like to wear for the “Day. In a sense it kind of looks as if the women are treated as children.
Moreover, 52 percent of the women surveyed reported they had “experienced some form of violence during their lifetime,” while 60 percent of men claimed they had “acted violently against their partner at some point in their lives.””
In this culture, violence is seen as normal in this society and it is usually brought on by the male role asserting their dominance within the marriage. Not only is violence a huge way of asserting the male dominant role in this society, there is also a larger preference for the son’s. This study also showed that within the society, due to the lack of females in India and such a boom in male births, women are normally shared among brothers. There is more sex trafficking that goes on and a higher amount of abuse that occurs.

A major thought that occurred to me and question was, why do men see themselves as the “masters of the Universe”? Why do these men treat the women so poorly within the Indian culture? Though lets not forget how women are treated in the Middle East as well. Is it because these countries are considered some what poor and incapable of taking care of their own? Poor living conditions can lead to stressful situations, including poor working conditions. When someone brings home a meager paycheck and is expected to support a family with it, the money only goes so far. Certain amenities cost a lot of money. This can also lead to theft and sometimes even worse. When a woman stands up to abuses and the “cultural norms” they are considered a traitor and must be punished. Punishment can be seen as “putting someone back in their place” or in the middle east, it can also be seen in a form of death; death by stone. (Throwing stones at someone until they are pummeled to death.) Women over the years and even men within a society that have been seen as the “lesser stag” are kept down and expected to keep silent and just do what you are meant to do day in and day out. Women are expected to bare children, cook, clean and keep their heads down. This is also an expectation of some men in western society these days and can even be seen in politics. Bullying and stating women belong in a kitchen is very male chauvinistic. There are men who do not think women can be a part of infantry within the military, though they have proven time and time again they can do what men can. They do not think a woman can shoot a rifle or a snipe without fear. They have also been very wrong about that. Is it possible that men fear women in a way? If so, why do they fear women? Why is change such a big problem? Women have ruled, women have run for President now, women are lawyers and so on. The same can be said about men switching up roles. Men can be stay at home fathers and take care of their children, men CAN be nurses and do a great job of it, men can sew, men can cook and that list goes on! Why is it so hard to believe that gender roles can be switched up between males and females?! It has been proven time and time again that people are capable of doing the unthinkable and they are more then intelligent enough to perform a task just as well as the next person.


http://www.borgenmagazine.com/gender-roles-india/  –  Gender Roles in India. Reedy, Katrina. January, 29th, 2015.

Engaging Anthropological Theory. Moberg, Mark. Page 162-163.



The Importance to Studying the Nuer

In our class, as we read and study The Nuer by E.E. Evans-Pritchard, I am always left at the end of class time reflecting on my other classes I have taken and thinking about other tribes we have studied. The Nuer are by far the most interesting. Applying Durkheim’s theory to the functionality of the Nuer and their culture it is absolutely interesting how they function so well as a community.

With Durkheim’s theory,” He viewed industrial society as a stable, self-renewing entity.” The Nuer in order to function as a society, they all have their own jobs they do in order to thrive and function. The biggest way they function in their community is through their cattle. They raise their cattle, use their cattle to create products they will use, they tend to them on a day-to-day basis; they even use their cattle in trades when their children get married. The cattle essentially is the property of the man, but the woman/wife is to help tend to them, and through tending to them it is also theirs as well. While the men take them out to pasture, the women help maintain them, by getting the milk from them. Their cattle is what makes their whole world revolve.

In their society, they also believe they cannot force someone to do something, that the person should be convinced on their own free will to do what they believe is the right thing. Their society is so in tune with one another, it’s incredible. It makes you wonder why even in today’s modern society, why can’t we function like that? Durkheim placed a strong emphasis on “function” within a society, that the Nuer have perfected this functionality over the many years they have been around. They hunt together, eat together, they tend to every day tasks together that they have it truly down to a tee.

In our society, we take a lot for granted. It’s becoming harder and harder to come together as a community, when everyone seem’s to be divided. Unity is becoming a far gone entity in our society and meanwhile. Tribes like the Nuer and even the Yanomamo tribe in South America have figured out how to get along with one another through 100’s of years. In a society where we work ourselves to the bone and it seems rare that anyone has our back, we strive to be better, but we can’t seem to quite get it. Going to work becomes trivial and even calling to talk to a friend on the phone seems like a hassle.We unfortunately have become so use to the new and improved ways of life that we forget we are actually human beings and that we have a lot more in common then we think. Religions, where we come from, education ( a large majority of us), how we think about politics and so much more. Why is that tribes who have come in to contact with modern day people are still able to maintain their harmonious ways of life and show each other compassion and meanwhile, we are unable to work together to create a safer world when we actually created such a dangerous one?

Engaging Anthropological Theory: A Social  and Political History. Moberg, Mark. Published in 2013.

The Nuer. Pritchard, Evans, E.E. First Published in 1940.