Studying the USA as an anthropologist Unit 1 by Erik, Emilee, and Michele

There is a value in performing anthropology from a multi-faceted perspective in American culture. Studying subgroups such as minorities provides a better understanding of the complexity contained in modern society. Due to things such as wealth disparity, institutionalized racism, and inequity in general, it is important to understand the effects this has on cultural diversity of Americans.

The article explains that culture is not implicit with the elite members of society. What I took from reading this is that anthropologists have the responsibility for performing research in a democratic manner. It is not possible make a “blanket” statement to describe U.S. culture since it is made up of a tapestry of individuals and subcultures.

This democratic approach would need to include a focus on the majority population of America. A large portion of anthropology has focused on study of exotic or isolated cultures both within America and ouside of America. The author seems to be saying that one of the downsides of modern anthropology has been it’s focus on cultures outside of the US cultural norm. Either exotic cultures outside of the US or exotic cultures that are on the fringes of US culture.

The author also points out that other fields of scientific study have performed work that could be used by anthropologists to assist in performing such studies. There is also experessed a concern that the current language used for ethnography might no be up to the challenge of studying the mainstream American culture. The reason for this primarily being that if you study a culture that only 3 or 4 people in the world have studied there are less chances of receiving expert criticism.

The author seems to be pointing out the need for Holistic Anthropologic study. He uses the example of a previous article that discusses tootbrushing as ritual. The article being referred seems to give a onesided interpretation of why an American would brush their teeth. He points out that there are other cultural reasons why an American might brush their teeth. One of out group for example comes from a family that does have bad teeth. As such there is a functional reason for brushing teeth because previous family members have had dentures before they turned 30 years of age.


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