Human Nature

Week Ten-How Do We Make Meaning? Week 10: 11/15/2020 How Do We Make Meaning? Readings: Read Chapter 10 of Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human? Overview: Symbolic use and creativity extend well beyond language. Human creativity can be explored in terms of play, art, myth, ritual, and religion. Symbolic forms are often shaped by power relations in social settings. Debates about art distinguish between that created by Western and non-Western cultures, and whether a piece of art is “authentic.” Myths, ritual, and religion reflect and shape societies, and art often plays a role in these processes. Religious worldviews help people cope with and understand a changing world. Anthropologists consider these perspectives, as well as how some worldviews can be used as instruments of power against others with different worldviews. Points to Consider: What is the difference between fine art and folk art? Who makes that decision? What evaluative standards are applied to different kinds of art in different genres? What is the relationship between art and aesthetics? How does this translate into cross-cultural conceptualizations of beauty? In-Class/or ZOOM Exercise: Interview Culture provides us with a lens through which we interpret our world. Every day we come in contact with symbols that we are familiar with but do not normally have to explain to others. Have students pair up and interview each other about a symbol that can be found in their classroom. There may be symbols on their clothes, their skin (tattoos), their jewelry. The instructor could also provide students with symbols in which the meaning can be discussed. Sport mascots, national flags, religious symbols, even street signs all work well. The students should attempt to explain the meaning of the symbol to their partner as if their partner is unaware of its meaning.   Discussion Questions 10: On Chapter 10 of Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human? Are tattoos art? Why? Do you perform any rituals to make sure you have good luck during the day or for a special event, such as an exam? Are all religions equally valid ways of viewing the world around an individual? Watch Videos & Movies Before Class: (To Be Announced=TBA)

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