Throughout this semester, we have gone through many different themes of Anthropology. Structures of difference were very evident in the first three weeks of the course. This indicates a sort of boundary between cultures, races, languages, and behavior, which was found in in all three weeks. I have certainly enjoyed learning about all of these differences as I didn’t realize that there were so many. With different types of people, it makes sense that the way we do certain things wouldn’t be the same everywhere. That’s what makes us so diverse and it is amazing to see how we can create something in different ways as well. It shows our creativity and uniqueness of our cultures and backgrounds.
Within week one, culture was the main topic and many differences can be found throughout various groups and societies everywhere. Anthropologists prove this with their research and data they collect from going to different societies and noticing how so many groups of people have similar cultures, but there are numerous differences that separate them from one another. As culture is “learned,” it can vary in different parts of the world. One group of people could create their own clothing from certain material and wear them a certain way, while another group on the other side of the world could create the exact same clothing with the same material but wear it completely differently.
In week two, systems of difference were directly discussed. Throughout the reading and films, racial differences were highly talked about. In the film about race, visual descriptions were mentioned and how people were “classified” based on the color of their skin or their culture. It was used to categorize people into certain groups. Even today this continues, but has at least gotten better with time. In one of the readings it was mentioned that “70% of people killed are black,” which is completely absurd because color does not make one person better than another. Race is not a biological fact, it is culturally constructed, which is important to remember for the future. This was one point that really made me think.
In week three, language and religion were the structures of difference that were found. Language is changed and altered all across the world and as mentioned in videos, it is a way of life. The way a certain society chooses to communicate is how they express their feelings and their thoughts. Language can be shown through music, signs, images, and any other ways people may deem right for them. Sapir mentioned that “humans are a medium of expression for their society” and this can be interpreted in different ways throughout the world. Religion can also vary because people believe in various supernatural things. People may worship Gods, or spirits, or other supernatural beings and these can be personal or impersonal. Ritual are also involved including rites of passage and rites of intensification. These can be different for each culture. I know for my culture, we don’t have bar mitzvahs, but other societies do. This is just an example of how rituals differ among certain groups of people.