M. Kleinfeld – Week 7 – Final Reflections

This course is not what I originally imagined. I figured I would be learning about the different avenues that anthropology covers and small details about each of those avenues. This class was set up around culture and the way different people live in different parts of the world. I also noticed that this class made you open up your eyes to the different cultures and gave detailed information videos on each one. Although each section and week were different from the next, it was evident that the overall theme tied back to culture and the different culture norms around the world. .

I am now going to talk about some of the different cultural norms I noticed around the world in some of the chapters. The movie in week 4 “A Village Without Women,” showed of three brothers that lived together near Albania. These men were all single and did not have wives even though they were the appropriate age to be married. The video itself showed of a particular man who wished of having a wife. The movie was showing that many times, women were bought by men and thus married to them. This was a certain cultural practice that is practiced by the people of that geographical location. In week five, “Pig Tusks and Paper Money,” showed of a man living in New Guinea that wished to start a bank. The movie showed of how the people used shells and pig tusks as currency for the area. Paper money was not adopted and to buy things, shell money was accepted by most places. The movie gave an insight of how the people traded food and other needed objects for shell money. It did not talk about any other places in the world using shell money as a key source of currency so again, that is a cultural practice only practiced by the people of that location. The last video I want to talk about is the video in week six, “Life and Debt.” In this video, multiple Jamaicans are shown. A major theme in this video is the impact of the different kinds of monetary influence that the Jamaicans face from places like the United States and other strong economic economies. These people sometimes struggle to even survive with the little amount of money they accumulate. Although many places in the world struggle with the little money they have, it is special to this certain geographic location because they are under so much influence from the United States and other powerful nations.

All in all, cultures are different around the world and if we look with open eyes and non-judgmental hearts, the differences can actually be beautiful.

3 thoughts on “M. Kleinfeld – Week 7 – Final Reflections

  1. I found your post unique to the others in that you focused primarily on economic transactions and their meanings in a community. The practice of “buying” a bride is an ancient practice and is still around today. Based on the readings, it seemed to be popular in patriarchal societies and could be used as a way to express wealth. Such as a higher dowry for a more upper class family. It was also expressed in areas with small communities, such as described in your post.

    Some countries that were previously colonies seem to still be controlled by global powers even though they are now free countries. The United States takes advantage of poor labor in Jamaica and they have not been helped out by the World Bank or any entity in charge of creating tariffs and trade restrictions. So while tourists of Jamaica see a tropical paradise, the laborers suffer and are not able to have control of their main good, bananas.

  2. Knowing what we know about systems of difference their evolution throughout history, what would you say about systems that strive for sameness? If there were a consistent cultural norm where behavior remained still and ways of living were equal, then I suppose there would not be much to study, not even monetary exchange. I think the link between all lecture videos not only reinforced a universal understanding and working definition for systems of difference, but also made the practice of identifying differences within a culture have merit. By learning about systems of difference we were able to see the power of social and economic influence, cultural beliefs and rituals, economic strategies of subsistence systems, and so much more! I think the main purpose of noting the differences is to reveal the hidden similarities that make this world function under a powerful cultural synergy.

  3. I really liked your second paragraph, though I would like to add on to it when you talked about Jamaica. You mention that for the people of Jamaica it is really hard to live because of monetary influence, but I also think that it is really hard for them to live because of the large deficit that their country owes, as well as their inability to sell their own farmed items because of clauses in contracts with the IMF. I do think that the first two movies you talked about showed cultural norms but I think that the movie about ‘Life and Debt’ lacked that. It would have been nice to see you tie all three movies together with one topic but overall you discussed each movie well. One last thing I really like your last sentence “cultures are different around the world and if we look with open eyes and non-judgmental hearts, the difference can be beautiful. It was a very elegant way to end your final reflections, and a great message.

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