A Brief Note On Ethnocentrism

Submitted By Cheshireswords
Words: 1100
Pages: 5

Ethnocentrism- The belief that your own culture is superior to others’ cultures
-Everyone does it to some extent - Best way to counteract is to attempt to be aware of it
-It can be really bad when taken to extremes
- “My culture is the ONLY way to do things” - Genocide ( NAZI )

Cultural relativism - Franz Boas
-One can’t judge another culture except on it’s own terms ( Kawakiutl ) - DC?
Potlatch - Very important to the northwest natives/tribes - One of the few places people can live without agriculture because of the ocean
One of the hardest things for it was getting status.Status was really important.
Potlatch was: a bunch of people getting together ( I think it’s a celebration? ) For three days minimum. Sometimes it takes over a year to try and get together enough food and resources to sustain everyone. They’d invite family members or other tribes. They ate like crazy and threw up to eat more.
It was multi-functional. Food, Dances, Speeches, Sings, Theatre, Religion, Mythology
(beautiful carved masks to tell stories)
Distinct art style up and down the coast.
Each family and status has different songs and dances. They’d marry in to be able to learn them.
They gained status by giving away all of your things. Or throw stuff away. Or feed everyone and give them the leftovers. Or give presents. Lower might get one, while higher may get two or three. And sometimes killed their slaves to prove that they could just buy more. Status- HUGE.

Extreme form of C. Rel.- apology/rationalization for horrible things ( genocide ).

It was a sign of wealth when you couldn’t walk and it swelled the hips sometimes and that was considered attractive. They also have tiny, deformed feet by having them wrapped as children.

Universals- Things that ALL cultures do
Religion, Marriage ( details vary a LOT )- and not everyone in a culture will do those things.

Marriage- A socially accepted union between ( usually, not always ) a man and a woman with economic and sexual rights and obligations for all parties.
Berdache - ( Too spirited ) First given by the trappers when they first encounters the natives. It’s a derogatory term, usually. Seemed to be too spirited.
Sometimes there were children who didn’t choose gendered roles. They were considered spiritually powerful ( two spirits in one body ).
Some men became second wives because they can’t bear children.
One of the reasons for marriage is:
-Taking care of children ( part of economic ) - usually an assumption of permanence
-Some form of divorce

Marriage ( cont ) - Slaves; Everyone would gather at someone’s house and a man and woman would hold hands and jump over a broom together.

- Monogamy - One couple ( assumption of no outside fooling around - sex with only one )
-Polygamy - A person with more than one spouse. Both male and female.
-Polyandry - A woman with more than one husband ( rarest form of marriage )
-Levirate - When a woman marries her husbands brothers
-Sororate - When a man marries his wife’s sisters
Poly means more than one
Gyny means many uteruses

Polygamy is commonly mistaken for polygyny - not very common ( rich people )

Exogamy- One must marry outside of a specified group
Endogamy- One must marry inside of a specified group - Class

Sexual taboos -
One common taboo within marriage - postpartum taboo ( specified period of time after the birth of a child ) - Cannot get pregnant before the child has time to develop further.
( DETAILS VARY ON /EVERYTHING/ ) - Not /all/ cultures do this ^

Taboo within or outside of marriage
-Common - Menstrual taboos ( they used to have menstrual houses where the women went during their cycles )

Descent and Inheritance:
- In the US, most Ind. countries + Hunter/Gatherers - Bilateral- Both sides equally important
Nuclear family ( Father + Mother and the children )
Everyone else is extended family

Unilineal- Only male or only female line counts - Only one side or