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My Interest in Anthropology, The Cultures and Relationships

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Who are we? Where did we come from? Who were our ancestors? How human beings are interrelated? A number of questions that go through our mind billions of times. To answer many of these questions and to analyze the social and cultural behavior of human beings I tried to dive in this subject of anthropology. I was amazed to find how man being as social animal has evolved to the level of perfection in so many ways. There is an old Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish you feed him for a life time. This week 4 lecture revolves around the idea of how societies thrive to earn decent bread and butter to support and feed themselves and their families.

Not too long ago, we all made a living by forging our necessities directly from the nature. Everyone had equal access to everything they needed. The Topic 4 mainly focuses on economic anthropology, a type of cultural anthropology that studies economic systems. Economic systems include production (making things), consumption (using things) and exchange (transferring things). The ways in which we produce, consume and exchange is tremendously shaped by our surrounding and environment in which we live. The four modes of subsistence are defined by the tasks involved in obtaining food as well as the way members of the society are organized socially to accomplish these tasks. We can think of each cultures subsistence system as a set of survival strategies uniquely developed to suit a particular environment. Like for example if we look the video 1 of hunters and gatherers in Alaska, besides facing very harsh and extreme climatic condition they still prefer to live in their Dena’ina country.

Helen living in Lime village reminds me of my own grandmother who left no stone unturned to teach her new generation the ways to survive when environmental and economic conditions are not in favor. The line that stood out in this video and impressed me the most is that “it’s the duty of parents and grandparents of today to teach the next generation how to survive”. Because culture shapes the way we view and interact with the environment, different societies can adapt to similar environments in different ways depending upon the available resources. For majority of our history, humans lived a nomadic lifestyle as hunters – gatherers. About 14, 000 years ago, near the beginning of the Neolithic, humans adopted more sedentary lifestyle and with the passage of time transitioned to fully agricultural subsistence economy.

The transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to dependence on agricultural production is commonly considered one of the most important achievements of human history. After the production and consumption next comes the concept of exchange. The concept of exchange is hilariously explained by the clips from big bang theory which beautifully exemplified the concept of reciprocity. In my opinion exchange is merely a source of bringing two individuals or a country together and tying them in a relationship, which might be an obligation. Topic 5 is quiet interesting because I never had time to deeply analyze the concept of kinship. All I knew was i having brothers and sisters and only they are known as my kins. Rest of the cousins is categorized as my relatives. Talking about the patrilineal system, we as Muslims take our fathers name as our last name same as my father took my grandfather’s name but there is a slight difference here, my mother will take his father’s name not my father’s name. I am from Pakistan but my ancestor believes that we descended from Arabs. Further in our country our society is divided into caste system. Castes are like clans and are given different names like Jutt, Butt, Arian, Gujjar, Rajpot etc. explaining the cross cousins and the parallel cousins I would categorize them like cousins having the same blood line (as in our society blood line is defined by father’s blood) are parallel cousins and one having different blood line will be cross cousins. Incest taboo is also prevailing in our Pakistani society. Interestingly my elder sister is married to my father’s bothers son who is also my mother’s sister’s son. Infect this is true that marring with a specific group would lead to weaker genes and disorders in the offspring and to combat and discourage this cultural belief countries like Saudi Arabia has introduced special rules. Having four wives at the same time is common in Arab world. In Saudi Arabia the groom usually pay the bride’s father money before the marriage ceremony where as in Pakistan all the burden of marriage falls on the bride’s father because he has to pay the dowry The video I’m my own grandfather is quiet hilarious with all those jumbled up relations. Dadi’s family video is quiet interesting to watch. Every system has its own pros and cons. It’s very true that we used to have strict joint family system as shown in the video but now the concept of joint family system is slowly diffusing and giving rise to more independent family system. No matter in which type of system we are living the most important this is giving respect and regards to elders and all the human beings.

In conclusion, I believe that knowing and staying true to your roots is very important. And besides having kinship or blood relation, relation of humanity is the most important relation. I am keen to learn more about the cultures and relationships.

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