Western vs. Non-Western Cultures
These are the questions for the final in my anthropology class.
Question #1: Western vs. Non-Western Cultures
- What is unique about the Western (scientific, biomedical) understanding of the body?
- Is Western body culture unique – does it have anything in common with non-Western body cultures?
In answering this question, be sure to respond to the following questions:
1. Contrast Western mind-body dualism with the mind-body synthesis typical of most other cultures. Give specific non-Western examples.
2. Contrast the contemporary Western (North America, Western Europe, etc.) understanding of specific aspects of body culture that we studied in class (such as sex and gender, reproduction and childbirth, beauty, discipline, etc.) with two or more non-Western cultures we studied in class that construct them differently.
3. Pick out one or two examples of beliefs that we studied which seemed very strange to you and point out how they are different from Western beliefs.
Be sure to consider the role of “science” in your analysis.
Question #2: Why do human beings modify their bodies?
1. In this class, we have learned about many different ways in which human beings modify their bodies, and their reasons for doing it. How many reasons can you come up with that we have studied? List the reasons that we have discovered.
2. Illustrate each type of reason with a type of body modification that we studied in class. Describe the body modification.
3. Analyze this information to see if you can come up with any bigger conclusions. Do you see any patterns? Can you find a single deeper reason behind all the practices and the reasons that people give for them?
Question #3: What is the effect of oppression and poverty on the body?
1. Throughout this class, we have seen the ways in which the bodies of disadvantaged people are seen and treated differently from those of privileged people. This includes the bodies of colonized peoples, racialized peoples, women, the poor, and victims of state power. Select a minimum of five examples of disadvantaged peoples whose bodies are impacted in definite ways by their lower social status.
2. Describe the effects on the body of power difference and explain why the power difference has an effect on the body. Is there a difference between the bodies of privileged and disadvantaged peoples?
3. What kinds of body practices tend to be applied to disadvantaged peoples? Can you find a general rule that applies to most or all of these cases?
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