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Person & Society F13 Anth370

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Julie Jenkins

on 3 November 2013

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Transcript of Person & Society F13 Anth370

Person & Society
What is a person? How does society define what a person is? How do we experience those definitions?
Within Euro/American culture, since Enlightenment (17th century):
--"person from birth"
Popular understanding of "africans" as:
--corporate solidarity
coerced into society through social control:
--norms, laws, structures
--interests lie within group
--individual is muted to group identity
Reisman (1986):
"the person in African society can be understood in large part by those relations to which their position in th esystem is connected"
--Looking at institutions of descent/kinship
--property owning units
(land, animals, resources)
--transmission of rights & responsibilities
Structural Functionalists
--lineages were "single legal personality" - (Fortes)
--akin to Western individual with interests, compete with other lineages
emphasis on how the lineage was kept together
--social solidarity
Facts or Charters??
Marxist/Conflict Theorists (1960s)
--power relations, rather than social solidarity

--who is in charge of lineage/clan/political structure
--how do they maintain control
--means of production/reproduction
--beliefs that reinforce social control
"Wealth in People"
--land not scarce, people were
--wealth constructed as political control over people
--through kinship, marriage, slavery
Riesman & others
--re-evaluates these theories as being eurocentric
--assumes structures etc needs to mediate between the 'individual' and society

--constantly involved in and defined through relations
--penetrable by external world, porous, unbounded
--other persons, spirits, ancestors, etc

What characteristics of personhood can describe Beng infants??
What does Jackson argue about Kuranko ideas about shape -shifting and personhood?
How does Piot make sense of Kabre personhood & exchange?
Full transcript