Disorientation and expanded horizons

After reading the assigned readings for the week (refer to the reading schedule in the syllabus) answer all of the questions below ( again this is “one” question cluster, other weeks you will choose from more than one cluster of questions). Be sure to read this post carefully.

Anthropologists often debate questions about which human behaviors or experiences are universal to all societies, and which are unique or variable We explore questions of human “nature,” cultural variation. Most anthropologists agree that culture plays more of a role than we often recognize. It can be naive of us to assume that every society sees or defines the world in the same way. Very often our tacit understandings, and taken-for-granted ethnocentrism is a source of cross-cultural misunderstanding.

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How does Nancy Scheper-Hughes explain the apparent indifference of mothers to the death of their infants in Bom de Jesus? What does this seeming indifference of mothers to the deaths of their children say about basic human nature, or universal motherly love? How do the people she works with in Brazil explain the deaths of their babies (what are the insider explanations)? How does Scheper-Hughes herself explain the high infant mortality (her outsider explanations)?

How do institutions and systems shape this situation (we see the role of city government, medical clinics, the Church, etc in the article)? Here you will need to discuss both what she sees as immediate as well as ultimate causes.

(As always in these assignments, discuss specific ideas found in the Guest chapter as well as the article. The article “Lifeboat Ethics” dramatizes and exemplifies many of the concepts Guest explains, and reading Guest will give you background understanding to help you understand the import of Scheper-Hughes)

Remember to post your weekly reading response by 11:59pm on Friday. The assignment will close at that time.

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