Aromas

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When we think of the word aroma, we automatically associate it with something pleasant and then we create a certain image in our mind of what it is we smell. Many other cultures are a lot more descriptive when describing a scent. This Is what makes every culture so different.

This is supported in the article,  “What’s in an aroma? Languages with odour vocabularies” by Gregory J. Downey, an anthropologists report states that many non-Western cultures devote much greater attention to aroma than Europeans or North Americans do.

Another example used that is used is the Maniq and Jahai scent descriptors who cover a very wide range of variety but don’t cover the actual source. An example given in the article is a Maniq scent term which is linked to a very wide range of reference which talks about mushrooms, water, mud, bamboo, soil, sweat, urine. When we describe a certain smell we usually use words such as “sweet”, “strong”, or “flowery”. We never usually associate it to something specifically. The comparison of these two different cultures helps us determine why it is usually so hard for us English speaks to describe an odor and for other cultures it is so easy. Because, they have such a rich vocabulary to choose from it makes them so easy to describe something.

Describing a scent is something easy to do but for many cultures there is a specialized vocabulary which needs to be used. For many cultures that vocabulary used then leads to a more sophisticated and highly trained sensory system. Anthropologists use this example to explain that even simple everyday tasks which might very simple for one culture can be completely different for another which explain how diverse and unique every culture is.

Sex vs. Gender

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What is the difference between sex and gender? Sex usually refers to the biological body meaning male or female.

Whereas, gender refers to the cultural interpretations of biological differences which produce differentiated social roles and attributes for the sexes.

As referred to in the article “Sex changes and changing rooms” by Elizabeth P. Challinor,  “… people feel that it is no longer safe or politically correct to say the word sex unless they are referring to the sexual act, which isn’t usually spoken much about in public anyway…” This is true for many cultures in the past and even today, it was and is unacceptable to even say the word sex in public. Then, when we think of gender we think of male or female. But, many consider their gender to be gay, or lesbian. If that is the case which category would they then fall under? There just seems to be no category for them.

When we think of sex characteristics, we tend to think of the biological characteristics such as the biological differences between men and women. For example, how our bodies differ. However, when we think of gender characteristics, we automatically categorize of women as delicate and feminine and when we think of men we automatically picture them as dominant and a tough and strong person.

This then brings the topic of gender inequality and of how women earn less than men for the same job. That is known as discrimination based on a person’s sex. In some countries such as women are still not allowed to work and they are always associated with being housewives. Where in other countries women are to be the head of the household and everything is controlled by them. This shows how every culture has a different image and concept for gender and that concept influences their lives and society.

What is love?

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Many say love hurts, but does it really? As studies have shown, it actually does hurt. It hurts our brain more than we think.

Studies have shown that people who are happily in love and people and cocaine users have something in common. The fact that the same region of the brain that becomes active for cocaine users also becomes active for the people who are happily in love.

So, what is love really? I think that we will never know. Everyone experiences love in a different way. For some, love is sweet and magical and for others, bitter and painful.

As described by Fisher during one of her TED Talks, “… Romantic love is more than a cocaine high. At least you come down from cocaine! Romantic love is an obsession. It possesses you. You lose your sense of self. You can’t stop thinking about another human being. Somebody is camping in your head.” This is a great example of what love is, it is an addiction and something that we want all the time.

Fisher and her team did some research and ran MRI scans on people in love and people who had recently been dumped in order to try and discover what the chemical activity in the brain is. They found activity in three brain regions. One of those regions is the one which is activated in intense romantic love. This tends to be a good region for there to be activity because is releases chemicals which make us happy. However, if you are trying to get over a past lover this region makes it very hard for you to forget about them. The second region where there was activity found was the area in the brain which helps you calculate the gains and losses. The last region of the brain where there seems to be activity is the one with deep attachment. This makes it just so hard for us to forget about someone when we want to.

These three regions to the brain activated can be bad news to us because it means that instead of trying to forget about that person you become more obsessed with the idea of them and end up loving them even more. Another interesting factor is that those regions of the brain become more active when you can’t get what you want.

The good news is that, people who are in long term relationships don’t need to worry about whether the love you feel for your partner is still there even after twenty-five years because all of those regions still become activated.

From an anthropological kind of view, Love is universal and no matter what culture you come from or economic status it still has the same effects on us. We always tend to believe that every culture is different and that we all have different beliefs. But, when it comes to love we are all the same. We share the same beliefs and the same kind of pain.

Interracial Dating

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The article “ Intercultural relationships : Entry, adjustment, and cultural negotiations” article discusses the conjoined opinions of Silva, Luciana, Campbell,Kelly and Wright, David. In the past decade, interracial dating has become a very popular form of dating in the United States. According to CBS news, studies have shown that 1 in 7 New U.S. marriages are interracial and also the rate of interracial marriage in the U.S. has doubled since 1980.  However, despite the many many challenges that these couples face, such as racism and acceptance, interracial couples have shown to be positive influences in society. By integrating themselves in a diverse family, they are more likely to be accepting of each other’s differences and open-minded to different cultures.

It is explained in the article that an intercultural couple is defined as a union between two people who come from different nationalities. Interracial couples can have differences between themselves in race, ethnicity, religion, and language. Couples in intercultural relationships must be proficient in each other’s cultures and must practice each other’s culture in order for the relationship to work. From an anthropological point of view, this was very stimulating because it shows that when two different cultures are able to accept each other, they can create an ideal family. The impacts of children who have interracial parents are considerably positive. People with culturally diverse families have a higher tolerance for ambiguity and a greater appreciation for cultural blending. Therefore, interracial marriage can have a positive influence on society in persuading people to become well-rounded and accepting.

What is Beauty?

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When we think of beauty, we more than often think of flawless models advertising expensive designer products on a huge billboard in the most expensive streets of New York City. However, according to Stanley Diamond in the article “The Beautiful and the Ugly are One Thing, the Sublime Another: A Reflection on Culture”, beauty is ethnocentric. Meaning that what one considers beautiful and desirable in his or hers culture might be completely opposite of what someone with a different cultural background may think. Therefore, the build boards we pass by in New York City may actually get the opposite reaction from its audience dependent upon the passer.

What a culture might consider disharmonic or ugly, another might consider a beautiful imperfection. When it comes to drawing a conclusions or debating the level of beauty in an object of individual, it should be done carefully. Anthropologists would look at this as a very objective matter; as what might be appealing to someone’s eyes may be unappealing to someone else’s. There are no standards on how beauty should be perceived because every person in their own culture has their own definition of beauty. Many cultures avoid judging people by their external features and instead take an alternative route in focusing on their internal beauty. And as the world renowned saying dictates never judge a book by its cover. So, in our society today what is considered beautiful and what not?

The Welfare Reality

Many Elderly Qualify, But Do Not Participate in SNAP

When we think welfare we usually think of the person objectified as the “welfare queen”. That person is often thought as an African-American ancestry woman who is accused of having children as a way of increasing her welfare benefits.  However, a study that was conducted from CBS news proves that the average family on welfare has 2.8 children. Furthermore, only 1 out of every 10 mothers on welfare has more than 3 children.  All of these myths make us neglect the actual point of welfare programs and the reason why they were created.

As proven in the article  “The Politics of Welfare and of Poverty Research”  by Sandra Morgen poverty rates have fallen slightly since 1996 and most of the people who have left welfare have secured low-wage job with jobs that provide them with and income dangerously close to the poverty line. Even though those people are off welfare those people are still considered poor and in need for help. The point of welfare is to reduce poverty and enhance economic security for vulnerable families.

After working for a nonprofit welfare program this summer I have come to think of different term of welfare. We always tend to hear of the person who is abusing the system but we never hear of how many people benefit from programs such as Food stamps and Health Insurance. This stresses how corrupt our society is and how we judge people strictly based on their wealth. Our society has come to think that our wealth determines our identity which shows the extent of corruption within our system. Anthropology helps us look at how different cultures and social classes look at welfare and the people who receive the welfare help.