Sex In Anthropology Essay

962 words - 4 pages

Vanessa KibbleOctober 14, 1996Sex in AnthropologyAnthropological studies are investigations of human life as it functions in a society. These observations are seen through the eyes of an objective anthropologist. But even if an anthropologist is completely objective in his or her studies, can there still be a descrepency in data due to the sex of the person?Over the years anthropology has evolved to an ever expanding world that has more of a variation in thoughts and beliefs, so that all cultures are recognized and respected. Although many changes have been made in anthropological studies, like the introduction of cultural relativity, it seems that woman were the last to be considered in the field, this is mostly due to the lack of them. During the late 19th century, anthropologist were know as 'arm chair' anthropologist. These were 'anthropologists' who relied on merchants, missionaries, explorers, ect. as informants for their ethnographic presents. All of the latter professions were practiced by men only, as were the roles of anthropologists when fieldwork was introduced. This was in turn reflected through the way that societies were depicted and influenced.The Trobriand Islanders are a society in Papaua New Giuenia. They are composed of about, twelve thousand people in sixty villages. The Trobrianders have been penetrated by outside influences for centuries and have remained considerably unaffected, two primary displays of this is the economical structure and politics of kinship. The economy of the Trobriand Islanders is a complex system in which there is a separate wealth for men and women. Although both sexes have their own capital, the women's wealth is a sign of power and is necessary for the definition of the chief's . The Trobrianders system of kinship is based on a matrilineal principle, in which 'mother right' is demonstrated. With this system, birth rights are obtained through the mother's social status. These aspects did not go completely un recognized , but they were differently approach as far as the view in which they were studied and depth.Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski was a male anthropologist who studied the Trobrian Islanders from 1918-1919. He established himself as a participant and an observer, making detailed observations in a way that had never been explored before. Despite the fact that his techniques in gathering information revolutionized anthropological fieldwork, there is ample room for descrepency due to ethnocentric views adorning woman; as was soon addressed by another, female anthropologist. Annette B. Wiener also studied the Trobriand Islanders about sixty years later in 1971, on the island of Kiriwina. Primarily Wiener was sent to study the economical and artistic meanings of woodcarvings, but she changed her subject of study after being approach by a group of women who energetically explained their role in their society to...

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