ANT1001-Gaunt THE BARREL MODEL OF CULTURE – A HOLISTIC APPROACH
In approaching culture we must distinguish between "their ways are different" and "they are different."
The former can be an objective contrast. The latter is ethnocentric and can be dehumanizing. The former allows for comparison and contrast. In the latter, we don't learn anything. Anthropology is out to avoidethnocentrism and apply cultural relativism. We want to learn from the ethnographic method what makeshumans see and operate from another way of life, essentially what make them tick.Applying the
BARREL MODEL OF CULTURE
helps explain how and why other people view culture
they do. By analyzing their world with this model, we can discover how their culture works for them as a
natural,complex, and meaningful experience
not something foreign, wrong or backwards. It may not make sense yet,but it will after doing your final project. This process must be experienced, not understood.
This model can also help us explain why cultures change over time.
Each level of the model changes:
Environment & Economic Base (war time, peace time, natural disasters, famine, etc.)
Superstructure (changing values about work, citizenship, immigration, or women's roles)
Social Structure (from the intrusion forced or voluntary of outsiders/newcomers
Infrastructure (new technologies, advances in medicine, people living longer, etc.)Taking all three "levels" of culture together and examining it as a whole is the
approach that is soimportant to anthropology.
POSSIBLE ORDER OF YOUR RESEARCH
Start by your mini-ethnography with
(collecting nativeviews); 3)
(how subsistence sustains this view of life); and finally, 4)
(whatpolitical or social systems assist in adapting people to their native or learned ways of thinking, feeling, believingand behaving; some can also be maladaptive—esp. if what you are studying is considered immoral or outsidethe norm).
APPLICATION OF THE MODEL
"Why Hindus in India do not eat cows?"
ENVIRONMENT (THE HISTORICAL BASE AS WELL AS NATURAL RESOURCES)
This entails general historical and cultural information about the people, place and/or event you are studying.How did the group of people your subjects represent get to this place where you are meeting them. How didthey emigrate to the US, if applicable? Where did their community come from? This might be a brief history or along one dating back decades. Depends on your subject.Your project question, for instance, could be "Why don't Hindus in India eat cows?"The unit of observation in this case is "cows."
First gather general information about India (the environment, could include climate)
1500 BC: Aryan Pastoralist came from northwest, mixing with previous inhabitants to createthe beginnings of Indian culture and the Hindu religion
8th C. Muslim - 12th C. Turkey
c. 1400s - 1947: European contacts. Becomes British colony.
Today: India is a Federal "Democratic" Republic, similar to the U.S. (from CIA-The WorldFactbook available online).
Population: Over 1 Billion people
16 languages, English and Hindi most common
over 80% Hindu : (Some basic insight to the Hindu Relegion can be found here.)
Over 250 million are hungry, live in poverty
Have over 200 million cows
SO WHY DON'T THEY EAT THE COWS?
One approach would be to say that they are just CRAZY! (Bad approach. We don't learnanything.) Instead, we can look at the "Superstructure" - the native point of view.