ANT 102: Cultural Anthropology
Professor David Hicks
In this class I learned about various societies. Not your typical American, Asian, or European cultures, but the low key ones. The ones you never hear about in public and would have to rip through panels of books before you can actually find something written about them.
I learned about the Netsilik Eskimos from up north, the Batek from Indonesia, the Tetums from East Timor, and many more. Regardless of how different their lifestyles were because of their geographic locations, I realized one thing. They knew how to live within their means, which is something we all could learn.
For instance, the Netsilik Eskimos were a compelling group of people. Because of their lack of interaction from the white societies that once ventured out in search of land in the past, their lifestyles had developed much differently from today's other native societies. The Netsiliks lived in dreadfully cold, arctic conditions but without the use of many of our imperative resources like wood and metal; still, in spite of their lack of today's uses of technology, they lived happily for many generations. Instead, they used their surroundings and adapted themselves to the changing climates with whatever resources they had.
Moreover, the society I liked best from that class was the Batek. Everything about them was sharing. Helping each other to survive was the root of their being. One would hunt and equally divide the food amongst one another. Like the Netsiliks, the Batek adapted to their environment and made use of what they had. They were, simply, a resourceful and caring group of people. They lived to help one another so that they, too, could survive in a rapidly changing environment.
I'd speak more about the Tetums, but thats the group Professor Hicks himself had researched. And, to promote his work, I'd recommend you read his book. It is called Tetum Ghosts and Kin. His piece teaches you a lot about the human thought process through societal creations such as religion. He enlightens your understanding of why such conceptions exist and how it affects members of a given society and their interpretation of the world.
But what did I really learn from taking this class?
Well, I learned far much more than I had intended. I think, really, that the greatest thing I took out of this class was, like I said before, the fact that everyone worked together to live within their own means. I feel like a lot of us today, and I won't lie because I do as well from time to time, act like living without all the things/technologies we have today would be impossible. But, from reading all the books in this class, you learn that it is definitely within our own nature to be resourceful, even without the use of our present gadgets and gizmos. Essentially, we have the innate ability to make something out of nothing. We, as humans, know how to adapt to a changing world and make use of what we have. May we be today's engineers, doctors, teachers, business people, or whatever other career exists, we are intelligent as people and creativity is at the heart of our existence.
List of Readings:
Tetum Ghosts and Kin by David Hicks
The Netsilik Eskimo by Asen Balikci