Polygamy in the United States custom essay

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The point of this topic is to take two full modules while we a) discuss the Fluehr-Lobban article, and then b) apply that to a contemporary dilemma.

What should we discuss this term?

In the past, we have looked at Polygamy in the United States, the use of torture in the war on terror, and the wiki-leaks to name a few of the topics we have looked at. All of these have been great topics for discussion. I know that for this term (Spring 2012), the class has a newish look and many of you have been doing research in parts of the world that also have histories of human rights violations.

In all seriousness, there are many current events that are relevant to this discussion: a quick look around the world news headlines would reveal many issues including civil war in Syria, The Arab-Spring of last year turning into the Arab-Winter, Social unrest in Russia, Occupy Wall Street protesters in the US, the drug war in Mexico, etc. This term we can add such topics as the George Zimmerman case (the man who shot Trayvon Martin), as well as the interesting case in El Cajón, California, where a Muslim woman was found dead- at first it looked like a hate crime, but later more facts were revealed which made the murder seem for like an honor killing, which pretty much makes this story fall right into place with some of the topics we have discussed such as the role of law and how it varies cross culturally.

Here are some articles on the story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/shaida-alawadi-murder-new-perspective_n_1435096.html (the video is good and could probably be a topic in itself!)



For this topic you are indeed free to discuss any of the issues related to this story, or the other topics mentioned (or more!) within the context of a overarching discussion of the role of anthropologists when human rights violations occur.

This is probably enough to digest, but if you want to find other examples that might be more relevant to this class please do so.

You can use the following as a rough guide to this discussion.

For the first part of your post you should discuss the following:

While many anthropologist might argue that cultural relativism means that we should only judge a culture from within that culture’s own norms, as opposed to our own, others like Fluehr-Lobban argue that anthropologist must take a stand when human rights are violated.

What tools or methods of anthropology can be used to analyze, dissect, deconstruct, or otherwise understand the main issues of the events associated with news item like this?

How can Cultural Relativism be a useful tool for understanding issues and series of events such as plural marriage and ‘bleeding the beast? What are the drawbacks of Cultural Relativism when trying to understand issues like these?

What do you think about cultural universals? Is Freedom of Speech a cultural universal? If not, should it be?

and finally….

What authority do we as anthropologists have to impose our own concept of universal rights on the rest of humanity?

I would like each of you to try to think of examples from your area (or perhaps culture) where this discussion would be applicable- not necessarily in terms of Human Rights violations in the name of culturally specific traditions, but I would like you to think of cases where many people may have a difference of opinion because of their cultural background- and use your skills as an anthropologist to comment, analyze, or otherwise critique the situation.

This discussion will be far and wide-ranging but I think that for the first week we should limit ourselves to looking specifically at these questions, and then for part 2, we can open it up to discussing more current events or dilemmas from the recent past such the Gulf Coast once again (either Katrina or The Spill), China, North Korea, the ‘stans (that is the countries of Central Asia), NYC, the economy, banking scandals, militias, IMMIGRATION anywhere, politics in the USA and abroad, etc.

LETS DISCUSS CULTURAL RELATIVISM NOT YOUR PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS ON POLITICS, torture/terror, President Obama, GOP debates, Donald Trump, war with Iran, etc.*

*ok you can discuss some of that from a personal view, but remember to put the tools of anthropology and the discussion of Cultural Relativity at the forefront. I DO NOT want this to read like some late night rant/blog.

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