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2) Larger societies include groups whose organization can be categorized as bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states. What type of organizational structure would you argue that the Hutterites fall under? Please explain your reasoning. The Hutterites are a society that, like the Amish and the Mennonites, are a branch of Anabaptists that formed a communal living in the 1500’s based off a belief of pure pacifism, in addition to the separation of church and state. After centuries of living in various countries, they evententually ended up in the Northern Plains of the United States and parts of Canada. After conducting research online as well as in our text, I believe that the Hutterittes are a chiefdom. The reasoning behind this was accomplished through the process of elimination, at first. When speaking of bands, you have to look at them in the simplest form, which in Park’s (2013) words is that bands essentially have no political organization at all. We know that is not the case with Hutterites because they have their own elected officials, consisting of three high-level leaders: the Minister, the Secretary, and the Assistant Minister. This is further broken down, where a group of “bosses” are selected to be responsible for their own respective areas of the community. So in essence, there is a form of self-government (outside of federal and state government). On the other end of the spectrum is a state. States are by far the largest organizational structure. Park (2013) writes that they consist of large numbers of people and contain complex agricultural and industrial societies. There is much more to them than that, but that statement rule it out as an organizational structure applying to Hutterites. While they do possess extensive agricultural resources, there really isn’t much of an industrial community. Hutterites, like the Amish, do not believe in the possession of material things for personal comfort. There is no need for large industrial endeavors, thus ruling out the state structure. Tribes come close to classifying the Hutterites, but again falls short. Tribes have no central authority and the basic organization is along kinship lines. Tribes are essentially a group of bands combined into a larger unit. More than that, each individual’s responsibilities interconnect with other individual’s. As we have already eliminated bands as an option, it was safe to say that tribes could be ruled out as well. Finally, I came to chiefdoms. Once again going off Park’s writing, this described the Hutterites much more effectively than the other three. There are numerous authorities in a chiefdom, and as I pointed out above, there are three high-level elected officials in a Hutterite society. The “boss” positions also fall neatly into chiefdoms, as they “lead groups of individual units” such as farms, dairy resources, and business aspects.

3) What kinds of evidence have been examined to try to determine the time of origin of modern human language? What answer to this question do these suggest? Park (2013) writes that there has been no physical remains of the origins of human language, so instead indirect evidence must be used. He states that this came in three forms: brain anatomy, vocal apparatus, and need. Since we know that human brains are asymmetrical, scientists can take the fossilized skulls of humans and create endocasts to compare them with the brains of modern human beings. Of course, this only give us an idea of where to go next, as even chimps and apes have asymmetrical brains. This in and of itself cannot tell us when modern human language began. Moving on to vocal apparatus, we once again look at the fossilized remains we used while comparing brain-shapes. Park states that the base of those fossil skulls can be used to reconstruct the shape of the vocal apparatus because the soft tissue it was made up of was connected to the bone, therefore giving us a much better idea of when humans began to develop the ability to make distinctive sounds that resembled speech. Early hominids, for example, had a larynx and pharynx high in the throat. This allowed them to breath and eat at the same time, but gave them more of a grunting and screeching sound similar to that of a chimpanzee. It wasn’t really until the time of Homo erectus that humans developed a vocal apparatus capable of distinctive sound resembling an actual language. However, just because they were capable of it, doesn’t mean they actual used it. To determine that aspect, we would have to look at actual need. Again returning to Park’s writing, this is entirely subjective. Homo erectus were creating tools and fire, so some time of language had to have been used by that time. However, this was more than likely a very basic form of language that naturally evolved over the centuries and millennia. I compare it more to the speech of a baby, only on a much bigger scale. Modern infants quickly learn language over their first couple of years, but the first sounds they make (aside from crying) are grunts and squealing’s. As time goes on, their language evolves to adapt to that of their surroundings. As I said, this mentality can be applied to modern language through the years. It started as grunts and gestures, but evolved as the need arose.

4) The number of recognized supernatural beings differs among cultures. To what major aspect of culture is this number related? Give examples. This number and concept is related to the spiritual and religious aspect of a culture. Throughout history, religion has been a leading factor in the lifestyle of a people, whether that be through the worship of multiple gods such as the ancient Egyptians or one god, such as Catholicism. Religion evolved from man’s need to explain the unexplainable. In ancient times, each aspect of life had a deity assigned to it. For example, in Greek mythology Zeus was the ruler of the other gods, Aphrodite was the goddess of love, Athena the goddess of philosophy, etc. Ancient Egypt had Set, Ra, Isis, and a number of other gods, all representing different aspects of their lives. Forager communities, both past and present, practiced polytheism based on their worldview; that being the environment is unstable, thus making humans at its mercy. By praying to their “gods”, they hoped to influence their surroundings in order to better favor their interests. As it always does, time evolved these systems of belief and more communities began to convert to monotheism, or the belief in just one god. Man’s understanding and knowledge of his surrounding environments led to him seeing himself as the master of the lands he owned and developed. He began to understand weather patterns and how to domesticate animals in ways never before imagined. Suddenly, a multitude of gods didn’t make much sense anymore. A single God that presided over all of humanity fit much more neatly with this worldview.

5) What is the general focus of sociobiology (also known as evolutionary psychology and behavioral ecology)? How is this applied to human behaviors?

The founder of sociobiology, Edward O. Wilson, described the field as the “systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior” (Wilson, 1975). When originally presented, it was intended to study the behavior of non-human animals. However, over time some scientists began to present arguments that this type of study could be applied to humans, as well. Park (2013) writes that basis of sociobiology is this: “certain human behaviors arose and became part of our behavioral repertoire because they conferred a reproductive advantage to those possessing them”. The debate came about when others tried to interpret that meaning. What made it so controversial was that some interpreted “biologically based” to mean “biologically determined”. It essentially said that there was no free will when determining causes of human behavior. There are cases in human history that both support and deny this stance. For instance, Park goes on to give the example of the Yanomamo in Brazil and their tradition of killing female infants. There was no evidence to show this was genetically bred into their behavior, it was simply a tradition based on their needs for strong male warriors. On the other hand, there is the incest taboo that is common in today’s society. Ancient cultures such as Egyptian royalty commonly practiced incest, but as centuries went on humanity began to steer away from this. No it, as previously mentioned, is taboo and frowned upon in society. In most cases, this is not generally taught to children, it is just known. Yes, there are still cases in the world where, even in our own country, that family members interbreed. But for the most part it is generally “known” from birth that interbreeding is wrong. So as can be seen by both examples above, both sides of the debate can be technically accurate.

References

Park, M. (2013). Introducing anthropology: An intergrated approach (6th Edition ed.) McGraw-Hill.

Wilson, E. (1975). Sociobiology: The new synthesis. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

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