Body Size The Basis of Sexual Appeal

The questions of beauty ideals have dominated the minds of women across the world and it forcefully controls the perception of women to monitor their weight and maintain certain thinness. A typical semi nomadic woman of the Saharan Arab has for several years cherished her feminine ideals of body shape. Ideally, she is obligated to become extremely fat a factor that determines her attitudes as regard to sexual appeal to her men folk. To a Moor, voluptitious immobility and big bodies is thought to be the aspect that beautifies a girls body, heighten her sexuality, hasten her onset of puberty and thus ripen her for marriage. Drawing closely from Popenoes narrative Feeding the Desires, this paper seeks to concisely describe a day in the life an Azawagh woman in the Arab culture. With regard to this, the paper will construct a character, Zainabu and explore the intricacies of her daily life within the precincts of the cultural obligation of this culture with emphasis on sexuality and marriage preparation as an important element in achieving an anthropological understanding of Azawagh people and culture.

By demonstrating how fatness as a correct body ideal determines how she is treated and viewed in Azawagh culture, Zainabu has accepted to live within the social structures of the Moors without questioning its cultural logics. Knowing that she is expected to eat in quantity to achieve body fatness, Zainabu is now obligated to continue maintaining her body size towards fatness. Accordingly, her breakfast is composite of huge bowls of porridge and milk to basically prepare her body for her would be man. In light of Feeding Desires by Popenoe, such activities are among the few examples of female fattening (Popenoe, 2003164-167).Apparently, Zainabu is not happy about such practice and in the revolutionized world, she feels like her freedom is curtailed because she thinks that by virtue of her position as a woman, she is condemned to be dictated by her cultural paradigms.

However, eating heavily is something Zainabu has come to accept. Her commitment to this routine-like form of dietary postulates that she understands that it is the only way she will be a sexual and cultural preference to men. Arguably, Popenoe (2003 113-118) analysis the meaning attached to women fatness. Somehow, this is how Zainabu has developed her attitude. All her activities from dusk to dawn are governed by her sense of fatness. Essentially, women fatness is constituted by the desire concepts of health, kinship Islam and possibly, Zainabus social need to manage her sexuality.
Considering the gender roles spelt out in Azawagh Arab culture, Zainabu is therefore be submissive and subservient to any masculine demand. She engages in certain ritualistic activities that are geared towards her preparation for marriage. Indeed, Zainabu obviously refrains from any assertive engagement that may point her as assertive or culturally rebellious because she fears being labeled a deviant, misfit and trouble shooter.  Her mother reprimands her for voicing her concerns especially in a simple scuffle that involves her and other male children. Evidently, any attempt of lack of submissiveness is seen as a cultural taboo which when she does, she becomes a point of disparage. Ideally, submissiveness is a quality that that argues Zainabu to be harboring successful sexual responses.

Zainabu and other women conceive of the uninfibulated body as lacking both beauty and propriety and thus she struggles to avoid being thin for fear that her body will make her less able to please her husband if she gets married. However, this is not her concern alone. It is the concern of her mother and all women folk. Popenoe (200387-93) describes that the glorification of thinness in the western world and the concurrently womens conflicted relationship with their bodies and food is a sociological pattern that is directed by culture. Zainabu and other Azawagh women consider fatness ideal for them. To the Moors, the obligation to eat is a pre-marriage tradition that Zainabu must fulfill. Her meal times are not structured in the light of breakfast, lunch and supper. Rather, she eats heavily at every point she deems fit. Her mother began fattening her at a very tender age but now, given that she is of marriageable age, she has taken over the role of fattening her self. In essence, feeding her self fat is her daily work. It is extensively ridiculous that far from the sexual appeal that is pegged on fatness, there is no any other practical reason as to why women must eat to be fat. Ultimately it all lies within the province of aesthetics that invokes both moral and biomedical arguments from sociologists.

The social interactions of Zainabu are inevitably driven by her body shape. This means that the kind of experiences and friends she has are undoubtedly shaped by her fattening ability. This is a clear difference in the western cultures where small body size becomes an option for many women. In reference to Popenoe (200395-99), it is evident that the intersection of class, gender and ethnicity are conspicuous in the body size. Young girls like Zainabu engage in the socialization of their body which works as a determinate to their sexual ability to satisfy a man. She thinks that if her fatness is not to some level, them she will be labeled as weak and exhausted thus, this may eventually make her friends to shy away from accommodating her. At the same time, the body practices of her fatness serve as an opportunity for her to demonstrate her female power as well as cultural success.

Fattening is indeed the daily activity of Zainabu. As Popenoe (2003199-206) asserts, Zainabus work on her body is markedly different from the bodily ideals that has presented women in other parts of the world as oppressed by the pressures of the media as well as the gaze of male. In essence there is a larger social and structural factor that postulates Zainabu and Azawagh women at large, to work on the body ideals in contrary to the global trend. It is indisputable that Zainabu and all women folk are motivated by their cultural obligation to aim at being fatter than it is though in western worlds.. She is portrayed as a passive recipient of her Azawagh Arab culture. The question of fatness is thus the standard of beauty that Zainabu must attain which conspicuously leaves her with one obligation to pursue daily. Primarily, she must give a priority to her cultural preference.

Through her riveting ethnography Feeding Desire, Popenoe gives a clear distinct moral economy among the women of Azawagh culture. To closely clarify the position of Zainabu in the entire issue of fattening, it is plausible to argue  that Zainabu does all her expectation because she knows very well that the material and the ideal meet the womans body through the excessive consumption of food. In addition, women consume only the fruits of mens labour which further embodies sexual allure and the aesthetics through their bodies. Zainabu therefore aims to increase her sexual desirability as she fattens an element that will help her produce children especially sons, who will increase the value and prestige of her husband. This is because women provide the central base for the family

It is clear that Zainabu is truly not impressed by this cultural benchmark. For instance, their cumbersome bodies, rounded full faces as well as their slow approach indicate that they are cultural slave (Popenoe, 200320). This is something that Zainabu may not openly confess but following her daily activities geared towards feeding, one can easily deduce that she is merely obligated to carry out all that her culture demands of her. Popenoe (2003188) reflects that it would not be true that an Azawagh woman can be free of a conditioned negative association with rolls of fatness and stretch marks. In fact, the diverse perception of beauty among Azawagh women folk may not easily elicit appreciation from the wider international community.

To recap, life among the Azawagh Arab women is about the deliberate attempt to fatten  young girls by relentless fattening them with larger quantities of available milk and grains to possibly keep them as still as possible. A look at Zainabu and how dedicated she and her mother are towards feeding to fatten her  definitely captures the image that this cultural practice is geared towards ultimate achievement of an adult beauty ideal which must be characterized with rolls of stretch marks and fat to symbolically expose her as gorgeous and sexy. Failure to achieve such beauty ideals, it is inevitable that Zainabu will not have any zeyn. His is an Arabic work that is commonly used to connote aspects of both moral goodness and beauty. Zeyn is a mandatory quality in a woman and must always be measured at least physically in light of fat body size. As a result of all this fatness, Zainabu is undoubtedly desirable and any man, who would make her husband, will entirely delight in her for a single reason that she is sexually appealing and exclusively an icon of culturally and moral success. However, this enslaving notion is forcefully and Zainabu sees it as a predetermined practice that she has no say in it. It is something that she must do without choice and somehow, her freedom to liberally chose how she should look is curtailed and thus for most part of her life, she must entirely be immobile within her cultural tent.

Article Review of Hunger and Famine

One of the biggest problems of todays society is the shortage of food supply and the continuous increase in the number of people who suffer starvation. Robert Dirks article entitled Hunger and Famine critically discussed the causes of hunger and  how the world reached this tragic state.  People go hungry when there is no supply of food available for them. As mentioned in the article, famine cannot be attributed to a single cause only. Dirks explored some historical cases of famine around the world. The author focused on discussing the roles of humans, Mother Nature, technology, economy, and politics to the food supply of the world and what catalyzed the food shortages for the people. Dirks also discussed extensively in his article the biological, social, and cultural effects of famine. The article presented clearly the different reasons that could have contributed to the food problems of the world and what are the effects of hunger to the world.

To provide critical evidence for the claims of the article, the author provided related stories on what caused the different cases of famine in different places. According to some evidences that are mentioned in the article,  agriculture was not the great blessing once imagined  (Dirks, p. 5). The author included famine records of the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS) as support for the claim that agriculture was actually not the solution to hunger, rather it have even become the cause of famine. Also, with the commercialization that transformed agriculture to agribusiness, caused more famine problems to the world because people became more focused in profits instead of increasing the food supply to feed the world.

Dirks highlighted in the article the belief that the underlying cause of hunger and famine could be attributed to the uncontrollable population growth of the world. The evidences and discussion that the author presented in this article proved that the reality of increasing population and decreasing means of food production are credible reasons why hunger is a big problem now.

The article was really informative and interesting because the author also explored the relationship of the class inequality in the society to the realities of starvation. Dirks highlighted how the cases of famine and starvation are very high with the people in the poorer classes. I also learned from Hunger and Famine how the world is governed by rules of food entitlements and this explains why some regions go hungry even if there is still food supply available somewhere else. The discussion on class inequality and food entitlements further enhanced my understanding of human diversity and the famine situation of the world.

Hunger and Famine is a very instructive article that offers significant and insightful information about the reality of famine in the world. It covered all the essential causes and effects of starvation to the world and why it needs to be solved at once. Although Dirks was not able to offer concrete solutions for the problem, he also added a very important insight on what are the roles of media and governments to help address the hunger and famine problems of our society.

Economics and Anthropology Reading Paper

This is a 2-page paper on Economics and Anthropology. The paper has 2 sources and is in MLA format. The paper compares and contrasts two articles, one regarding economics, while the other regarding anthropology.

This paper compares and contrast two articles, one regarding economics and the other regarding anthropology. The major area on which this comparison will be made is income distribution.
Summary Article1)

The article The Upside of Income Inequality primarily focuses on the recent rise in income inequality. The articles primary argument is that the inequality in income distribution is widening in the United States and the primary factor behind this widening gap is due to rise in income of highly educated and skilled workers and that this kind of inequality is beneficial and desirable. Comparing the situation with the inequalities in income in India and China where the inequality is primarily due to accelerated economic growth and overall improvement in the standard of living of the population of these countries.

The authors further argues that this trend is primarily because of highly educated people like college graduates receive a much higher salary as compared to lower educated workers like and the gap between these two classes has increased significantly in the last couple of decades. For e.g. in the 80s a college graduate earns 30 more, but now they earn 70 more. Thus the increased opportunity to advance through education played a significant role in widening income inequality. This increase in gap between the education earning resulted in a large number students returning to college after high school. Thus the rise in wage premium is directly attributed to the increase in college graduates. Recent surveys also show that the increase in college graduates among women and other ethnic groups, particularly women have moved to many high-earning fields. Higher education not only increases earnings but it also increases the standard of living. The demand of highly educated workers is increasing in every sector in the United States, because of the increase in demand of products and services only offered by highly educated and skilled employees. Increase in demand of higher education has nearly doubled the tuition fee in the last two decades.

Now that it is verified by the statistics that the major source of widening gap in income is increase in the demand of educated and highly skilled labor the question is it a good thing or a bad things. The authors think that in general it is a good thing because it is a sign of greater productivity in the economy. Though this inequality reflects higher returns to investment in education and human capital, but it is very limited, since the greater proportion of the American youth do not enter colleges, in particular the African Americans and the Hispanics. This is mostly because the lack of non-cognitive skills in these kids, which again is the result of broken families. The solution to this problem is to encourage more human capital investment.

Summary Article2
The second article Migrant Africa is an anthropology article regarding the migration of the African people. The migration in Africa included the migration from the countryside to the cities, from one city to another, and from a city to countryside. The primary reasons of migration are either economical i.e. to increase their income, shed poverty, and get better opportunities than available in their homeland or it is due to war or oppression, or natural catastrophes like famine, flood, earthquakes etc.

Now most of the African people migrate internally i.e. within the boundaries of a country. This is primarily because of disparity in the infrastructure and opportunities in different areas of countries. Since the demand of male workers is higher most immigrants are male, while their spouses are usually left behind or they come as a dependent migrant not alone. As the demand of highly educated skilled workers is higher in more developed regions like big cities most of the people migration to these cities are highly educated youth, which seek the return of their investment in human capital. While low or unskilled workers move to find opportunities not found on their home. Like most third world and developing countries, most of the capital investment is concentrated in a single capital or the largest city. Thus people from all part of the country migrate towards it in a large number, which create other social problems like overcrowded cities, shortage of electricity and water supply, lack of proper accommodation are some of the common problems of all the major African cities. These problems are further induced by high fertility rates in the migrating population.

Governments have adopted different policies to curb these problems like improving opportunities in rural areas, creating poles of regional growth, shifting capital city or through distribution of investment on medium sized towns through out the country to reduce the number of migrants to the primary major city. Many African governments also considered force return to the homeland, or to another government-developed town. But the planners have to realize that it is the flaw and unequal distribution of resources and development of social and economic infrastructure, which results in great influx of people to the large urban centers.

Comparison and Contrast of two articles
Both articles speak about inequalities. But the first article speaks about the inequalities in income of the workers in the United States. Moreover the first article speaks about the source of inequalities in income and argues that it is because of increase in higher education and increase in demand of highly skilled and educated workers. On the contrary the second article speak about the inequalities in the distribution of resources and opportunities in the African nations. It speaks that the phenomenon of migration is primarily because of this unequal distribution of development and concentration of capital investment on a single city, while leaving the entire country, in particular rural areas unattended. Thus the similarity of both articles is that both speak about inequalities, but here the similarities ends. The economic article has more to do with the economic consequences of the unequal distribution of income, and how the higher demand of educated and skilled workers is increasing their salary and income, which is widening the gap between the salaries of the educated and the uneducated, thus creating income inequality. Furthermore the authors here think this as a good thing.  On the contrary the anthropology article has its focus on the people of Africa, their movement from one place to another and the motives behind these decisions that these people make.

The article argues that the real factor behind all the migration process in the world and the third world developing countries in particular is the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities for the people through out the region. Unlike the unequal distribution of income because of higher education this unequal distribution considered a bad thing and mostly has dire and grave consequences. Thus inequality in one article is considered a good thing, while on the other article the author considers it a bad one and suggests remedies to cope with the worsening situation.

Ethnocentrism and some tips on how to minimize it

The ability of a community or individual to minimize ethnocentrism and its impacts is one of the key platforms towards greater cooperation, adherence to the existing laws, holistic contribution by all and eventual economic growth and development in a country.  Minimizing ethnocentrism has been referred as the main principle that could facilitate a new outline towards a highly democratic society at the local and national level.  Kornblum (2007) conclusion that the need to address ethnocentrism requires holistic involvement at all levels appears to cohere with those of Victor (2005) who indicates that it is the dark cloud of ethnocentrism that has over the years suppressed the ability of the people to progress.  However, analysts appear divided over the actual methods that could be employed in addressing the problem.   It is from this consideration that this paper provides an in-depth analysis of the tips that could be used to address the problem of ethnocentrism.

A brief analysis of ethnocentrism in the society
Perhaps Diana (2007) was correct when he indicated that a society will never be successful until it addresses fully the problem of ethnocentrism among its communities.  Ethnocentrism as Diana (2007) further indicates is the tendency of a culture to consider itself to be superior in comparison to others.  As a result, the members of that cultural affiliation view themselves to be better, more advanced and even more important in the country.  Owing to this peculiar alignment, a group develops specific standards that are mostly used to define it from others and use it as the main platform for judging others.  Ethnocentrism has especially been evident in relation to behaviors, religion and even the key customs that define the identity of a group at the extended community level.  At this point, analysts tend to wonder why indeed a group would disregard others and holistically undermine the need for diversity In his assimilation theory, Ezra Park Robert indicated that people are born to specific cultures that define their ideals of what they belief and become (Gross, 2004).  As a result, ethnocentrism is seen to dwell among the people in that it easily recurs even between generations and cannot therefore be fully eliminated.  At this point, some key questions often asked include is it possible to fully eliminate the problem of ethnocentrism  Is the fight against the vice intensive enough

Cases of ethnocentrism manifestation
Up to date, most of the United States foreigners have been referred to as aliens and therefore formed the center for their discrimination both in the society and office.  As if that is not enough, the trial to infer balance between the black and the white community has remained a hard nut to crack for the government and human rights activists (Kornblum, 2007). However, it is the resilience of wars between religious facts that has remained a thorn in the fresh for long.  In the Middle East, Gil-White (2001) indicates that both Muslims and Christian consider themselves be superior and therefore invoke major conflicts in the region.  Further on religion, Victor (2005) accuses the followers advocating water while they take wine by failing to adhere to doctrines of brotherliness and  care for others as advocated for by Christ, Gautama and Mohammed in Islam.  

Due to the widespread inculcation of ethnocentrism at all levels the rising numbers of Indian students being killed in Australian universities is not surprising.  Foley (2009) reports that most Indian students studying in Australia are considered outsiders and therefore not supposed to enjoy similar benefits with the members of the country.  The call by the government on the Australians to shun ethnocentrism has landed on deaf ears since 2005.
Tips towards minimizing ethnocentrism
Though it has been cited as one of the main detrimental society shenanigans, Gross (2004) explains that it can only be reduced to give way to a new cultural outlook.  Therefore, efforts have been focused particularly on the minority groups and communities to facilitate their ability to assimilate a new stand point while setting a platform for their acceptance.

Reducing differences in cultures of the minority and other dominant groups
According to Andersen and Howard (2005), communities must seek to facilitate integrative cohesion in their cultures that define internal operations.  Cultures act as the core outline towards a given community assimilation of as particular trend.  Therefore, communities derive their identity from the cultural underpinnings that requires to factor new outsets if ethnocentrism is to be effectively addressed.  At this point, there is need for cultural interaction between the dominant groups culture and those of the minority groups.  In his view, Victor (2005) explains that though the assimilation theory has largely been referred by many in harmonizing the cultures, it is faulty in that it seeks to create a new trend in the community.  The key theme in addressing ethnocentrism indeed lay on the need to appreciate the key positive cultural outsets and invoking their position in the community as opposed to creating a new cultural outfit (Diana, 2007).  At this point, the key stakeholders and possibly people with influential outset such as community leaders should come in to create the need for assimilation of some key principles towards their cultural improvements.  Giving the example of the Blacks and Latinos and whites in the United States, closing up their difference has been cited to invoke higher levels of creativity in the work places, sports and in their economic outlook such as the media industry (Gil-White, 2001).  

Removal of key barriers that could have been set by the dominant group
Ethnocentrism from its very definition denotes key barriers that people from minority groups face in their daily activities.  In his famous speech I have a dream, Martin Luther King Junior indicated that he dreamt of the day when the Blacks and the Whites would have equal access to the countries resources (Gil-White, 2001).  During this time and indeed even today, most of the Black and Latino communities have remained barred from accessing major resources such as parks and even employments.  Removal of such barriers therefore requires a high profile intervention both at the local and national level.  The government has under this consideration strongly come in to create a platform for removal of such barriers.  Legislations such as No Child Left Behind have sought to give all the children an equal platform in access to better education for all (Andersen and Howard, 2005). Other legislations such as Americans with Disability Act of 1990 seek to ensure that people from all social groups are able to not only integrate with others effectively, but incorporate their ideals in at the management level.  

Facilitate effective skills acquisition by the minority groups
Cognitive development in an individual as Gil-White (2001) indicates is progressive and cumulative at different levels.  Ethnocentrism and dominance of specific cultures has been linked to poor capacity of the minority groups in addressing the different societal issues.  As a result, Albert Bandura in his theory of cognitive development concluded that the people must be presented with the correct environment that can facilitate their in-depth understanding of the community.  At the younger ages, children should be subjected to effective and highly relevant education system that prepares them not only to work with diverse cultures, but generate effective platforms for performing even the tasks at higher management levels (Gross, 2004). This consideration would create the necessary quest to work at the high offices by people from all cultures.

To further facilitate effective acquisition of critical skills in the society, Mark (2000) argues that the minority groups should be aided through legislation in checking possible resistance of the dominant culture while economic empowerment would give them the needed force to push for such skills.  However, this application should be designed with great care to invoke the need for improvement by the minority group while creating a welcoming note for the dominant group (Andersen and Howard, 2005 Gil-White, 2001).

Creating awareness and capacity building in the society
While the problem of ethnocentrism appears to be deeply rooted in peoples operating systems, it no doubt that majority of them are brought up with strong rigidity that does not allow effective comparison for various cultures.   Creating awareness therefore brings to cognizance the existence of other cultures and their particular considerations.  Gifford (2003) argues that once people are made cognizant of other cultures existence, they are encouraged to further extrapolate their ideals for enrichment.  However, Andersen and Howard (2005), indicate that most of the dominant cultures seek to learn about others as a platform for increasing their supremacy.

Through awareness creation either through the media or other means in the society, some fears previously held by different cultural group members are eliminated.  To begin with, most dominant cultures disregard the minority cultures under the consideration that their characteristics poorly fit and operate in areas such as leadership.  Gifford (2003) adds that awareness creating that portrays both culture members working together creates a different image and establishes a new perception to those at the lower levels.  The media at this point is charged with the responsibility of reminding and persuading the community on the need for tolerance for other peoples ideals.

Awareness creation as Diana (2007) view it, should seek to infer the need for a stronger outline at the community level where cultural diversity is encouraged.  Therefore, people should be made to appreciate their cultures which indeed harbors unique characteristics not present to others.  According to pluralism theories of Nathan Glazer and Daniel Moynihan, the ability of different cultures to cohere together must be based on their diversity as opposed to creation of a new hybrid consideration (Victor, 2005).  Under this consideration therefore, people must be constantly made to appreciate their own ideals while factoring the demands of others.  As it happens in the professional realms, where people work together in achieving common goals despite their cultural affiliation, similar awareness must be established at the community level too.  While seconding the same outlook, Gross (2004) indicates that a diverse culture facilitate varying viewpoints towards establishing major alternatives to solutions of societal and organizational issues.

Economic empowerment
While critically evaluating the problem of ethnocentrism, Gross (2004) argued that addressing it should largely be considered from an economic outset.  The very reference of minority cultures or groups invokes a sense of poor social economic overtone that restricts their ability to move up the social economic hierarchy towards the top.  Therefore, the manifestation and outlay of ethnocentrism is a paradox in that demanding the people at the top to reflect their own cultures and those of the minority groups is indeed hard.  Kornblum (2007) argues that through economic empowerment, the minority groups and their representative cultures become easily represented in important developments and societal demands.  The passing into law of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act largely sought to protect possible bias towards people of a given group or culture in employment.  Such laws are critical in that they reduce possible sense of inferiority for the minority groups and their cultures.  Though some analysts indicate that such laws may present possible crashes between the dominant and the minority cultures, the same consideration is not always true.  Gifford (2003) indicates that the local administration creates effective checks and balances that require strict adherence and sets up major penalties if faulted.   Though it often takes place involuntarily, the resulting orientation depicts key tolerance and eventual acceptance based on mutual respect.  
Emphasizing on societal values and role modeling
While indicating the special capacity that human beings hold in contrast to other organisms, Andersen and Howard (2005) explain that it is the duty of every man to seek the best for their neighbors and the entire human generation.  Though this consideration appear to be absent in the highly ethnocentric society, it is perhaps the only sure way to reduce and perhaps eliminate the problem of ethnocentrism.  As Diana (2007) explains, ethnocentrism develops as part of an individuals societal orientation, a factor that determines the make up of every person.  As a result, reducing ethnocentrism should be viewed from a positive note and directed towards improvement of the general societal outlook.  From an ethical point of view, human beings should ensure that they relate with others to achieve the maximum possible good in all of their actions.

Leaders at this point must come out to present the communities and their cultures with effective role models that can easily be reflected at the lower level.  During his administration, President George Bush incorporated people from all cultures in the top leadership to reduce the sense of ethnocentrism in his management.  People like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were of African American origin and they effectively performed their duties (Kornblum, 2007).

From a religious point of view, Diana (2007) argues that there is needed emphasis on adherence to their sacred doctrines that presents key examples to the people.  For example the bible considers respect for the different people and their cultures as a sacred demand from God.  Therefore, people must be encouraged to take similar examples and therefore live harmoniously with others.

It is from this consideration that this paper concludes by supporting the thesis statement, the ability of a community or individual to minimize ethnocentrism and its impacts is one of the key platforms towards greater cooperation, adherence to the existing laws, holistic contribution by all and eventual economic growth and development in a country. Ethnocentrism came out as a highly intrinsic factor that mainly develops as people grow to assimilate the trends that shape their upbringing.  Minimizing it was therefore presented as an important consideration to create cohesion and harmony among the people at all levels of the society.  Addressing it cannot be addressed from an individuals perspective alone, but on an expanded societal outlook.  It is therefore crucial that all people get involved in reducing the problem both at the top of the management and leadership and even at the community level.  Leaders should particularly create the needed environment towards greater understanding of the need for harmonious coexistence from the top and projected to the lower societal levels. The communities on the other hand should on the other hand create a receptive culture that seeks continued improvement of their cultural delineations through enrichment from others.

Grandmother Hypothesis

Capturing the ideas among many evolutional anthropologists reflects on the Grandmother hypothesis wherein it tries to explore the validity and occurrence of midlife menopausal stage particularly among human females. Seeing this, the study of Alvarez seeks to concretize such dimensions by seeking to expand the research and try to include in the study other primates who also undergo such phases. The ability of the article to tap into life history among these primates corresponds towards creating a better understanding towards the value of evolution particularly among human females.

Analyzing the study, Alvarez uses the life history theory as a basis in studying the occurrence of the grandmother hypothesis. In here, she tests 16 primate species and determines their corresponding similarities and differences in areas such as having slow somatic senescence and post menopausal longevity (Alvarez, 2000). Given this approach, the study was able to decipher relevant conclusions that seek to justify how the use of life history theory can help solve the question of adaptive evolution among human females. It is through such patterns that the study was able to create a relationship between the fertile span among human females and other pongids.

What I found most interesting about the article is the capacity of the author to merge another theory to help address the grandmother hypothesis. It can be seen that Alvarez tries to connect the capacity of human females to undergo midlife menopausal stage and the way life history has dictated a shift in the patterns of how females adapt to the environment they are in. Given this, it has not only brought about patterns of evolution as it limited the capacity of female fertile span.

Seeing this, I do feel that this perspective is a good way of addressing and understanding the nature of anthropology particularly evolution. Having this approach considers a scientific response on a particular unexplained reality happening among many midlife human females. By analyzing and integrating these the theory and hypothesis together, Alvarez was not only able to make a comparable perspective of what might have happened along the way but also created a new dimension of understanding evolution and its relative impact in the ability of man to address the changes happening in reality.


Book Review The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War by M. Nazif Mohib Shahrani

In the field of anthropology M. Nazif Mohib Shahranis book, The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War is a comprehensive ethnography that competently explains some of the intricacies of the Afghan culture through an examination of two ethnicities, namely, the Kirghiz and the Wakhi. This book review explains the essence of Sharanis work and its importance for the field of anthropology.

Sharanis book is a good introduction to anthropology for a person who is new in this field because of the logical manner the author treats the subject. He does not assume that the reader has any prior knowledge of the region and hence introduces the subject with a comprehensive, easy to understand historical overview and a geographical orientation before delving into the socio-economic intricacies of the Wakhi and the Kirghiz tribes of Afghanistan. Shahrani then describes the socio-cultural practices of both the ethnicities in detail following it up with an update concerning the ways the changed geopolitical circumstances impacted the their way of life and how they managed to cope with the changes. The book was first published in 1979 focusing primarily on the cultural and ecological adaptation of the Kirghiz, a nomadic tribe and the Wakhi, agriculturalists in an area known as the Wakhan Corridor, a region that borders  on Afghanistan, Pakistan, China. The high altitude and cold climate of that arid region became a focal point during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that changed the political dynamics of the situation where the two tribes found themselves forcing many of them to flee into Pakistan and Turkey.

Shahranis geographical backdrop tells the reader of the importance of the Wakhan Corridor in the Afghan Pamir mountain range as an ancient trade route that served  as a highway for traders, political emissaries, invading armies, refugees, pilgrims, explorers, adventurers, missionaries, and travelers long before the Christian era (Shahrani, 2002, p.19).  The indigenous people of the Wakhan area known as the Wakhi lived in settled villages on both sides of the rivers Amu Darya and Sarhad speaking a unique Wakhi language, an Indo-Iranian dialect adhering to the Ismailia (Shia) sect of Islam. However, the continuous strife, raids and conquests through the Wakhan Corridor decimated the indigenous population leaving only about a 6000 Wakhi living in about 700 household units (Shahrani, p.46). This inconsiderable Shia population had always been under pressure to convert to the majoritarian Sunni beliefs of the rest of Afghanistan and its authorities thus increasing the degree of difficulty for the small sect to maintain their identity.

In this miasma of cultures, a tribe of the Turkish origin known as the Kirghiz driven away from Chinese Turkistan also populated the Wakhan area adopting Sunni Islam as their religion in the 16th century (Shahrani, p. 47). The Soviets too drove away this minority tribe in early 20th century and Sharani claims to have estimated to 1,825 persons, living in some 333 oey (family, household) units (Shahrani, p.49).    The closure of the silk route and the frontiers under the new Westphalian regime robbed both the communities of their influence and restricted their movement only to within the Wakhan area. This has led to a new set of challenges for the tribes to cope with.

Very impressive in Shahranis study is the detailed description of the Wakhi social system which according to him revolves around the principle of the agnatic descent and kinship (Shahrani, p.55). Instead of claiming a common ancestry, the Wakhi claim that the members of their society came from six different agnatic descent groups. In each of these cases the consanguineal nature of the ancestral identities served as totemic symbols for each group to declare their relative importance in the social interaction amongst the community. Descent rules between the various groups are highly definitive with a distinctive feature governing intermarriage. Endogamy is a prevalent practice amongst the Wakhi with cross marriage being permitted only between certain groups (Shahrani, p.57).  Patriarchal powers abound in the first three groups, but the next three have a mixed concept of decision making wherein both the senior-most male or female member of the khoonkhlaq (family) being allowed to collectively take decisions.  The first three groups are considered as asl or true, noble of high quality of blood while the last three are considered as ghareeb or poor by the Wakhi society. Shahrani states that a Khoonkhalq is a patrilocal agnatic descent group that is generally endogamous and corporate (p. 69). A khoonkhalq may have two or more joint patrilineal families comprised of three to five generations with a residence pattern which is distinctly patrilocal and not matrilocal or avunculocal or bilocal or neolocal. The Wakhi are agriculturalists who use simple plow-animal technique to till the land. An inconsiderable part of land-rich Wakhis engage themselves in pastoralism. Both the sections manage the ecosystem of their region in which agriculture and pastoral activities co-exist.

The Kirghiz, on the other hand, are nomadic people who have adapted to the high altitude bitterly cold climate of their region to engage themselves in herding animals, such as yak, sheep, goats, Bactrian camels and horses that can sustain in the harsh environment and the ill effects of Hypoxia (Shahrani, p. 88). The Kirghiz unlike the Wakhi have no formalized rules for endogamy or exogamy except that sexual relations are not permitted between immediate blood relatives (Shahrani, p. 158). There is a very high incidence of bilateral first cousin marriages within an oruq (family group) (Shahrani, p. 158). In some parts of the world, such a practice could be termed as incestuous for example in the United States, in some states, marriage between first cousins is considered as incest and forbidden by law. The affinal relationships such as the Damaad or the son-in-law are common to both the Wakhi and the Kirghiz with each having a say and relative standing in the society as also family matters. Both the tribes have patrilineal leanings rather than matrilineal heritage owing to their Islamic roots where the male dominates as a figurehead of the family. Kirghiz nomadic camps act as independent social units which in some cases belong to the same patrilineal descent group (Shahrani,p. 148). In such cases the camp becomes a cohesive political unit and fictive kinship does exist between camps having the same patrilineal descent group.  

The closure of borders and the adoption of the centralized nation-state model in Afghanistan by the colonial powers had a wide ranging impact on the socio-cultural practices of the Wakhi and the Kirghiz community. Closing the borders restricted the nomadic lifestyle of the Kirghiz who then had to resort to intensify the land use in a type of pastoral involution. Since land was controlled by the Wakhi, the Kirghiz had to depend upon them for agricultural products. The historical agricultural independence of the Wakhis too changed as the increased demand was difficult to sustain and this led to the Wakhi becoming dependant on the Kirghiz for pastoral products. This resulted in economic interdependence between the two communities (Shahrani, p.187). This changed the Kirghiz nomadic existence to a more settled life. While the economic interdependence was a forced issue, the socio-cultural divide between the Sunni Kirghiz and the Shia Wakhi remained. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the Kirghiz were further oppressed and had to flee to Pakistan and Turkey for survival. Three major changes took place within the Kirghiz society with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Firstly, almost all the Kirghiz had to relocate from their traditional abode to Pakistan and Turkey that severed their longstanding cultural ties with their region. Secondly, in both these countries, the Kirghiz were thrust into an alien environment with each new setting having its own socio-cultural dynamics. In Turkey, the Turkish government located the Kirghiz in Kurdish regions for political reasons. Thus the Kirghiz suddenly had new neighbors with whom they had to develop new social equations.   Thirdly, the Kirghiz had to give up their pastoral nomadic existence for a more settled lifestyle in the refugee camps of Pakistan and Turkey.

Despite the relocation to far off lands, the Kirghiz adapted quite well to the changed circumstances. Many of those who relocated to Turkey managed to make use of the better economic opportunities that Turkey provided and this created a new class of prosperous Kirghiz households that had imbibed a range of the Turkish values. Better economic avenues translated into better health and therefore the Kirghiz population in Turkey increased with falling mortality rates. Some cultural changes had to be imbibed because of the changed circumstances. Traditionally, the Kirghiz community never had the centralized leadership with each camp having its own leader. However, having been relocated to a specific area in Eastern Turkey, the community had to adopt a more centralized model of leadership with one leader being designated to speak for the community. Nevertheless, the cultural traditions related to marriage were continued.

Sharanis case study is an excellent reading for those who wish to understand the basic anthropological methodology. The author combines the historical facts with the personal experience and the quantitative analysis arrived at from study of anthropological surveys of the region carried out by him and other scholars. In my opinion, Shahranis anthropological part of the study is professional and objective. Shahranis anthropological analysis on the effects of Hypoxia on the pastoral communities is, however, dated as other anthropologists have come out with better supported rationales. The authors musings in the preface and the epilogue to cover events after 911 however stand out jarringly. His concepts of geopolitics appear to be nave when he proclaims that terrorists were not created by Afghanistan but by U.S., the Israeli and Indian policies. In such pronouncements, the author betrays personal bias to Islamic ideological leanings which rob this otherwise superlative professional work in anthropology some of its credence.

In conclusion, I agree that Shahranis analysis is quite objective regarding the current policies in Afghanistan. The anthropological study makes the reader aware of the diverse cultural divide and differences that exist in Afghanistan and how these necessarily have to be taken into account before trying to impose an external solution. To my mind the West led by America is erring grievously in trying to install a western style democratic structure in the deeply traditional Islamic society which has for centuries existed as a loose federation of tribes each with its own area of influence, laws and culture and therefore an Afghan style federated political structure may be more viable as Shahrani recommends.

Comparing Cultures

Part 1
For this paper, the author would like to compare the cultures of two different countries  a developing one, represented in the Philippines and a developed one in the United States of America and to see how the cultures and goverments (politics) of these two countries have influenced the socio-economic conditions here.

Teodoro Agoncillo s History of the Filipino People mapped out the different experiences of the Filipino people throughout the years. It discussed the country s history of colonization, which presented the different colonizers that acquired the country. It presents the economic changes in the Philippines, how the they rise and fall. These economic forces in turn affected the education, health care and the way the people deal with their lives. There are fewer benefits given for the citizens of the country. Not everyone is enjoying a good education and a means to care for his or her health. Moreover, only a selected few are able to acquire these benefits, and these selected people are those who have the money or means to acquire it.  These socio-economic conditions are exacerbated by the corruption in government which causes anxiety in the local economy as investors are reluctant to do business here.  The lack of support to small-medium enterprises and the inability to create more jobs has had adverse effects on the people.  Several signed up to work abroad or migrated.  The more unfortunate ones turn to crime or join the insurgency.  These situations underscore the peoples disillusionment with the policy of the government and the apparent hopelessness of Philippine society.

To support this information, news and statistical data were used in order to gain a concrete idea on the standing of the Filipinos as a nation. This information helped in assessing how the Filipino reacted to the different situations that has occurred in the country. The increase in poverty and its effect on the increase in the number of people leaving the country, the quality of education, and the amount of healthcare and other benefits they receive from the government.  These challenges created the nation that we know today. Up to the present, the Philippines continues to struggle, and newspapers and books have kept track on the struggles the nation is going through. The answer as to how the Filipinos will work their way out of it is still yet to be solved.

The doctrines of the Catholic Social Teachings were also used to analyze and identify the decisions people from both cultures should choose in order to make the world a better place for both countries. The teachings both try to provide answers outside those that are provided by the scripture to aid humankind in living their lives and to create kinship for everyone despite gender, race, ethnicity, and culture.

Part 2
Prior to Spanish colonization, it is said the Filipinos already had a culture and a relatively stable society, it seems that the Philippines was unable to recover from the series of events that has occurred within the years, resulting in a  damaged culture.   At the end of World War II, the economy of the Philippines was already trying to recover. In its initial years, its economy grew rapidly, Philippines was even considered one of the richest Asian countries (U.S. Department of State, 2009). However, this growth in the economy did not last long.

During the Marcos regime, the growth of the Philippine economy began to deteriorate, moving slower compared to its predecessors, corruption ate up the economy which up to the present is unable to fully recover. Billions of dollars in the national treasury were embezzled during this time. It can be said that oppressors need not come from the outside, even those whom they treat as kin is able to pull them down. The practice of  crony capitalism  led to the mismanagement of the economy, causing it to collapse which has raised the poverty line and adversely affected the lives of the Filipinos.
Presently, the Philippines is still struggling as a country. The fall in their economy and the existence of corruption, continue to challenge its people. With the fall in the economy, more businesses are coming out although there are few laws that mandate and regulate them since businesses  existence in the country is a means of booming its economy. Small families as a reaction to this issue decide to start their small business in order to support their family. One of which is the Sari-sari or a small grocery. At some point in each street in their roads, one is sure to find one.

In the economic crisis in the Philippines, more people have decided to leave the country. In 2004, almost 10 of the population is working and living in other countries and territories (Asis, 2006). Due to this trend most of the laws and policies available in the country focused on emigration.  People who work abroad send remittances to their families left in the Philippines. These remittances can be called the center of the Filipino s economy, although this could symbolize the dependence of the Philippine s economy to the global economy instead of building and strengthening its own local economy.

Education has also been affected by the economic downfall. Because of poor economy and less amount of funds in the government, public schools are not given that much attention. There is an estimate of 100 students is to one classroom for every section and a book is student ratio of one is to three (Sison, 2000).

Lack of educational funds has deteriorated the quality of education in the country. Since the majority of citizens in the country is poor, education should be of importance to them since it can be their means of escaping poverty. Poverty is the still the reason why they are unable to survive.

An example of this would be a child who is eager to go to school. What he does is work while studying so that he will be able to feed himself and buy the things he needs for school. At the end of the day after going to school working, he finds that there still is not enough to feed himself. Even though he wanted to study and review his lessons, he is unable to. Lack of nutrition has made him too weak, which made him unable to think clearly. This scenario is typical to a Filipino child in the Philippines.

The economic scenario has also affected the choice of degree a student takes in a university or college. Since in the last ten years there has been a demand of nurses abroad, 85 of Filipino nurses work abroad (HEAD, 2006). The number of nurses increases over the years. This is in reaction to the prospect of good job compensation once they leave the country. The amount of money they think they could never earn if they work in the Philippines.

The result of the percentage of nurse leaving the country results to poorer health care system. The doctor to patient ratio in the Philippines is 110000-26000 while nurse to patient is 116000 (HEAD, 2006). The migration of the countries nurses and doctors has affected health care in the country,  A health care system that cannot maintain its own health human resource is not healthy at all  (HEAD, 2006). Health care system without the depletion of nurses and doctors is worse as it is, not many benefits are provided to the public. Now, with lesser doctors and nurses, it is most likely that health care will totally deteriorate.

According to a study conducted by Euromonitor, 38.29 of consumers spend on food and non-alcoholic beverages as of 2007 (2008).  This trend presents that people are more likely to purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks, since it is something they are willing to spend their money on (Euromonitor International, 2008). People in the Philippines will mostly likely spend less on luxury items and unessential things. Majority of their goal is to be able to satisfy their basic needs.

Lack of money has affected the lives of the lower-income group. They are unable to acquire enough money to sustain themselves. These can be rooted to the education scenario in the Philippines. Since less education is provided for the people, it resulted to lesser job opportunities for the Filipino poor, they can only acquire jobs that rely on physical skill. As white-collar jobs require at least a college degree.  Usually jobs with that description are underpaid, and the jobs they take require more work and effort compared to regular paying jobs like working in the office.

The deteriorating health for these people also affects their work habits. Since they do not have enough nutrition and money to allocate their resources to buy food and medicine to those who are sick, most sickness are acquired by the poor, and a number of them are labeled to have malnutrition. This takes us back to the amount of money they earn. On average, they earn 150-200 pesos a day. This is for those who have blue-collar jobs. An example would be construction laborers. Usually these men have four to eight children, and they all depend on the 150 pesos. Since the family only has 150 pesos, they have limited choices on food, and the amount of food they can consume. Typically, what this family will have is two packs of noodles, which is about eight pesos each. In order to feed a family with ten people, they will put a lot of water in the noodle and add salt in order for it to have taste and this will act as their viand. In this situation, we can see the main difference between the rich and the poor. The poor have limited choices to none at all, while those well off have the variety of choices.

Part 3
Life is difficult. These difficulties are left for people to either grieve for receiving these hardships or resist it through solving it. Effort is required in order to endure and solve our problems. The ability of these issues is the basis of classifying the success and failure of one s life. This is one subject tackled in Scott Peck s Road Less Traveled. In order to succeed and surpass these challenges, a person is required to have discipline. Discipline is a way for a person to view suffering constructively.

This can be noted from the culture and history of the Philippines. It can be said that the country is rich in the experience of suffering. These suffering that they have experienced from the being of time has transformed their outlook in life. Also, it has affected the decisions they made in their lives. In relation to the book, the Filipinos should strive to transform these hardships into internal strengths to be able to solve it. Cultures that have easily progressed might not have the same strengths as those who consistently experienced the hardship of life. The large amount of pain experienced is a way for a culture to experience maturity, and in gaining maturity, they are able to see their role and place in the world thus, they are able to see realistically their responsibilities and role in the world.

Through colonization, at an early stage the Filipinos learned that life is not all about happiness, their perception of life must be in the other end that life is full of hardships and it is so. Because of this knowledge, they devised a way in order to solve their problems and not cower from it. They realized that they should move on from the poverty they are currently experiencing, so most of their people choose self-survival through migrating to another location. This action cannot be fully bad. It may just be a means for them to help those in their country, like their families in surviving their life. It is still selfless in a way. Their decision to move to another country is somehow a strength on their part, especially for those whose family is still in the Philippines. They muster all the courage they have to travel in a foreign land and test their chance, for they are unsure on the result of their decision whether it will produce positive results for their them and the family or it was all for nothing.

This is also applicable in the state of the Filipino poor. They can transform the hardship they are experiencing into positive things since it can build character in a person. Instead of just sitting and watching their problems come to them, they could find ways to solving them. This is through finding ways to earn more income to support him or her and their families. That way, difficulty is transformed into inner strength which they can use to shield themselves from future harm. Since they already have experience in the issue.

Populorum Progressio or on the Development of the Peoples somehow cover the issues of the Philippine culture. In the Philippines, there is a large gap between the rich and the poor people. The selflessness of people is the key into solving some of the issues in the Philippines, the upper class should extend their hand to the struggling in order to achieve development. As quoted from the Catholic Social Teaching,   If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him  (1 Jn 317). . .  You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handling him what is his. . . The world is given to all, and not only to the rich,   these words from the Populorum Progressio tells us that working for the good of all or for the good of the poor helps us promote life throughout God s creation (23).

In relation to the Road Less Traveled, problems of the poor can be solved if all people actively participate in alleviating their condition. This is if people will reach out to them and assist them in reducing the problems they are encountering. Also, this is a means to follow God s commandment of love to our neighbor which invites us to treat the poor physically and spiritually as brothers and sisters and share with them our blessings. Those who are experiencing the goodness of life should shell out some of these blessing to the poor. This is through charity works which one can do in order to help. But pondering on it more, these charity works only works for one day or the moments these charity works are ongoing. The next day, when one wakes up, they are seemingly oblivious to what they have experienced and the poor in turn goes on to their regular lives.

Charity is good, but what should be done in order to alleviate their situation which could possibly have a long term effect is to provide them with options that can sustain their lives. One of these examples can come in the form of providing jobs, which they can do. This way the help or money they would receive is not short term. It would be something that could provide for the family for a long time. Another would be through seminars that they could attend to enrich their education and add up knowledge to them. It could be through educating them with new skills like dressmaking, agriculture, cosmetics, soap making in the like. They could use their new found skill afterwards in forming new businesses for themselves to fund their daily needs.

 We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of out contemporaries for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us to enlarge the human family. the reality of human solidarity which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty,   the quote talks about the individual responsibility we have for each other (17). Observing the Filipino culture, it can be said that this is something they need to apply in their life in order for them to succeed and change their standing in life. In the Philippine culture, crab mentality is rampant. Since each feels that they are deprived of the things, they think they want or need, they desire to succeed, and often this success comes with the price of another. This can be observed from Philippine politicians. They tend to put down one another in order to present their  honor  but that should not be. They should acknowledge the responsibility they have for each other, that instead of destroying one another, they should focus on making the Philippines a better place to live in for everyone.

Part 4
Compared to the Philippines, the economy and standards of living in the United States is better. Public institutions are able to help us in our needs. Comparing the standard of education in public schools in the Philippines, American students are better of. The students are able to comfortably get the education their needs. American students may also work while studying as what the Philippine student does. The difference is in the gravity of the job they perform. American students can try to enter as a bus boy in a diner or work in a cashier while what the Philippine student does is knock on every car in the highway, asking the drivers and passengers if they wanted their car to be cleaned in the middle of the highway, under the overwhelming heat. Another would be some of them entering inside jeeps, the public transportation of the Filipinos, wiping each passenger s shoe with a rug, and afterwards asking them for money for what they have done. What they usually get is zero to five pesos, which is no way enough for them to sustain themselves.

Another would be in health care, proper government funding is given to Americans who need health care. Proper benefits are given like allowance for expenses on medicine and the like. In the Philippines, health care is poor. As discussed previously, there is a scarcity of nurses and doctors in the Philippines, and to top that, not everyone acquires health care benefits since the government is unable to provide proper help to the people due to lack of government money.

The standards of living of America and the Philippines are different. The middle to high class of the Philippines are just the lower to middle class of Americans. Being poor in America is different from the poverty experienced by Filipinos. Since the Philippines is just a developing country, many thing are yet to be developed. Not much support is given to the Philippine poor as compared to the Americans. For example, in America if you write a letter to the government stating that your husband is unemployed, and you have a baby which you need to feed, you will receive immediate help from the government. They can provide you with your baby s monthly need like milk, dairy products, grocery products, and the like. From a mother in the Philippines experiencing the same thing, writing to the government will do nothing. It will just be filed along thousands of other letters asking for the same thing.

Solicitudo Rei Socialis or on Social Concern can be used to aid these people. In relation to Populorum Progressio, being the country who is better of, Americans, as what the country is doing now, can extend their help to the Filipino people to achieve the desires of the Catholic social teachings. America has the capacity to help their citizens. They could extend this help to other nations. Since America has the culture of individuality and independence, it works well with Solicitudo Rei Socialis. Solidarity  is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortune of so many people, both near and far. . . it is a. . . persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all  (38). This independence does not stop on being responsible only for oneself, it also means taking initiative and responsibility for the needy, and not just relying on social institutions to help these people. Since economic-wise the America is better of compared to the situation in the Philippines, this tells us to take initiative in preserving the good of all. Since the American culture is more advanced in education, programs to increase the poor s knowledge can be done in order to somehow alleviate the difficulty these people are having. Also, the effect will be long term. Instead of giving out money which can be consumed rapidly, knowledge is something they can use to aid them in the future like when applying for jobs. Extra skill will also help them try out new ventures.