Introduction Anthropology, as its very name suggests, is the study of humanity. Anthropos is Greek for ‘man’ while logia refers to ‘study’ in the same language (Wolf, 1994, 277). So anthropology is the study of man. Cultural or Social Anthropology specifically studies human culture and social co-existence, since human beings are social beings (Wolf, 1994, 277)…
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It is under Cultural anthropology that the issue of dualism falls. Dualism is the postulation that two opposing ideas mutually exist in nature. It epitomises the dichotomy of issues that characterise any analysis of culture. As stated, this dichotomy usually pits two issues that are diametrically opposed to each other. Such issues include reason versus passion; masculine versus feminine; and good versus evil (Layton, 1998, 11). This paper endeavours to delve into the issue of Cultural Anthropology with specific reference to the notion of dualism. It analyzes the divide between the natural and cultural as a dualist issue deeply rooted in the western thoughts on anthropology in society. Dualism in religion is also analyzed in addition to the universal feature of strained relations between males and females in society. The Natural and Cultural in Anthropology In anthropological terms, nature denotes physically occurring and existing phenomena that shape the environment in which man lives. Such physical things in many cases predate man and are used by him to shape his existence (Rosaldo, 1993, 150). However, nature is also viewed as the state in which man is born or created. The nature of man is therefore that which constitutes man in his entirety including behaviour and beliefs (Bridgeman, 1983, 11). On of the long enduring anthropological controversies involve the role of the male versus that of the female in human society. This is one of the human universals since females are discriminated against in all human societies (Ortner, 1974, 67). In most analyses, women are seen as closer to nature while males are seen in terms of culture. There are a number of reasons for this universal divide. Chief of these is the fact that females are regarded in terms of their role of child bearing and the bulk of the work of rearing (Ortner, 1974, 68). As a result of this perception women are seen as being there mainly to play this biological role regarded in many parts of the world as inferior to that of males. The perception of females as inferior beings are further perpetuated in three main ways. These are cultural, symbolic and social-structural devaluation (Ortner, 1974, 69). Cultural devaluation is achieved in the form of equating natural biological processes that only females go through such as menstruation, pregnancy, child birth and lactation with nature. The woman is therefore seen as closer to nature simply because she undergoes these processes. The bond between woman and child is therefore seen as natural since in the early stages of life, the baby depends so much on the mother for its survival (Ortner, 1974, 74). This results in the degrading of the woman’s role into that of a domestic servant and home keeper who has to stay closer to the offspring while the man roams about. This liberal roaming of the man enables him to formulate the rules of culture which at times involve the prescription of do’s and don’t s for the women. For instance in some cultures women have to undergo exclusion after menstruation before they can be allowed back to play their normal social roles in the society. One example of such a culture is that of the Crow tribe in Montana (Ortner, 1974, 70). Among them, females played a fairly predominant role in social activities such as the Sun Dance, but their role automatically
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