American Culture And Their Influence On The Culture

960 Words Feb 22nd, 2016 4 Pages
Often in the case of anthropology people like to view the extreme sides of the field; either popular culture, typically seen in the United States, or remote locations only impacted by their local folk culture. In Return to Laughter, Lauren Bohannon, or her nom de plume Elenore Smith Bowen, experiences the latter as she leaves the comfort of her first world culture to spend time with the Tiv tribe in Western Africa. The Tiv is a group that lives quite differently from what Bowen is used to. They live very communally and as team, everyone contributing to the collective betterment of the group, base their entire economy on agriculture, and use witchcraft as a way of maintaining social order. Bowen even remarks witchcraft surprised her when she writes, “despite my training I had thought these people would differ only by externals of dress and custom… I had willfully closed my eyes to all but obviously superficial differences. (Bowen 1964: 144) Witchcraft proves to be at the cornerstone of Tiv culture and forces Bowen to reevaluate herself, her ethnographic method, and what it means to be a real anthropologist. Witchcraft is used by the Tiv to explain elements of the world as well keep the community in order. It is a way to accuse a person that makes it impossible for someone to deny or escape. It labels the accused as a social outcast, making their behavior a model of what the rest of the tribe cannot or should not do. It is such a subjective accusation that the accused has no…
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