Culture and Identity

The ethical risks in anthropological fieldwork are judging other cultures by the standards of one’s own culture (ethnocentrism). Indeed, most people grow up assuming that their respective culture is superior to other cultures, and that their culture is the way of life, so all other cultures that are different from theirs are peculiar ones indeed. Some other ethical risks include serious physical and psychological risks to the individual researcher. 

The respective researcher, along other accompanying family members if any, may undergo great dangers. While conducting their fieldwork duties, anthropologists experience immense risks. Of these risks are physical injuries, mental health, violent actions, shoot out, and machine gunning. Besides, many anthropologists contract contagious diseases, such as malaria, typhoid, dysentery, and others. On the other hand, the ethical obligations of anthropologists are to ensure the safety of the people they study; hence, the people being studied by anthropologists must be informed that they are being studied and the purpose for which they are being studied.

The principle of informed consent requires that the researchers fully inform the research participants of the intent, scope, and the possible effect of the study and seek their consent to be included in the study. Similarly, the individual anthropologist must pay all possible efforts to protect the anonymity of the people in the study unless the respondents give permission for their personal identities to be disclosed. For instance, names of specific groups, areas, villages, must be blurred as made up names invented to conceal the identity of the individual interviewee. Also, anthropologists are obligated to safeguard the sexual practices of the people being studied.

Culture is an acquired knowledge that people use to interpret their world and generate their respective social behavior. Moreover, culture means the total body of tradition borne by a society and transmitted from generation to generation. It thus refers to the norms, values, and standards by which people act and abide by.

Identity is shared sense on some grounds and set of relations to other groups. It is formed on the basis of a perception of shared history, territory, language, or religion. Identity answers the question: who am I? Moreover, it is an assortment of invented traditions, and it is an effort with which individuals try to identify themselves with a specific locality, tradition, etc. and to distinguish themselves from outsiders. Certainly, there are cultural differences in identity among societies and communities of the world. For instance, the Ju/was community in the Kalahari desert has a culture that sets them off from other communities and tribes.

They have their way of eating, celebrating and healing their sick ones. When a Ju/wasi sick person is to be treated a healing dance is performed; women sit around a blazing fire, singing and rhythmically clapping, whereas a male healer dances standing. A little later, the sick person experiences an enhancement of his/ her consciousness. Another cultural difference in identity touches upon food eating patterns. While countless numbers of people eat whatever food is available for them, some cultures consider a number of a foodstuff items a taboo to be consumed. These people include the Muslims, Jews, and others. Neither Muslims nor Jews eat swine’s meat. Similarly, Hindus don’t eat beef because of its sacredness. Therefore, there are cultural differences in identity among almost all nations and societies. 

Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by an individual person as a member of society. Adaptation is a process of adjustment that animals and plants make to their environment that enhances their survival and their reproduction. Furthermore, adaptation is a change resulting from selective pressures being placed upon a population by environmental factors, which results in a greater fitness of the population to its environmental setting. The terms “ Culture and adaptation” are deeply related to each other. 

Because of the ecological characteristics that a respective society lives in, adaptation brings about a set of rules and regulations among that society. For instance, one of the required videos shows a great relationship that exists between the culture and environmental adaptation of the Oromo tribe in Ethiopia. Although this tribe lives in harsh circumstances, their culture teaches them to adapt to the environment collectively. They are too interrelated and too supportive of each other. Additionally, their cultural costumes are influenced by the environment that they must adapt to. In order for them to survive, their culture teaches them to help each other, especially when searching grazing zones, digging water holes, or fetching water from distant areas. All in all, there is deep relationship between culture and adaptation