San Diego City College Student Anthropology Journal. Cover photo of blurred people crossing the street

San Diego City College Student Anthropology Journal

Edited by Carlos Roman

Published by Arnie Schoenberg


Volume 2 Issue 2

Fall, 2018

latest update: 6/13/21

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

More issues at

Table of Contents

An Inside Look at the Buddhist Culture

          By Alexa Ortiz

Belmont Park: An Analysis of San Diego Carnival Culture

        By Judy Tang

Cannabis: Male Dominated?

        By Megan Swanberg

Case for Community: Social Groups in Hominids

        By Jessica Sandoval

Homosexuality within Humans and Animals

        By Nicole Smith

Human Embryo Editing Race

        By Robyn Bolden

Human Necessity of “role models” for proper development: An examination of human’s comparative helplessness at birth to adulthood

        By Leila Firestone

Pride by the Sea

        By Ryan Francis

Proxemics & Kinesics in Ecuadorian Dance Clubs

        By Violet Leon

The Cause and Effect of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Homo sapiens and Butterflies

        By Tetiana Johnson and Daniel Johnson

The Error of Eugenics 

        By Young Jun Kim

To Be a Girl Scout

        By Danielle Veras

An Inside Look at the Buddhist Culture 

By Alexa Ortiz

        I got the incredible opportunity to observe a culture completely different from mine. Here I studied the practices of Buddhist monks up close and got a snapshot of a day in the life at their temple. I attended an event at Monastery (the name is confidential to protect the informants). I had a few preconceptions about what I would observe and there were many things that disconfirmed those.  Overall I was able to observe many aspects of their culture, participate in some of their religious practices, conduct a formal interview with one of the monks, and receive a multitude of books that could further my understanding and education of meditation, their culture, and the Buddhist religion.

In fact, Katie Nelson in “Doing Fieldwork” explained this exact type of project of which I participated and spoke on its role in the field. She explained that “an important tool for gathering anthropological data is ethnography—the in-depth study of everyday practices and lives of a people (Nelson, K).” When I think of my own fieldwork through an anthropological standpoint I find that I can really learn a lot about different cultures in a more in-depth educational fashion. This paper will exhibit my findings.

The complete retreat was three and a half hours long from beginning to end. This was plenty of time to get a better idea of the culture and to learn various aspects of their life, language, economics, and religion. I was in a group of about ten individuals. (All ranging from different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and sex.) We arrived at the Monastery at 12:00 PM and left around 3:30 PM. As the tradition of the retreat calls, each of us was required to bring a prepared meal. People brought anything from mac and cheese, potatoes, to salad. But no meat. After we placed our meals on a table outside we walked up to a trail that leads to the temple where the monks were waiting for us. The temple was a lot smaller than expected it was about the size of a large trailer. It was a very intimate setting. We all removed our shoes before entering and we were motioned to sit on the floor. The monks were lined up horizontally facing us. Although we entered it didn’t distract their focus. They either stared intently toward the back room, had their eyes closed completely, or half-shut looking towards their laps. I counted 7 of them. The demographics were as follows: 100% of them were male. There was not a single women monk. The ages ranged from about 30 to 80 years old. The weights ranged from what seemed about 115 pounds to a maximum of only 160 pounds. One of the first observations I had was how thin they were. None of them were overweight. Today we live in a world where it is extremely common to see overweight individuals and this group seemed to have none. This was an interesting observation. In fact, it could tell a lot about the group's health and physiological status. This would be suitable for the biological subfield of Anthropology. Moving forward, as for their dress, each of the monks wore an orange robe. They each were bald headed and barefoot as well. They sat with their legs crossed on a platform floor slightly above where we sat. The day went as follows: we fed them their meals, then engaged in about one hour of meditation, then gathered outside for time to talk. This is when I was able to conduct my interview. At the very end, they gave us books on mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhism.

        Before we started the meditation one of them rang a small bell three times and the sound echoed through the room. This seemed to be a significant symbol that signified the entering into a new state of mind. Shortly after, they began chanting an unfamiliar language. This was a shock to me because I had the preconception that meditation was supposed to be quiet. I was expecting complete silence during this meditation so the loud chanting came as a surprise. They provided us booklets with the songs so we could try and chant along with them. When I tried I noticed that it was a bit challenging for me because I was not used to that particular language. At the time I had no clue what language that was but I was informed during my interview with one of the monks. I asked about the significance of the verbal meditation and revealed that the language was called “Pali” and it was a traditional chant during that specific meditative practice. He explained how the chanting aids the meditation and also includes the teaching of the Buddha.  They chant for religious reasons and after enough practice, they associate the chants with that form of mediation. They did not have to read from a book because it had been memorized.  

As I observed this group I noticed that their body language was quite intriguing. “Kinesics as the term used to designate all forms of human body language, including gestures, body position and movement, facial expressions, and eye contact. Although all humans can potentially perform these in the same way, different cultures may have different rules about how to use them (Light, L).” I decided to really focus and observe the kinetics of this culture. The body language, movements, gestures of Buddhist monks were all extremely poised. They seemed very slow-moving, relaxed, and calm. I observed no drastic movements or hand gestures. They were all quite still before, during and after meditation. They seemed to have great posture and their body position was sitting tall. Along with the limited movement of their body, they seemed to have little to no facial expressions at all. Eye contact was different in this culture as well. During meditation, the monks never had eye contact with you. From my experience, I noticed that they also lack good eye contact during a one on one conversation outside of formal meditation. Overall I observed a calm and collective feel from their kinesics. There seemed to be a drastic difference from my culture’s kinesics from mine. I am used to a lot of emotion and language displayed through exaggerated facial expressions, large frequent hand gestures,  body movement, and more eye contact which is the complete opposite of what I observed. As you can see the monks engage in very quiet paralanguage. Similarly, they also have quiet spoken language as well. They spoke with ease, at a slow rate, and calm volume. No one spoke too loud or too quickly. This could also be compared to their spiritual practice. They are disciplined as they exercise the teachings of the Buddha every single day. He was always calm, collected, and unshakable and this is what they practice to be. This is the root of their quiet paralanguage and spoken language.

Proxemics is “the study of the social use of space, specifically the distance an individual tries to maintain around himself in interactions with others (Light, L).” I learned about proxemics the hard way during my interview and first interaction with a Monk. Apparently, there are rules of proxemics that you must follow in their culture. I was not aware of these rules so when I conducted my interview with the monk, I sat down on the bench seat beside him. Once I sat he immediately stood up. He then explained that as a woman you must never sit on the same level as Monk. This is a sign of disrespect because their religion calls for them to restrain from contact with women. He told me that they are celibate and do not engage in any form of physical contact or sexual activity. In fact, he explained that they are not allowed to be in the presence of a woman if there was not another male present. I sincerely apologized and he was completely understanding because he was aware of the culture difference. This seems to explain why they sat on a platform above us while we sat on the lower-level floor than our group. This can also explain why there were no female monks sitting or practicing with them.

Let’s compare the celibacy of Buddhist Monks to the celibacy of “Incel” group. First off, the Incel group is "shorthand for ‘involuntarily celibate,’ a violent political ideology based on a new wave of misogyny and white supremacy (Zimmerman, L. (2003).” If you compare the ideology to the Incel Movement you can see some drastic group differences. Although both Buddhist monks and incels are celibate their reasoning behind their celibacy is drastically different. First, Buddhist monks are voluntarily celibate for their religious reasons. They take a vow to be celibate for themselves and the dedication to religion. On the other hand, “Incels” are involuntarily celibate. They want to engage in sexual activity but feel that they are rejected because of their physical appearances.  "In their eyes, they are victims of oppressive feminism, an ideology which must be overthrown, often through violence (Zimmerman, L. 2003).” Another huge difference between these two groups is that Incels will display acts of violence towards others. While Buddhist monks do not engage in any type of violence at all. They only participate in things that release suffering, never in something that causes suffering.

Back to the observations, as I mentioned before, one of the practices was to feed the monks. Each monk sat with a large woven basket in their laps as we walked in a line and served our food into their baskets. It didn’t matter what type of food it was, we poured it all in the same basket for them to consume. Then we watched them as they ate their meals. It looked like they hadn’t eaten in a long time. I learned that these specific monks at this Monastery do not go out and buy food from grocery stores or use a Market system. They engage in a form of an informal economy. Coming from a large market economy in the United States, I found it shocking that there are cultures living so close that don’t engage in this type of trade. The monks eat the food that people bring for them. Other Buddhist organizations, Buddhist temples, supporters, meditation retreats, volunteers, family, and friends all bring them this food. According to Sarah Lyon  “Economics”  there are many different systems of exchange. Like many cultures, they engage in redistribution. Lyon described this as “the accumulation of goods or labor by a particular person or institution for the purpose of dispersal at a later date ( Lyon, S).”  In this case, we were the organization that brought the goods to exchange. These individuals and groups who bring the food, hope to be brought back at a later date to enjoy what this monastery has to offer. During my interview with him, I asked if he was ever extremely hungry waiting on the food to be delivered to him like during this event. He told me that at first, he was hungry, but his meditation and practice helped him overcome his hunger and control his cravings. He uses mindfulness to get over that feeling.

The overarching topic that I found to be completely new to me was the Buddhist religion. Buddhism is “the world’s fourth-largest religion (Henninger-Rener, S 2017:9).” Henninger-Rener states that people who practice this religion do not necessarily believe in a distant make-believe god as other religions do. Instead they “follow the teachings of Buddha, who was an ordinary human who achieved wisdom through study and discipline (Henninger-Rener, S 2017).” During my fieldwork, I noticed that the temple that we attended was not extremely spacious, yet it had a giant Buddha head that expanded a majority of the left side of the room. We also faced this while meditating. This really illustrated to me how much emphasis the religion places on Buddha and his teachings.

People who practice this religion focus on implementing Buddhist teachings in order to live a meaningful life and one of enlightenment. (Henninger-Rener, S 2017) These teachings include practices like mindfulness and meditation which they believe can free them from suffering as it did for the Buddha. This explains why so much of their time goes into these practices.  According to this text, Buddhists also believe in karma and reincarnation. What they do every day on this earth has a direct effect on what they are going to experience when they are reborn in the afterlife.  “Individual actions have effects on one’s karma. Kindness toward others, for instance, yields positive karma while acts that are disapproved in Buddhist teachings, such as killing an animal, create negative karma. The amount of positive karma a person builds-up in a lifetime is important because it will determine how the individual will be reborn (Henninger-Rener, S).”  It seems like the monks and Buddhists live their everyday life trying to display positive karma. This explains why the group would only eat vegetarian foods and not meat. Their religious beliefs and values override their food choices and the way they spend their time on a daily basis.

The article “An Integration of Thai Buddhist Monk Social Norms: Preventions and Solution” describes many of these themes. This particular article focuses on the country of Thailand where Buddhism is the primary religion. The article describes the Temples in Bangkok as “object of studying Buddhist Philosophy and inheriting the religion (Srichumseang, P).” This shows that these temples are important for passing down the Buddhist teachings and religion as a whole. Although these monks could practice these teachings at home they decide to stay at the monastery where they can practice in a formal way and pass down this religion.  This shows the dedication they have to their religion and the importance of these temples as a place they can come together and live under their religious vows.

When I interviewed the monk I asked what the most important values he had were. He told me that the Buddhist teachings, meditation, getting in touch with your true self, mindfulness, kindness, peace, and restraint from certain things was all part of his everyday life. He explains that this is so he can give a life of enlightenment and so he can receive only good karma and be reincarnated as something preferable. Next, I asked what were some of the things they restrain from. He answered that they do not engage in anything that will alter their natural state of mind. This includes substances or drugs that change the natural state of mind. When the author discusses the process of becoming a monk, she states “people who aim to be ordained as Buddhist Monks should have a medical certificate that declares no diseases or history of substance abuse (Srichumseang, P).” Within this religion, this is something they take extremely seriously. He explained that mediation is all about coming in tune with yourself and your thoughts, emotions, and your physical body.  Therefore, anything that alters that focus or natural state will be doing harm. This will take them further away from enlightenment.  This went against my original beliefs about people who engage in meditation. I used to categorize them as “hippies” who engage in mind-altering drugs all day and are very happy because of that. I learned that they are actually extremely calm and happy due to their mindful meditation practices not due to these mind-altering substances.  This disconfirmed the original stereotype that I held before my fieldwork.

The observations of the Buddhist monks at this Monastery taught me many things. I was able to get a better understanding of the Buddhist culture and push my preconceptions aside to learn new information. First I learned that anthropological field work/research is important for the understanding of a specific culture. This can help in the comparison of different cultures or regions, the understanding of how humans socialize, why different groups they behave the way they do, their religious ideas, and even their core beliefs and values.  Second, that language can be displayed through proxemics and kinesics. These can vary a lot by culture. For instance, within this culture, they display fewer gestures, movements, and facial expressions compared to mine. I Also learned they share different economic versions of exchange.  Lastly, I learned the Buddhist religion follows the teachings of the Buddha who meditates to free himself from suffering. They believe in karma and their everyday behaviors reflect this. Buddhist monks vow to live an extremely strict lifestyle. My perception of meditation used to be very aimless and now I see it as a very important formal practice for this specific culture. This project allowed me to see their culture from a more anthropological point of view through my research, observations, practice, and interview.

Works Cited

Brown, N., Gonzalez, L. T., & McIlwraith, T. (n.d.). Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. Arlington, VA: American Anthropology Association. accessed: January 1, 2019.

Henninger-Rener, Sashur “Religion” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: January 1, 2019.

Light, Linda “Language” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: January 1, 2019.

Lyon, Sarah “Economics” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: January 1, 2019.

Nelson, Katie "Doing Fieldwork: Methods in Cultural Anthropology" In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: January 1, 2019.

Srichumseang, P. S., Somtrakool, K., & Keeratiburana, Y. (2017). An Integration of Thai Buddhist Monk Social Norms: Preventions and Solutions. International Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Society, 7(1), 69–74. Retrieved from

Zimmerman, L. (2003). Where Are the Women?”. The Women's Review of Books, 21, 5-6

Belmont Park: An Analysis of San Diego Carnival Culture

By Judy Tang

When California days become hotter, longer, and tickets for state and city fairs start being sold, I know that my Instagram and Facebook feeds will become littered with photos of friends, families, and couples at these fairs, clutching churro and deep fried foods standing in front of some generic fair food stand or fair ride. The summer’s newest wow-factor deep-fried item is a popular feature on these posts, as are old-time classics like popcorn, corn dogs, and funnel cake. Scrolling past these posts, it is as if you are at the carnival environment as well, soaking in the sun’s rays, hearing children screaming on rides, and breathing in the sweetness of powdered sugar and savory shredded pastrami.

    Reading those words yourself, are you imagining, tasting, and feeling these exact feelings too? For many, these feelings are nostalgic and generalizable, reminiscent of an experience at a county/ state fair, night market, or other carnival-type events that many individuals have had a taste of at least one in their lives (2018). This type of activity is attended and enjoyed by most age groups, ethnic groups, and is common in almost all cultures. The fair culture is unique; it encompasses the types of food eaten, what activities are associated with a fair, and even what an expected fair day’s expenses can estimate to be. For an unenthusiastic fair-goer such as myself, I question what the appeal is for attending these fairs; I am deterred by all the costs associated with attending one, but much more by the opportunity to see and experience the exact same fair year after year. What is it that keeps many returning year after year and why is carnival culture still relevant to today?

My preconception about fair culture is that social media develops trending fair foods and experiences that engage the average consumer to partake in. In considering the impacts of social media, I postulate that popularity behind fair and carnival attendance, as well as its food consumption, seems to center around eating and bonding experiences as more than simply to satisfy cravings.

    I seek to answer these questions by analyzing the typical fair experience, specifically using San Diego’s own Belmont Park for sample by evaluating observations of fair-specific behaviors that arise in different populations of fair-attendees. By considering what attractive features continue to appeal to fair-goers as well as factors such as social media and marketing, fair culture can be better understood in the lens of cultural and specifically, media anthropology.

        My preconception about fair culture as a whole that people attend fairs as a bonding activity with friends, family, or even alone. Likewise other attraction-type locations, people congregate to these locations for special experiences, like going on rides, eating fair food, or playing fair games. For the fair-going experience, I have noticed that the surge of interest and popularity are often associated with viewing advertisements and posts on social media platforms. Fair foods are their own attractions and receive fame and “hype” due to their unique flavors and food combinations.

In efforts to understand how carnival food culture is successful in drawing in fair attendees, I hypothesize that within the cultural infrastructure of media technology, social media is a driving factor for the success and widespread popularity and its associated food consumption practices as a whole. Media technology encompasses all forms of technology and methods that mediate human communication, in forms such as newspapers, TV, and most prominently as of recently, the Internet (Peake, 2017). Within this technological space, social media functions as a relatively simple but powerful means of sharing information about the self and one’s interests. Social media and successful marketing practices in website design demonstrate the strength in media in creating “trending” activities and events that highlight what the latest activity people are excited about as well as demonstrating the expected ambiance of a particular location.

        My theoretical approach to better understanding fair and carnival culture was to test the hypotheses of why people tend to gravitate towards these foods, despite the high prices and questionable cleanliness of fair food stands. I did this by attending Belmont Park, which is situated along a beachfront boardwalk in Mission Valley. I took field notes over a three-hour excursion, observing park attendees’ conversations, interactions, and noting the available fair foods for sale. I also conducted an interview with one individual, a 21-year old male who enjoys fairs and carnival experiences.

Belmont Park of sunny San Diego provides the county fair experience every day of the year and caters to all age groups. The park itself offers large free parking lots and upon arrival, I noticed plenty of families, couples, and parties of various ethnic groups and age range walking around. The park itself had a main walkway with kiosks selling typical fair foods of popcorn, hot dogs, and ice cream as well as rather unique shops such as the “Sweet Shoppe,” “Beaver Tails,” and the park’s very own “Belmonty’s Burgers.”

“The Sweet Shoppe” sold items such as homemade fudge, caramel apples, and frozen bananas. “Beaver Tails” boasts Canadian pastry treats in the shape of a beaver’s tail in flavors such as apple cinnamon and “Avalanche” or cheesecake. These two desert locations were located in a general food court area and while the lines for these shops were relatively short, each dessert item appeared to require much work put into them. For instance, the “homemade” nature of The Sweet Shoppe items would require a bit of a wait for those ordering items that were made by need basis. Thus, these shops seemed to run a bit slower, as customers seemed to have to wait for their orders a bit longer than customary at dessert shops.

“Belmonty’s Burgers” offers classic amusement park fast food, such as Fish n Chips, nachos, and burgers. Every item is called “Belmont’s,” branding each food item as unique to Belmonty’s and thus the park itself. Another observation was of a Belmont Park souvenir cup, which would be given as part of a purchased combo meal. Its location is marked by red and white exterior and covered seating nearby in what is described as the central “food court” area, near other food stands and kiosks. Belmonty’s Burgers seemed to be a popular location; there were many families lined up to order at two small windows and the orders were given at a window around the corner. The portion sizes and menu prices did not match up; the items sold were definitely too expensive for the amount of food given. Nonetheless, many were still excited to receive chili cheese nachos and funnel cake, receiving the red and white paper plates topped with hot meat and stringy cheese or heaps of powdered sugar.

A common behavior observed at the food court is that immediately upon receiving a food order, parents of families whip out their phones, aim the cameras at their children and ask them to pose with their foods. For many couples and friend groups, the social media application Snapchat is a common choice for taking photos, videos, and even communicating geographic location for what the user is doing. It seems then that there exists a semi-ritualized practice of recording and sharing these foods and experiences on social media platforms.

In addition to the food court shops at Belmont Park, there are also beachside vendors for snacks and treats such as “El Jefe Tacos,” “Beach Treats,” and “Midway Snacks.” They sold snacks such as soft serve ice cream, root beer floats, and pretzels. These kiosks were located along the Mission Valley boardwalk, which is a long sidewalk that leads to the beach. The boardwalk is covered with sand and is busy with a never-ending stream of beach-goers, bike and Bird riders, and pedestrians. In addition to the carnival/fair culture that Belmont Park boasts, it is also a beach community that is frequented by beach-goers with their own sub-cultures (e.g. surfers, beach sports players, etc.). In this sense, Belmont Park is unique by offering a multitude of shopping experiences and amenities available to a wide range of attendees.

My own observations about the growth of carnival culture and popularity have stemmed from viewing a flood of fair-related posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Social media is a tool that has made an impact on the world, by becoming both socially significant and meaningful, since trending topics, events, and activities are viewed as being the ones that are most important or relevant to a given demographic or geographical location. From Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat posts alike, specific activities and events are circulated by season, as fair season is typically associated with long summer days full of sun and vacation time for families. It seems then that since fairs and carnival “seasons” are correlated with times in which family outings and vacations are most frequent (2018). Through this mechanism then, it is inferred that fair attendance is culturally accepted form as a form of family bonding event, romantic date idea, or fun vacation activity. This finding aligns well with the idea that social media carries profound effects as a function of culture (Peake, 2017), since people accept and associate fair season with particular times of the year and people due to past experiences and social media influence.

Contributors to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat fair posts are fair-goers, eager to capture memories and experiences, either to revisit at a later time or share with others at the moment. With respect to the age of globalization, social media platforms tend to speed up communication and interactions with people around the world, as information is more readily sent and easily accessible via smartphone or other electronics (Griffith, 2017). The interaction that stands out with respect to posting on social media is that of parents instructing their children to pose with their fair food. This acts almost like a ritual, as there seems to exist a need to share and display what “hype” new food or fair classics are being sampled. It was even observed that the camera holder takes care to arrange the food and individuals on-camera in a certain way, to make the food look more appetizing (2018). This concept can be compared to a concept of “presentation of the self,” which refers to the management of others’ impressions of ourselves (Griffith, 2017). Social media platforms bolster impression management, as users can define and design what content they choose to share. In this case, the display of fair food consumption contributes to one’s identity as a frequent fair-attendee or consumer of the latest trending foods. Bringing in a camera then turns this presentation of one’s meal or snack into a performance that reveals how people take pride in public displays of their lives.

The means in which media are interpreted and circulated is reliant on local cultural context (Peake, 2017). For Belmont Park, this is related to how the park chooses to market its attractions, events, and to shape the type of experience that interested attendees can expect. In viewing the Belmont Park website alone, the feature photo highlights the sunny skies, palm trees, and sandy beaches in means to demonstrate a vacation getaway type of area. This promotes a feeling of relaxation and good times for all, as evident with options to view ‘rides and attractions,’ ‘beachfront boardwalk,’ and ‘free admission and parking.’ The website is not only easy to navigate, ensuring a painless experience to learn more about what the park has to offer and how to make use of its many amenities (Belmont Park, 2018). This website as a medium acts as a great marketing tool by emphasizing the relaxing and vacation-like experience that is offered, guaranteeing that any and all can find activities suited for them. Within San Diego culture, this fair also ties in the beach and caters to beach and surfing culture by including a variety of beach-item specific shops and vendors. In this sense, Belmont Park in a local and cultural context is not a deviant; it does not function as the annual state fair that comes and goes; it is a unique experience that still very much caters to and is integrated within San Diego and its cities’ many cultures.

Carnival food itself can be both expensive and unhealthy. Observing Belmonty’s and other beachside vendors’ above-average priced fast food options were deterring. Despite this though, fair food consumption expenses are accepted to be overpriced. This is even justified for many, as consumers and fair-attendees have expressed sentiments of being willing to “indulge once a year,” whether it be for the price or unhealthy aspect of the food item (Johnson, 2016). Fair and carnival food fall into a category of recreational food, which encompasses food for specific events and novelty souvenir items (Horvath), as demonstrated by Belmont Park’s classic fair foods and availability of the Belmont Park souvenir cup. The practice of recreational eating considers eating for reasons such as being in a particular social setting or simply due to the availability of the food and is often viewed as an unhealthy habit (Caplan, Fuhrman). Fair food presentation and its visual aesthetic of glistening glaze and dripping butter play into imagining these treats as “food porn.” This concept can be combined with “conspicuous consumption” which can explain irrational eating habits as a means of lavish spending on expensive and unhealthy foods (McDonnell, 2016). Social media bolsters this habit, as beautifully crafted photos of this fair food consumption are recorded and shared with many. Belmont Park foods and social media marketing platforms engage in this practice as well, as trendy “food porn” photos flood news feeds and are shared over and over; gaining popularity and interest with every click of a “like.”

From these analyses, the popularity behind fair and carnival attendance, as well as its food consumption, seems to center around eating and experiences as more than simply to satisfy cravings. Eating is also a social activity and essential to family and friend bonding experiences, as the shared activity creates fun and enjoyable memories for all. People turn back to the same classic fair foods and rather unique ones due to intrigue by social media influence or to feed feelings of nostalgia. Belmont Park markets itself as a fair experience that is unique and representative of San Diego culture, a place to vacation and inclusive for all. In this sense, it makes sense that carnival culture provides enjoyable experiences that are seasonal, kept alive by photos and videos that are revisited again by viewing the photos or visiting the fair once again, for yet another nostalgic trip.

Works Cited

Belmont Park. (2018). Retrieved from

Belmont Park experiences [Personal interview]. (2018, September 23).

Caplan, J., & Fuhrman, J. H. (n.d.). Re: What is recreational eating? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Griffith, L. M., & Marion, J. S. (2017). Performance. In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology (pp. 1-25). Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.

Horvath, G., & Warner, M. (1987). Recreational Food Service is Big Business. Hospitality Review5(2), 7.

Johnson, E. (2016 Jul 11). Five Reasons Why I Love Fair Season [Web log post]. Retrieved from

McDonnell, E. M. (2016). Food porn: The conspicuous consumption of food in the age of digital reproduction. In Food, Media and contemporary culture (pp. 239-265). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Peake, B. (2017). Media Anthropology: Meaning, Embodiment, Infrastructure, and Activism. In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology (pp. 1-18). Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association.

Cannabis: Male Dominated?

By Megan Swanberg

        With the newly passed bill allowing recreational use of cannabis within California, it has brought up a big topic of the benefits of cannabis and the users that come with it. Cannabis has become highly talked about drug throughout the world and especially throughout the United States. It has always had such a bad reputation and given anyone who smoked it the bad reputation of a stoner. Does this affect those who do smoke cannabis? Are all the stereotypes true about those who partake in cannabis, or is it all a front people use to prevent their loved ones from using it? Just from stories on the news, movies, and articles, I thought it would mostly be a male-dominated industry. Specifically young males between the ages of 21-35.

    I got permission to study a local dispensary in the southern part of San Diego. As I pulled up the “storefront” I noticed how small and well blended it was compared to the neighboring businesses. The storefront was set up in a rectangular, plain, solid color building with minimal parking available and a lot of people outside. I found a parking spot a bit up the street from the dispensary I went to observe, that way I was not taking away from the customers and I wouldn’t pose as a distraction nor suspicion sitting in my vehicle watching a dispensary. I went around 4 PM on a Wednesday. There were a lot of cars in the small parking lot as well as on the street. According to CNN, “If you smoke or eat pot, you might have encountered the ‘marijuana munchies,’ or the desire for salty, sweet or fatty carbohydrate-rich foods when using the drug (Drayer).” So, it was not a surprise to me to see a street hotdog vendor was set up just outside the dispensary as well, with at least 7 or 8 people in line. There was a group of three young African Americans hanging outside the shop talking about their day, I’m not sure if they were waiting to go into the shop, or if they had already been through. Two of the individuals were wearing street clothes like athletic shorts and a plain tee. The third individual they were talking to was fully dressed in suit and tie. Once I walked up to the front doors there was a security guard with a wand. He asked to see my ID and scanned me with the wand. He then asked to search my bag before he let me enter the facility. Once through the doors, there was a line to wait and be checked in. There were two girls who were working to check people in were behind a glass window, like at a bank teller, and took each person’s ID, asking if it was their first time here and how they heard about the dispensary. There was a waiting area with seating to the left of the windows and behind it, all were glass windows and glass doors showing the actual dispensary. Once you were checked in, you had to have a security guard scan the door to unlock it and let you into the dispensary. Once you get into the dispensary there were, again, two lines.  Each one was to wait for a budtender (cashier) to become available to help each customer. One line was for medicinal and pre ordered customers, customers who had doctor’s prescription or previously ordered a pick up online, and the other line was for recreation customers who did not order yet or did not know what they wanted exactly. There were so many different types of people there; old, young, male, females, and every ethnicity. There were many more women in there than I anticipated keeping a general ratio of one female for every one male in the dispensary. Everyone was dressed differently, anywhere from what looked like pajamas to people walking in suits. There was hardly anyone in the medicinal/pre-order line, but the recreational line was stacked. The general atmosphere from people mostly seemed pretty comfortable once in the establishment. There were a few who seem anxious or on edge, and I don’t know if that is because they were uncomfortable being there or if it is a medical condition they have like social anxiety. “Facial expression can convey a host of messages, usually related to the person’s attitude or emotional state. Hand gestures convey unconscious messages or constitute deliberate messages that can replace or emphasize verbal ones. (Light 92)”. I noticed that the use of hand gestures was used quite often. For instance, a budtender waving someone over signaling they are available to help someone. Or customers would make small gestures towards each other like an “OK” symbol with their hand brought up to the person's’ mouth to signal smoking. The ones who did seem anxious were not sure where they should be looking, and their faces seemed to be uncomfortable. There was a steady flow of people the entire 2 hours I was observing, I really couldn’t believe it.

The dispensary even had 8 workers and registers going and there was hardly a time where all of them weren’t busy with customers. When a customer would step up to get help, almost everyone I heard was looking for help with some kind of issue they were having, even though they did not have a medical card. A big one was to help with stress and being able to sleep at night or eating disorders and anxieties. Each person had to pay with cash, but there was an ATM both inside the dispensary and one outside in the check-in/ waiting area. It was astonishing to me how many different types of weed there were and how many different ways there are to consume it. The dispensary had displays and menus for ways of inhalation and a bunch of different tools to use for inhalation purposes. They also provided topicals like lotions or patches, as well as other methods like ingesting the weed through drinks or foods like cookies and even gummies. I never realized so much can be done with weed and I didn’t expect to see as many people with such variety as I did. It seemed customers would figure out how they were planning on consuming the weed before browsing the items in said category. Some customers knew how they wanted to take it, but would ask the tender for a recommendation on flavor or potency.


There was a woman who saw me observing and asked if it was my first time there and if I was nervous. I told her it was and that I was actually there for school to observe this newly legalized culture. She was intrigued and stated that she, among a lot of people she knew, were ecstatic about this new legalization. I asked her if she would mind if I asked a few questions for my paper and she was more than willing to participate. I told her everything would be confidential and she said there was no need, but I then told her it was a requirement. So I started with asking why she would be okay with my paper not being confidential, as she replied “If weed is not illegal, why should I feel ashamed to be smoking it? It is the stigma that comes with weed that gives it such a bad name. If people would just quit acting like it is this big bad drug and saw all the amazing things it does for people, then we wouldn’t still be begging that it gets covered by medical insurance.” She went on to talk about how it helped her step out and meet people when all she wanted to do was sit at home and do nothing. “This weed, right here, has helped me more than any other drug could have.” I then asked if there was anything she didn’t like about weed or it being legalized. She said the only downfall to it being legalized is all the taxes that are put on it when purchasing it, as well as the prices,  have raised since it was only for medical use. I then asked what is something you would tell someone who has not tried it before but wants to? She said to come in and talk to the budtenders. She said how that is what they are there for, and they can point you to the best direction for what you are looking for. Which with my observation I can say they do seem to be very knowledgeable with all the products and are not judgmental at all. My final question to her was, what is one thing you love about weed? She responded with, “The community. Everyone is so chill, and willing to truly listen to your day and your struggles and just be there for each other.”

I thanked her so much for talking to me and giving me all this helpful knowledge. She asked if she could give me a hug, I told her it was fine and then she went on her way.

    After spending just this little time at the dispensary I found out I was completely wrong with who I thought would be in the dispensary. It was filled with mostly women, but there was no shortage of every age and gender. The diversity that was in the dispensary showed me that when it comes to cannabis there is no discrimination. The community was very friendly, knowledgeable, and non-judgmental. This went for the customers as well as the workers. Stereotypes being placed with those who use cannabis are getting less meaningful thanks to the knowledge being placed out into the world. People embracing the culture of cannabis and its titles are somewhat of a badge of honor for those who smoke. Being able to observe this group of people gave me a whole new perspective on cannabis and its users.

Works Cited

Light, Linda “Language.” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: January 1, 2019

Drayer, Lisa CNN reporter “Why does smoking pot give you the munchies?” Updated 4:29 AM ET, Fri April 20, 2018

Case for Community: Social Groups in Hominids

By Jessica Sandoval

        It is traditional for American teenagers to leave the home they grew up in once they turn eighteen; it is a right of passage, a signifier that one is “of age”.  It is also prevalently American to be independent, to be a “lone wolf”, to pull oneself up by their own bootstraps and make things happen for oneself.  It is a tradition to have a nuclear family, to rely on one’s partner and, in some cases, their children, for the work that needs to be done within a family.  If one’s partner isn’t available, it is traditional to hire a babysitter.  It is traditional to (if one can afford it) drop off aging family members at group homes, and to live far away from one’s home once one has moved out. This individualistic idea isn’t unique to the United States, either: more countries around the world are borrowing a page from the West’s book and forgoing their traditional cultural practices of intergenerational housing to develop their sense of independence, opting to live on their own or their chosen partner.  One can argue that this has been a successful way of growing up and that living an individualistic lifestyle is the most beneficial way of going about one’s life: there is a sense of control, an ability to move and plan things on one’s own time, and a lack of responsibility owed to other people.  However, there might be something to draw from the traditional collectivist worldview, a lifestyle that has shown up constantly, not only in our pre-homo sapiens ancestors but even in our non-human primate relatives.  I took a close look into how primates have grouped themselves throughout history, and while there are instances in which primates live on their own and survive in their solitary state, it is typical for hominin throughout the ages to cluster up into societies for survival.

Collectivism is defined as a communal way of life, “characterized by diffuse and mutual obligations and expectations based on ascribed statuses” (Oyserman 2002:5).  The priority of a collectivist social group is that of other people with common values and goals (5).  These groups don’t have to necessarily comprise of family members; there are communities around the world where people live together without having any sort of blood connection.  To live in a collectivist society means to “sacrifice for the common good” and prioritize keeping a harmonious relationship with those in the group,  and “in-group exchanges are based on equality or even generosity principles” (5).  To be in a community is to think in terms much larger than one’s own: to care for like-minded people, and to have like-minded people care for oneself.

    To live in a collectivist society is also being able to “experience the emotional well-being brought about by sufficient companionship” (Gross 2003:3).  The health benefits to living in a community range from the simple idea of experiencing the joy of avoiding loneliness, to having one’s “physical needs” met, to be “much more likely to survive” a serious illness, especially if one is a child or a person of old age (3).  Being in a community can aid in relieving symptoms of illness by literally being present to carry out healing duties, but also by the simple act of being there, as a person’s mental well-being is said to be linked to their physical health.

    Critics of collectivism argue that group-living might strip one of their identity since the community’s harmony becomes the priority, as well as the fact that “life satisfaction derives from successfully carrying out social roles and obligations”, which might deprive one of a sense of independence (Oyserman 2002:5).  They are also concerned with the idea that collectivism might cause a “restraint in emotional expression” (5), since a disruption in a group’s unanimity might lead to an imbalance and disagreement.

Individualism, on the other hand, is the “worldview that centralizes the personal—personal goals, personal uniqueness, and personal control—and peripheralized the social” (Oyserman 2002:5).  It prioritizes independence from other people.  

    Advocates for individualism prefer the liberty that comes with this separation.  Individualism provides freedom from “manmade restraints”, such as coercion from other people, groups, or the government (Younkins 1998).  They also prefer the cost-efficiency of forgoing communities, since “group memberships are impermanent and non-intensive” (Oyserman 2002:5).  German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber compared individualism to Western European Protestantism, and collectivism to Catholicism; Protestantism promoted “self-reliance and pursuit of personal interests”, while Catholicism promoted “permanent and hierarchical relationships” (3). Those who endorse individualistic worldviews support the fact that there is no need to check in with other members or authority figures within a group to meet one’s goals, and that there is no need to be responsible for another person.  There is not much inherently owed to anyone else other than one’s own self.

While not an exclusively American point-of-view, it is a very popular idea amongst Americans.  One might argue it’s an idea ingrained into the fabric of this country since its inception.  French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville noted of Americans in Democracy in America:  “Such folk owe no man anything and hardly expect anything from anybody. They form the habit of thinking of themselves in isolation and imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands” (Oyserman 2002:4).  This idea seems to be prevalent today, as well: in 1960, the number of households in the United States that comprised single people was 13 percent; the 2010 Census for Households and Families shows that the number has increased to 28 percent (Census 2012).

There has also been a widespread change in youth culture in China, with the surge of “ku”, a branch of individualism that has emerged in direct opposition to the collectivism that surged during the cultural revolution, prominently inspired by Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (Moore 2005).  The word “ku” is, in fact, a derivative of the English slang term “cool”, which promotes a “detached, knowing, and in-control quality” (Moore 2005:358).  “Ku” promotes leaving behind multigenerational households in favor of adopting an American penchant for independence.  

In contrast, Ethiopia has held a sense of communal living for centuries, which aids them in their interpersonal relationships.  One of their main sources of group activities is hunting, which creates “long-term bond-relations” between hunters and their communities (Tadie 2013:448).  In the Omo valley, hunting is seen more of a socialization ritual than it is a means of getting food.  “Hunting helped people to develop and maintain social structures beyond family bonds” (449).  To hunt means to create an unbreakable bond with a hunting partner (misso) and an honorary elder sister (misha), which helps young adults in the Omo valley develop social skills, close friendships, partners that keep one accountable and safe, etc.

Non-human primates have different types of kin groups, ranging from the individualistic (closely related to the human “nuclear family”) to the widespread community within their population.  Many of their practices resemble human behavior, both in terms of individualistic practices and collectivist ones.  

Collectivism is important in primate groups because it aids in reproduction and creation of offspring. It is similar in humans and chimpanzees: social groups in human hunter-gatherer societies typically contained somewhere around 150 members, which is not much different (larger) than chimpanzee communities (De Waal 2001).   However, much like humans, chimpanzees leave their groups once they reach sexual maturity to avoid inbreeding, which decreases the chance of creating offspring (De Waal 2001).  Adult chimpanzee males don’t typically stay with their relatives; instead, they are “opportunistic” in their relationships, looking to create advantageous alliances that will bring them power (De Waal 2001:24).  This does not mean that they live on their own for the rest of their lives, however; this simply means that they separate from their families.  Adult male chimpanzees, if they do not have a partner, will typically float around in a group of “bachelors”, where a sense of community is still prevalent.

Despite the variety of social behavior among primates, certain patterns are fairly consistent.

Among these are the overwhelming importance of sociality as a way of life, the long and intense parent- infant relationship (usually mother- infant bond), the role of social transmission and learning in behavioral development, the consistency of certain gestures and locomotory patterns, [etc.]   Few of these are entirely unique to primates, but collectively they form a primate way of life. The primates have built upon these common attributes and have achieved success through their facility for behavioral and social diversity. (Southwick 1974:405)

        One of the greatest advantages to living in a group is that, similar to humans, chimpanzees have are dependent on their mothers as infants for a long time.  The social structure of a group aids in childcare, freeing up a mother’s time to gather food for her young, as well as develop an important social relationship with other members of the group (Southwick 1974:400).  Chimpanzees learn how to behave and, most importantly, how to survive, by mirroring the behaviors of the other members of the group, not necessarily their parents.

In the middle- and upper-paleolithic hominids (which are, essentially, primates and “humans” that lived around 300,000 to 10,000 years ago), communities were also focused on the group dynamic, which helped them survive and care for each other.  Middle-paleolithic humans had “incentives to conserve energy and to organize themselves more effectively” (Shea 2007:465), which branching off to live in solitude prevented them from doing.  Participating in a group dynamic aided our ancestors in hunting, gathering, and aiding their offspring in the quickest, most efficient way.  It was very important to live as a group if one wanted to eat.  Most of the energy came from the plant foods that were gathered by women, rather than the meat obtained from hunting (Zihlman 1978).  This informs against the mainstream idea that cavemen were the individualistic, fend-for-yourself, be-a-hunter type; instead, they were most likely a part of a large group of people that shared their meat and plants together.  In fact, tools were a large part of australopithecine life, since they aided in gathering food quickly, which led to greater amounts of food at the end of the day, which meant more food to share.  Sharing meant survival.

    The Australopithecine (a species of hominin, closely related to Homo-sapiens, that lived around 5 million years ago) also preferred living in groups because it provided safety from predators, and protection for their offspring when they needed to leave a group site for hunting or gathering (Zihlman 1978:8). These “caretaker” positions were filled mostly by the brothers or sons of the females in the groups, which aided in their education of “socialization and care of the young, defense, obtaining meat, sharing food and, perhaps, collecting raw materials” (9).  Group living also provided safety from strife with other kin groups (Zihlman 1978).  Most importantly, however, it has been theorized that this tendency towards forming kin groups may have aided in human beings’ cognitive development, since it led to them developing “a more sophisticated communication system than that of their ape ancestors, with increasing use of eye and body movements, gestures and vocalizations, and more subtlety and flexibility in the messages given and received” (Zihlman 1978:11).  The kin group system aided in teaching offspring life skills and social interactions through mirroring, which arguably might have been more varied and enriched with larger kin groups.  

As the Middle-Paleolithic period came to a close, so did the practice of not sharing with those outside of a kin group.  H. erectus was developing an intricate level of community organization and cooperation, which was made possible through the social acts of hunting and gathering (Zihlman 1978).

These tendencies to survive as a group have spanned for millions of years, and H. sapiens was no different. Somewhere in the Victorian era, however, a push for independence came about, spearheaded by the “cult of domesticity” (Gillis 1997:30).  Victorian society, influenced by religion, wanted a “godly household”, where the patriarchy decided societal conventions, and a father “ruled over his wife and children”, living on their own, away from a community (Gillis 30).  In the United States, Protestantism gave way to social conventions that “championed individual choice, personal freedom, and self-actualization” (Oyserman 2002:4), undoubtedly inspired and connected to the spirit of living according to one’s own will that brought about the emancipation of the United States in the first place.  The consequences of these mindsets are being currently seen today, as much of Western society prefers an individualistic livelihood, as opposed to a collectivist one.

It is evident that nurture is more important than nature when studying primates:  “When we see complex behavior in primates we assume it's culture and not biology” (Schoenberg 2018).  By studying non-human primates, scientists are able to learn about any behavioral and, perhaps, biological similarities to their human counterparts.  “Affiliative” behavior (which relates to social and emotional bonds, and the means to create those bonds) is “social” behavior, and much of this affiliative behavior in non-human primates involves mirroring social structures from the members of the community they belong to.  The practice of grouping together into a social group is not an innate, automatic biological response within primates: it is a, for a lack of a better word, conscious choice that they make, and have continued to make, for centuries.

In our modern world, most human being beings do not face predators, they do not need to leave their homes on a daily basis to be able to feed themselves, and they don’t need to migrate as constantly as our hominin ancestors did.  Despite this, the modern equivalent of these struggles proves that there might be a need for community, after all.  The “nuclear family” household puts the sole responsibility of survival on two people.  Not to mention, the two-parent household also puts the sole responsibility of support, encouragement, and simply put, socialization, on one’s own partner.  The nuclear family ideal of the fifties encourages one person, the “provider”, to spend grueling hours at work, daily, to make enough money to feed one’s family, while the other, the “nurturer”, stays at home for childcare and housework.  The role of the disciplinarian varies.  In today’s society, the fact that it is now commonplace for both parents to be the providers is a step towards a good direction, since the role of the “nurturer” was mostly occupied by women; despite this, this simply means that now both people who are “in charge” of a family have less time to be with their children, with their close friendships (which most adults might find will begin to dwindle as they continue to age, and, most dramatically, with each other.

Half of Americans are lonely, and at least forty-three percent feel as though they are isolated from others (Cigna 2018).   Perhaps not completely surprising considering the modern idea of self-actualization and independence that has encouraged many people to do “what it takes” to get ahead, even it means isolating oneself from others.  Modern American society encourages that we do “other things with our time than create meaningful relationships of any depth with our friends and neighbors, our colleagues and coreligionists, the people with whom we work and play” (Gross 2003:5), which might correlate with the growing rates of depression in the United States.  “Individuals do not begin in a condition of isolation—to exist is to coexist. Birth, by nature, takes place within families including parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins” (Younkins 1998).  Although not as apparent and immediately urgent as the need for childcare while gathering food or fending off predators, a community is still a vital necessity for one’s own health today.

Excluding those who might need to flee the home they were raised in for safety, it is perhaps important to question why teenagers are pressured to leave their homes once they turn eighteen, and why that age was chosen as a mark of adulthood in the first place.  Sexual maturity is reached in a human’s early teens, and a human brain finishes fully developing somewhere around the twenty-second year.  It is perhaps important to question why married couples are expected to take on the role of each other’s sole friends and emotional needs providers, needs that are only meant to be met when the other has free time.

It is not an exclusively modern idea to find out who one’s own self is, and it is not a modern idea to take care of oneself, either.  While it may seem to more closely resemble the worldview of “collectivism”, a community might, in fact, be a combination of both, collectivism and individualism.  A community does not call for the stripping of personal rights or identity; it does not ask that one forgoes their personal goals and beliefs to fit in with the greater identity of a group.  Community is a group of individuals that seeks to be close and aid one another, and perhaps on a more personal level, push each other to grow.  The need for authority figures is debatable, but I cannot see how they are warranted if a community’s goal is to be harmonious and helpful to one another.  Perhaps one can compare community to the classic airplane safety guideline: “Secure your oxygen mask first before helping another.”  It is important to not adopt a group mentality and sacrifice our own individuality, but our personal goals and desires may be more easily met with the assistance of more than just ourselves.

Works Cited

“Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index.” (2008) Multivu, Retrieved from:

De Waal, Fransiscus B. M. (2001) , Tree Of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us About Human Social Evolution. Harvard University Press.

Gillis, John R. (1997) A World of Their Own Making Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values. Harvard University Press.

Gross, Rita M. (2003)  “Some Reflections about Community and Survival.” Buddhist-Christian Studies, vol. 23, pp. 3–19.

Moore, Robert L. (2005) “Generation Ku: Individualism and China's Millennial Youth.” Ethnology, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 357–376.

O'Neil, Dennis, 2012 "Primate Behavior" Biological Anthropology Tutorials 8/22/16

Homosexuality Within Humans and Animals

By Nicole Smith

Throughout human history, the concept of homosexuality has been condemned within many societies. There are some countries that ban gay marriage and any failure to comply may result in imprisonment or even death. For quite some time members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer+ (LGBTQ+) community have been forced to hide their identity for their own safety. Because homosexuality has not been widely accepted until recently, there has been limited studies on homosexuality occurring in animal species of all kinds. The book Evolution’s Rainbow by Joan Roughgarden is an honest dissertation on the science behind sexuality and gender across animals and humans. There are many perspectives given, including a biological perspective, a psychological perspective and a sociological perspective which all aid in determining the sex, gender and sexual orientation of a species. Roughgarden challenges the Darwinian theory of sexual selection offering her own theory that places emphasis on social inclusion along with the control of access to resources and mating opportunity. Additionally, she disputes the widely accepted study of the “gay gene” by scientists Dean Hamer and Angela Pattatucci, arguing that their methods were faulty and overall showed no conclusive evidence of the presence of a gay gene. Roughgarden’s expertise as a trans gay woman and biological evolutionist has allowed her to extensively explore the world of sex and gender from a personal perspective, fighting notions of homophobic scientific studies. The topic up for debate is whether or not homosexuality is common and normal amongst animals just as it is within countless of human societies.

Scientist Charles Darwin is known for his biological evolution theory which essentially states that evolution occurs by a process called natural selection, where species develop through variations that increase their chances of survival. His sexual selection theory states that males and females act accordingly in ways that are meant solely for reproductive purposes, choosing mates that are best fit to carry desirable traits within their offspring.

Darwin’s argument on sexual selection leaves Roughgarden skeptical, she along with many other scientists have shown how there have been numerous incidents of animal encounters that disprove his assumption. His assertion trivializes any theory that suggests the existence of homosexuality within animals and the benefits it can bring. There are a myriad of occasions where same sex pairings have been utilized as an evolutionary advantage to pass down desirable traits. Studies on various animals ranging from non-human primates to dolphins to insects and birds have all shown homosexuality to be a common phenomenon in mating practices. Homosexual relations aid in the desire for sexual pleasure, social promotion and the transmission of genes to future offspring. Despite Darwin’s claims against homosexuality it is a significant practice that strengthens bonds between species and is important for evolution.

One major factor in motives for homosexual mounting applies to the concept of affiliative behavior, where an animal’s place on a social hierarchy is risen to a higher status (Schoenberg 2018). Primates such as bonobos and Japanese macaques use this technique to solidify social bonds. Japanese macaques are a distinct primate that have a dominance hierarchy of females. Roughgarden explains that they have multiple levels and the females inherit their rank from their mother. However those that are born later in the lineage are viewed as lower ranked. Even if their grandmothers vouch for them to be considered a part of the higher rank that they occupy it isn’t convincing enough to the rest of the macaques. Ultimately the status of the granddaughter is challenged, she must justify why she deserves such high status.

Lesbian mounting is formally called female-female consorts, these are only short-term relationships that can last anywhere from less than one hour to four days. Even when these females are not engaging in sex they still sleep, huddle, and forage together in addition to defending one another (Roughgarden 143). By copulating with females of a higher status, lower ranking females are able to secure more respect from those within that rank.

Aside from the social advantage of homosexuality, insects have proved there is an evolutionary advantage for same-sex copulation. Male fruit flies have been able to use sexual-dimorphism in their favor; they copulate with both sexes in order to recognize the different smells of each sex, especially those of virgin females. Differentiating the females is important because these different pheromone blends indicate which flies would be the most optimal for viable offspring. For male flour beetles, they mount one another and deposit sperm. The male carrying the sperm has the potential to transfer it to another female that he pairs with, allowing him to fertilize her without doing any work in courting her (Hogenboom 2015).

Passing down DNA for other species such as the female Laysan albatross use males to transfer desirable traits to their offspring. Usually the parents who raise a chick are male-female pairings, two parents are vital for successfully raising a chick. The two parents don’t necessarily have to be male and female, sometimes the females choose to pair with another female. “...In one population on the island of Oahu, 31% of the pairings are made up of two unrelated females.” (Hogenboom 2015) These female couples then raise their chick and maintain lifelong monogamy. These females are not inherently homosexual however, the island they occupy has a higher population of females making it difficult to find a male partner.

Of all the species described none have proven to be exclusively homosexual. It would be better to describe them as bisexual because they often mate with the opposite sex as well. The only true homosexuals that have partners comparable to humans are the domesticated sheep. Data from neuro studies on sheep’s found that homosexual males had slightly different brains than heterosexual males. The hypothalamus, known for releasing sex hormones, was smaller in the brains of the homosexual males. In comparison to humans, similar differences in brain structure were discovered in homosexual and heterosexual men by Simon LeVay in the early 1990s. For sheep “...up to 8% of the males prefer other males even when fertile females are around.” The explanation for this lies in the farmers’ careful breeding to “...produce females that reproduce as often as possible, which might have given rise to the homosexual males.” (Hogenboom 2015). Can these sheep be accounted for when considering the natural occurrence of homosexuality in nature? If they are bred in such a way that promotes homosexuality perhaps not, but it does not negate their sexuality! Homosexual relationships are normal across all species, including humans who are more complex and have invented terms to identify with; Gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, demi sexual, and asexual are just a few to name but only one sexuality has been thoroughly tested among humans- homosexual men.

Being gay does not strictly rely on one’s genetic makeup, however genes do play a role in determining one’s sexuality. Several studies have been conducted on primarily homosexual men that have found specific regions on the X chromosome, leading them to believe that there may be a “gay gene.” Further analysis into the families of these men have shown striking similarities between their siblings’ DNA, also showing ties to how their mothers and family’s genes plays a big part in the gay gene. It has been disputed that there is not one specific gay gene, but sexual orientation is still linked to genetics. Every person has a “gay gene”, which means they have the potential to be any other sexuality besides heterosexual. A basis of this theory is from a famous study conducted in the 1990s which showed how gay men have a higher number of homosexual relatives. It found links in the relation between gay men and lesbian women and their high probability of having a sibling who is also gay or lesbian, thereby supporting the notion that homosexuality is genetic.

Homosexual scientists Dean Hamer and Angela Pattatucci conducted said study in 1993, where the genes of brothers underwent tests that looked at the X chromosome. The X chromosome is a part of a person’s DNA that determines one’s biological sex. The mother gives her X chromosome and the father gives his X or Y chromosome; by the process of meiosis cell division the chromosome combination XX produces a female and the XY chromosome combination produces a male (Szalay 2017).

Hamer and Pattatucci, whom Roughgarden shortens to “HP”, posed the question, “do gay brothers share the same X chromosome 100 percent of the time, or do gay brothers share X chromosomes at random (50 percent of the time)? A finding of 100 percent would mean the X chromosome was needed for brothers to be gay.” (Roughgarden 252) A specific region on the X chromosome labelled Xq28 was examined and out of 40 pairs of brothers only 33 shared this section while 7 pairs did not. Roughgarden states that if there was in fact a specific gay gene then all pairs would have had Xq28. She speculates that the reason for the classification of a gay gene was due to reasons of public policy. Homophobic ideologies have tried to spout false notions that gayness is a matter of choice. Genetics do play a factor in determining sexuality but there is not one specific gene that accounts for it and environment lends a much bigger role in shaping one’s sexuality.

Humans and animals alike have sexualities in common with one another, some for practical reasons like climbing the social hierarchy ladder for personal gain. Monogamous relationships also occur in animals as well, providing a strong foundation for raising a family, thereby proving male-female pairings aren’t necessary for a child’s development. Insects have proven that evolutionary benefits come with same-sex mating where favorable traits are transferred from one mate to another of the opposite sex. Roughgarden’s drive for normalizing homosexuality and its natural occurrence within nature is inspiring. She disputes many widely accepted theories, using her platform to serve as a progressive model for the work that needs to be done in science. Using science to diminish people of the LGBTQ+ community to a gay gene is repulsive, and with Evolution’s Rainbow Roughgarden has provided concrete evidence proving that homosexuality is common across all species of nature, including humans.

Works Cited

AsapSCIENCE. "Does Everybody Have A Gay Gene?" YouTube. July 27, 2017. Accessed October 11, 2018.

Bagemihl, Bruce, and John Megahan. Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. New York: St. Martins Press, 2000.

Hogenboom, Melissa. "Earth - Are There Any Homosexual Animals?" BBC News. February 06, 2015. Accessed December 13, 2018.

Roughgarden, Joan. Evolutions Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2013.

Sample, Ian. "Male Sexual Orientation Influenced by Genes, Study Shows." The Guardian. February 14, 2014. Accessed October 11, 2018.

Schoenberg, Arnie. "Introduction to Physical Anthropology." Arnie Schoenberg. 2018. Accessed December 23, 2018.

Szalay, Jessie. "Chromosomes: Definition & Structure." LiveScience. December 08, 2017. Accessed December 26, 2018.

Human Embryo Editing Race

By Robyn Bolden

People are aware of the arms and space race that exists as a competition among nations with respect to their accomplishments in those fields. However, there is another race, an important but less understood race that people are just now becoming more aware of, the human embryo editing race that started in the late 1960s to the current date. Even though the race is in its infancy stage and filled with uncertainty, a lot of nations are making claims to be the first to successfully edit embryos. The race consists of in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and gene editing. The embryo editing race is handled with care because of all the controversy and moral stresses.  Another concern is how to police, govern, monitor editing to hold scientists accountable for their experiments by setting limits, rules, guidelines, regulations to science that seems to be filled with questions regarding the outcome of such editing. Because of how DNA is passed down through generations, the fear is that the effect of edits could also be passed down through generations not knowing if the edit will cause worse or different mutations that could also be passed down to babies and their babies. There is also the fear that scientists will misuse the technology for the wrong reasons like editing germline cells that get passed down through the generations altering significant traits of a family tree like the nose that belonged to your great grandpa that keeps on reappearing generation after generation.

According to an article published by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH) it states that” “the first genome editing technologies were developed in the late 1900s. Editing is a method that lets scientists change the DNA of many organisms, including plants, bacteria, animals, and humans. Editing DNA can lead to changes in physical traits, like eye color, and disease risk.” Proper ethical standards are very high on the list of appropriate behavior expected from every scientist involved with any and or all phases of the editing process.  According the NIH “as of 2014, there were about 40 countries that discouraged or banned research on germline editing, including 15 nations in Western Europe, because of ethical and safety concerns. There is also an international effort led by the US, UK, and China to harmonize regulation of the application of genome editing. People have moral and religious objections to the use of human embryos for research.”

Jennifer Downer pioneer of CRISPR a DNA editing tool talks about a dream she had. A dream that has Hitler asking her how CRISPR works. Embryo editing in the wrong hands could very easily be used to pick up where Hitler left off in his attempt at creating a master race. CRISPR  is simpler, quicker, less expensive and more accurate than older editing methods.  CRISPR was made available to scientists in 2009, but it's not perfect. It can cut the DNA in the wrong spots, making scientists unsure what the outcome will be because of a wrong cut during editing or a correct cut, it's very uncertain of what the outcome will be when gene editing is done.

A major push forward, behind embryo editing is the potential possibility that scientists can potentially repair a disease-causing gene in a human embryo in efforts to get rid of genetic disposition (Jocelyn Kaiser,2017), she meant that gene editing is important because babies can potentially be cured from disease.  The article titled, “us US panel gives yellow light to human embryo editing,”  by Jocelyn Kaiser, published on science magazine it states that “Embryo editing is the altering of genes and cells that are passed down from parents to their offspring.” Embryo editing has plenty of opposition because of the possibility of designer babies being created or CRISPR designer babies. Kaiser explains in the article,” that if both parents carry the same disease editing can be carried out.” The chances of the baby being passed down the disease are significantly higher because the offspring would receive two copies of the mutation vs if only one parent was a carrier of the disease.  

Embryo editing has significant statistics that make it a worthwhile goal,  as explained by Arnie Schoenberg 2018:

Without embryo editing statistics show that 25% of children will be normal, 50% of children will be carriers and 25% of children will be born with a disease passed down from parent to baby if both parents are carriers. Also that if it’s a dormant trait, then there are no carriers only one parent needs a single copy to be affected and half the kids will get the trait. If one parent carries the trait only 50% of the offspring will carry the trait. Genetic mutations changed by editing can cause the the genealogy to change in peoples future offspring[ Arnie Schoenberg,2018,Introduction to Physical Anthropology]

A good example of an embryo or gene editing gone bad as explained by John Oliver who is a comedian is the latest movie by Dwayne Johnson, “Rampage” where the wolf and gorilla are changed genetically for the worse. Kaiser also explains how,” in the US federal funding cannot be used to conduct these experiments because of a congressional prohibition on using taxpayers dollars for research that destroys human embryos. Congress has also banned the FDA from considering a clinical trial of embryo editing. Clinical trials are already happening for HIV, Hemophilia, and Leukemia.” Tedious research is expected as embryo editing continues to move forward because this science is expected to change the way we treat diseases.

Science News published September 23, 2016, by Tina Hesman Saey raises awareness that” scientist is probably doing their experiments behind closed doors and are reluctant to open up the doors to their labs for public scrutiny. Researchers in Sweden have begun editing genes in viable early human embryos.”  There is definitely a tippy toe approach to embryo editing because no one wants the public to panic. Any news about embryo editing is presented in a low key manner. Unlike daily news and updates, this topic is treated with much more sensitivity.

Wikipedia states that” Genetic engineering as the direct transfer of DNA from one organism to another was first done by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1972. Paul Berg in 1972 created the first recombinant DNA molecule when he combined DNA from a monkey virus with that of the lambda virus. The first genetically modified animal was a mouse created in 1974 by Rudolf Jaenisch. In 1983 an antibiotic-resistant gene was inserted into tobacco, leading to the first genetically engineered plant.”

The book,” experiments in democracy,” by J. Benjamin Hurlbut discusses:

How the first IVF child was conceived outside her mother’s body and born on July 25, 1978  at the Royal Oldham Hospital, Oldham, United KIngdom. Louise Brown is currently 40 years old and was the famous test tube baby. In 1981 Elizabeth Jordan was the first baby born from IVF in the united states. Screening IVF embryos before implanting them makes it possible to prevent offspring from inherit diseases. Some risks are that the gene does not happen until after the fertilized egg starts to divide[ J. Benjamin Hurlbut, 2016, experiments in democracy].

The human embryo editing race is ongoing but China announced on November 26, 2018, the world's first two babies being born as a result of a CRISPR experiment. “The goal of the experiment was to create children that are immune to HIV,” according to He Jiankui. Published Mom is not an HIV carrier while dad is a controlled HIV carrier. It’s uncertain if editing will help future children and it has not yet been reviewed or verified. This experiment is being looked at as unethical because it exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real benefit. The sperm of the dad was washed to remove HIV and then injected into eggs removed from the mom. The biologists who use CRISPR gene editing think that it’s too early to use it for editing human embryos because it’s still not known if it is safe. Still at the trial and error phase of the process. There is another pregnancy in China because of the CRISPR experiment. There are questions about ethics and safety regarding the risks that CRISPR could cause unplanned, harmful mutations somewhere else in the genome.

On August 27, 2017, Shoukhrat Mitalipov at Oregon Health and science university and his colleagues used CRISPR to target a genetic mutation that causes thickening of the heart wall. This disorder can lead to heart failure and is often the cause of the sudden death of apparently healthy young athletes. Fredrik Lanner of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, points out that,” even though the experiment involved thorough analysis, it is hard to be sure that the treatment did not impact genes they did not look at.”  Embryo editing is on a global platform.

J.Benjamin Hurlbut book, “Experiments in Democracy,”  also discusses:

How americans struggle to understand the moral position of the human embryo in regards to its experimental use, potential benefits and how to deal with the split public understanding. It also  explains the argument over human embryo research to this current date along with the organizations that keep a watchful eye on the ethics behind the challenges facing the science of embryo editing such as the participants of the International Summit on Human Gene Editing and the National Bioethics Advisory Board Commission created by executive order of President Clinton on October 3, 1995. Also discussed is how scientist, bioethicists, policymakers, and other public figures are trying to comprehend the complexity surrounding embryo editing. There’s a difficult relationship between science and democracy when it involves challenging new scientific breakthroughs like embryo editing. Embryo editing is one of the most important scientific research controversies in the history of the world because it deals with eradicating diseases before birth. The book also discusses human cloning and the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep. As a result of that successful cloning other animals have also been cloned like a cow, dog, cat, cattle, deer, horse and mule. The possibilities and negative consequences of cloning are abundant. The bioethics arguments began when Louise Brown became the first human to be born from artificial fertilization or In Vitro Fertilization(IVF).

Hurlbut writes in his introduction,’’ displaced from the embodied process of procreation, it emerged as an isolated entity of uncertain moral statue.” Hurlbut states,” in time it became a material input in biological research and a site of production from which were ushered other biological entities of ambiguous moral significance.” As Hurlbut points out,” American democracy’s efforts to devise new ways to evaluate and govern its technological future.” It is  so important for the application of embryo editing to be successful that all moral, ethical, social and governing issues regarding  the arguments about research involving human embryo, human embryonic stem cells, and related topics be fully examined, studied, researched and applied technology be perfected to ensure positive outcomes when embryos are edited.”

The book also discusses the importance of Proposition 71 California stem cell research and cures act of  2004. It is a law enacted by voters to support stem cell research in the state. The act makes researching stem cells a state constitutional right giving priority to human embryonic stem cell research. The proposition created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which is in charge of making grants and loans for stem cell research.

This article is an eye-opener because Jocelyn Kaiser explains:

An international committee summoned by US National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine in Washington D.C. stated that a clinical trial might be permitted for embryo editing. Mark Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for genetics and society in Berkeley Ca is very much against embryo editing due to his fear of misusing the technology for the wrong reasons. Embryo editing is an attempt by scientist to repair a disease causing gene in a human embryo in efforts to eradicate genetic dispositions. Only under special circumstances would a procedure be allowed to couples with serious genetic diseases. Embryo editing is the altering of genes and cells that are passed down from parents to their offspring. Many people are against embryo editing because they are against the possibility of designer babies being created

The importance of this article is that it makes relevant the several concerns scientist and the public have when it involves human embryo editing and the ethics behind this life changing science.

        Benjamin Hurlbut is an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State

University.Hurlbut. J. Benjamin, “Experiments in Democracy,” book, Columbia University Press, New York (2017)

This book discusses the ongoing debate about human embryo editing research. The moral, ethical perspective that scientists and the public deal with as research continues. This book is amazing because it really discusses the good and bad issues involved with embryo editing. This book is crucial to my work because it gives me so much information on editing based on research. Hurlbut asks the tough question,” how can the public better understand and accept this science and technology that affects the fundamental dimensions and complexity of human life.

The pros and cons of embryo editing as of today is that there are more cons because of the high level of uncertainty when it involves cutting of genes correctly or incorrectly because it's just not known either way if the edit will be successful. Within 20 years CRISPER or the latest technology along with all the uncertainty involving editing will be upgrades and perfected. As for now science must stay the course, be patient, continue to improve its procedures and understanding by trial and error when waiting for results. Science will get it right, it's just going to take time for the evolution of the embryo editing science to come full circle and truly be beneficial for mankind. Everything improves with time. The world is watching closely as embryo editing is a global issue that can no longer be ignored or underappreciated. Eventually, embryo editing will be as commonplace as it is when going to the DR. for a checkup.

Embryo editing is for eradicating genetic dispositions like down syndrome not to give babies desirable traits.

Works Cited

“experiments in democracy,” by J. Benjamin Hurlbut, columbia university press, 2017

“US  panel gives yellow light to human embryo editing,” by Jocelyn Kaiser,

“ new era of human embryo gene editing begins,” by, Tina Hesman Saey, magazine issue: vol. 190, no 9. October 29, 2016, pg 15

Arnie Schoenberg,”intro to physical anthropology”, published August 31, 2017 published August 27, 2017

Wikipedia, genetically modified organisms,

Wikipedia, proposition 71

Human Necessity of “role models” for proper development: An examination of human’s comparative helplessness at birth to adulthood

By Leila Firestone

        Isolated and abused for 13 years, Genie shocked the world when she was discovered. The Guardian described the case as “one of the US’s worst cases of child abuse” (Carroll). She was called a “feral child”, or wild child because she looked and acted as if she was raised by wild animals. Genie spent her childhood confined to her room in a straightjacket. She was never spoken to and was denied basic needs. When Genie was discovered, researchers were itching to work with her. It was the perfect opportunity to study critical periods in human development to learn particular skills. Could Genie be “taught” to be human? Was it too late?

        Genie is an example of what humans would be like with limited human interaction during the most important stages of life. We can conclude from her story that human offspring are very dependent on a human role model for proper development, maybe more so than other species are dependent on their parents. Newborn chimps can grip their mother’s back and baby giraffes can walk within an hour of birth. Some animals never see their parents at all, let alone any other adult member of their species. Sea turtles leave their eggs buried at the beach and hatchlings know they have to immediately make their way to the ocean if they want to have any chance of survival. Labord’s chameleons hatch after their parents have passed away altogether and grow up in remote areas in Madagascar without any guidance from other adult chameleons (Langley).

Although these animals do not have the sociocultural complexity and intelligence that humans do, they seem to be able to take care of themselves relatively well at birth. Maybe these animals have a gene that carries the “instructions” on how to be their respective species, one that dictates how much pre-programmed information and capabilities the species has at birth. Why are humans so behind and what does it reveal about human evolution? This paper will attempt to stitch together the theories for human helplessness to obtain a holistic view of what seems like an evolutionary hiccup.

        Genie is not the only case of a feral child who was studied to understand human development. Part I of Feral Children and Clever Animals centers around examples of feral children who were raised without parents. In 1724 on a German farm, a wild child who moved and behaved like an animal made his way into the fields. He could not talk, was disinterested in sexual behavior, and ate enough for two men. Later named Peter, his exact story is not known, but it can be assumed that he was abandoned and spent most of his childhood alone in the woods. The rest of the section addresses the issue of determining which behavior was learned and which was innate, describing it a “logical confusion between genetic and experiential agents as causes of behavior” (Candland, 17). This conflict centers around the concept of tabula rasa, or blank slate, which was first brought up by Aristotle. He believed humans were born without any knowledge and that everything is learned. In Aristotle’s view, genetics plays little to no part in acquiring knowledge. Peter was a perfect example for supporters of the blank slate theory because none of his behavior was innately “human”. Thus, all of his characteristics and behavior must stem from the environment around him.

        Many of the other cases of feral children were described similarly as “affected with spasmodic movements, and often convulsions, who swayed back and forth ceaselessly like certain animals in a zoo, who bit and scratched... who showed no affection for those who took care of him; and who was, in short, indifferent to everything and attentive to nothing”(Candland, 20). These were the words of Dr. Itard who studied the case of Victor in an attempt to socialize him to normal standards of the time, about 80 years after Peter’s discovery. During his research, he found that certain skills were either difficult or impossible to teach to this older child. Itard concluded “ if such activities do not appear during a particular period in human development, such interest and ability are forever lost or stunted”(Candland, 26). In other words, humans need to be taught certain skills at critical periods during childhood from a parent. If there is no parent around, the window of opportunity closes and some abilities, such as the ability to learn a language, will be lost. Fast forward to the 1970s, the researchers that worked with Genie tried to prove this theory wrong. Remarkably, Genie learned a few words, could communicate her needs through pictures and did well on intelligence tests (Carroll).

        Regardless of whether or not certain skills can be taught after critical periods of development, cases like Genie, Peter, and Victor are perfect examples of the human necessity of a role model. What does this mean for human evolution? Natural selection must have favored smarter parents who could care for their offspring and teach them all the necessary skills. While all the feral children survived, it is unlikely that any would have been able to have children of their own and pass on their genes. Consequently, humans beings evolved to be born like a tabula rasa, able to soak up all the information taught by a competent parent. This theory appears to be consistent since the cases that were almost 200 years ago are eerily similar to how Genie was discovered. They by no means reached the level of human intelligence they could have obtained if they had been raised by humans, but what does it mean to be intelligent?

        The text brings up a good point in that there is a challenge in judging “animal intelligence” and defining criteria for intelligence. Part III of Feral Children and Clever Animals talks about a “metaphorical ladder of structure, a hierarchy of species based on physical traits”, but applies this concept to a hierarchy of intelligence (Candland, 191).

1. Nineteenth century “mental ladder”, with products of intellectual development on the left and the psychological scale on the rightA table enumerating consciousness. 28; Indefinite morality; Anthropoid Apes and Dog. 27; Use of tools; Monkeys and Elephant. 26; Understanding of mechanisms; Carnivora, Rodents, and Ruminants. 25; Recognition of pictures, understanding of words, dreaming; Birds. 23; Recognition of persons; Reptiles and Cephalopods. 22; Reason; Higher Crustacea. 21; Associattion by similarity; Fish and Barrachia. 20; Recognition of offspring, secondary instincts; Insects and Spiders. 19, Association by contiguity, Mollusca. 18, Primary instincts, Larvae of INsects, Annelida. 17, Memory, Echinodermata. 16, Pleasures and pains. 15, Coelenterata. 15. 12. 11, Partly nervous adjustments, Unknow animals, probably Coelenterata, perhaps extinct. 10. 9. 8. 7, Non-nervous adjustments, Unicellualar organisms. 6. 5. 4. 3, Protoplasmic movements, Protoplasmic organisms.

        The reason human helplessness at birth is so puzzling is that humans are seen to be at the top of the intellectual food chain, but humans do not have their own category in the chart presented. This may be because the “mental opposable thumb” had not been found and there was no way to find one phrase to distinguish humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. According to many nineteenth-century thinkers like Darwin, humans have more than basic pleasures and pains, indefinite morality, recognition, and tool use. The chart below demonstrates the idea that humans are born with primal intelligence closer to the bottom of the mental ladder and develop a complex level of emotions as they grow older.

2. The mental ladder of emotions for humans from birth to 15 monthsChart enumerating age and emotions. Birth. 1 week. 3 weeks: Surprise, fear. 7 weeks: Sexual emotions without sexual selection. 10 weeks: Parental affection, social feelings, sexual selection, pugnacity, industry, curiosity. 12 weeks: Jealousy, anger, play. 14 weeks: Affection. 4 months. 5 months: Sympathy. 8 months: Emulation, pride, resentment, aesthetic love of onament, terror. 10 months: Greif, hate, cruelty, benevolence. 12 months: Revenge, rage. 15 months: Shame, remorse, deceitfulness, ludicrous.

        From the extensive analysis of the importance of emotions in the text, the author concludes that this ability defines humanity and may be related to human intelligence. The rapid development in emotions within the first year supports the malleability theory of the infant's brain by demonstrating how underdeveloped humans are born.

The logical next step in studying the development-role model relationship is to look at humanity’s closest living relatives. From 1930 to 1932, the Kellogg family raised a chimpanzee baby, Gua, alongside their son, Donald. In this case, there is a nonhuman role model for the human baby and vice versa, a non-chimpanzee role model for the chimp. More importantly, the study was a comparison of the rates of development in different areas at one year of age: “[Gua] possesses the learning and mental capacity of a year old child, the agility of a four-year-old, and strength which in some ways probably surpasses that of an 8- year old” (Candland, 273). Gua began to adopt bipedalism, show disinterest for meat and had similar play styles to human children. In certain memory and problem-solving tasks, Gua even outperformed Donald. This data should not be taken at face value because it “appears to have been presented merely because they were collected, not because they speak to some useful interpretation”(Candland, 286).. Additionally, the Kellogg's were not scientists, and bias towards their own child may be an issue. Though this type of research may be unethical today, the comparative development shows that Gua learned much more quickly than a human baby. The study demonstrated that chimpanzees also possess a level of malleability at birth because of many human characteristics she displayed like walking, wanting to sleep in a bed, and limited understanding of human language.

        There has been ample evidence that humans who are not raised with human parents live very different lives, but what factors led to human comparative helplessness at birth? An article posted on Scientific American titled “Why Humans Give Birth to Helpless Babies” sheds some light on the question. These questions about human nature are not new. Darwin’s Origin of the Species is a perfect example of igniting human curiosity to use scientific methods to discover where we came from and why we are the way we are. A question that has puzzled many is the cause of human intelligence. Humans have developed a complex social structure with culture, traditions, and a spoken language. It is perfectly reasonable to suggest looking for the answer in a characteristic that differentiates humans from the majority of the animal kingdom: bipedalism. As human beings evolved, the skeletal structure evolved with them to accommodate walking on two legs

        Lucy’s was one famous discovery of an australopithecine skeleton that was evidence for evolution into the hominid species. The wide pelvis and angled thigh bones bring “the feet in line with the body’s center of gravity and creates stability while walking” (Wayman). Bipedalism aided early hominins in the changing environments of Africa. Grasslands favored this method of locomotion to better see predators and travel more efficiently. This adaptation also offered other advantages such as the ability to use and carry tools. Looking to bipedalism is a reasonable starting point in looking at why humans are born unable to take care of themselves; however, the article in question attempts to debunk this reasoning. It aims to show two alternatives to the pelvic limitation theory. The first theory centers on the metabolic limitations of the mother and the other on more cognitive theory.

        To show that researchers can not only look at bipedalism as a cause for human dependence on role models, the article cites the findings of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Rhode Island who were seeking the truth of the “obstetrical dilemma hypothesis”. First, the article discredits bipedalism as a leading cause by claiming that “ to accommodate an infant at a chimplike stage of brain development...the pelvic inlet would only have to expand by three centimeters on average”(Wong). There are women today with pelvic inlets that wide whose movement is not affected. These findings show that there are other factors that explain this phenomenon. The first hypothesis is that the mother cannot support the baby in the womb for longer than the human gestation period. Pregnancy takes a lot of energy and resources away from the mother. Dunsworth and colleagues at the University of Rhode Island conducted studies to quantify the “metabolic burden” in calories. Relating it to physical anthropology and evolution, carrying around a baby for much longer would hinder the mother’s survival. This hypothesis has supporting data, however, it still does not explain why humans are comparatively born undeveloped. If there are physical limitations then primate ancestors would also exhibit the same traits.

        The author sought out a second opinion from paleoanthropologist Karen Rosenberg, who brings up a second alternative to the pelvis theory: “ the possibility that the timing of birth actually optimizes cognitive and motor neuronal development”. According to the article, human brain size doubles within the first year of life. Unlike other animals that are born more developed, this indicates that babies continue to develop and learn about the world outside of the womb, taking advantage of neuroplasticity since they are not fully developed. Encyclopedia Britannica defines neuroplasticity as the capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction” (Rugnetta). When humans are born, there are very few connections, thus making learning much easier and faster. Although the study between Gua and Donald showed otherwise, had the study gone on for longer than the first 2 years of life, Donald would have eventually surpassed Gua’s capabilities.

Overall, it is not contested that physically “humans are comparatively underdeveloped compared to primates”, but the evolutionary cause has many theories. The previous article discussed physical limitation theories and hinted at an alternative theory centered on learning quickly and efficiently with a parent. How did this occur evolutionarily? Maria Konnikova writes on possible explanations in her article “Why Are Babies So Dumb If Humans Are So Smart?”. The article posted by The New Yorker also discusses the physical limitations of live births in mammals but focuses on the idea that “increased helplessness in newborns mandates increased intelligence in parents”. Konnikova cites a study conducted by Kidd and Piantadosi from the University of Rochester on learning in children further proving the difference in intelligence level between toddlers and babies. This led to their paper about the “causal pathway” of human helplessness to intelligence because “natural selection favors humans with large brains because those humans tend to be smarter”(Konnikova). They attribute this to the amount of time weaned at birth. According to the article, primate species who spend more time with the parent are more intelligent than those who spent less weaning time. Extending their interpretations to humans, children who spend more time with their parents will likely be more intelligent by their sociocultural standards because they have more experiences and observations to learn from. In fact, in 1978 a study found that education of the mother was linked to mortality rates. The article suggests that those born to smarter parents are more likely to survive and carry on the genes because smarter parents can find a wider variety of food sources to support brain development. However, this relationship is merely correlational because there may be a lingering variable of economic status and availability of resources to the mother, which would affect access to education. Nevertheless, this relationship is intriguing and offers an explanation of how humans evolved to be very intelligent. Intelligence was obviously a favored adaptation in the harsh environments of early human history.

These studies have shown the physical and cognitive theories that paved the way to human intelligence, but does human intelligence remain unchallenged? In an age where artificial intelligence is becoming more and more prevalent in our daily lives, it is valuable to look at the similarities between these machines and the mind. Many might disagree that the study of computers, computer science, and the brain are interrelated, but the theories that have been described are analogous to programming a computer. Evidently, the articles are similar in the idea that humans optimize learning when born underdeveloped. They demonstrate possible relationships between gestation periods, time spent rearing offspring, and cultural complexity of the species. A complex computer with fewer pre-loaded programs will need more time spent programming and training it; however, it also leaves more opportunity to program it in more unique combinations. On the other hand, chips that are less complicated and specialized, such as a microcontroller, have less room for programming or learning. The connection may seem far-fetched but the brain is simply a network of neurons, “trained” by the environment to respond in ways that will maximize performance, which in this case is survival. The training will depend on who programmed it, which is why humans vary so much in behaviors and habits cross-culturally.

This relationship to computers and devices gives insight into how humans are biologically wired for survival. In conjunction with paleoanthropology, which studies how humans came to be the way they are by means of evolution, the conclusion is that helplessness at birth is to optimize the time we have to learn and expand our brains. This makes humans different than primates because primates are born more cognitively developed at birth, which leaves less opportunity for learning as modern humans do. Consequently, more time spent learning during childhood may have motivated encephalization in humans, discussed in section 6.1.2 of Introduction to Physical Anthropology by Schoenberg. Although there are exceptions, “both the absolute and the relative brain volume tends to grow as time goes on with hominid evolution”. Relating anthropology to neuroscience and creating neural connections, this makes sense. Parts of the brain grow in size with usage. Over time, continued tool use, development of language, art, complex culture, probably increased the size of the brain. Only those born “underdeveloped” were able to make connections to that extent. Even Peter, the feral child, was programmed by his environment, though maybe not to its full potential of human processing power. Sometimes all it takes to understand humans is to build a machine to behave like one.

Works Cited

Candland, Douglas Keith. Feral Children and Clever Animals. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Carroll, Rory. "Starved, Tortured, Forgotten: Genie, the Feral Child Who Left a Mark on Researchers." The Guardian. July 14, 2016. Accessed November 24, 2018.

Konnikova, Maria. "Why Are Babies So Dumb If Humans Are So Smart?" The New Yorker.

September 7, 2016. Accessed October 29, 2018.

Langley, Liz. "Go, Baby! These Animal Babies Grow Up Without Any Help From Parents." National Geographic. September 12, 2017. Accessed November 24, 2018.

Rugnetta, Michael. "Neuroplasticity." Encyclopædia Britannica. May 30, 2018. Accessed November 25, 2018.

Schoenberg, Arnie. “Introduction to Physical Anthropology. Arnie Schoenberg. October 24, 2018. Accessed October 28, 2018.

Wayman, Erin. "Becoming Human: The Evolution of Walking Upright."

August 06, 2012. Accessed November 25, 2018.

Wong, Kate. "Why Humans Give Birth to Helpless Babies." Scientific American Blog Network.

August 28, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2018.


  1. From Feral Children and Clever Animals, page 213
  2. From Feral Children and Clever Animals, page 216
  3. From O'Neil, Dennis. "Analysis of Early Hominins." Evolution of Modern Humans: Early Modern Human Culture. Accessed November 25, 2018.

Pride By the Sea: A Growing Culture in North County San Diego

By Ryan Francis

        There are so many different aspects of cultural anthropology because there are so many different types of cultures and subcultures that are forever changing and evolving. In the text Perspectives, the editors combine their understandings of cultural anthropology using various articles and authors to create a text that they believe best describes cultural anthropology. Chapter 1: The Development of Anthropological Ideas by Laura Nader, defines culture as the “complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Nader 2).  I attended the event Pride by the Sea in order to gain insight into a culture whose beliefs, morals, and customs were new to me. The culture I was observing strived for acceptance, collectivism, and spreading awareness. The LGBTQ culture was a fun, flamboyant and completely new culture.

    The event was on October 13th, 2018 and lasted from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. It was a celebration of the LGBTQ community in North County San Diego. It takes place in downtown Oceanside all over the streets, some are even blocked off so vendors can set-up their tents or so groups can march. Numerous types of vendors and organizations were in attendance all with tents set-up with brochures, pictures, items for sale, or food depending on the type of organization. The Oceanside Police Department had a tent set-up as well, although not for protection, but rather for support. There were also plenty of other tents including a suicide prevention tent, planned parenthood, health clinics, countless food vendors, various LGBTQ support groups, two full stages with various musical artists playing, political support groups (especially with the upcoming elections), and many others. Oceanside City Council members were there to show their support. It was one big, huge celebration. The LGBTQ culture is one that I was not super familiar with and it was a great experience submerging myself into an event as big as this one. I was in the midst of what it felt like to be a member of the LGBTQ community. There were colors, celebrating, rallying, camaraderie, and an overall sense of love and acceptance; something that there does not seem to be enough of in our society today. There are 2 main chapters from the Perspectives text I will be referencing throughout my paper. The first is Chapter 3: Doing Fieldwork by Katie Nelson, and the second is Chapter 10: Gender and Sexuality by Carol Mukhopadhyay. Both of these chapters highlight key points that are important for my research paper and important to the event I attended.

    The first chapter I am going to talk about is Chapter 3: Doing Fieldwork by Katie Nelson which offered insight on performing fieldwork that I utilized throughout my experience at Pride by the Sea in order to maintain an unbiased and raw opinion on the event; something that is extremely important to being an anthropologist. As an anthropologist in the field, it is important to go into any study in almost a zen-like state: clear head, a clear mind, and completely open. When I went to my event called Pride by the Sea, it was important for me to do the same. Throughout the chapter, she describes various methods and advice for performing fieldwork that I used when I attended my event. The author begins the chapter by talking about “making the strange familiar, and the familiar strange” and making “features of [a new] culture seem familiar and familiar traits seem extraordinary” (Nelson 3). This was important for me to do right off the bat upon arriving when I saw the way some people were dressed. There were people of all races and ages dressed in different colors and materials. Some people dressed in rainbow spandex with face paint. This is something that I am not accustomed to, but in order to collect research, I had to make the extraordinary seem ordinary. This brings up the idea of cultural relativism which Nelson describes as “the idea that we should seek to understand another person’s beliefs and behaviors from the perspective of their culture rather than our own” (Nelson 11). It is a lot easier said than done, but when collecting research it is essential. Data is supposed to be concrete and unbiased. While collecting fieldwork I had to “temporarily suspend [my own] own value[s], moral[s], and esthetic judgments and seek to understand and respect the values, morals, and aesthetics of the other culture on their terms.” (Nelson 11). This way when I was observing these people dressed in what I would think to be peculiar outfits, I took it for exactly what it was. Instead of saying “the people were dressed funny” I wrote down “the people were wearing different colored spandex and rainbow face paint.” Nelson’s chapter on fieldwork was an immense tool for when I attended the Pride by the Sea event.

    The next chapter I will be using to give insight on the event I attended is Chapter 10: Gender and Sexuality by Carol Mukhopadhyay. If there was one message I received after attending this event it was acceptance and understanding. The LGBTQ community celebrates the acceptance and understandings of sexual identities that are still prejudiced. “Shaming” and “social separation, sex-segregated schools, and penalties for inappropriate sexual behavior have also existed in the United States and Europe, especially among upper-strata women for whom female “purity” was traditionally emphasized” (Mukhopadhyay 9). The LGBTQ is a community that seeks to bring awareness of this unfair treatment and gain acceptance. Mukhopadhyay states on page 1, “the concept of humans as either “heterosexual” or “homosexual” is a culturally and historically specific invention that is increasingly being challenged in the United States and elsewhere.” This was very apparent at the event I attended because there were numerous organizations and booths set up that were emphasizing these very points. This event was challenging the cultural stigma of the “norm” of there being only two sexual identifications of heterosexual and homosexual. There are so many more that people identify with and this event shed light on the different ways people identify themselves and why. It was very eye-opening as I was a person that fell victim to the belief that there were only two sexual identities.

    The event Pride By the Sea was an opportunity for me to submerge myself into unfamiliar territory and gain insight into a culture that I had previously known very little about. The chapter discussed out of Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology edited Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de Gonzalez, and Thomas McIlwraith were extremely influential on the way I conducted my research and my understanding of the event as a whole. The text offers insight that helped me form a better understanding of a relatively new culture.

Works Cited

Brown, N., Gonzalez, L., McIlwraith, T. Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. Arlington, VA: American Anthropology Association. accessed: December 30, 2018.

Nader, Laura "The Development of Anthropological Ideas.”  Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: December 30, 2018.

Nelson, Katie "Doing Fieldwork: Methods in Cultural Anthropology.” Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: December 30, 2018.

Mukhopadhyay, Carol. “Gender and Sexuality.” Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: December 30, 2018.

Proxemics & Kinesics in Ecuadorian Dance Clubs

By Violet Leon

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they dance in a public setting. Although they may not be speaking, most of their messages are going to be conveyed through the motions of their bodies and their face. Are they standing close to their partners? Are they making eye contact? What subliminal messages are they sending with each movement? Typically when dancing at a nightclub, for example, a dancer cannot communicate with their words, and so they speak in other ways. In fact, in Ecuador, most people are extremely aware of how to transmit a message without speaking.

While visiting Quito, Ecuador this summer, I experienced firsthand what it was like to not be able to use my words. On a Thursday evening, I observed as people interacted with each other in a brewery and a nightclub. As an English speaker from the United States of America, it was difficult for me to understand the Spanish conversations that were happening around me. Since I already suffer from anxiety, not being able to speak caused me a bit of distress and frustration. This led to my interest in proxemics, the study of how humans use space or distance to communicate, and kinesics, which is the study of communication in the form of eye movements, body gestures, or facial expressions. Men and women assumed to be between the ages of eighteen and forty, used alternative forms of communication with one another as they danced. I was able to understand this by watching them and also by conducting an interview with one of the individuals I studied.

Over a period of about four hours, I watched as Ecuadorians and tourists used eye movements, clothing, distance, or body language to transmit information. While they danced and also as they casually interacted, I could see that there was different information being conveyed. Moreover, I was able to understand that by studying proxemics and kinesics, we can understand a person’s true intent when maybe their words don’t make sense.

It is through this ethnography that eye contact, physical appearance, performance, and body language will be categorized as paralanguage. Paralanguage was observed at two locations and included a local hangout spot for college students and a night club. Both places had a DJ playing loud music nonstop which made them optimal locations for this study. The group that I studied included college students, tourists, and Ecuadorians. I believe that because I could not interact verbally with others that my senses were heightened, and therefore qualified me to conduct this mini-ethnography project. To fly under the radar, I dressed in jeans, a white shirt, and a leather jacket. I didn’t want to appear as a typical tourist because I didn’t want people to interact with me differently from the locals. Many girls in Ecuador also wear their hair down, and so I did that as well. I was also advised by family members that in Ecuador if you wear flashy jewelry, people will try to rob you. To avoid that, I dressed simplistically. The last of my methods included respecting my subjects’ identities by omitting their names.  

     The first place we visited was a brewery located a few blocks from the University of Quito in Cumbaya, Ecuador. There was an outside patio area for smokers which was sectioned off by a short wire fence. It was at the gate to this fence that security guards checked for IDs to make sure attendees were at least 18 (legal age in Ecuador). Once inside, there were about 20 tall tables throughout. A much taller fence separated the tables from the actual brewery. Since the brewery attracted a younger demographic, there was a  game of “Jenga” on each table. This place was more of a casual hangout, but the second place we went to was a  nightclub, which was located in La Zona de Quito. La Zona is at the center of Quito and it is where many international restaurants are. Because of this, La Zona is a very popular place for tourists. Since the area is very busy, there are always police surveying the area and security guards at most shops.

While observing college students, I first noticed how proximity can be used as communication. The positioning of a person’s body can say a lot about their intentions. While dancing at the nightclub, for example, one of the guys in my group opened his body outward towards another group that we had gotten close to. This caused our groups to merge. When his back was to the other group, it signaled to them that our group was not welcoming. Then when he turned his body and no longer had his back to them, members from that group stepped in since there was suddenly space for them. It was like he was using his body as a gate, and when he opened the gate, the people came in. Had he been able to use his words, he could have said, "You can come and join us if you'd like." Yet, since he was unable to speak because of the noise, he was able to communicate this by the positioning of his body.

Another observation I made at this location was that proxemics played a huge factor when it came to partner dancing. In Ecuador, some view dancing as a form of flirting. To know if a girl is truly interested in the male partner, one should be able to observe close dancing. This is because if they are interested in each other sexually, then they will put their bodies close together. On the other hand, if the girl is not interested, she will back away and keep a lot of distance between him and her dance partner. Additionally, when partner songs come on, the gentlemen put their hands out for a nearby girl, as if to invite her to dance. If she takes his hand, then she is accepting the invitation. If she doesn’t take the hand, and instead she backs away, then that is her way of communicating, “No.” In such a case, she is using proxemics to let the man know she isn’t interested. When it comes to asking someone to dance, the male will have the best chance of getting a partner if the two of them are already familiar with each other or part of the same group. Dancing within the group is considered "safe," but if a guy asks a girl outside of his group to dance then he is more likely to be rejected. This is because there was such a large gap between them, and for him to close that gap without any prior engagement would be seen as rude or confusing. I recall there was a gentleman who randomly appeared in our dance circle, and it made everyone visibly uncomfortable. The two people who stood on each side of him backed away. They left a huge gap, almost as if they were welcoming someone who was actually familiar to stand there instead.

    In the nightclub, we also used eye contact to signal our emotions. When the gentleman imposed himself on our group, it was noticeable how uneasy it made everyone feel because of the communication that was occurring with the eyes. We all glanced at each other, with our eyes widened a bit more than usual to symbolize surprise. This communicated, “Who is this guy?” and, “Where did he come from?” Everyone stays in a group, and I stay around my own group. By directing your eyes only towards individuals in the group, you kept outsiders from joining. To offer someone your eyes is like to offer them your attention, which some can interpret as a welcoming gesture. When everyone looked around at each other because of this random guy, it was like we were asking each other, “Who invited him?” Since none of us had, it caused a lot of confusion, and we ended up drifting to another corner of the dance floor.

    Another way that people communicate can be through the clothes they wear or the way they behave. When people think of performance, they picture a play or a concert. However, the word “performance,” goes beyond just that definition and can pertain to how people dress, how they speak, and how they present themselves overall. To better explain, recall how at both locations, there were security guards that checked IDs as people entered the club. These security guards stood up straight and held their chins high. When they weren’t checking ID’s, they stood still, with angry expressions on their faces and their arms folded. This signaled to onlookers that the guards were serious individuals and wouldn’t tolerate havoc. They were intimidating on purpose. If they didn’t present themselves this way, then more people would try to sneak in or sneak items in that aren’t allowed. This phenomenon is referred to as a presentation of self or the personal front. That is the mask that people put on when they are in certain environments. Lauren Miller Griffith and Jonathan S. Marion discuss this further in the chapter, “Performance,” where they cite information collected by Erving Goffman. It is described that “Changes in the personal front affect the audience’s interpretation and understanding of the role played by the individual and their beliefs about the ‘actor’s’ sincerity. The match between the setting and one’s personal front helps the audience quickly— and often accurately—understand the roles played by the actors in front of them” (5). A personal front is a way that people can communicate without saying anything or moving their bodies at all. Instead, they are dressing a certain way that communicates standards for the interaction. The security guards wear a black button up shirts and black pants. They don’t really speak, but their demeanor lets people know that they are there to check ID and conduct searches. It could be assumed that security guards naturally are aware of proxemics. If they get close to you, they are being more threatening. If they back away and don’t look at you, then it’s like they are communicating that there are no problems.

When you devote your attention to reading someone’s body language, you can pick up on when their words do not agree with their body. Sometimes, people will say one thing when they really mean something else. These contradictions in communication can be observed when someone's spoken language does not match their paralanguage. In other words, what they were saying didn’t coincide with other messages they were sending through their body. This was observed when we were at the local hangout spot and playing Jenga. There was one young man, whom we will refer to as Subject A, who was very clearly intoxicated. His eyelids were drooping and he kind of stumbled around the table, refusing to be seated. He wanted to play the game of Jenga with us and asked our group if he could join. As people responded with welcoming words, one girl (Subject B) tilted her head ever so slightly and another guy (Subject C)  lean away from the table. It was as if their mouths were saying, “yes,” but their bodies were saying, “no.” What happened next was their obvious reluctance towards playing the game. They disengaged themselves from the game and started their own conversation since they had been able to pick up on each other’s discomfort.

    One person who has heavily studied body language and facial expressions as a form of communication are psychologist Paul Ekman. In his book, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage, he describes how people may accidentally communicate their lies in the form of emblems.

Just as there are slips of the tongue, there are slips in body movement—

emblems that leak information the person is trying to conceal. There are two

ways to tell that an emblem is a slip, revealing concealed information, and not

a deliberate message. One is when only a fragment of the emblem is

performed, not the entire action. The shrug can be performed by raising both

shoulders, or by turning the palms up, or by a facial movement that involves

raising the brows and drooping the upper eyelid and making a horseshoe-

shaped mouth, or by combining all of these actions and, sometimes, throwing

in a sideways head tilt. [102]

When people are communicating with words, their body may say things that their words do not. Ekman is describing ways to recognize these contradictions. This source helps tremendously when analyzing the body movements of the two individuals. It has been theorized that the head tilt comes from the brain's desire to signal to the head that it should shake, "no." However, the desire to conceal the "no" clashes with that first notion, and so what you get is a part tilt. This is what was observed in Subject B when Subject A asked if he could join. Although Subject B accepted, her desire to say no wasn't concealed. As for Subject C, by leaning away and adding distance between himself and Subject A, he was in a sense trying to say he did not agree with the group's decision.

        After dancing for several hours, the group went over to a set of couches in a quiet corner to chat. I noticed that in comparison to how Americans sit in a group, the Ecuadorians sat much closer. The couch was wide, and there was plenty of room to spread out, but everyone sat closely anyways, with their legs nearly touching one another. By sitting close to someone, you communicate a certain intimacy, whether that be familiarity or openness.

    It was here on the couch that one of the students in my group allowed me to interview him in English.  He currently attends the University of Quito and told me that they operate on a four-day week. Their workload as students is heavy, but they always have a three-day weekend to catch up. For them, Thursday is the start of the weekend where they enjoy coming to nightclubs to dance. When asked about his opinion on eye contact, he said that for them it is a sign of respect. If you are talking to someone, you show them your eyes so that they know you are listening. If you look away it can be seen as rude or like what they are saying isn’t important to you. Eye contact, he says, is extremely important for conversation. He had visited America once for a semester abroad, and his friends told him that he stares too much. He thought that was weird because for him it comes naturally.  In Ecuadorian culture, people heavily value eye contact, and for him, it was surprising that other cultures do not view it the same way.

    In regards to dance, he said that his family raised him from a young age to always know how to lead. It was an important skill to have in case there was music playing at a family gathering or at a school event. He pointed to his hand and told me that it is all in the hand. The way you move your hand and position your arm tells the girl which direction to go. If you apply some pressure in a certain direction, that will cause her to move that way, as if driving a car. He described how you put out your hand when you invite a girl to dance, and that if she does not take your hand, or she avoids eye contact, then she does not want to dance. His family explicitly explained to him the power of body language at a young age, and he said that most families in Ecuador do this. It matters because if you force a girl to dance with you who isn’t actually interested, it can be stressful for everyone involved. The uncomfortable girl may not be receptive to your leading, and the entire dance might fall apart. The example he provided of asking a girl to dance by placing the hand out coincides with the hypothesis that people use their body to communicate.

        In comparison to the United States of America, it is not common for people to stand so close to each other and still be comfortable. Yet, in Ecuador, when people are familiar with each other, they tend to stand quite close and use a lot of eye contact in conversation. I experienced a bit of culture shock because of this. Culture shock results when someone is exposed to a culture that differs greatly from their own, causing them to experience anxiety or stress. I struggled to keep up with the amount of eye contact that Ecuadorians exercise in their interactions. It was also odd to me that people stood so close to each other all of the time. In some ways, it symbolizes closeness, respect, and a feeling of security. The closer you stand to someone, the less threatened you are by them. However, in the United States of America, everyone demands their own space. They want their “bubble” to be untouched. For me, learning to accept these realities of Ecuadorian culture seemed difficult, but has taught me a lot about communication.

Perhaps the reason why Ecuadorians are so skilled at interpreting body language is because of the influence of dance. The typically silent sport brings people together and teaches them to communicate without words. Unfortunately, dance is not as valued in other countries, but if more people could see its power, then more conversations could be had. Furthermore, children should be taught how to interpret these other forms of language to avoid miscommunication and the anxiety that follows an uncomfortable situation. This could be done through conversation exercises in the language courses, where the main focus is on the overall message conveyed through a person’s words and body language.

Being able to understand what someone is saying can be difficult, especially if they aren’t even speaking. On my trip to Ecuador, I had to heavily analyze every single thing a person did in order to interpret what they were saying. I had to watch their eyes, their body position, and what they were wearing in order to determine how to communicate back. The initial intention of this project was to observe proxemics in Ecuadorian nightclubs. However, as I learned more and more about the subject, I couldn't help but continue analyzing my notes. My understanding of my experience evolved as I continued to learn more about these alternative forms of communication. When dancing, when picking out clothes, or when working as a security guard, people are communicating without their voice. As for my interviewee, as a child, it had been taught to him just how important body language was in terms of dance. He and many other Ecuadorians are not limited by a lack of words. They speak through their actions, their closeness to one another, and through their presence. This helps them to communicate in harmony. Ecuadorian culture is characterized by an openness that more people could benefit from if they just opened their eyes.

Works Cited

Griffith, Lauren M.; Marion, Jonathan S. (n.d.). "Performance" In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. accessed: November 1, 2018

Light, Linda. (n.d.).  “Language.” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina  Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith.  Arlington, VA: American Anthropology Association. accessed: November 1, 2018

Zhi-peng, Ren. Body Language in Different Cultures . David Publisher, Dec. 2014,

Ekman, Paul. Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage. WW Norton & Company, 1992.

The Causes and Effects of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Homo sapiens and Butterflies

By Tetiana Johnson and Daniel Johnson

        In the 20th and 21st centuries, human activities have been the predominant cause of increasingly obvious, dire climate change. This drastic alteration of the global ecosystem is demanding adaptation at an unnatural and largely unattainable rate, leading to the sixth major mass extinction of species in Earth’s history. Scientists from around the globe have, for decades, been making efforts to quantify, analyze, and convey the facts of this situation to each other, to policy-makers, and to the general public. Some scientists (perhaps most) aspire to motivate and generate cultural change that might slow the effects or stave off the worst of what is now seemingly, largely inevitable. One scientist, Barbara Kingsolver, has taken to writing popular fiction in an effort to connect with a much broader audience and help layman understand more about this important topic. Her novel Flight Behavior speaks primarily to the negative effects of climate change as they pertain to Homo sapiens and monarch butterflies.

    Scientists agree the history of life on Earth has already seen five major mass extinctions. Those extinctions were: Ordovician extinction (roughly 445 million years ago [m.y.a.] with 60-70 percent of species lost), Devonian extinction (roughly 375-360 m.y.a. with up to 75 percent of species lost), Permian extinction (roughly 252 m.y.a. with 95 percent of species lost), Triassic extinction (roughly 200 m.y.a. with 70-80 percent of species lost), and Cretaceous extinction (roughly 66 m.y.a. with 75 percent of species lost) (“Earth’s Major” 2017).

    The sixth major extinction is the Anthropocene extinction. It began during the Holocene and was referred to as the Holocene extinction. However, in 2000, Crutzen and Stoermer proposed the term ‘Anthropocene’ for the present epoch. In common usage, Anthropocene refers to the period in which the activity of humans has become the dominant influence on our planet’s climate and environment. It was suggested to have begun in the late 18th century, “because, during the past two centuries, the global effects of human activities have become clearly noticeable” (Sayre 2012, 62). For as long as humans existed, they have been altering the environment. William Ruddiman countered Crutzen’s idea of human-caused changes in greenhouse gases and suggested moving the beginning of the Anthropocene back to 8,000 years ago, due to rigorous farming activities, which caused “anomalous rise in methane concentrations” (quoted in Sayre 2012, 62). Crutzen’s response to Ruddiman’s claim was “the period of the Anthropocene since 1950 stands out like the one in which human activities rapidly changed from merely influencing the global environment in some ways to dominating it in many ways” (quoted in Sayre 2012, 62).

    As scientists work hard to uncover the facts surrounding Anthropogenic climate change, it is becoming increasingly necessary to act, now. We must do something. A different approach to addressing the problem of public awareness and education on this vital topic is being taken by scientist Barbara Kingsolver. She left the strict world of scientific research and now writes fictional stories that bring much of this knowledge about climate science and environmental change directly to her readers -the general public. Her novel, Flight Behavior, while fiction, does a great job of relaying scientific information and perspectives to a much larger audience than scientific research papers would reach. This story centers around a woman named Dellarobia Turnbow and includes her family, their farm, the millions of monarch butterflies that inexplicably come to overwinter there, and the scientists that come to study them there.

    There is clearly the link between human activities, pollution, and climate change. Fossil fuels -oil, gas, and coal- have been abundantly used to keep up with increasing demands for energy. Gases, most notably carbon dioxide, are emitted when burning these fuels. “Today, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are 40 percent higher than at the start of the Industrial Revolution- 400 parts per million today, compared with 280 parts per million in the 1780s, with three-quarters of that occurring over the past 45 years” (Dobbins et al. 2015, 69). The predictions of where more than 7.5 billion Homo sapiens are heading -if they continue primarily using fossil fuels to meet their energy needs- are less than optimistic. By 2050, the scientists forecast atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to be higher than they have been in a million years. These scientists believe even if nearly all greenhouse gas emissions were halted immediately, the climate would continue changing for years to come; “many greenhouse gases persist in the atmosphere for centuries” (Dobbins et al. 2015, 70). Also, greenhouse gases are distributed evenly throughout the atmosphere. They are not confined over the country which produces them. This is not a problem for one country -this is a global matter. China is the largest carbon dioxide emitter -28% of the total annual global emissions. The United States emits 15% of the total, which makes them the second largest contributor of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (UCSUSA 2018). Collective action is required to fight this pollution and its effects on climate change.

        In Kingsolver’s novel, there is a university professor/scientist, Ovid Byron, who becomes a central character. When he first comes to the Turnbow farm he joins Dellarobia, her husband, and their two children for dinner. Late in this meal, after the family spends much time telling him about the butterflies, they find out more about who he is and what he does. Dellarobia is embarrassed at how much they had gone on when in fact this man before them is an expert on the subject of monarch butterflies. When she questions why he had not been the one doing most of the talking, he politely replies, “I never learn anything from listening to myself” (Kingsolver 2012, 122). This speaks volumes to the idea that in-depth observation and listening are major points in what makes scientists successful and effective. Looking at things from many angles helps them to see things more clearly. This family, while not experts on butterflies, were sharing much of when, and what they had observed before he had arrived. Good scientists should, and do listen to others, even non-experts.

    Back in 1992, after much input from scientists, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed with an aim to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in order to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (Dobbins et al. 2015, 81).  In 2015 leaders from nations around the world met in Paris in an effort to further address this global problem. The Paris Agreement aims to move forward what was started in 1992 by strengthening the global resolve to slow the temperature rise in an effort to keep that rise below 2.0 Celsius through the end of this century. So far, the actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been weak. The adverse effects of climate change on flora and fauna have been strong: extreme heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, extinction of species, disruptions of the Earth’s ecosystems, and the disappearance of Arctic ice (Dobbins et al. 2015).

    One of the best ways to communicate what you know to others in ‘the population’ is to find out what they think they already know. In Kingsolver’s novel, her scientist interacts by listening first, because “‘Humans are hardwired for social community,’ he said. ‘There’s no question, we evolved with it. Reading the cues and staying inside the group, these are number-one survival skills in our species. But I like to think academics are the referees. That we can talk to every side’” (Kingsolver 2012, 323). What Kingsolver is trying to do with her writing is talk to every side. She spent years researching and listening to other scientists, but, “Science doesn’t tell us what we should do. It only tells us what is” (Kingsolver 2012, 320). Scientists, through many decades of their efforts, have given us facts. The more people who know ‘what is,’ the more prepared that populace will be to demand action of its leaders. An educated populace can more accurately and confidently decide there is a problem that requires action and/or changes.

    As of now, the climate change has certainly picked up speed and “the great acceleration can be seen in population, urbanization, dams, transportation, greenhouse gas emissions, surface temperatures, deforestation, fisheries exploitation, nitrogen deposition, and extinctions” (Sayre 2012, 62). In 2011 the world’s Homo sapiens population passed 7 billion, which is a staggering number. This increasing population and its consumption have surely given rise to many current climatic changes. The biggest impact, “has been the burning of half a trillion tonnes of fossil fuel carbon to power the wealth and prosperity of the modern world” (Rapley 2012, 23). By doing so, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increased by more than 100 parts per million. “This is the same amount as the natural shift between a glacial period and an interglacial period, when global temperatures change by about 5 degrees Celsius” (Rapley 2012, 23). There is a big difference though: this massive increase in carbon dioxide has happened in one hundred years, “which is over one hundred times faster than anything found in the geological ice core record” (Rapley 2012, 23).

    Knowing these things, it is obvious why the scientist Barbara Kingsolver and the fiction author Barbara Kingsolver are both fighting to say something. The ‘scientist’ warns the ‘author’: “If we tangle too much in the public debate, our peers will criticize our language as imprecise, or too certain. Too theatrical. Even simple words like ‘theory’ and ‘proof’ have different meanings outside of science” (Kingsolver 2012, 323-324). She is seemingly self-conscious as she writes. The author Kingsolver theatrically pushes on. She uses a scene near the end of her novel where her scientist character Ovid is speaking to a reporter (someone who is supposed to convey knowledge to the general public) to try to express a broader understanding of this global problem to her larger audience. “‘This is obviously evidence of a disordered system,’ he said at last. ‘Obviously we’re looking at damage. At the normal roosting sites in Mexico, in the spring range, all over the migratory pathways’” (Kingsolver 2012, 365). This reporter keeps cutting him off and trying to create a pretty, or happy version of the story, in spite of Ovid’s attempts at fact-sharing. “‘Most of us are struck by the beauty of this phenomenon. But’ -[the reporter] cocked her head theatrically, as if burdened by keen insight- ‘do you think it might possibly be a sign of some deeper problem with the ecology?’” (Kingsolver 2012, 365). And for one of the first times in their long interview, the scientist is enthusiastically engaged: “‘Yes!’ Ovid cried. ‘A problem with the environment, is what you’re trying to say. Pervasive environmental damage. This is a biological system falling apart along its seams’” (Kingsolver 2012, 365). His enthusiasm leads to the realization by the reporter that this cute story about butterflies has turned into a discussion about global warming. Not what she (the reporter) came out that day to film. She does not like his answers. She asks him to think about how his answers -in an update to her story about the butterflies- might make her viewers feel… He replies, “I am a scientist. Are you suggesting I change my answers to improve your ratings?” (Kingsolver 2012, 366). She denies that is her goal, yet goes on to say, “Scientists are of course in disagreement about whether this is happening, and whether humans have a role.” and that “Many environmentalists contend that burning fuel puts greenhouse gases into the atmosphere” (Kingsolver 2012, 366). These statements seem to be the figurative straw that finally breaks Ovid’s back. It is through Kingsolver’s story development and creation of this scene that we find her scientist character in that allows Kingsolver to deliver her most pointed statements: “They contend this? That burning carbon puts carbon in the air, this is a contention? …Think about what you are saying. All the coal that has ever been mined, that’s carbon. All the oil wells, carbon, again! We have evaporated that into the air. What’s in the world stays in the world, it does not go poof and disappear. It’s called conservation of matter. The question was settled well before the time of Sir Isaac Newton” (Kingsolver 2012, 366-367). It is this carbon that has pushed Earth’s carbon dioxide levels past 400 parts per million. Kingsolver obviously knows the science, having earned biology degrees and previously worked in the field. She writes from a place of knowledge and is making an effort to reach a broader portion of the human culture through her fiction.

    Our 21st-century world with its climate changing at such a rapid pace now greatly favors species who can successfully change their behavior. It is much less about finding a new biological niche, diversifying, and increasing the planet’s biodiversity by creating more species. In the Anthropocene, it is about survival as a species. “Humans normally respond to environmental stresses in four ways: 1. Genetic change 2. Developmental adjustment 3. Acclimatization 4. Cultural practices and technology” (“Human Biological” 2018). This is the old ‘normal’ but now -in the Anthropocene- it is that last factor that is clearly the most vital. “Humans face basically the same adaptive challenges as all organisms. But humans are unique in having most of their adaptations transmitted culturally” (“Human Adaptations” 2018). While humans are not the only social animals that have cultural adaptations, humans are the only ones who have exceptionally complex cultural adaptations. Because of these complex cultural adaptations, Homo sapiens are capable of adapting to nearly all of Earth’s terrestrial habitats. Hopefully, the Anthropocene will not be the exception to our adaptability.

        We must remember it is the culture of Homo sapiens that has created the Anthropocene Epoch. Deforestation -due to illegal logging, urbanization, agriculture, ranching, and herbicide use- has been another major factor in the Anthropogenic climate change. Besides the release of sequestered carbon from the forest, the loss of plant life which itself removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, increased flooding, soil erosion, excess nutrient runoff, and threats to drinking water, deforestation threatens 80 percent of the plants and animals which live on land. This leads to the threat of extinction for many living organisms- for example, butterflies. Forest degradation and deforestation in overwintering sites in Mexico are major contributing factors in the steady decline of monarch butterflies (Vidal and Rendon-Salinas 2014). The current climatic changes may cause the disappearance of suitable habitat for the monarch butterfly, due to the diminishment of A. religiosa, oyamel fir trees, which are the desired host for overwintering monarch butterfly inside the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Saenz-Romero et al. 2012). “A. religiosa will diminish rapidly over the course of the century: a decrease of 69.2% by the decade surrounding 2030, 87.6% for that surrounding 2060, and 96.5% for 2090” (Saenz-Romero et al. 2012, 104). Milkweed habitat, which is extremely essential for monarch butterflies, has also been under threat because of climate change (Wolfe 2016).

    During the migration season butterflies strongly rely on temperature as their guide for when to travel. “In recent years, the monarch’s fall south migration from Canada has been delayed by as much as six weeks due to warmer-than-normal temperatures that failed to trigger the butterflies instincts to move south” (Wolfe 2016). When the temperature cooled off to prompt the migration, it was too cold in the Midwest and many monarchs died (Wolfe 2016). In 2002 a severe storm killed almost 80 percent of the overwintering monarch population in Mexico (Wolfe 2016).    

    There has been a lot said about the effects of climate change on living organisms. Many times each year a new report is written with more unfavorable results. Heat waves, large wildfires, and extreme storms are not occasional events anymore. The climate is changing. Glaciers and permafrost are melting. The average global temperature is rising. “Every one of the past 40 years has been warmer than the 20th-century average. 2016 has been the hottest year on record. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. Over the past 130 years, the global average temperature has increased by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, with more than half of that increase occurring over only the past 35 years” (“Global warming” 2018). And yet, some debate if climate change is real. Homo sapiens are actively abusing this planet by burning massive amounts of fossil fuels, clearing the forests, and over consuming. Our atmosphere is increasingly loaded with carbon dioxide, which directly contributes to temperatures rising. Scientists repeatedly state that human activity is to blame for the increase in carbon dioxide and its effects on the climate. And yet, some consciously deny the existence of climate change.

    Extinctions of many species are being caused by climate change. The beautiful North American monarch butterfly is one of the species that has struggled to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Its population has decreased 95 percent in the last 20 years (Wolfe 2015). In contrast, the Homo sapiens population grew nearly 32 percent during that same period -from 5.7 billion in 1995 to 7.3 billion in 2015. Monarch’s extinction is an alarming message about the future of our planet. The scientists have been warning us for decades now. Some of them have turned to a different writing style, in hopes of delivering this urgent message and call to action. Barbara Kingsolver is one of them. Through her book Flight Behavior, she tries to brief a broader audience on this human-caused climate change and its adverse effects.

    We, Homo sapiens, have shown a high level of adaptability through the history of humanity. There’s no doubt we’ll adapt to the gloomy changes of the climate too. The question is, at what cost to the world we live in.

Work Cited

Diamond, Sarah E., Cayton, Heather, Wepprich, Tyson, Jenkins, Clinton N., Dunn, Rober R., Haddad, Nick M., and Ries, Leslie. 2014. “Unexpected Phenological Responses of Butterflies to the Interaction of Urbanization and Geographic Temperature.” Ecology 95 (9): 2613-2621. Accessed September 10, 2018.

Dobbins, James, Solomon, Richard H., Chase Michael S., Henry, Ryan F., Larrabee, Stephen, Lemper, Robert J., Liepman, Andrew M., Martini, Jeffrey, Ochmanek, David, and Shatz, Howard J. 2015. “Climate Change.” In Choices for America in a Turbulent World, 69-84. Accessed December 10, 2018.  

“Earth’s Major ‘Mass Extinction’ Events.” 2017. Science X Network. Accessed November 18, 2018.

“Human Adaptations.” 2018. UC Davis Official Site. Accessed November 19, 2018.

“Human Biological Adaptability: Overview.” 2018. Palomar College Official Site. Accessed November 19, 2018.

Kingsolver, Barbara. 2012. Flight Behavior. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Rapley, Chris. 2012. “The Science of Climate Change.” British Medical Journal 344 (7849): 23-25. Accessed November 17, 2018.

Saenz-Romero, Cuauhtemoc, Rehfeldt, Gerald E., Duval, Pierre, and Linding-Cisneros, Roberto A. 2012. “Abies Religiosa Habitat Prediction in Climatic Change Scenarios and Implications for Monarch Butterfly Conservation in Mexico.” Forest Ecology and Management 275: 98-106. Accessed November 17, 2018.

Sayre, Nathan F. 2012. “The Politics of the Anthropogenic.” Annual Review of Anthropology 41:  57-70. Accessed October 11, 2018.

UCSUSA (Union of Concerned Scientists). 2018. “Global Warming.” Accessed December 10, 2018.

Vidal, Oar, and Rendon-Salinas, Eduardo. 2014. “Dynamics and Trends of Overwintering Colonies of the Monarch Butterfly in Mexico.” Biological Conservation 180: 165-175. Accessed October 10, 2018.

Wolfe, David. 2016. “How Climate Change Affects the Monarch Butterfly, and What Can We Do about It.” Environmental Defense Fund. Accessed December 8, 2019.

The Error of Eugenics: Modern Science Discredits Social Darwinism

By Young Jun Kim

        During the 20th century, the ideology of eugenics took the world by storm. Derived from misinterpreting Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the idea of social Darwinism would eventually become eugenics. Defined by Francis Galton, eugenics is the ideology of eliminating “all the disgraces of nature” among humanity” (Ranft 2018, 1). These “disgraces” included immigrants, thieves, people with illnesses, and anybody else who were thought to be a detriment to society. Methods of eliminating these people originally started off by banning them from entering the country. However, these methods began more sinister with time. Doctors began sterilizing and killing these individuals in the most extreme form of eugenics. In the end, the ideology of eugenics was used to cause the biggest genocide in human history. Seventy years later, this ideology would be widely discredited because of scientific advancements such as mtDNA research. By examining the eugenics practiced by the Nazis and the US, this paper will prove why it's such an inhuman ideology and why it’s discredited.

        In 1859, Charles Darwin published his best-selling book On the Origin of Species, which introduced the idea of evolution to a wide audience. His book contained information regarding natural selection, the “theory that explains how populations evolve and how new species develop” (Goldberg 2015, 473). The theory of natural selection revolves around the idea that “only the best-fit individuals survive and get to pass on their traits to their offspring” (Goldberg 2015, 179). As best-fit individuals continue living, evolution will occur because there are more advantageous traits in the population. Darwin’s book had a huge impact on human society by giving a new perspective on humankind. Within the educated British circle, individuals extended Darwin’s work to humans because we compete for survival just like animals. However, Darwin “objected to the application of his biological model to human social structure” (Schoenberg 2018, 2.2.3). Nevertheless, the British circle ignored this fact and social Darwinism was born.

        The popularity of social Darwinism quickly grew in both British and European society. Prominent individuals such as Herbert Spencer openly stated that poor people should be eliminated so more “better-fit” individuals could take their place. Other individuals such as Clemence August Royer considered “'Aryans' superior to all other races, thus concluding that warfare, between the Aryans and other races, was unavoidable—in the name of progress” (Helene 2016, 155). By becoming so engrossed in social Darwinism, many of these individuals dehumanized other humans. Social Darwinism would eventually become so popular that it would be implemented in politics. This event would trigger the start of the eugenics movement, which would have its grassroots in the United States.

        The eugenics movement in the United States was used to sterilize immigrants and people with health conditions. During the twentieth century, America saw an influx of immigrants that were “no longer from Northern Europe but Italians, Slavs, and Jews from southern and eastern Europe” (Quinn 2003). This struck fear to the rather homogenous society of the United States, which was mostly composed of people of British descent. More immigrants would mean the possibility of immigrants outnumbering people of British descent. By 1921, America put a quota on immigrants from eastern and southern Europe because of their “bad genes.” In addition, there was growing discontent with people with illnesses who were believed to have kids and not contribute to society.

        These social changes eventually caused eugenics laws to be implemented in American society. In 1903, Congress voted to ban immigrants with epilepsy and insanity from entering the country. Four years later, the restrictions became stricter and the United States included “imbeciles, the feeble-minded, and those with tuberculosis” (Quinn 2003) in the list.  However, these laws were not enough to establish a perfect society. America was dead set on the idea of eugenics, and it was going to do anything in its power to achieve its goals. The United States then opted into sterilization, murder, and sending people to mental hospitals to achieve its goals.

        In 1910, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was founded by Charles Davenport. Funded by Samuel Fels and John D. Rockefeller, the goal of the ERO was to gather genetic information on American families. However, this census often accounted for non-genetic traits such as “liveliness, moribundity, lack of foresight, rebelliousness, trustworthiness, irritability, missile throwing, popularity, radicalness, conservativeness, nomadism.” (Quinn 2003). This genetic census was used to specifically target people with disabilities or anybody else that was deemed unworthy to live. Once the ERO deemed that somebody was unworthy, the individual would be sterilized and sent to a mental hospital.

        This is what occurred with Carrie Buck, who becomes the plaintiff in Buck v. Bell. Buck was a normal person but had a terrible childhood. She was “abandoned by her mother at 4 and raped by a friend of her foster-parents” (Quinn 2003). As a result, she had no formal education and failed to integrate herself into society. She was reported to the ERO and eventually sent to a mental hospital. There her refusal to get sterilized would begin the court case. Her court case would show the cruelty of the eugenics movement. “None of the justices who decided Buck's fate ever saw or met her” (Quinn 2003). The judges based their decisions solely on the information provided to them by the ERO such as Buck’s fake Stanford-Binet test. Peoples freedom was dependent on the ERO. A single report to the ERO could mean getting sterilized and sent to a mental hospital even if you were normal. Not surprisingly, Buck lost the case. This would signal the start of mass sterilization and even murder because doctors were legally allowed to sterilize the “unfit”.

        By 1932, 28 states had sterilization laws in place for people who were deemed “unfit”. “The annual average of forced sterilizations increased tenfold, from 230 to almost 2,300, and one year reached nearly 4,000” (Quinn 2003). One doctor even created controversy by actively killing “unfit” babies. The dehumanization and sterilization of innocent lives were inhuman enough. Downright killing “unfit” lives weren’t widely accepted in American society. However, there was a storm brewing in Germany. The Nazi party was beginning to obtain power and they admired the eugenics practiced in the United States.

        The Nazis are an extreme case of how evil eugenics is. Germany’s dictator, Adolf Hitler, was an avid supporter of the eugenics movement and read popular texts such as Principles of Human Heredity and Racial Hygiene. In 1933, Hitler implemented the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, which would require forceful sterilization of people with “hereditary or congenital feeble-mindedness, schizophrenia, bipolar disease, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, chorea, hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, malformation, and severe alcoholism” (Grodin, Miller, and Kelly 2018, 54).  This law would be used to dehumanize anybody with health conditions in the same way as the ERO. As a matter of fact, between 1933 and 1939, 360000 to 390000 would be forcibly sterilized. People with health conditions were not the only group of people getting mistreated. Nazi Germany displayed the same fear of minorities such as Jews and Romans like the United States. New eugenic laws prohibited the marriage between Jewish and "Aryan" blood. "The 1935 Nuremberg Laws prohibited marriage and sexual relations between Jews and non Jews; later laws forced couples to undergo medical examinations to ensure they were not violating the Nuremberg Laws” (Tennant 2012, 37). These laws did not satisfy the Nazis. They were determined to create the “master race.”

        In 1939, Hitler would pass a law that would implement “mercy killings.” As a result, the Nazis became the bringer of death and god. If the Nazi doctors determined you were “unfit”, you were euthanized against your will. Some of the euthanization methods included poisoning and gassing. These methods were mainly used against the Jewish population because the Nazi regime viewed them as the most “unfit.” People of Jewish descent almost always got sent to camps, where they would either die of overwork or get gassed. In the end, 17 million people ended up getting killed because of the eugenics practiced in Nazi Germany.

        Modern mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) research has shown the error of the eugenics practiced by the Nazis and the United States. In the book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes and his team extract mtDNA from an ancient human. And the results shocked them. The mtDNA matched a living person's mtDNA. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) by itself plays an important role in humans. It “encodes for all hereditary information” (Goldberg 2015, 19) and small differences in DNA causes human variation. Intrigued, Sykes extracts more mtDNA samples across the world. These samples will include mtDNA from Polynesia, the Romanovs, and the Cheddar Man. Although all his samples are equally important, the Cheddar Man is the most important in showing the irony and disproving the eugenics movement.

        Discovered in Gough Cave in England, the Cheddar Man is estimated to have lived in the Upper Paleolithic era. When Sykes sampled his mtDNA he discovered something that would have a huge impact on the study of genetics. The mtDNA from the Cheddar Man was most common throughout Europe. Many currently living Europeans shared similar mtDNA from the Cheddar Man. This discovery would later prove that mtDNA is traceable and “can be used for genealogy and for dating the migrations of prehistoric populations” (Schoenberg 2018

    Sykes discovery shows many errors of eugenics. One of the most obvious error is the view of races by both the United States and the Nazis. Citizens of both the United States and Germany are people of European descent. In other words, Americans of British descent are related to the Cheddar Man. This is because the Cheddar Man was discovered in England, where many of the original American immigrants came from. However, the Cheddar Man’s mtDNA isn’t specifically found in England, it’s the most common throughout all of Europe. To put it another way, this means that many of the immigrants that were barred from entering the United States during the eugenics movement weren’t a different race. Although the immigrants were a different nationality, both British Americans and immigrants possibly had the same mtDNA. This fact applies to the Nazis and Jews as well. The Nazis were not a different race compared to the Jews. They possibly had the same mtDNA. The methods of discriminating against different races of immigrants from Europe thus fails.

        Eugenics is an inhuman ideology that is now widely discredited because of scientific advancements such as mtDNA research. Many innocent “unfit” lives were taken away because of ignorance, racism, and ableism. And many times, these lives were perfectly healthy. This was the case with Carrie Buck, a woman who was targeted because of her intelligence and her status in society. In a society that encourages believing in “scientific” studies, it's always important to consider the humane aspect. In addition, it's important to correctly understand data such as Darwin’s book. If not, movements such as the eugenics movement occur.

Work cited

Goldberg, Deborah T. AP Biology. Hauppauge, NY: Barrons Educational Series, 2015.

Grodin, Michael A., Erin L. Miller, and Johnathan I. Kelly. 2018. “The Nazi Physicians as Leaders in Eugenics and ‘Euthanasia’: Lessons for Today.” American Journal of Public Health 108 (1): 53–57. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.304120.

LEWIS, HELENE. 2016. “Chapter 2: Social Darwinism.” Journal of Psychohistory 44 (2): 154–61.

Quinn, Peter. 2003. “Race Cleansing in America.” American Heritage 54 (1): 34.

Ranft, Patricia. 2018. “Eugenics and an Overlooked Rebuttal.” Human Life Review 44 (1): 56.

Schoenberg, Arnie. "Introduction to Physical Anthropology." Arnie Schoenberg. Accessed December 23, 2018.

To Be a Girl Scout

By Danielle Veras

When we hear the words “girl scout”, our minds immediately think of the delectable cookies that are sold once a year. The scouts garner attention for a short while before the public soon forgets about these girls. For some time, I was sure that these scouts do more than just sit in front of the supermarket to sell cookies. There had to be more to the scouts than just that. The Girl Scouts of America has been established for more than a century, teaching and inspiring girls to be the best person that they can be. I began to wonder: what does it mean to be a good Girl Scout and what does the organization value as a whole? I imagine that the girls are taught leadership ideas and social communication techniques to succeed as women. I’ve personally never been a girl scout, nor have I known anyone well enough who was. I assumed, based on the little knowledge I had, that all the girls do is play games or socialize, with some skill or moral lesson being taught along the way. As I observed further, I learned more than I thought I would about this group of girls. While my previous assumptions were essentially proven, there was so much more substance and significance to the organization that can be perceived. From an outsider’s perspective, it was really eye-opening to witness young girls wanting to be better, stronger people and I think that being a part of this group can really help them express themselves and their own individuality.

The troop that I had the opportunity to volunteer with was a part of Girl Scouts Overseas, that offers the Girl Scout experience to those outside of America at an international school. I found it intriguing for this program to be offered in the Dominican Republic. Further research found that the overseas troops can be found just about anywhere in the world, which is beneficial for girls whose parents are in the armed forces or the foreign service; the girls are able to continue their career with the scouts no matter where their family takes them. the Girl Scouts of America was first created in 1912, not too long after, Girl Scouts Overseas, originally named Lone Troops on Foreign Soil, was established in 1925, and the first troop was registered Shanghai, China. Over the years, troops all over the world in places like Guam, Egypt, France, and many more were organized. According to the Girl Scouts USA Overseas website, 56% of the girls were not affiliated with the military but were still often relocated every few years. Because of how widespread this organization is across the world, the establishment of these troops is both a product and example of globalization “Ideoscape refers to the flow of ideas. This can be a small scale […] or it can be larger and more systematic” (Griffith, Marion, 2017). The Girl Scouts of America was founded in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls, and today there are about 2.6 million scouts all over the world. The organization grew over time as more and more girls joined not only in the continental United States but at military bases or foreign service posts because of how much it expanded. The development of Girl Scouts Overseas can be seen as an ideoscape because of how broad the concepts of this organization managed to expand. With many varying locations across the world, girls all over are offered so many unique experiences.

I temporarily live the Dominican Republic on account of a family member’s job relocating my family and me. Through a friend, I had heard news of a Girl Scout Overseas troop that needed volunteers for their annual “Camp In” event. Upon speaking to the troop leader, I asked if I could attend and help out and she gave me permission to observe for the purpose of this project. I had arrived at the school and the event started at around 5 pm. My first impression of these girls was that they were upper class, as there were a handful of nannies present, hold the girls' bags and watching them play. Before the actual camp in, there was a Bridging and Rededication ceremony for all the scouts. Every who was bridging over to the next level earned a different colored vest or sash with a small star pin and the girls rededicating earn another star pin but stay at their rank. There are 6 ranks in the scouts with different colors of vest or sashes; daisies wear blue, brownies wear brown, juniors wear green, and cadettes, seniors, and ambassadors wear khaki. Each rank is only for certain ages or grades, meaning that a girl is only a daisy for 2 years before moving up, and so on; daisies are in kindergarten and first grade, brownies are second and third grade, juniors are fourth and fifth grade, cadettes are grades six through eight, seniors are in ninth and tenth grade, and ambassadors are in eleventh and twelfth grade. This troop in particular only consisted or daisies, brownies, juniors, and one cadette. The ceremony was very brief with about half of the girls bridging over and the other half earning a pin. The girls were situated into their groups and were asked to recite both the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law, each with three fingers raised. The law gives a basis for what the girls stand for in regards to their character and personal attitude in life. Concepts of honesty, courage, consideration for others, and respect are included in the law. The promise is made for the girls themselves to live by what the law states and to also serve our country and God. The part which references God didn’t really shock me, considering our own Pledge of Allegiance refers to God as well, but it made me wonder if this organization had religious affiliations or if “serving God” was an older concept that was just kept as a part of the promise. The Girl Scouts welcomes and accepts all girls regardless of faith, and it encourages the girls to grow their beliefs and make stronger connections and bonds with their own religion, according to the PRAY website; PRAY is another organization which helps build faith in children and is partnered with the Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America. While the organization is for Protestants and Christians, they help those of another faith find the resources they need. While the scouts aren’t exclusively religious, there are programs associated with different religions for scouts to become stronger in their faith, but it is in no way a requirement.

After reciting both the promise and the law, the girls were divided into mixed groups for games. The girls themselves were extremely diverse. The troop leader mainly spoke in English but would repeat what she said in Spanish for those who understood better in their native language. A majority of them were Latina, speaking both English and Spanish amongst each other. There were two Korean sisters who spoke to each other mostly in their own language, but English to the others. Only a few girls were from the United States. Some girls were quiet and shy, others were very outgoing and socializing with everyone. While the girls rotated through all the activities, I took this as an opportunity to speak with the oldest scout present, with given permission from her mother who happened to be the troop leader. I spoke with her mother a couple of weeks prior to the Camp-In if I could interview her daughter, and if she felt uncomfortable with me talking to her alone, she could be there during the interview, as I didn’t want to cross any boundaries or make anyone feel unsafe. With her mother’s consent, I spoke with the cadette for a bit about what she thought the purpose of being a scout was and what it had taught her during her career. She had told me that being a Girl Scout meant being a good role model for others and to always be a good person no matter what, as well as the purpose being to grow and learn with other girls. Being a scout had taught her to be a stronger, more helpful person who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty for the sake of helping those in need. The cadette mentioned a project the troop did the previous year, where they helped reconstruct and repainting a playground for one of the local Dominican schools. She loved giving back to the community in any way she could. The young cadette plans on staying in the scouts to do more projects, and to learn more and help others. Because she’s the oldest in the troop, she feels that she needs to set the best example of a good scout for the others, which she enjoys. It was apparent that the other girls looked up to her, as I noticed they were always asking her questions or asking her for help. After asking her these questions, she went back to her small group.

The activities the girls participated in ranged from hand-clapping games to arts and crafts. Of all the activities, one seemed to stand out the most. The activity consisted of the girls standing in a circle and interlocking their arms with one another with the goal being to free themselves without letting go. I assumed it was a basic game of communication, but I realized it was a mini team building exercise because of how the girls were working together and giving words of encouragement as they, each got untangled. This activity mimics a rite of intensification because of how the girls worked together and bonded as a team. “Rites of intensification […] are rituals used to bind members of the community together to create a sense of communitas, or unity” (Henninger-Rener, 2017). Though it was such a small task with a minor goal, the way every girl participated and the way they motivated each other made them closer as a group, especially to those who were new to the scouts. The bonds made help the girls trust one another.

After this activity, the girls were excited and ready for the campfire. We all headed outside to the school’s cafeteria for dinner. The junior scouts and cadette passed out food to the rest of the girls and volunteers before serving themselves. The troop leaders were preparing the campfire as the girls ate. Soon after dinner, the girls were taken to the campfire and learned about fire safety and about “stop, drop, and roll”. The leader told the girls about how dangerous fire can be if they stand too close and to be careful and cautious. One of the younger daisy scouts was scared to roast her marshmallow because of the fire, so a junior scout helped her and reassured her safety. Another girl stood fairly close to the flames and her friend quickly moved her away, saying that she didn’t want her to get burned. Shortly after the girls enjoyed their s’ mores, the troop leader led them in campfire songs. With the scouts laughing, smiling and holding hands as they sang, it was a genuine moment of peace and pure happiness from the girls. Not too long after the last song, the girls were told to form a line and head back to the Camp-In room. By this time, the scouts were told to start settling down for bed.

With the girls in their pajamas and their teeth brushed, everyone was relaxing as the troop leader put on a movie. Not everyone was tired yet, some girls played with their stuffed animals and flashlights, others read a book or watched the movie. I left shortly after the movie started because I was unable to spend the night. But before I left, the troop leader thanked me for being there and that I should volunteer more often. I was only there for a little over 3 hours. She informed me that the junior scouts and cadette had to get up extra early in the morning to make breakfast for the brownies and daisies. Originally, the adult volunteers were going to cook, but the girls wanted to. The juniors and cadettes had been doing so much to help out the brownies and the daisies by leading the mini-group activities, serving them their dinner, helping them roll out their sleeping bags, and now cooking them breakfast and cleaning up. I concluded that it was because they were taught that with being the older scouts meant more responsibility and needing to set a good example to the younger scouts.

From my observations and outside research, my hypothesis and assumptions were deemed to be partially proven. One difference, in contrast to the scouts in America, is that this troop and other overseas troops are not authorized to sell the Girl Scout Cookies. Some activities, like arts and crafts or hand-clapping games, were for amusement and not really for learning. The team-building games, however, showed how the girls can work together and help each other out, which is a real-life lesson or skill they can use. The daisies, because they’re so new, needed the most guidance from the junior scouts in the activities. Because they ask for help, they look up to these older scouts and are learning from them how to be helpful once they are older. Attitude-wise, most of the girls were cooperative with one another and the adults, but there were a couple of daisies and brownies who seemed unmotivated or uninterested in any of the activities and the whole event itself. Some girls seemed more absent-minded. I assumed it was because they’re younger and do not yet understand the benefits the scouts have to offer or that the scouts aren’t something they are enjoying very much. Upon further research about the scouts, a few articles had emphasized the concept of “girl power”, which in a way connects to one of my main questions: what is the overall goal of the Girl Scouts? The significance of “girl power” is to present that girls can be tough and can do more what people think they can. Girls can be strong leaders and do anything they set their heart and mind to do. It was apparent in the juniors and cadette their leadership qualities from leading the activities to cooking breakfast.

The experience as a whole opened my eyes to what the Girl Scouts actually teaches and the kinds of girls participate in the scouts. No two scout troops will be exactly the same or do the same activities, especially those that are overseas, but the outcomes are similar when it comes to the development of a girl’s confidence and character. When following the Girl Scout Law, the girls are given a basic understanding of what it takes to just be a good person, which really is one of the main purposes of the scouts; being honest, caring, helpful, courageous, and respectful are all qualities that any good person would have and being in the scouts can teach the girls efficient ways to have all these qualities of a good person. With how widespread the organization had become over the years, the goal of preparing a girl for success and with leadership techniques and communication skills has gone unchanged and though not every girl has a deep passion for the scouts, they had the opportunity to potentially step out of their comfort zones, make new friends, and be a part of an exclusive and diverse family, which just about every girl can benefit from.

Works Cited

Griffith, Lauren Miller. Marion, Jonathan S. “Globalization.” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith. 2017. American Anthropological Association. 

Henninger-Rener, Sashur “Religion.” In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology Edited by Nina Brown, Laura Tubelle de González, and Thomas McIlwraith 2017. American Anthropological Associtaion.          

“P.R.A.Y.” Girl Scouts of the USA P.R.A.Y.  Accessed December 5, 2018         

“Who We Are”, Our Council | Who We Are | USA Girl Scouts Overseas. Accessed November 1, 2018