+Essay #1: Making the Familiar Strange
Throughout this book we will be exploring how anthropology’s holistic, cross-cultural, and comparative approach can help us think more deeply about other people and live more consciously in our global world. As humans, we take for granted many things about our lives and how the world works, whether it is our notions of race or the cheap cost of a chocolate or a can of Coke. But anthropologists often describe how doing fieldwork can make the familiar strange and the strange familiar.
Preparation: Review Guest’s Example
For this essay, you will be asked to conduct an anthropological analysis of a familiar object. Your book provides a great example on page 30: take a can of Coke, for instance. Can you make this most familiar cultural object unfamiliar? What would an anthropologist want to know about that can of Coke? What can you learn about yourself, your culture, or globalization in general from that can of Coke? How does the social life of a can of Coke intersect with the lives of people who produce it? To conduct an anthropological analysis – that is, focusing on the people behind the product – you could research answers to the following questions:
1. What’s in it? Where in the world did the ingredients come from?
2. What can you learn about the workers who produced it? What is their life like?
3. What are some specific examples of places where Coke has had an impact on the local communities where it is produced? How has it affected these communities?
4. You may want to explore one specific case study by researching Plachimada, India, and Coke. What is the relationship of the people in Plachimada to a can of Coke? Do they drink it? Do they work in the factory that makes it? How much do they earn? How much has the Coca-Cola factory changed their lives? Has it affected people in the community differently based on age, gender, or class? What actions did the people of Plachimada take to protest problems caused by the factory? Were they successful?
5. What is the impact of the can of Coke on the community where it is consumed? What are the health impacts? The environmental impacts? Where does the waste end up — landfills, the ocean, recycled, repurposed?
6. What do you pay for a twelve-ounce can? What are the real social costs of producing a can of Coke – in terms of water, power systems, sewage treatment, pollution, garbage disposal, and roads for transportation? Who pays for them?
7. What is the environmental impact of making a can of Coke, considering what it takes to grow and process ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup and the quantity of water required to produce the finished product?
For more information on History Of Anthropology read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_anthropology
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