4 Anthropological Concepts Applied

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Looking at anthropological concepts in 2 documentaries
“Acting like a thief” and “A Rajasthani Jagrata.”

Cultural Anthropology is the “study of contemporary and historically recent human societies and culture. The main focus being culture i.e. the customs and beliefs of some human group” (Bailey,Garrik and James 5).Often, to better understand the meanings that people attach to their behavior, anthropologists live with them to observe them and get involved in their daily activities and rituals. “Acting like a thief” and “A Rajasthani Jagrata” are examples of two documentaries made by such anthropologists as an attempt to understand the behavior of the people of two very different societies. They cover various concepts including the process of enculturation, racism, rites of passage and gender. Enculturation is the process in which “Individuals acquire their culture in the process of growing up in a society or some other kind of group” (Bailey, Garrik and James 25). Anthropologists believe that we learn to interact by picking up cultural codes of conduct starting from infancy; hence human behavior isn’t biologically acquired, but shaped by a guider. For example, in the documentary “Acting like a thief” by Kerim Friedman and Shashwati Talukdar,the “Chharas” were brought up in a nomadic lifestyle,where stealing was the norm. Dakxin’s grandmother admits that “people saw them as artists as well as thieves”. In 1871, they were labeled as a “criminal tribe” and were sent to prison camps by the British. Here the government kept strict checks on them, to the extent of following the women to the bathrooms, while men were forced to work or were beaten up. The social stigma that developed as a result of the people being labeled “born criminals” was internalized by their own grandparents, and the children let it define who they were as they grew up. This is evident by the response of one of the children, Vivek after he saw his mother getting beaten up on a street...
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