Anthropology Discussion: Souls, Ghosts, and Death

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Discussion Prompt

Please write a minimum of three paragraphs (paragraphs should be 4-8 sentences in length) for your first post (original post: this cannot be divided into multiple posts– the 7 points is based solely on the first submission, whether blank, partial, or full: make it count!) describe the difference between souls and ghosts, and the various perceptions of death that exist cross-culturally.

  • Reflect on the video, “Nzambi” by Vice, in addition to descriptions of other practices and beliefs and practices relating to death (treatment of the body, relationship to the soul and ghosts).
  • What is the purpose, or function, of these beliefs in various societies?
  • If we see them across cultures, but they vary greatly, what sorts of generalizations can be make about these beliefs and practices in regards to all human societies?
  • Considering your own beliefs and practices associated with these topics, what similarities do you see when looking at the case studies covered this week? What differences?

Write three thoughtful replies to three original posts that stood out to you.

Point Distribution

Refer to the Module 2 discussion forum for guidelines for discussion posts.

7 Points- Your original post- responses should include insight related to the prompt and include specific details, such as case studies or cultural examples, for support.

3 Points- Thoughtful, topic-related replies to classmates. Avoid, “I agree”-type statements and discuss why you agree and elaborate, to show you understand the course materials.

Grading Rubric: Please use the gear at the top of the page to review the Discussion Grading Rubric.

module 2 discussion forum that was mentioned above:

1) Engaging, meaningfully, with classmates regarding the content of the course.

Learning more than you knew before entering discussion, this happens by reading and considering classmates’ post content and working to consider what you learned while completing the readings, videos, Quiz and Topic Assignment. Did classmates see some of the content differently? What stood out to you? Why? You may use some personal reflection here!

  • Personal knowledge can be used (for discussion only), if you can accurately and clearly show its relationship to course materials for the module; this means you must use terms and concepts throughout your post. I encourage the use of personal knowledge, but only when it is used to further show comprehension of what we are learning in the module.
    • A post that is filled with opinion (what you believe is right or wrong, good or bad, better or worse, etc.), lacks course terms/concepts, or is unable to show the value of the module’s content in relation to personal knowledge should be avoided.
  • Remember, you will be using cultural relativism (Links to an external site.) throughout the course, which includes your work on discussion. This means refraining from judging another culture based on your own culture/biases. We will take that to also mean not judging another religion/culture based on our religion, as well.
    • For example, if you follow a particular religion, then hold off on using your religion as a basis for understanding/judging the cultures we study and their religious views. Instead, focus on the emic categories (Links to an external site.) (the perspective of those in a culture we are studying) and try to get to the heart of the meanings to those you are learning about in this course.
  • Your first post must be completed by noon of the due date or it will automatically lose 20% of the total possible points; late posting means fewer classmates, if any, will be able to read and interact with your post, thus it isn’t fostering discussion and isn’t meeting the basic goal of the assessment.
    • Discussion is the most valuable place to learn when you are in an online course. This is the point of the college experience! Learning. Growing. Becoming someone who can think critically and logically about the world around them. Use one another as resources for enhanced learning.

2) Showing deeper understanding of terms and concepts, rather than reiterating superficial information from the textbook.

  • If your post is written as a rephrasing of the topic assignment content (which everyone has completed) or a general summary of the textbook (which everyone has read), then it isn’t terribly engaging.
    • Instead, think on the terms and concepts and case studies that really stood out to you. Discuss those. Discuss why they stood out. Discuss how a particular concept or term or case study relates to your own personal knowledge. Make the post yours. By making it yours, you help your classmates learn and you make your post engaging to them.

3) Reflecting on the material (in your original post) and your classmates posts (in replies) and how the information you’re gathering, through the course materials or classmates’ posts, have added to your knowledge or challenged you to think about something we are learning in a new way.

  • An example of reflecting for this module’s content, while writing your original/first post, might include recognizing your ethnocentric (Links to an external site.) perspectives as you read/learned.
    • For example, the first chapter discusses cannibalism. It’s easy to judge a culture that participates in this act based on the fact that our culture sees it as bad (ethnocentrism), but as a student of anthropology, it is imperative to understand how cannibalism is practiced, in what circumstances, and why, within the culture we are studying (by using cultural relativism).
    • Your goal isn’t to have an opinion on the practice or belief, but to understand the meaning of the practice or belief to those being studied and remain aware of how your biases impact your perspective as you learn. If your culture has biased your perspective, then state that fact. We are all ethnocentric. This course is going to challenge you to become more aware of the way your culture biases your perspective of others.

4) Using course terms and concepts to show comprehension. Showing you understand means being able to explain the relationship between case studies (examples) of various cultures covered in class to those course terms (usually bolded words in the textbook) and concepts (usually headings or subheadings in the textbook).

  • Most of the course terms and concepts are pretty straight forward. However, students sometimes misuse terms or concepts because of their general understanding (what we call, “casual” or “everyday” meanings), rather than the anthropological understanding of the term or concept. Your score is based on your comprehension using the anthropological understanding.
  • Be sure to revisit the textbook and understand the terms and concepts you use before employing them in your work. The better you know them by the end of the module, the easier it will be to draw on that information later for exams or future modules (some terms and concepts return repeatedly in the semester).

Note: Grades are based on your ability to convey what you’ve learned in your own words, without quotes. Verbatim content will not earn points, but may result in a loss of points (no quotes, please!). This is where you explore what you’ve learned- make the posts your own!

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