Anthropologists seek to expand their understanding of people byfocusing on the human behavior. Their interest in developing a broadhypothesis allowed them to study communities across the world thatincluded the African, Asian and American societies. The human cultureaspect selected is religion. The religious practices are relevant toanthropology as they enhance the understanding of how the society isorganized and the responsibilities of individuals across the world.The paper shall discuss an ethnographic comparison of the Ethiopian,Indian, and Cherokee communities by focusing on religion, as thehuman culture aspect to study human behavior and culture.
The Ethiopian society is considered to be a multi-cultural communitythat is located in Eastern Africa (Orlowska, 2013). Some of theethnic groups include the Oromo, Amara, Tigraway, Somali, Gurage,Sidama, and Welaita among others. Currently, English is the mostwidely used, although Amharic remains the ancient text (Orlowska,2013). The Indian culture is considered as the oldest tradition,which makes the community a supreme society (Riley & Carpenter,2016). The Indians are located in Southern Asia and are also amulti-ethnic nation. The main tribal groups are the Indo-Aryan,Dravidian, Mongloid, among other but Hindi is the recognizedlanguage. The Indian society practices the caste system as theybelieve it helps in maintaining social order. The Cherokee NationThey originally resided in Southeast region of America in Georgia,North and South Caroline, Kentucky, Tennesse, and Virginia (Owens,2016). However, in the 1800s, they were forced to migrate to Oklahomawhere they settled (Hanson, 2015). The Cherokee were acculturated bythe Europeans. English remains their official language, but thechildren are taught Cherokee as their mother tongue.
Analysis ofReligion, as the Human Culture Aspect
Religious practices and beliefs enable anthropologists to have adeeper understanding of society. The spirituality tends to influencethe various forms of art, houses, mode of dressing, music, andrituals within a community. Colonization led people to adopt newfaiths that have replaced the traditional practices. An analysis ofthe Ethiopian population shows that they practice both Christianityand Islam religion with a few individuals still maintaining theirtraditional faith (Orlowska, 2013). India also has various religiousgroups that practice Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, andBuddhism (Olivelle, 2011). The community had their spiritualpractices that are considered culturally sensitive. Today, very fewpeople observe the beliefs and traditions since a large population ofthe Cherokee people practices Christianity due to civilization(Hanson, 2015).
Similarities andDifferences of the Societies
The Ethiopian, Indian, and Cherokee communities have shared andvarying practices. Some of the similar traditions focus on the genderroles. Among the Ethiopian, India, and Cherokee communities, men,women, and children had defined roles. The males were required toprovide the needs of the family while their wives performed thedomestic work at home (Orlowska, 2013). The societies also practicedthe patriarchal system where the father is considered the head andthe male children are the inheritors of the household property(Olivelle, 2011). In all communities, the gender roles among thethree societies were defined based on one’s sex. The mothers andelder aunts would teach the younger girls the household chores whilethe boys remained with their fathers and uncles who taught them howto feed their families (Owens, 2016).
The difference noted among the three societies focus on the standardof living The Ethiopian community is faced with poor lifestyles. Thecountry has insufficient resources to meet the needs of theincreasing population (Orlowska, 2013). The society also faceslimited employment opportunities, and although the fertility ratesremain high, the mortality rates are on the rise as well due to lackof health facilities. The Cherokee community is also experiencing lowemployment opportunities, but they are more privileged since they cansecure jobs in other regions. However, their traditional practicesdiscourage them from seeking vacancies in other areas since theyprefer remaining close to their kin. Hence, the level of povertyremains high (Hanson, 2015). India is more technologically advanced,but for the society experiences social inequality (Olivelle, 2011).Many of the Indian citizens are thriving in poverty children aresuffering from malnutrition, and also, they are being subjected tochild labor.
An analysis of human behavior across the societies shows that thepeople are keen on their religious practices. For instance, most ofthe individuals within the Ethiopian community practice Christianityunder the Orthodox Church. They engage in fasting periods and observefeasts such as Easter and Pentecost (Orlowska, 2013). The Indiansociety consists mostly of Hindus who follow the Hinduism religion.They are also deeply rooted in their religious practices as theycelebrate festivals and gather in their places of worship where theyare taught the beliefs and values (Olivelle, 2011). The Cherokeecommunity also had spiritual beliefs and practices that evendetermined the treatment given to those who were sick (Hanson, 2015).
Realities of life for the examined cultures
The religious status among the three societies shows that the localshave embraced other faiths such as Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.For instance, the Cherokee ancient belief system appears to have beenreplaced by Christianity (Owens, 2016). Another reality is that thegender defined roles have faded since women are seen performingduties that were reserved for the male species such as being theprovider in Ethiopia, India, and Cherokee communities. The standardof living in Ethiopia and Cherokee is also likely to improve, but inIndia, it might remain a challenge since the inequality seems to beincreasing (Riley & Carpenter, 2016).
Social Problemsand Public Policy Issues
The social problems that are common among the three communities arepoverty, unemployment and poor standard of living. The threesocieties are governed by democratic governments that can address theissues. For instance, the use of social media has helped to highlightthe poverty issue in Ethiopia and its government has managed toobtain foreign aid (Orlowska, 2013) The Cherokee community has alsodeveloped a social movement that enables them to preserve theirnational heritage. The United States government has also establisheda public policy that allows the Cherokee nation to receive tribalcitizenship (Hanson, 2015). India is facing a challenging inaddressing the issue of reduced standard of living becauseimplementing their public policies is not easy. For instance, when anindustry is constructed to provide employment to the locals, theyhold demonstrations demanding its closure due to the impact ofpollution of the industries on their health (Owens, 2016).
An analysis of the Ethiopian, Indian, and the Cherokee culturesreveals that they have similar gender roles, but different standardsof living. Religion remains a significant aspect of their norms andvalues, although they have adopted other belief systems in the modernsocieties. Poverty, unemployment, and poor living standards aresocial issues witnessed among the communities that affect humanbehavior. The ethnographic comparison suggests that people’sconduct among the various societies has changed since they haveshunned some of their traditional practices and adopted modern waysof living.
Hanson, S. A. (2015). A “Voice of Benevolence from the WesternWilderness“. Journal of The Early Republic, 35(4),553-578.
Olivelle, P. (2011). Language, Texts, and Society: Explorations inAncient Indian culture and religion. London: Anthem Press.
Orlowska, I. (2013). Forging a Nation: The Ethiopian MillenniumCelebration and The Multiethnic State. Nations & Nationalism,19(2), 296-316. doi:10.1111/nana.12021
Owens, R. M. (2016). Between Two Fires. American Indian Quarterly,40(1), 38-67.
Riley, A. R., & Carpenter, K. A. (2016). Owning Red: A Theory ofIndian (Cultural) Appropriation. Texas Law Review, 94(5),859-931.