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Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-Based Approach Term Paper

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Updated: Apr 12th, 2021

Introduction

This paper aims to illustrate six concepts regarding Vietnam and based on Robbins’ chapters three to eight respectively.

The first concept concerns the moral policy of the Denver Buddhist Temple and Buddhist monks. Visiting the Denver Buddhist Temple, I was surprised to learn that there are different kinds of Buddhism. As a rule, monks take a vow of celibacy, have a minimum of material values, and represent a high level of Buddhists’ moral standards. Nothing should distract them on the way to reaching self-knowledge and self-improvement. However, in the Denver Temple, they belong to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism for common people.

The moral policy of the Denver Buddhist Temple and Buddhist monks

The second point to be revealed is the symbolic actions of people in the Denver Buddhist Temple. I observed that people show respect for the Temple and each other taking off shoes and covering legs and hands as appropriate before entering. Likewise, I noted that people attending worship pray to bow in front of the Buddha statue or meditate in the lotus position. Generally, I enjoyed my visit. I understood that Buddhists believe in the achievement of the enlightenment through their religion.

Symbolic actions of people in the Denver Buddhist Temple

The third concept reflects the type of the family represented in Scent of the Green Papaya that shows the story of poor girl Mui serving for a merchant family. There are three sons in the family. Based on Robbins (2013), who claims that the “nuclear family is the [a] group consisting of a father, a mother, and their biological or adopted children,” one might conclude that the family illustrated in the film is nuclear (p. 182). In spite of the fact that a traditional Vietnamese family follows patrilineal descent, the viewer observes a matrilineal kinship family system, where the mother takes the leading position.

Personhood

One more concept is connected to Mui’s personhood that is sociocentric. Mui cannot imagine herself outside the society, namely, the family, in which she lives. Therefore, she cares about the family members more than for herself and serves perfectly. Besides, the woman enjoys life, and even the sunset or the scent of green papaya can bring her pleasure. Thus, the viewer sees the incarnation of innocence and gentleness in her character.

Social hierarchies

Another point that is important to mention is the social hierarchies. The social hierarchy exists in any society and assumes the distinguishing in different social classes. In Vietnam, the social segregation includes the ruling class in the person of Communist Party, the scholar class, the working class represented by farmers as well as industrial workers, and the business class. All in all, the stratification occurs on the basis of education and occupation.

Effects of war on society

Finally, the effect of war (1965 – 1975) on Vietnamese society is the last concept to be reflected. In accordance with the Geneva agreement, the country was divided into two parts – North and South. In 1960, an armed conflict broke out between them. One of the most tangible effects was the illegal polygamy occurred due to the gender imbalance and formed as a result of the death of a large number of men during the war. Moreover, the war affected not only Vietnam but also the USA. The so-called Vietnam Syndrome appeared among the US soldiers, the essence of which was the refusal of Americans to advocate for US participation in long-term military campaigns without a clear political and military objective and accompanied by significant losses among US troops.

Conclusion

To sum up, the presentation uncovers the most significant issues of Vietnamese society comprising the society in general, social hierarchy, moral policy, symbolic actions, family, and personhood.

Reference

Robbins, R. H. (2013). Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-based Approach. (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-Based Approach." April 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-anthropology-a-problem-based-approach/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-Based Approach'. 12 April.

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