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Introduction to Anthropology: Cultural

"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit."

-- Wade Davis


Visual Represntations of Culture: Kin Diagram or Mapping Project

These are two options for an “art project” that will illustrate some of your cultural connections.  It is up to you to choose the materials and format for your project, in order to achieve the assigned goals.  You may have an opportunity to show your work and talk about it briefly in class, but the kin diagram or map should be clear enough to be interpreted without explanation. Choose one of these projects to complete and bring in on Tuesday, January 20th.


A) Create a kin diagram of your family (30 points), according to the basic guidelines presented in class (see tutorial at  You must include at least: 

·        ego (the person who is at the center of the diagram – this means you)

·        a mother and father (and step-parents or birthparents, if you choose), 

·        brothers and sisters (birth-siblings and step-siblings or other siblings), 

·        maternal and paternal grandparents, 

·        all of your aunts, uncles or cousins on both your mother’s and father’s sides

·        any of your children or grandchildren

·        any of your nieces or nephews (by blood)

You CAN include additional family members, as well (e.g. nieces or nephews by marriage).  Use circles to represent females, triangles to represent males, and be sure to identify all individuals by name (real names or pseudonyms – you may leave off last names for identity security).

B) Using the above diagram as your reference point, answer the following questions (typed out and attached to your kin diagram):

1.      Clan membership in Pohnpei is matrilineal. Who would belong to ego's matriline, if ego lived in Pohnpei? (5 points)

2.      Trobriander chiefly families are both matrilineal and AVUNCULOCAL (married couples preferentially live with the man’s mother’s brother).  Tell me who ego’s brother would inherit from and live with upon reaching puberty. (5 points)

3.      The Yanomamo kin system is what anthropologists identify as the IROQUOIS CLASSIFICATORY SYSTEM.  Yanomamo call mother and mother’s sister(s) naya, and father and father’s brother(s) haya.  Sisters and female parallel cousins are called amiwa, while brothers and male parallel cousins are termed eiwa. For the purposes of this assignment, identify who ego would call naya, haya, amiwa, and  eiwa. (10 points)

Be sure your kin diagram has your name on it clearly somewhere (back is fine).


An understanding of local geography can be critically important to a culture.  Frans Boas noted the skills of Inuit (Eskimos) at creating maps to show where they frequently travel or hunt.  The Ju/wasi have detailed knowledge of their local area to facilitate foraging and hunting, and they must recall reliable sources of fresh water for drinking. 

Create a map of where you live, large enough to include the places you visit on a daily or weekly basis.  You should include drawings or pictures (your own photos and/or found images) with labels or a key to indicate the following features: 

·        Your residence / places you find shelter

·        Important food resources

·        Year-round fresh water

·        Other resources that are important for you

·        Frequently visited places and transportation routes

·        Residences of close kin (within the area)

·        Ritually important spaces

·        Socially important locations

·        Sites of special interest

·        Places to avoid (taboo or dangerous areas)

Note if there are any cultural or political boundaries that are interesting or important to youYou do not need to include any “actual” place names or street names – feel free to invent names for locations and features based on their interest or significance to you. See the example of community mapping projects from the University of Florida for inspiration.

Be sure your map has your name on it clearly somewhere (back is fine).

Contact Me if you have questions or concerns.




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Last modified 18-Jan-2009