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- Can there be any universal human rights? What issues can be raised when trying to assert universal human rights? Who should decide what the universal human rights should be, and what about those who disagree with them?
Rights are prerogatives or permission of a person or entity conferred legally or morally. Human rights in particular are prerogatives of a person entitled to him by virtue of being human. The concept of human right therefore is inherently universal as it applies to all people regardless of nationality, ethnicity, color, religion, language, or any circumstances that socially, physically or politically differentiates human beings from each other. As stated in first article in the Universal Declaration of Human rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Universally implementing human rights however is not possible because there are issues in which it becomes inapplicable. One of the most basic human rights is the right to life, liberty and security of person. (Morsink, 2000) This right however is withheld to people who are deemed unfit to carry out their individual rights such as the mentally ill or the people who exploit their rights to the detriment of other people’s lives i.e. criminal serial killers.
While human rights are ultimately endowed by God as Thomas Jefferson along with other founders of the US constitution affirmed and therefore inherent, these rights however needed to be formalized and expressed in terms of law. The United Nations Organization, the umbrella association of all nations in the world institutionalized human rights through the Universal Declaration of Human rights, which set down the necessary duties, restrictions and actions of governments needed to promote and protect human rights.
Governments, being the bearer of the correlative duty for such right are penalized with sanctions by United Nations for violations of human rights. These sanctions include embargo or economic trade restrictions; exclusions and suspension or the temporary withholding of a government’s membership to UN along with their privileges; expulsion or the ousting of a nation from the membership to the UN; and military intervention. (Van Doorn and Meijenfeldt, 2007).
- Give examples of how ethnocentrism functions in a culture. Do you think that ethnocentrism can ever be a good thing?
Ethnocentrism is the predilection to perceive one’s surrounding or the world in general principally from the viewpoint of one’s own culture. While this predilection is normal because it is impracticable to discard one’s own contextual backgrounds in dealing with things, doing this in the extreme level without consideration to the views of other people can have psychological consequences that lead to bigger conflicts. The psychological groundwork for ethnocentrism seems to put higher value to one’s culture over others, which can lead to discrimination such as racism, anti-Semitism, and heterosexism among others.
Ethnocentrism in particular can result to racism, a type of social oppression based on the belief that race accounts for differences in human character and ability, and that a particular race is superior to others. (Chin, 2004) Slavery and Nazism, which are dreadful events in human history, are its dreadful consequences. However, in as much as ethnocentrism can be harmful, it also has its benevolent benefits. For instance, it can be used to reconstruct identities of certain people for their reparation and to help them become more productive and effective citizens of the country. Afro centrism, a kind of ethnocentrism with Africa at the center of Philosophical thoughts and ideas was designed to reconnect African Americans with Africa following the trauma, loss of identity or even inferiority that slavery have instilled upon African Americans in the history of the US. (Walker 2001)
- What are some examples of ethical considerations with which an anthropologist must be concerned? Make up an example of an ethical problem an anthropologist might face in the field.
Anthropological research concerns human subjects including their social and cultural life hence, anthropologists habitually and indelibly deal with ethical issues that rise from cultural and social differences of people that can post conflicts with an anthropologist’s own belief. In nations plagued with starvation and death, for instance i.e. Brazil (as in the case of Scheper-Hughes’ Death Without Weeping), mothers have developed a pragmatic outlook of “letting go” particularly towards their fragile children who have a minute chance of survival, which make them indifferent to the child’s death. Instead of concluding that these mothers lack moral virtues, anthropologists must develop an open framework free from prejudice in dealing with these events for them to better understand their research and make more fair and reasonable conclusions about their studies.
- Imagine you are designing a training course for business people who will be working and securing deals in another country. What are some aspects of culture in general that you may wish to cover? What are some of the cultural differences that can make people uncomfortable when meeting or doing business?
Today, because of the cultural diversity in the workplace and the prevalence of outsourcing, off-shoring and company transplanting abroad, cross cultural information and ethics training should be conducted for employees that focus on understanding cultural differences. Cross cultural information refers to any related perceptions and actions resulting from different cultural assumptions, mindsets and procedures. For expatriates, special training should be conducted to avoid culture shock in the specific country where he/ she will be assigned. These skills will include communication skills and cultural understanding. Language training is very important because communication is an apparent need in any transaction that a worker will do. Local leadership and management issues that the worker might encounter in the context of the host country should also be highlighted. One of the most important aspects of culture that I personally want to include is religion because many of the cultural traits and traditions of people are engendered from religion. For instances, some conservative Islamic states prohibit males from looking at females directly in the eye. Orientation on cross-cultural adjustment as well as useful social manners and ethics (behavior and appearance) pertinent to daily living so that they can function more productively and effectively and avoid unnecessary and outlandish social gaffes or mishaps. (Hess and Linderman 2002)
- Consider the climate in which you live. What technological adaptations help you to function? Are there any biological features you possess which have helped you to adapt?
In our modern world dubbed as the digital age, information and communications technology or ICT pervasively permeated every aspect of our modern lives. Advances in ICT have also contributed to the rapid phase of globalization which is characterized by the speedy and extensive exchange of people, information and other resources. The internet, which is the global network of computers, is one of the most important modern breakthroughs in communication that facilitated cultural exchange, cultural promotion and acculturation. As a global online source of information, the internet helps people to learn about the different unique cultures of different people in great detail in order for them to know how to deal and engage with them. There are also software applications which help people in the translation of words and phrases from one language to another in order to facilitate more effective communication.
In terms of climate adaptation, all people have developed biological features for them to fit in their environment. For instance, living in a cold climate, many people living in our society like me have developed relatively bigger bodies to have a more efficient means of generating and regulating internal body temperature and reduce heat loss. Moreover, people also have developed cultural patterns and technologies for adjusting to temperature changes. For one, the invention of alcoholic drinks helps in blood circulation especially in body extremities for warming. Other technological advances include heaters e.g. fireplace or air conditioners to create heat to warm the environment. Cultural adaptations on the other hand, include the development of indoor activities during winter i.e. basketball or sleeping close together to minimize heat loss.
Chin, J. (2004). The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination: Ethnicity and multiracial identity Greenwood Publishing Group
Hess, M. and Linderman, P. (2002). The Expert Expatriate: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad. Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Morsink, J (2000). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting, and Intent. University of Pennsylvania Press
Scheper-Hughes, N. (1993). Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil, University of California Press
Van Doorn, M and Von Meijenfeldt, R. (2007). Democracy, Europe’s Core Value?: On the European Profile in World-wide Democracy Assistance. Eburon Uitgeverij B.V.,
Walker, C. (2001). We can’t go home again: an argument about Afrocentrism
Oxford University Press