Fledgling and Anthropology

Link to polyandry article: http://io9.com/5925324/polyandry-or-the-practice-of-taking-multiple-husbands

Link Jane E. Brody’s article: well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/we-are-our-bacteria/

As I read the sections of Fledgling that described Ina culture, it reminded me of what I learned while I was taking an anthropology course at my local community college. While I studied cultural anthropology, I learned about many cultures that were extremely different from mine. These differences include how individuals group themselves in terms of family dynamics (having one partner or mutual) or in terms of their dietary customs. This made me reflect on the fact that members of these cultures may regard certain traditions/habits within my culture as being “bizarre.” Why? Because their culture is not the same as mine. Throughout my involvement in this course, I also learned the reasons why particular cultures had certain lifestyle habits. As a result, this made it a lot easier for me to understand these cultures and their way of life. In , Shori constantly learns about Ina culture and the reasons why certain lifestyle habits are the way that they are.

As I studied anthropology, I learned about the marital practice of polyandry. Polyandry is when a woman has multiple husbands. Kind of similar to Shori and her multiple symbionts, right? In Esther Inglis-Arkell’s article “Polyandry, or the act of taking multiple husbands”, she explains that polyandry was used as a way to control the population (because a woman could only have 1 pregnancy at a time) and was also used as a way to manage property. At first glance, many people may think “wow, that’s different” and not even attempt to find out the cultural motives behind polyandry. Instead, they just consider it to be a foreign concept. So, how does my experience studying anthropology connect with Fledgling? Well, within this vampire novel Butler brilliantly creates a brand new species that has its own culture, traditions, and way of life. The Ina even had their own legal system which was the Council of Judgment. However, even though different cultures have different customs from one another we must keep in mind that we are all human beings. In Jane E. Brody’s article “We Are Our Bacteria”, she breaks this point down a little further and states that although we may regard ourselves as human beings, in reality we are all just “a mass of microorganisms housed in an a human shell.” Given this statement, if every single person is a “mass of microorganisms”, why are we so different from one another? Even though the Ina are not technically human, comparing Ina culture with my own made me realize that what’s “normal” to one person may not be “normal” to another, just like the practice of polyandry may not seem normal to many people although it is prevalent in other countries.

Personally, I could never identify Ina culture as being “normal” not only because it’s fictional, but simply because it’s very different from mine. Within Ina culture, having multiple symbionts is completely normal and it was frowned upon to have only a small number of them. I know many individuals in my life who consider polygamous marriages as “not normal” and don’t agree with them whatsoever. Ina mating habits are drastically different from only having one partner at a time, which is common in my culture. Within the novel, Wright had an extremely hard time accepting Shori’s mating habits and way of life because of the fact that they were not the same as his. Wright desperately wanted Shori to himself and did not want to share her with anyone else despite the fact that this desire did not match up with her Ina culture. Due to the fact that not everyone has the same ideas, beliefs, and habits as one another, we must be open to adapting these different customs to our lives as we are exposed to them. This is similar to Shori having to learn Ina culture all over again due to her impaired memory as she entered back into Ina culture.

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