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Introduction to Anthropology

A general overview of the field, its subfields and perspective.
by

Danielle Langworthy

on 28 August 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to Anthropology

Anthropology
Linguistic Anthropology
Archaeology
Cultural Anthropology
Studies CONTEMPORARY human culture
Biological Anthropology
What Makes Anthropology Unique?
The Field of Anthropology
The field of anthropology comprises the study of human nature, human societies, and the shared human past


Anthropology is divided into four sub-fields:
Biological anthropology
Linguistic Anthropology
Archaeology
Cultural Anthropology
The Anthropological Perspective
Holism
Holism is consideration of the entire context
How is Anthropology Relevant (or, Why do I have to take this class?)
Describes and compares:
How we learn culture
How we organize our societies
How we organize politically
Levels of inequality and stratification
Types of governance and social control
Marriage and family structures
Relationship with the environment
Economies
Health, illness and disease
Religion, myth and ritual
Adaptation to globalization through migration, cultural revitalization and change
Constructions of race and ethnicity
Constructions of sex and gender
Methods of parenting
Languages
Art and other forms of expression
You will use what you learn in this class no matter what field you go into!
We live in a multicultural world, and you will work alongside, become friends with, date or marry, and interact with people from all over the world. Anthropology provides tools you can use to understand and build better relationship with people!
The kinds of questions asked:
What is the range of human diversity
How are we different from each other?
What are the commonalities across all these differences?
Why are we so diverse? What is the source and explanation of for this diversity?
How do different elements of human culture fit together and influence each other?
How do ways of being human change over time?


The methods used:
Ethnography
Fieldwork - participant observation and interview
Description of a culture
Ethnology
Comparisons of cultures
The perspective applied:
Holism
Cross-cultural comparison
Cultural Relativism
For example:
How are different parts of the human experience related to one another?
How are human biology and human culture related to one another?
How is local experience related to the global context?
How is the past related to the present?
Photo credit: http://meiningera.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/bike2.jpg
Cultural Relativism
Anthropology teaches:
Observation
Social agility
Analysis and planning
Social sensitivity
Accuracy in interpretations of behavior
Ability to appropriately challenge conclusions
Simplification of information
Contextualization
Problem solving
Persuasive writing
Assumption of a social perspective
Multiple sub-fields:
Medical anthropology
Urban anthropology
Environmental anthropology
Economic anthropology
Development anthropology
Educational anthropology
Understanding another culture in its own terms sympathetically enough that the culture appears to be a coherent and meaningful design for living.
Every culture has its own standards of what is considered good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral.
If we want to understand why people behave the way we do, we need to understand their culture's standards.
Not the same thing as moral relativism - doesn't mean anything goes!
Comparative Method
Within anthropology, by comparing cultures, languages, and biology between populations, we can:

Better understand our own cultures, languages, or species
Test claims about "human nature"
Assess variety
Document worldwide similarities
Analyze regional trends
Track change or stability over time
Study of human language, including:
Historical linguistics
Descriptive linguistics
Ethnolinguistics
Sociolinguistics
Applied linguistics
Historical Linguistics
Study of the emergency of language and how specific languages have diverged over time.
Descriptive Linguistics
Study of sound systems, grammatical systems, and the meanings attached to words in specific languages.
Sociolinguistics
'Yes well, legibility and correct punctuatoin might not be "street" ... but that's how I roll, motherf***er.'
Study of the relationship between language and social relations.
Study of humans from a biological perspective.
Subfields:
Paleoanthropology
- emergence of humans and human evolution
Molecular anthropology
- use of genetic and biochemical techniques to test hypotheses about evolution, adaptation and variation
Human variation
- how and why the biological traits of human populations vary
Forensic anthropology
- identification of human skeletal remains for legal purposes
Primatology
- study of non-human primates
Study of cultures of past populations through analysis of their material culture:
Artifacts - tools, weapons
Features - foundations, hearths
Ecofacts - bones, seeds, wood
Marine archaeology
Cultural resource management
Humans are
Biocultural Beings
We are the product of our evolutionary history
We've inherited:
Bipedalism
Highly developed stereoscopic color vision
Language
Grasping thumbs
Enlarged brains
Complex Material Culture
We are the product of our individual environmental experiences
This includes:

Food we eat
Activity patterns
Socioeconomic status
Where and when we live

Nature vs. Nurture is a false dichotomy

We are BIOCULTURAL
Full transcript