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What is Anthropology?

 Anthropology is the study of the human species and its immediate


ancestors.
 Anthropology is holistic in that the discipline is concerned with studying the
whole of the human condition: past, present and future. Anthropology
studies biology, society, language, and culture.
 Anthropology offers a unique cross-cultural perspective by constantly
comparing the customs of one society with those of others.
 People share both society and culture.
 Society is organized life in groups, a feature that humans share with other
animals.
 Cultures are traditions and customs, transmitted through learning, that
govern the beliefs and behaviors of the people exposed to them.
 While culture is not biological, the ability to use it rests in hominid biology.

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Adaptation, Variation, and Change
 Adaptation
is the process by which organisms cope with
environmental stresses.
 Human adaptation involves interaction between culture and
biology to satisfy individual goals.
 Four types of human adaptation:

 cultural (technological) adaptation


 genetic adaptation

 long-term physiological or developmental adaptation

 immediate physiological adaptation

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Adaptation, Variation, and Change
 Humans are the most adaptable animals in the world, having
the ability to inhabit widely variant ecological niches.
 Humans, like all other animals use biological means to adapt
to a given environment.
 Humans are unique in having cultural means of adaptation.

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Adaptation, Variation, and Change
 Through time, social and cultural means of adaptation have
become increasingly important for human groups.
 Human groups have devised diverse ways of coping with a wide

range of environments.
 The rate of this cultural adaptation has been rapidly accelerating

during the last 10,000 years.


 Food production developed between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago
after millions of years during which hunting and gathering was the
sole basis for human subsistence.
 The first civilizations developed between 6,000 and 5,000 years ago.

 More recently, the spread of industrial production has profoundly

affected human life.

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Four Subdisciplines of Anthropology
 The academic discipline of American anthropology is
unique in that it includes four subdisciplines: cultural
anthropology, archaeological anthropology, biological or
physical anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.
 This four field approach developed in the US as early
American anthropologists studying native peoples of North
America became interested in exploring the origins and
diversity of the groups that they were studying.
 This broad approach to studying human societies did not
develop in Europe (e.g. Archaeology, in most European
universities, is not a sub discipline of anthropology; it is its
own department).

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Origins of American Anthropology

American anthropology arose out


of concern for the history and
cultures of Native North
Americans. Ely S. Parker was a
Seneca Indian who made
important contributions to early
anthropology.

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Four Subdisciplines of Anthropology
 Variation in “Time” (diachronic research): using information
from contemporary groups to model changes that took place in
the past, and using knowledge gained from past groups to
understand what is likely to happen in the future (e.g.
reconstructing past languages using principles based on modern
ones).
 Variation in “Space” (synchronic research): comparing

information collected from human societies existing at the same


or roughly the same time, but from different geographic locations
(e.g. the race concept in the US, Brazil, and Japan).
 Any conclusions about “human nature” must be pursued with a

comparative, cross-cultural approach.


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Cultural Forces and Human Biology
 Culturaltraditions promote certain activities and abilities,
discourage others, and set standards of physical well-being
and attractiveness.
 Participation and achievement in sports is determined by
cultural factors, not racial ones.
 In Brazilian culture, women should be soft, with big hips and
buttocks, not big shoulders; since competitive swimmers tend
to have big, strong, shoulders and firm bodies, competitive
swimming is not very popular among Brazilian females.
 In the US, there aren’t many African-American swimmers or
hockey players, not because of some biological reason, but
because those sports aren’t as culturally significant as football,
basketball, baseball, and track.
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Intelligence Tests
 Thereis no conclusive evidence for biologically based
contrasts in intelligence between rich and poor, black and
white, or men and women.
 The best indicators of how any individual will perform on an
intelligence test are environmental, such as educational,
economic, and social background.
 All standard tests are culture-bound and biased because they

reflect the training and life experiences of those who develop


and administer them.

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Culture and Sports

Years of swimming
sculpt a distinctive
physique. The countries
that tend to produce
successful female
swimmers are the United
States, Canada, Australia,
Germany, Scandinavia,
and the former Soviet
Union, where this body
type isn’t as stigmatized
for women as it is in
Latin countries.

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Inc. Duomo
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Intelligence Tests
 Jensenism asserts that African-Americans are hereditarily
incapable of doing as well as whites.
 Named for Arthur Jensen, the educational psychologist who
observed that on average African-Americans perform less well
on intelligence tests that Euro-Americans and Asian-
Americans.
 This racist notion of the inborn inferiority of African-

Americans recently resurfaced in the 1994 book The Bell


Curve by Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray.

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The Bell Curve (1994)
 Like Jensen, Hernnstein and Murray disregard more
convincing environmental explanations in favor of a genetic
one to explain patterns observed in intelligence test scores.
 An environmental explanation acknowledges that for many

reasons, both genetic and environmental, some people are


smarter than others, however these differences in
intelligence cannot be generalized to characterize whole
populations or social groups.
 Psychologists have come up with many ways to measure

intelligence, but there are problems with all of them.

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Intelligence Tests
 Intelligence tests reflect the experiences of the people who
write them.
 Middle- and upper-class children do well because they share
the test makers’ educational expectations and standards.
 The SATs claim to measure intellectual aptitude but they also

measure the type and quality of high school education,


linguistic and cultural background, and parental wealth.
 Studies have shown that performance on the SATs can be

improved by coaching and preparation, placing those students


who can pay for an SAT preparation course at an advantage.

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Intelligence Tests
 Culturalbiases in testing affect performance by people in
other cultures as well as different groups in the same nation.
 Native Americans scored the lowest of any group in the US,
but when the environment during growth and development for
Native Americans is similar to that of middle-class whites, the
test scores tend to equalize (e.g. the Osage Indians).
 At the start of World War I, African-Americans living in the

north scored on average better than whites living in the south


due to the better public school systems in the north.

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Cultural Anthropology
 Cultural Anthropology combines ethnography and ethnology to study
human societies and cultures for the purpose of explaining social and
cultural similarities and differences.
 Ethnography produces an account (a book, an article, or a film) of a
particular community, society, or culture based on information that is
collected during fieldwork.
 Generally, ethnographic fieldwork involves living in the community
that is being studied for an extended period of time (e.g. 6 months to
2 years).
 Ethnographic fieldwork tends to emphasize local behavior, beliefs,
customs, social life, economic activities, politics, and religion, rather
then developments at the national level.
 Since cultures are not isolated, ethnographers must investigate the
local, regional, national, and global systems of politics, economics,
and information that expose villagers to external influences.
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Cultural Anthropology
 Ethnology examines, interprets, analyzes, and compares the
ethnographic data gathered in different societies to make
generalizations about society and culture.
 Ethnology uses ethnographic data to build models, test
hypotheses, and create theories that enhance our understanding
of how social and cultural systems work.
 Ethnology works from the particular (ethnographic data) to the

general (theory).

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Cultural Anthropology
Comparison between Ethnography and Ethnology

ETHNOGRAPHY ETHNOLOGY

requires fieldwork to collect draws upon data collected


data by a series of researchers

descriptive synthetic

group/community specific comparative/cross-cultural

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Archaeological Anthropology
 Archaeological anthropology reconstructs, describes, and
interprets past human behavior and cultural patterns through
material remains.
 The material remains of a culture include artifacts (e.g.

potsherds, jewelry, and tools), garbage, burials, and the


remains of structures.
 Archaeologists use paleoecological studies to establish the

ecological and subsistence parameters within which given


group lived.

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Archaeological Anthropology
 The archaeological record provides archaeologists the
unique opportunity to look at changes in social complexity
over thousands and tens of thousands of years (this kind of
time depth is not accessible to ethnographers).
 Archaeology is not restricted to prehistoric societies.

 Historical archaeology combines archaeological data and


textual data to reconstruct historically known groups.]
 William Rathje’s “garbology” project in Tucson, Arizona.

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Biological Anthropology
 Biological, or physical, anthropology investigates human
biological diversity across time and space.
 There are five special interests within biological anthropology:
 paleoanthropology: human evolution as revealed by the fossil record
 human genetics
 human growth and development
 human biological plasticity: the body’s ability to change as it copes with
stresses such as heat, cold, and altitude
 primatology: the study of the biology, evolution, behavior, and social life of
primates.
 Biological anthropology is multidisciplinary as it draws on
biology, zoology, geology, anatomy, physiology, medicine,
public health, osteology, and archaeology.

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Biological Anthropology

Paleoanthropologists study the fossil


record of human evolution. This
photo shows Professor Teuku Jacob
with early fossil skulls from Java,
Indonesia.

McGraw-Hill Photo
© 2002 by TheCredit: Kenneth
McGraw-Hill Garrett / National
Companies, Geographic
Inc. All rights reserv
Linguistic Anthropology
 Linguistic anthropology is the study of language in its social
and cultural context across space and time.
 Some linguistic anthropologists investigate universal

features of language that may be linked to uniformities in


the human brain.
 Historical linguists reconstruct ancient languages and study

linguistic variation through time.


 Sociolinguistics investigates relationships between social

and linguistic variation to discover varied perceptions and


patterns of thought in different cultures.

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Theoretical/Academic Anthropology
 Theoretical/academic anthropology includes the four
subfields discussed above (cultural, archaeological,
biological, and linguistic anthropology).
 Directed at collecting data to test hypotheses and models that
were created to advance the field of anthropology.
 Generally, theoretical/academic anthropology is carried out in

academic institutions (e.g. universities and specialized


research facilities).

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Applied Anthropology
 Applied anthropology is the application of any of
anthropological data, perspectives, theory, and techniques to
identify, assess, and solve contemporary social problems.
 Some standard subdivisions have developed in applied
anthropology: medical anthropology, environmental
anthropology, forensic anthropology, and development
anthropology.
 Applied anthropologists are generally employed by

international development agencies, like the World Bank,


United States Agency for International Development
(USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the
United Nations.
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Medical Anthropology

Medical anthropology
studies health
conditions from a
cross-cultural
perspective. In
Uganda's Mwiri
primary school
children are taught
about HIV.

McGraw-Hill Photoby
© 2002 Credit: Jorgen Schytte
The McGraw-Hill / Still Pictures
Companies, / Peter
Inc. All Arnold,
rights reserv
Applied Anthropology
 Applied anthropologists assess the social and cultural
dimensions of economic development.
 Development projects often fail when planners ignore the

cultural dimensions of development.


 Applied anthropologists work with local communities to

identify specific social conditions that will influence the


failure or success of a development project.

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Two Dimensions of Anthropology
The Four Subfields and Two Dimensions of Anthropology

GENERAL APPLIED
ANTHROPOLOGY ANTHROPOLOGY
Cultural Anthropology Medical Anthropology

Archaeological Cultural Resource


Anthropology Management (CRM)

Biological or Physical Forensic Anthropology


Anthropology

Linguistic Anthropology Non-government


Organizations (NGO’s)

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Anthropology and Other Fields
 Anthropology’s own broad scope has always lent it to
interdisciplinary collaboration.
 Anthropology is a science, in that it is a systematic field of

study that uses experiments, observations, and deduction to


produce reliable explanations of human cultural and
biological phenomena.
 Anthropology is also one of the humanities, in that is

encompasses the study and cross-cultural comparison of


languages, texts, philosophies, arts, music, performances
and other forms of creative expression.

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Cultural Anthropology and Sociology
 Formerly, sociology focused on “western” societies while
anthropology looked at “exotic” societies.
 Cultural anthropological methodologies have primarily been

in-depth and qualitative (e.g. participant observation).


 Sociological methodologies tended to be mainly quantitative

(statistically based).
 The trend toward increasing interdisciplinary cooperation

(deconstruction) is causing these differences to disappear.

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Political Science and Economics
 While other disciplines have looked at such institutions as
economics and politics as distinct and amenable to separate
analysis, anthropology has emphasized their relatedness to
other aspects of the general social order.
 Anthropology has tended to emphasize cross-cultural

variation in such institutions, in contrast to the almost


exclusively Western orientation of the other disciplines.

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Anthropology and the Humanities
 The anthropological concept of “culture” has gained
increasing influence in the humanities’ treatment of human
artifacts.
 In turn, cultural studies have brought a fuller recognition of

the influence such artifacts may exert on human behavior.

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Anthropology and Psychology
 Anthropology has contributed a cross-cultural perspective to
concepts developed in psychology.
 The school of cultural anthropology known as culture and

personality has emphasized child rearing practices as the


fundamental means for transmitting culture.

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Anthropology and History
 The convergence between the disciplines of anthropology
and history has been marked, particularly during the last
decade.
 Recent treatments of colonial history have emphasized the

importance of understanding the cultural contexts of


historical records.
 Kottak argues for some continued distinction between

history and anthropology, on the basis of history’s focus on


the movement of individuals through roles, as opposed to
anthropology’s focus on change in structure or form.

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