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Lecture 1

ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Lactose Intolerance, Sociolinguistics, Participant Observation

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Tristan Carter

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Four Field Approach
Physical Anthropology
Social and Cultural
Anthropology: engagement with human differences from the perspectives of lived
experience, past, present, and future
Study of human experience
Concerned with the unity and diversity of humanity (and related primates) and
of human culture and society
The most scientific of the humanities, the most humanistic of the sciences
Discipline of infinite curiosity about human beings
When, where and why did humans appear on earth?
How and why do ancient/current societies vary so much in their
customs, ideas, and practices?
How can we apply our methods, data, and results to solve practical
problems today (e.g. conflict, illness, environment)?
Stereotype: westerners studying in exotic places
Anthropology and the colonial project
Anthropologists often aided the colonial project
Previously western cultures studied by others
Historians, sociologists, political scientists, folklorists
Anthropology of Western Societies & Studying Up
West is NOT a normative template
‘Our’ culture needs analysis
Global processes/local implications
Diasporic studies
Studying ‘up’ - power relations
“Knowledge of people often translates to power over people”
Western cultures need to be critically understood
Why such a broad scope of study?
Anthropologists interested in big picture - patterns in human culture/practice?
Need lots of evidence to make such generalized claims that human behaviour is due
to ‘nature’, or ‘culture’.
Case Study: Why didn’t African-American school children drink milk? Poverty?
1960’s educators’ discovery
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