ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - John Colarusso, Andy Roddick, Participant Observation
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What is Anthropology?
So… you’re an Anthropologist…
-anthropologists do not dig up dinosaurs
Looking at the word anthropology it can be broken down into two parts:
o Thus anthropology is the study of humankind and aspects of humankind and our
closest relatives (primatology is included)
Anthropology is the systematic study of humankind (past and present from earliest fossil
evidence that we have)
On a broad basis we can say a few things about anthropology:
Anthropology is historical
o How did we come to be the way we are?
o Reconstructions of early hominids (humans)
o What actually makes us human
o What forces in the past have shaped us?
Anthropology is comparative
o What do all humans have in common?
o How do we differ?
Look at a population and may decide to divide into groups
Differentiate based on sex (males vs. females), skin colour (what are
some of the reasons for these differences languages, body size, shape
of face, belief systems)
Anthropology is contextual
o What circumstances, environments and beliefs (=context) shape human
This is a key characteristic of anthropology
Looking at coffee growing in South America, want to understand the
broader social, economic, political, religious aspects of the population
Anthropology is holistic
o How can we understand the entire picture of the human condition, both biological
o Both past and present
Anthropology is a very broad field, we actually divide it into areas of specialization. So the way
that most anthropology departments/fields divide, is into 4-5 subfields.
The Four Subfields of Anthropology
1. Physical anthropology (biological)
3. Cultural anthropology
4. Linguistics tends to be smallest sub-fields
Text p. 2 Broad discipline and then get more specific
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