ANTH 1150 Lecture Notes - Robin Lakoff, Biological Anthropology, Morpheme
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Anthropology-Offers a broad view of distinct and comparative cross cultural perspectives.
The study of human species and its immediate ancestors (past, present and future).
Biological - The study of human biology diversity in time and space. Focus on human
evolution, human genetics, human growth/development, human coping mechanisms and
evolution in non-human primates.
Linguistics-The study of language in its social and cultural context across space and time.
Archaeology-The study that reconstructs, describes and interprets human behaviour and
cultural patterns through material remains. E.g. archaeological digs
Social/cultural-The study of human society and culture; describes, analyzes, interprets and
explains social and cultural similarities and differences.
Applied – The application of anthropological data, perspectives, theory and methods to
identify, asses and solve contemporary social problems. More in the field than academic
Ethnography-Usually a piece of writing about one group of people.
Ethnology-Usually a comparison between 2 or more cultures/groups.
Ethnohistory-Looking at documents and records to figure out anthropological themes.
Fieldwork-Spending time (usually 12months) and living with the people who you are
studying. Usually go in with a theory or an ethnographic question.
Functionalism-Idea that socialization is there to meet all human needs through certain
institutions. Everything has a function in society.
Malinowski-Studied in England and was given money to study abroad, he went to
Australia. He decided that an in-depth study of native people would be best.
-Had a revolutionary idea of going out to the cultures instead of being an armchair
anthropologist. He then studied in New Guinea and then moved to the Trobian islands.
-Developed the idea of participant observation and functionalism.
Magic-the Trobrianders believe there are magical rights for everything such as growing
crops, fishing and love. They believe that magic spells are needed to assist the technical
workings of farming and that it is necessary to bring the growth up and control the weather.
“Our magic is like your fertilizer.”
The Kula-Center of trobrian life and marks the beginning of an elaborate and dangerous
series of expeditions. Kula means to go.
-Go out to other islands and trade with other tribes and bring back treasures (objects have a
personal history and cannot be bought or sold and are special items of exchange).
-Clockwise moves necklaces; contraclockwise moves bracelets.
-Starts with the building of a kula canoe and ends with the presentations of the necklaces to
Speech-Malinowski and others spoke of the trobrianders as being savages, uncivilized
which is politically incorrect. In this day and age this language is not acceptable.
Culture-Abstracts set of beliefs, values and attitudes that when acted upon result in
behaviour that is considered appropriate by the members of the group.
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-Learned (not rooted in biology), shared (cannot just have 1 person), symbolic (i.e. veil,
clothes), contested (not everyone believes in the attitudes/beliefs to the same degree),
dynamic (culture is dynamic and changes throughout time) and universal (everyone has a
Cultural Relativism-Strive to understand cultural practices in terms of the values and
beliefs of the group that practices them. Idea that even though you must take into account
the different values of another culture you can still keep your moral values and not accept
things like the KKK or Nazi’s.
Ethnocentrism-The tendency to view ones cultural practices as natural, normal, necessary
and to judge others cultures according to your own standards. Probably a universal
tendency because that’s how culture operates.
Linguistics-Split into 2 sections physical evolution and descriptive/structural linguistics
Physical Evolution-Questions if only humans that have the capacity for language? Why?
Language- The means of communicating thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. It is not stimulus
dependent and can discuss past, present and future.
Call System-Definitely a form of communication but distinct from language because call
systems are stimulus dependent (stimulus must be present for call). No past or future.
Cocoa, Washu-Gorillas and chimps were taught sign language and exhibited signs of real
language because they lied, could use productivity which are both components of language.
This suggests non-human primates do have the capacity for language and culture not just
Descriptive/Structural linguistics-Describes the structure/components of language.
Phonology - Phonemes are the smallest units of sound that result in a change in meaning in
any given language. E.g. say humans can produce 200 sounds about 50 sounds are used per
language. Must systematically go through the language to find the amount of phonemes in
-Minimal pair-2 units of sound where there is only 1 phoneme different e.g. hat/cat.
Morphology-Morpheme is that smallest unit of language that has meaning (doesn’t
necessarily have to be a word). E.g. teacher, teach and er are both morphemes.
-Bound Morpheme- When added to another morpheme it changes the meaning E.g. “ing”
Syntax-The arrangement of words to form phrases and sentences.
Semantics-A lexicon is the total stock of words in a language. And a lexicon (language)
reflects the relationship between culture and language.
Non-verbal language - Gestures, body language, body art, paralanguage (tone of voice),
fashion. Body language and gestures are both culture specific.
Sapir Whorf Hypothesis-Whorf worked for an insurance company investigating fires and
found that many fires started because of miscommunication. He came up with the idea that
the language we speak shapes the way we see/perceive/interact with the world.
-Strong version is that there is no reality and that we see reality through language.
-Soft version is that the language we use influences our reality ad how we perceive things
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Sociolinguistics-Addresses questions like what is the relationship between language and
power? Focuses on gender; the idea that men and women speak a different language.
Deborah Tannen-Wrote Report vs. Rapport which says that men (in North American
society) see conversation as giving and receiving of information whereas women see it as
the process of developing a relationship (rapport). However, not only gender but context.
Participant Observation-Not only observe the culture but totally immerse yourself and
participate whole heartedly in the day to day practices of the culture.
Interviews - Formal and informal conversations (sometimes with an interpreter).
Key Consultants-Are people who by accident, experience, talent, or training can provide
the most complete or useful information about particular aspects of life.
Life Histories- If an anthropologist finds someone particularly interesting they collect their
Longitudinal Research-The long term study of a community, region, society or culture
usually based on repeated visits.
Team Research-Many anthropologists go to the one place often staggered so the research
come to be like a longitudinal study.
Ethics-There was no code of ethics till after WW2. You can never lose your status as an
anthropologist. There are separate codes for applied and academic anthropologists.
-Have an obligation to people whom you work and write about; must get consent and also
to the best of your ability to do no harm to them. E.g. use pseudonyms for people/towns
-Have an obligation to the organization funding you. Difficult because you may indirectly
be funded by a group that will/does cause issues/harm to the people you study.
-Have an obligation to the discipline of anthropology. I.e. don’t make stuff up, maintain
integrity of the discipline and to leave so another anthropologist can go back.
-Have an obligation to society (some believe just to the university and students not a wider
pop but some disagree and believe it’s to everyone.)
-Have an obligation to students to teach to the best of your ability and keep current.
Imperialism-Policy of extending rule of a nation or empire over foreign nations and of
taking and holding foreign colonies.
Colonization-Political, social, economic and cultural domination of a territory and its
people by a foreign power for an extended period of time.
-Colonials decided where the borders were which had nothing to do with the original
people, made them learn specific languages as well as lumping unlike people together.
British Colonialism-Colony was huge and led by the desire for profit. It was originally
concentrated in the Caribbean, Africa, Canada, USA and India.
Idea that the British need to parent/govern the other places…obligation to the countries.
French Colonialism-Not a huge colony led by the desire to spread Christianity which they
did through spreading the French culture.
-Slaves were converted to Catholicism and baptized as well as being taught and encouraged
to have a family/marry.
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