Anthropology Introduction 9/13/2011 6:48:00 AM
What is Anthropology?
Anthropology is a grand discipline.
1) The scope and historical depth of a general anthropology is ambitious.
2) There is no other discipline that contains so vast an array of research
subjects and so varied a collection of methodologies.
3) It can be argued that there is no more interdisciplinary or discipline
nor grand decision of the application of scientific knowledge.
A General Anthropology
- Four fields (Archaeology, Linguistics, Biological Anthropology, Social/
- Recognizes human production of culture
- These stand in a dynamic relationship with each other and with other
- Most Canadian universities follow the four field approach.
- There is also a British influence that pairs social anthropology with
There has always been an applied aspect to anthropology
- origins of modern anthropology grew out of politically charged issue of
- internal and external colonialism.
- issues of poverty, ill health and control of populations within an
- Some of the most dedicated anthropologists were missionaries and
administrative personnel, facing problems of the impact of colonialism on
Public Issues Anthropology/ Public Anthropology
- theoretical, esoteric, scientific goals have existed in balance with
- there is a current emphasis on applied goals knowledge serving the
public. - Research designed, carried out and published in collaboration with
research communities is the ideal. What is Anthropology? 9/13/2011 6:48:00 AM
What is Anthropology?
It is believed that people all over the world are all the same. This assumption is wrong.
Anthropology examines all societies (ancient and modern).
It offers cross-culture perspectives
Compares customs and believes of societies.
Ethnography: personal study of local settings; Spending about a year in another culture,
living with locals and learning about culture).
Exploration of human diversity in time and space
Studies whole of human condition (biology, society, language, culture and interests).
Culture produces a degree of consistency in behavior and thought among the people
who live in a particular society (Kottak 2).
Adaptation: process which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses,
such as those posed by climate or landforms.
Human Biological Diversity and the Race Concept
Biocultural: inclusion and combination of both biological and cultural perspectives and
approaches to comment on or solve a particular issue or problem.
Culture is a key environmental force in determining how human bodies grow and
Natural Selection: process by which the forms most fit to survive and reproduce in a
given environment do so in greater numbers than others in the same population do.
Survival of the fittest = Natural Selection, most evolved survive and produce evolved off-
The Subdisciplines of Anthropology
Cultural Anthropology: study of human society and culture, Describes, analyzes,
interprets and explains social and cultural similarities and differences.
Ethnography: (based on field work) Ethnographers collect data then organizes,
describes, analyzes and interprets and creates a presentation with it. Data is collected by
living in small communities and learning the culture. Observing first hand the behaviors,
beliefs, customs, social life, economic activities, politics and religion.
Field work required for data collection Descriptive
Group/ community specific
Ethnology: (based on cross-cultural comparison) examines, interprets, analyzes, and
compares the results of ethnography. Data is used to make generalizations about society
Used data collected by series of researchers
o Reconstructs, describes and interprets human behavior and cultural patterns through
o Find artifacts that are used in order to get information about the people, culture and
time period. Artifacts include human/ animal bones, weapons, grains, fossils, etc.
o Are able to reconstruct patterns of production, trade and consumption.
o Ecology: study of interrelations among living thins in an environment.
o Ecosystem: consisted by organisms and environment together.
o Palecology: study of ecosystems of the past.
o Excavating: digging through succession of levels at a particular site. It can document
changes in economic, social and political activities.
Biological, or Physical, Anthropology
Five special interest within biological anthropology
1. Human evolution as reveals by the fossil record.
2. Human genetics.
3. Human growth and development
4. Human biological plasticity (bodys ability to change in order to cope with stresses).
5. The biology, evolution, behavior, and social life of monkeys, apes, and other nonhuman
> Studies language in its social and cultural context
> Sociolinguistics investigates relationships between social and linguistic variation.