Lecture 2 Anthropology
What is socio/cultural anthropology? What makes it different?
Fieldwork and ethnology
- What sets anthropologists apart
- They often share objects of study with other disciplines (the way of studying -> go out and live
with the people who are studying aka field work)
- Anthropologist= field work
- Ethnography is what anthropologists write up after their field work (analysis) They have to have
some sort of theoretical analysis
- Description is very important, so that the reader could understand and see the culture from the
native point of view.
- Thick description-> describing the context (makes ethnographic analysis)
History of Anthropology
- Young discipline, anthropology has been around 125 years. Given the shape in the early 20 th
- It’s related to history, geography, travel writing, philosophy
- Marco polo wrote about china (anthropology)
- Victorian anthropology (early 20 century) -> influenced by Darwin (Origin of Species) He
defined culture in a way that it linked to Victorian ideal civilization.
- Some people had more evolved culture than others. All cultures could be ranked according to
him from least to most civilized (influenced by Darwin).
- Victorian (most civilized)
- All cultures evolved through 3 stages: magical thinking to religion thinking to scientific rational
- They would read other people’s accounts (explorers, travelers)
- Victorian Anthropologists were not doing fieldwork
- “On the Verandah” Anthropologists first stayed on the verandah.
- One of the first anthropologists to come off the verandah was Malinowski. He is considered one
of the fathers of anthropology. He studied near Indonesia. He wrote a classic ethnology. What
he realized during his stay was this was a better way of learning about other cultures. He writes
his notes based on what the people were doing.
- Malinoswki compared and ranked them to British society. People liked the Turbian Islanders.
They had their own complex institutions (own laws, economic system, etc) He was writing
against the earlier anthropologists. “ We cannot rank them, but only compare)”
Father of Anthropology
- Father of American branch - Boas argued that anthropology should be studied on their own terms, rather than being ranked
with other. He was arguing against the Victorian anthropologists. He argued that each culture
had its own unique history. His anthropology was called Historical. He said that there are
- Contemporary anthropology-> key component
- Cultural Relativism-> we can’t judge a particular culture to be primitive, irrational, etc just
because it seems that way according to our own cultural. To be focused on your own culture,
and not being able to focus on another one is called ethnocentrism. It’s a methological state.
- Our own beliefs orient us to the world, and to temporarily to not follow them is difficult.
- You can’t make judgments until you know what you’re talking about. Example: the idea of a
pealth Feeding Desire: why women want to become fat as possible? What about their health?
What is culture?
- Culture is shared patterns of learned behavior. Culture is learned sets of ideas and behaviors
that is acquired by a member of a society. Shared understanding of how to act, right and wrong,
- It is what makes humans human. It is what sets us apart from animals. Culture is about ideas
and shared ideas, and making the world seem meaningful. Culture is what allows us to function
as social animals. Allows us to share with other human beings.
- Boas- his idea of culture is a useful approach. He said that culture is like eye glasses (help us to
see the world around us and focus). Without the glasses, everything is a blur. Metaphorically,
culture is like a lens for experience. Example, from the book ( A very short Introduction)
- Culture tells some things to some people, and other things to other people (A very short
- Can cultures be defined as a whole? If cultures are whol