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York University
ANTH 2170

Sex, Gender and the Body: Cross-Cultural Approaches to the Body, Gender, Sexuality and Kinship ANTH2170 – Fall/Winter 2011/2012 – Karen McGarry Lecture 2 – Evolutionary Myths – Sept 14 Introduction to Anthropology - Only dates to the late 1800s in Europe and North America. - The study of humanity across time and space. o Across time – human behaviour and ways of life. - Humanity – interested in human-like ancestors – from apes and monkeys to Homo sapiens. - This course is in the social/cultural anthropology field. - There are four sub-category fields: archeology, physical/biological anthropology, linguistic and socio/cultural anthropology. Archaeologists - Study past human societies, primarily through analyzing material culture (artefacts, architecture). o Material culture – things that are made or modified by humans.  Artefacts are portable material culture.  Food. o Examine things that get left behind – your trash – from past societies. o If they are examining a society where documents are available, they will use those forms to get information alongside artefacts. Physical/Biological Anthropology - Study human and animal bodies as physical entities. They are interested in things such as: o Human evolution – hominids.  Hominids include humans and their bipedal ancestors.  E.g. Neanderthals. o Primatology – e.g. Jane Goodall  Interested in studying chimps, monkeys, etc.  In an effort to reconstruct human evolution. o Forensic analysis of skeletal material  Study bones.  Able to confer the sex of an individual, the sex of the individual and when they passed away. o Disease patterns in past societies.  Cultural behaviours that might influence disease in a particular society.  Compare patterns in different levels of a population – elite vs. working class. Linguistics - Study language in the past and present societies. They are interested in such issues as: o Language acquisition. o Language evolution and change.  What historical influences can cause a language to change over time? o Identity and language  How is it a marker of gender in some cases?  Do men and women speak differently in a society?  How is class manifested in language? Socio/Cultural Anthropology - Study of contemporary human societies throughout the world. o Politics, economics, religion, identities (gender, class, race), globalization, etc. o Tend to specialize. o Ethnographic fieldwork.  Emerging yourself within the culture you are studying.  Participant observation – living with a particular group of people and participating in daily tasks or chores.  Long term interaction in engagement with a group of people. • Usually a year or more. Minimum 1 year in the field is considered norm. o In this course:  We are going to study anthropologists that study the body and issues of the family. Vocabulary: - Culture – Sets of learned behaviours acquired by people as members of the society. These behaviours are transmitted by various agents of enculturation. o Thus, culture is shared, learned and dynamic.  Not something you are born with.  Includes learned behaviours such as table manners, issues of religion, how we adorn our bodies, food, politics.  Dynamic in the sense that it’s constantly changing. We learn culture through different mechanisms.  We learn about it through media, parents, family members, school system, etc. - Cultural relativism – the process of understanding another culture or another group of people from their own perspective. o Cultural relativism to battle pervasive ethnocentric attitudes in society. o Trying to avoid the tendency to view your culture as the ‘right way’ or a superior way to someone else’s. o Trying not to pass judgement on other people’s belief system. - Ethnocentrisms – the belief that your way of life or way of thinking is superior to someone else’s/another person’s/a group’s. o The period from 1492 onward – when the Europeans thought that the natives were below them. o Racism - Ethnographic fieldwork – based primarily on long term, qualitative research. Nature vs. Nurture - Scholars who argue that behaviours are the result of nurture or environmental factors. - In later 1800’s science and social scientists, the nature vs. nurture began and is still on-going.
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