Anthropology Test 1
August 19, 2015 Reading: Pages 57-63
• The study of the human species and its immediate ancestors
• The study of human nature, human society, and the human past
o Holistic and Comparative
What is Anthropology?
• Anthropology is not the only academic field that studies humans
• It is a holistic perspective meaning it is all facets of shared human
• Try to study all aspects without being culture-bound to try to obtain a
more objective understanding. This is for a comparative purpose.
• Anthropology and science
o It is scientific and uses the scientific method
• Anthropology and Humanism
o Cultural process to look for a logic of rationality meaning that
they try to understand why and how people do things.
• Culture: about shared human behavior.
o A society’s socially transmitted ideas, values, and perceptions.
It’s how individuals and groups make sense of their own
experiences. It’s a shared understanding of how things work.
It is learned.
o There are both modern and historic/prehistoric culture
• Evolution: about human biological change.
o Scientific theory that species arise through a long, gradual
process of genetic transformations.
o Both modern biological variations, as well as change in
• Environment: about ecological interconnectedness
o It’s the idea that humans are shaped by their environments
including social and physical environment. We in turn shape
the world we live in.
o Past and present in terms of modern biological and cultural
diversity as well as biological and cultural origins.
Four Fields of Anthropology • Biological Anthropology
o How people have changed over time and why people look the
way they do.
o Look at culture and the culture process and human behavior
• Linguistic Anthropology
o Interested in studying the relationship of language in culture
and society. Thinking about how culture impact language and
vice versa. Think about how language has changed over time
• Culture Anthropology
o Think about culture and are most commonly studying modern
Unity of General Anthropology
• In Europe they are not connected. Only in the US do we combine
the fields and make them connected because no one branch can
survive on it’s own.
• Historical Reasons we combine: North American native people,
Cultural biology, People trying to understand their past without
having a written background on it, History of racial categories, Franz
Boas (German immigrant who came up with the idea of a “four field
• Topical Reasons: All branches are focusing on human variation in
time and space, and culture and evolution. One cannot exist on it’s
• Fieldwork: All anthropologists engage themselves in the field that
they’re working in and first hand go out to experience the cultures
that they’re studying.
• American Anthropological Association (AAA) recognizes two
o Academic Anthropology: Grant and university research. As a
field of study they ask research questions and try to gain a
better understanding of what people are doing and why they
are doing it. Have a proposal and ask for grants to explore
that question. Federal government, state government, and
private funding all fund academic research, however amounts
o Applied anthropology: Practical application of anthropology
research. Think about it as people who are given problems
that they need to solve. They don’t come up with questions themselves but rather apply what other anthropologist have
Academic vs. Applied Anthropology
• Historically always mixed: It is more recent that the two fields have
been separated. Pre-World War II anthropology was applied.
Academic anthropology grew after WWII because the GI Bill put so
much money into universities and therefore there was an explosion
of research in all kinds of fields, especially anthropology. But the
1970’s, college populations increasing and money put towards
research was decreasing so started to decline a little. About
equivalent to where things are today.
• Thought of as two kinds of anthropology but really the same field. It
used to be mostly applied and the WWII came and put more money
into research and then it became very academic.
• Theory and Practice: Anthropologist study societies firsthand. They
engage with them and generate theory and descriptions of why
certain people do the things they do. Academic researches why and
applied apply these theories first hand. Theory aids practice and
application fuels theory. People who apply theory have impact on
that theory. As people interact sometimes the things they do change
which in turn would change theory. A cycle. Therefore, application
has created new fields for practice and study such as education,
urban and rural areas (migrations and movements, ect.), medical
fields, business, politics and public policy, and developmental fields
(developed vs developing countries).
• Crosscuts all four subfields:
o Cultural anthropologist corporations, NGOs, governments
▪ Besides the government, Microsoft hires the most
people and therefore they hire and anthropologist to
research the work environment
o Archaeologist CRM Firm, corporations, governments
▪ Hired to research the culture impacts of the corporations
and the environmental impact.
o Linguistic Anthropologist Corporations, State and Local
▪ Smallest field. Hired to think about the differences in
linguistics and what meanings same words have in
o Physical Anthropologist NGOs, State and federal
▪ Many sent to Vietnam to excavate for US soldier
remains for the war that were never returned August 21, 2015
o is on location research for an extended period of time. It is our
primary source of collecting information through data
collecting; it could be from talking to people or physically
digging in the ground.
o It is incredibly personal. They live their research first hand.
o All field work is problem oriented. They are researching very
o Longitudinal means that it’s an extended period of time. It
could take multiple seasons, months, and years. It often
depends on repeated visits to the site that you are studying.
o Team research! While it is very individualized and based on
your specific questions, it is pretty much always coordinated
research by multiple people. Either too big of a project to take
on alone or because related questions that everyone could
benefit from each other.
• Systematic Survey and Excavation: Excavation is the longest part
but it is the last part because you have to do so much before
o Provides a regional perspective by gathering information on
settlement patterns over a large area. Have to know where
we can find the answers to the questions. How are people
distributed across the land that you are studying?
o Site Identification: Survey large areas, find and locate sites
(which is often for future excavation), and once they
understand all the various aspects of the survey, they use this
information to answer some research question and protect or
describe cultural resources. Have to create their of
topographical maps to make sure that they are as detailed as
needed. Shows a better space relationship.
o Excavation: Need excavation to show how things have
changed over time. Systematic removal of soil and other
materials. Have to have straight lines for systematic
measurements. Have to use the sited map and surface
collected to decide where the best cultural resources are
located for a better excavation site. Then they subdivide the
site and basically create a grid where the square would be a
good site to excavate. Then you start to dig. Very systematic.
Excavate very slowly as they go down. Look at the soil and
changes of the soil. Mark wherever they find something, both artifacts and features. Then they use this information to
answer their research questions and protect or describe
cultural resources. August 24, 2015
Read Chapter 13, 2
• Ethnography: the fieldwork in and about a particular living culture.
Generally what an anthropologist is doing to collect their data.
o Multiple techniques:
▪ Participant-observation: learning a culture through
social participation and personal observation over a
long period of time. It is about literally participating in
another society and culture, looking at it and thinking
about what they’re doing. (David Mayberry Lewis
went as far as being adopted into another family to fully
understand and observe the culture)
▪ Interviews: Conversations that maintain rapport and
provide knowledge. Conversations can be very
formalized and for a specific purpose or can be very
informal just to gain day-to-day knowledge.
▪ Genealogical Methods: Procedures to understand
kinship, descent, and marriage. Have to understand
how people view relationships in their own culture.
▪ Key Consultants: Experts on particular aspects of local
life. Depending on the research process, there could be
a reason you have to talk to an expert in the local life.
May be about healing, religion, etc. A lot of the
knowledge you gain often comes from interacting with
▪ Life Histories: A personal cultural portrait of existence
or change in a culture. Often can gain lots of
knowledge from studying one person and listening to
how the culture has changed over their life span.
▪ Emic vs. Etic: Comparison of local beliefs and
perceptions to the ethnographer’s. Compare what the
locals say about means and values to what the outsider
perceives to be true.
• Survey Research:
o Survey research design: Sampling, impersonal data collection,
and statistical analysis
▪ Looking for patterns in the data, which often requires
you to select a larger population to randomly select from
and sample. However, it’s only going to give you a more
etic (outsider) perspective.
• Anthropology’s Responsibility
o Relevance and impact o Anthropology, ethics, and responsibilities
▪ American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics
(2012)- a code that anthropologist are supposed to
follow while on site. Do not have to be a part of AAA to
be an anthropologist. There is no certification process
to become and anthropologist, which makes the code of
ethics really just a suggestion.
• Do no harm
• Be open and honest- the work they do is often
relevant to people and can have an impact on the
society you’re studying. Need to be honest about
the work you’re doing. Often it will require you to
gain permission to interact with the civilization.
• Obtain informed consent and necessary permits
• Weigh competing ethical obligations- who are you
obligated to? The local community, employers,
• Make results accessible- once you do the
research; make sure that it’s available for others
• Protect your records- protect sites from vandalism
• Maintain professional relationships- maintain
proper, respectable relationship with people
around you August 26, 2015
Fieldwork and Ethics
A set or system of moral principles
• Problems involving contrasting systems
• Issues with applying anthropology: Sometimes it’s not always your
choice because if your employer wants something done then you
may have to do it and not be able to share those results (which is
part of the code), if you work for the military as an anthropologist you
cannot publish your results.
• Solution: Anthropologists have to decide what their primary ethical
obligation – which is almost always the object you are studying, both
people, species, and materials they study.
o Informed consent:
▪ Peoples agreement to participate: purpose, nature,
procedures, and potential impact.
• Anthropological use:
o Culture: the set of learned, shared behaviors and ideas that
humans acquire as members of societies.
▪ Everyone has a set of behavior therefore everyone has
▪ Consists of the abstract values, beliefs, and perceptions
of the world. – knowledge, beliefs, morals, laws,
customs, traditions, etc.
▪ Use culture to survive in and transform the world in
which we live.
o Cultures: the different sets of learned behavior between
o : the process by which culture is learned and
transmitted across generations.
o Non-anthropological uses of this term (don’t get confused):
referring to a specific behavior – media culture, college
culture- they are very specific subsets of a behavior. OR as in
“cultured.” Anthropologists don’t use it in this sense.
• Attributes of culture:
o Learned- passed between generations, everything that we do
o Shared- located in groups, associated with a society
o Symbolic- Something that comes to stand for something else,
both material objects (American flag means a very different
thing to us Americans compared to outsiders) and symbols
(family/clan/tribe crests, etc.) o Culture and Nature: Converts natural urges and acts into
cultural customs (eating- a natural urge however how or what
you eat is very cultural
o All-Encompassing: Culture is a model that includes all aspects
of human group behavior
o Integrated: Patterned systems of customs that are related
o Levels: Different levels of culture exist- international level
(shared by multiple groups and societies), national (shared
behaviors that tend to be divided by political boundaries),
subcultures (smaller groups that get defined by specific sets of
rules, aka the Bulldawg nation)
o Adaptive/Maladaptive: Culture is an adaptive strategy
(international space station) but it can be maladaptive for the
species overall (war- shouldn’t kill species, global warming-
harming the animals)
o Individual Practice: Humans have the ability to avoid,
manipulate, subvert and change. August 28, 2015
Complexities of Culture
• Boundaries between cultures are usually unclear
o They are often unclear because cultures often overlap. Can
define culture vs. set of behaviors, yet not everything in that
boundary will be black and white.
• Beliefs can be contradictory within itself
o Not everyone in a culture thinks the exact same way. For
example, while we are all Americans, we have a variety of
thoughts on how politics should go. Often times the beliefs
within a culture can be very contradictory.
• We still understand specific cultures as coherent wholes to explain
the world, shaping individuals and social behavior.
o How people act and believe are often shaped by the coherent
whole of the culture.
Aspects of Culture
• All people have equal biological capabilities to learn.
o Thus, everyone has the same ability to learn, have, and
understand culture. There are different levels of sharing
cultural traits and how they differ between groups.
• We share some cultural traits but not all:
o Universal- behaviors shared by all humans. We see these
show up in all societies and all groups everywhere. They live
in social groups, have families, share food, and have incest
o Generalities- behaviors found in most cultures. They are often
life-cycle events such as births, puberty, marriage,
parenthood, and death. Concept of descent.
o Particularities- specific “exotic” behaviors that often identify a
culture. For example, sweet tea is a southern thing.
• Independent Invention- the one way a practice can change a culture.
For example, someone comes up with something that solves a
problem they’ve been having in a culture- like someone coming up
with GMOs which allowed for the innovation and domestication of
• Diffusion- the spread of culture traits from one culture to another.
For example, sushi. It’s from Japan that we here have adapted it.
• Acculturation- The exchange of multiple features when groups came
into continuous contact for long periods of time. It’s like diffusion but on a more extreme. For example, tacos. We aren’t Mexican
because we eat them…
• Globalization- Expansive global culture change resulting from
connectedness of production, communication, and technologies.
Today, cultures can change much faster.
Cultural Variation: Understanding and Explaining Differences
o Opinion that one’s own way of life is natural or correct.
Thought that one’s culture and habits is better than another.
The only true way of being fully human, using own cultural
values to judge another.
• Inhibit cross-cultural understanding?
o Anthropologists have to think about this all the time. Is your
own culture influencing the way that we view another?
o Can anthropologist study compare culture?
• Cultural Variation
o Grand Pitcher festival- (India) 100,000,000+ people go,
Happens ever 12 years, Ritual to bathe yourself in the Ganges
River to was away not just your sins now but in the future too.
o Catholics in Cuba
o Muslins praying 4 times a day
• Cultural Relativism
o The idea that when you try to explain another culture or
society you need to explain it independently.
o A technique to understand the incomprehensible.
Comprehend why behavior appears meaningful to some
societies and yet is so strange for us.
o Pretends to presume an equality among all societies, saying
that something we consider bad may not be bad to that
society, it does not have anything to do with moralism.
o Does not mean making justification! Whether cultural
atrocities or idiosyncrasies NOT to assign cultural vales
o Cultural behaviors can be classified in different ways.
▪ Emphasize local contexts and meanings NOT morals
▪ Internal understanding and meaning
o Method to understand other cultures and to explain a behavior
that seems unexplainable. Way to explain things that are
September 2, 2015
• Balancing understanding with ethical responsibility o Such as the Holocaust Anthropologist who study why they
killed everyone, and therefore it’s hard to think of it as not right
• Cultural Rights and Human Rights
o Cultural Rights: The rghts for groups to believe and act free
from persecution, restrictions, torture, etc.
o Human Rights: Inalienable individual rights to speak and
believe free from persecution, murdered, tortured, etc.
• Cultural relativism is a method for data collection
o Individual anthropologist make the ethical choices and they
are the ones who determine if it’s right or wrong and they are
the ones who determine if they can do anything about it
• Sounds with gestures put togeth