Anthropos: human kind
Anthropology: the systematic study of human kind
Historical, Comparative, Contextual, Holistic
Four subfields of anthropology:
1) cultural > study of contemporary cultures and societies, studied through participant
observation > provide an ethnography : a description of an aspect of culture within a
Modern cultural anthropology is vast: can be seen in local, regional or global settings
2) Archaeology > study of past societies and their cultures using material remains (ex.
tools, ceramics, sites), different types of archaeologists: classical, historical, prehistoric
Archaeology is misconceived in pop culture: ex. Indiana Jones
3) Linguistic > studies the construction and use of language by human societies
Structural linguistics: how language works => grammatical patterns, language and
Sociolinguistics: the relationship between language and social behaviour in different
cultures ex. regional dialects in USA, Cree dialects in Canada
Historical linguistics: how are languages related to each other, and how have they
changed over time?
4) Physical > studies all aspects of the biology and behaviour of the human species (and
closest relatives) in the past and present
ex. Jane Goodall studied chimp behavior
Plus applied anthro: marketing and business, law indigenous claims, environmental
Ethnocentrism – the belief that your way of life or beliefs are “right” or superior to those
of someone else.
Cultural Relativism – the attempt to understand a group of people from their point of
Feildwork: sets cultural anthropology apart from other disciplines.
long term, a year or more with a community of people to gain rapport (trust)
eg. Homeless shelters: would hang out 24/7 with these people Preparing for fieldwork
• Financial apply for money from organizations, governments grants, and other
• Languages need to know the language before entering the field
• Background knowledge usually a year before entering the field doing course
work; reading about your topic
Informed consent: consent of subjects to publish findings, protects rights of informants
Culture Shock sense of anxiety or homesickness when in a new place
Qualitative Data interviews, and discussions rather then
Quantitative which is percentages and graphs and numerical facts statistics
better for looking for patterns in a society
Problems with surveys and statistics: limited to certain answers, get no background info.
Participant Observation: Interacting closely with people on a daily basis, sometimes
living with or near them, and often participating activities or aspects of daily life
Three sources of Data:
1) people’s own understandings of the rules they share
2) the extent to which they believe they are observing those rules
3) behaviors directly observed by an anthropologist
Armchair anthropology: no practical experience. Picks out info from readings. 2 hand
Verandah Anthro: interviewed natives. Anthropologists were men, or only interviewed
Method: the practical study and application of different fieldwork methods
Methodology: epistemology; the critical interrogation of methods
Bronislaw Malinowski: shows the difference in what informants say, and what actually
happens. The importance of participant observation
No relation to the metis being in awe of spirits.
You cannot rely on what they say they do.
Anthropologists as students and informants as teachers
Goal to obtain INSIDER perspective
Sterk questions the OBJECTIVITY of fieldwork. She argues that we must be aware of:
Reflexivity: Identity: learned personal and social types of affiliation that help us learn how to belong