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Midterm Study Guide

Course Code
Victor Barac
Study Guide

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Society, Culture and Language
Instructor: Dr. Victor Barac
1. Key Concepts
2. Five SubFields Of Anthropology
1. Biological anthropology
2. Archaeology
3. Linguistics
4. Cultural anthropology
5. Applied anthropology
Key Concepts
1. Holism – big background
Perspective (best way to approach humanity is to look at how things interact with
culture and society and what does it mean?)
2. Fieldwork – microscopic focus (one subject/phenomenon)
Involved in data gathering (primary information)
3. Comparison – compare data
Macroscopic focus, patterns between all fieldwork accounts, gives geographic
range, gives temporal (time) depth
4. Cultural relativism & ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism = bias (favour of one culture); normal
Cultural relativism = suspend moral judgments (understand cultures on their own
terms), respect other cultures
5. Scientific anthropology [nomothetic] – law-like patterns
Physical sciences
6. Interpretive anthropology [reflexive; postmodern] – no universal validity of science
History and theology and criticism than scientific, emphasize cultural relativism
(competing religions/discourses)
7. Basic (pursuit of academic knowledge) vs. applied research (practical outcome)
The SubFields of Anthropology
1. Biological Anthropology
2. Archaeology
3. Linguistics
4. Cultural / Social Anthropology
5. Applied Anthropology
Biological Anthropology
1. Paleoanthropology
2. Primatology

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3. Contemporary human variation
Paleoanthropology = the study of the human fossil record/remains (skeleton, teeth, skull)
Requires knowledge of human primate
Gives largest scale of humans (hundred of years)
Sahelanthropous tchadensis (oldest skull)
Australopithecus afarensis
Evolutionary timelines
oTries to come up with evolutionary timelines (they are always changing with data)
Primatology = looks at living primates (non-human)
Includes apes, gorillas, monkeys, etc.
Extension of biology of primates
Comparative anatomy
Reproductive behaviour
Subsistence (where people get their food and how they feed) & locomotion
Human Variation = involves defining and measuring body parts, skin/hair colour, discrete traits
(ear lobes), etc.
Historical reconstruction
Genetics & physiology
Archaeology = looks at human material culture (human artifacts), what humans
Can look at tools, pottery, art, garbage dumps
1. Prehistoric = oldest tools
Homo habilis – Oldowan tools = first tool-building
2. Historical (glamorous) – involves Greek civilizations
Gates of Shalmaneser
3. Experimental = engage in experiments
The Garbage Project
Anthropological Linguistics
Linguistics is most important culture to Homosapiens
About 7000 languages out there
1. Descriptive
2. Historical
3. Ethnolinguistics
4. Sociolinguistics
Descriptive Linguistics
Arises from observation that there is so many languages
Differences based on sound

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Universal notation to identify sound
Rules for combining sounds, words, syntax, grammar
Historical Linguistics
18th century
Done on European languages
Looks at relationship between language and culture
Looks at how language encodes the universe
Different ways of categorizing objects/people
Tells us connection between language and thought (language tells us how we think)
Sociolinguistics = looks at relationship between language and society
1. Language as marker of social status
1. Dialects
2. Sociolect = a form of speech (King’s speech or blue collar)
3. Bilingualism; code switching
2. Speech in action
1. Conversation
2. Discourse
Social (British)/ Cultural (American) Anthropology
Concerned with living populations
1. Ethnography = writing of anthropological research, based on fieldwork, and then written in
monographs (book)
1. Fieldwork
2. Monographs
2. Ethnology = theoretical component, you draw on rest of theory, using data,
manipulate/order/classify data, then isolate for key elements
1. Classification & comparison
2. Theory = engaging in exploration, rationalization
1. Fieldwork
2. Monographs
1. Classification (ordering data) & comparison
2. Theory
Theory – science, history, materialism, idealism, evolutionism, empiricism, politics
Applied Anthropology
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