Review for Antro Midterm

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Anne- Emanuelle Birn

Review for Anthro Midterm Chapter 1 Summary 1. Anthropology is the holistic, biocultural, and comparative study of humanity. It is the systematic exploration of human biological and cultural diversity across time and space. Examining the origins of, and changes in, human biology and culture, anthropology provides explanations for similarities and differences among humans and their societies. 2. The four subfields of general anthropology are (socio) cultural, archaeological, biological, and linguistic. All consider variation in time and space. Each also examines adaptation—the process by which organisms cope with environmental stresses. 3. Anthropology’s biocultural perspective is a particularly effective way of approaching the topics of human biological diversity and “race.” Because of a range of problems involved in classifying humans into racial categories, contemporary scientists focus on specific differences, such as in skin color, and try to explain them. Biological similarities between groups—rather than common ancestry (the assumed basis of race)—may reflect similar but independent adaptation to similar natural selective forces. Cultural forces mold human biology, including our body types and images. 4. Cultural anthropology explores the cultural diversity of the present and the recent past. Archaeology reconstructs cultural patterns, often of prehistoric populations. Biological anthropology documents diversity involving fossils, genetics, growth and development, bodily responses, and nonhuman primates. Linguistic anthropology considers diversity among languages. It also studies how speech changes in social situations and over time. 5. Concerns with biology, society, culture, and language link anthropology to many other fields—natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. 6. Anthropology has two dimensions: general and applied. The latter uses anthropological perspectives, theory, methods, and data to identify, assess, and solve social problems. The fields in which applied anthropologists work include business, government, economic development, education, and social services, action, and outreach. Applied anthropologists come from all four subfields. Chapter 2 Summary 1. Culture, which is distinctive to humanity, refers to customary behavior and beliefs that are passed on through enculturation. Culture rests on the human capacity for cultural learning. Culture encompasses rules for conduct internalized in human beings, which lead them to think and act in characteristic ways. 2. Although other animals learn, only humans have cultural learning, dependent on symbols. Humans think symbolically—arbitrarily bestowing meaning on things and events. By convention, a symbol stands for something with which it has no necessary or natural relation. Symbols have special meaning for people who share memories, values, and beliefs because of common enculturation. 3. Cultural traditions mold biologically based desires and needs in particular directions. Everyone is cultured, not just people with elite educations. Cultures may be integrated and patterned through economic and social forces, key symbols, and core values. Cultural rules don’t rigidly dictate our behavior. There is room for creativity, flexibility, diversity, and disagreement within societies. Cultural means of adaptation have been crucial in human evolution. Aspects of culture also can be maladaptive. 4. The human capacity for culture has an evolutionary basis that extends back at least 2.5 million years—to early tool makers whose products survive in the archaeological record (and most probably even further back—based on observation of tool use and manufacture by apes). Humans share with monkeys and apes such traits as manual dexterity (especially opposable thumbs), depth and color vision, learning ability based on a large brain, substantial parental investment in a limited number of offspring, and tendencies toward sociality and cooperation. 5. Many hominin traits are foreshadowed in other primates, particularly in the African apes, which, like us, belong to the hominid family. The ability to learn, basic to culture, is an adaptive advantage available to monkeys and apes. Chimpanzees make tools for several purposes. They also hunt and share meat. Sharing and cooperation are more developed among humans than among the apes, and only humans have systems of kinship and marriage that permit us to maintain lifelong ties with relatives in different local groups. 6. Using a comparative perspective, anthropology examines biological, psychological, social, and cultural universals and generalities. There also are unique and distinctive aspects of the human condition (cultural particularities). North American cultural traditions are no more natural than any others. Levels of culture can be larger or smaller than a nation. Cultural traits may be shared across national boundaries. Nations also include cultural differences associated with ethnicity, region, and social class. 7. Ethnocentrism describes judging other cultures by using one’s own cultural standards. Cultural relativism, which anthropologists may use as a methodological position rather than a moral stance, is the idea of avoiding the use of outside standards to judge behavior in a given society. Human rights are those based on justice and morality beyond and superior to particular countries, cultures, and religions. Cultural rights are vested in religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous societies, and IPR, or intellectual property rights, apply to an indigenous group’s collective knowledge and its applications. 8. Diffusion, migration, and colonialism have carried cultural traits and patterns to different world areas. Mechanisms of cultural change include diffusion, acculturation, and independent invention. Globalization describes a series of processes that promote change in a world in which nations and people are interlinked and mutually dependent. Chapter 3 Summary 1. A code of ethics guides anthropologists’ research and other professional activities. Anthropologists need to establish and maintain appropriate, collaborative, and nonexploitative relationships with colleagues and communities in the host country. Researchers must gain the informed consent of all affected parties—from the authorities who control access to the field site to the members of the community being studied. 2. Ethnographic methods include firsthand and participant observation, rapport building, interviews, genealogies, work with key consultants, or informants, collection of life histories, discovery of local beliefs and perceptions, problem- oriented and longitudinal research, and team research. Ethnographers work in actual communities and form personal relationships with local people as they study their lives. 3. An interview schedule is a form an ethnographer completes as he or she visits a series of households. Key cultural consultants, or informants, teach about particular areas of local life. Life histories dramatize
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