Anthropology: the study of what it means to be human
Homo Sapien: humans that know
Nature - the genetic makeup
Nurture - given by society.
-Culture is considered nature; however, by nature we are heavier on the nurture side, which
makes us human
-Culture and language are programmed into us. They are part of our genetic makeup and are
called universals. Specific languages and specific cultures are particulars. They are learned.
-Social transition (learning) is more flexible than genetic transition. Major changes can occur
within a generation or two without changing species. However, it can get complicated (for
example: people are taller - is it culture or genes?)
The Origins of Anthropology
-anthropology developed in the 19th century in the West
-it was largely a disciplines for explaining the non-west
-they ranked language on a scale of primitive to advanced, even though all language follows the
same structure. Schlegel falsely wrote that the Indo European language was the most advanced
because it spread all over the world.
-it was the same with culture:
“Primitive cultures” were the lowest. They had not changed through time.
Modern Western World considered the most civilized because it “took over the world”
-Race does not exist. It is a folk notion. Some looks can correlate with genes, but not enough to
consider ‘races’. They still categorize race today in ways that don’t make much sense - some
colour, some ethnicity, etc. The origin categorization was “black, white, red, yellow”
-One Drop Rule: one drop of Black blood made you Black. This proves that racial classifications
are made by society. The black and white races were invented with the discovery of America and
the start of the slave trade. “Whiteness” was thought to represent freedom, and therefore much be
-Ethnocentrism: racial and cultural prejudice
Bronislaw Malinowski: each culture responds to its own niche equally well
Franz Boas: (1858-1942) each culture is language, cultural and physical type. A higher culture is
one that recognizes that we are all equally human
Margaret Mead: Orderly, complex customs (Bali)
Cultural Relativism: we should never judge other cultures, and there are no universal standards of
progress. They say “universal” really means western.
example: In some cultures it’s okay to punish your children by hitting them. Do we consider this
culture and leave it, or say there’s a universal standard and step in?