Lectures 1-7 *MISSING 4&5
Robbins & Larkin: Chapters 1, 2, 5
Maps and Dreams: Chapter 12
Week 1: What is Anthropology?
The Anthropological Perspective
1. Holistic: looks at all aspects of society in order to understand culture
2. Comparative: looks at particular cultural features in different societies
3. Evolutionary: looks at social and cultural change
Four Main Characteristics of Culture
1. Learned: we aren’t born with it, passed from one generation to the other. Does
at times, but core values remain stable
2. Shared: not everyone believes in same thing but there is a CORE of beliefs.
3. Adaptive: without culture we wouldn’t survive. If culture is being human and
how to survive, we couldn’t be humans.
4. Symbolic: much of our beliefs and values come through symbols (ie flags,
meaningless unless you know meaning)
Two Uses of “Culture”
1. Patterns of Culture: visible things that we can see, particularly in places like
artefacts express notions of culture
2. Patterns for culture: underlying foundation of our beliefs and values that we
How Do We Explain Cultural Differences?
Ethnocentrism: refers to the belief that WE are always right, we have the answers.
Anyone who is different from us is somehow deficient or blatantly wrong.
Cultural Relativism: can’t judge people outside of context or their own experiences
Ethnocentric Fallacy: intellectual dead-end. If we believe that we’re right and
everyone is wrong, how can we learn?
Relativistic Fallacy: Moral dead-end. If we can’t judge anything at all, have to accept
everything, we can never take a stand on anything, never can have human rights
We can’t take off our own cultures like costumes.
Sub-disciplines of Anthropology
1. Biological Anthropology: oldest
2. Social & Cultural Anthropology
3. Anthropological Linguistics 4. Archaeology
Applied Anthropology – not yet an official sub discipline.
Week 2: How do Anthropologists Study Culture?
Armchair Anthropology: one of earliest methods, anthropologists used findings of
missionaries, travellers, who had contact with other people. Relied on journals
and letters etc.
Salvage Anthropology: Franz Boaz believed that if we don’t document all of the
people of North America, they will disappear. First nations peoples in Canada
have had their populations grow, but some traditions have faded.
Structural-Functionalism: theoretical approach that studied anthropology on
societies are formed and how they maintain stability.
Bronislaw Malinowski: Theoretical approach is Function. Refers to the way in
which Malinowski asked ‘Why? What purpose does a particular behaviour or
institution serve?’ In reference to Trobrianders.
Participant – Observation: refers to methodology or actual fieldwork of
Malinowski. Lived among people. A bit of a paradox, stepping into society and
stepping out of it.
Looking for the Native's Point of View: what Malinowski claims he was after.
Since then we have discarded that view, we can’t take a culture and make it our
won, best we can do is observe through our lens.
Objective Knowledge: get rid of participation element, any subjective
Goal: discover natural laws among humans
Controlled Comparison: Margaret mead wanted to test hypothesis but couldn’t put
humans in cages. If researcher left his or her own home and went someplace else that
was untouched by western civilization, somehow that would work. Mead was female
working with young Samoan females, dressed just like them.
Derek Freedman: went to Samoa and couldn’t duplicate what Margaret mead found.
Wrote a book in the 1980s and said she was wrong. Societies don’t just stay the same
way however, and he came much after Mead did.
Life After Positivism
Annette Weiner and Bronislaw Malinowski:
Weiner tried to duplicate Malinowski’s work with trio branders. Came along much later
afterwards, may not have gone to same place, gender makes a difference etc.
Intersubjective Knowledge: the fact that if you’re asking people to teach you about their
culture, you’re getting their culture as THEY see it, their subjective knowledge. You’ll give
the reader your own partially subjective view. Reflexivity: refers to the notion of thinking about thinking. Anthropologists write about
what they see, be open to the fact that you may have made mistakes. Ask questions, be
The Facts of Anthropology: positivistic approach. Facts of anthropology are always
under construction, subject to revision. As things move on, things change.
Week 3 WHAT IS PROGRESS?
Progress: "the idea that human history is the story of a steady advance from a life
dependent on the whims of nature to a life of control and domination over natural forces"
(Robbins & Larkin 2007:43).
- Lived 2 million to 4 million years ago
Homo sapiens sapiens
- 100,000 years
- Began in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago, began in Meso-America slightly
later, the idea that we evolved in terms of our physical makeup.
Age of Discovery
Europeans began to explore the world, Are these other beings human?
If they are human, why are they so different? They don’t look like Europeans or
talk like them etc, what are they?
Unilineal Cultural Evolution
1) Savages: we all started out as savages
2) Barbarians: had agriculture, moved into homes
3) Civilization: human rights etc.
*These’re considered the ‘fossils’ of human beings.
Lewis Henry Morgan: Ethnic Periods
Criteria: Technology - Explained how people move through evolution via
British Structural Typologies:
- Band: hunters and gatherers. Small because they roamed around territory.
- Tribe: tended to be a step further evolutionary wise. Control over certain
Centralized Political Systems:
-Some sort of institutionalized authority. Formal leadership position.
-Chiefdom: Chiefs have access to resources that other people don’t have. ie.
trobriand islanders chief.
-State: absolutely control territory. States have boundaries and bord