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AN101 - ALL Lecture Notes

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Amali Philips

fact should not detract from the intellectual contribution and the genuine commitment to social amelioration that characterized many early pioneers and later practitioners of the discipline. Anthropologists have often acted as 'buffers' between cultures, aiding to soften the effects of western domination while functioning as reformers and intermediaries. They have also positioned themselves as 'disinterested' observers, intent on recording the life ways of people before they became extinct. Curiosity about other lifeways; interest in survivals2 and salvaging3 are factors that promoted interest in other cultures. In Canada, anthropology originated within academic departments, museums and with applied work among aboriginal communities. Many anthropologists in all parts of the world today engage in grass-roots work in collaboration with local communities, influence government policy and function as advocates for the human rights of marginal groups such as women and children, indigenous communities and ethnic groups. Anthropology's shift towards the political and intellectual center stage came about through its sensitive appreciation of cultural differences or of the politics of such differences. At the same time, anthropologists, particularly feminist anthropologists (who deal with gender issues) have been active in correcting male biases based on male perspectives (androcentrism) in early anthropological studies (for an example of this read the Original Study on Trobriand Women in Ch. 2 of your text ). Feminist anthropologists also try to balance the appreciation of cultural differences with respect to gender roles with the human rights of women, since cultural values may give more importance to males than to females. More than any other social science, anthropology's cross-cultural and holistic perspective may provide a better understanding of the ethnic conflicts and other problems that pervade the societies of the third and first worlds today. Their work promotes understanding and appreciation of different life ways and behaviors and draws attention to global changes and their local impacts. Anthropology is the “most human of the sciences” with its emphasis on qualitative research and commitment to understanding, experiencing and knowing others‟ values, literature, arts, language etc. If you want to learn more about anthropology, go to the American Anthropological Association (AAA) website: Anthropology contributes to other social sciences as well as to history, biology and geology. The expertise of anthropologists is (are) used to address practical concerns in the public realm. Applied anthropology uses its holistic knowledge of societies to create policy and resolve problems related to urban, corporate, military, medical, health, and indigenous and gender issues. Forensic anthropologists are employed as experts who identify “human skeletal remains for legal purposes” (Haviland et al, 2013, p.10). A good example of this is their involvement in the Pickton farm murders in Canada. Read the section in Haviland on “Anthropology and the Humanities” and “Anthropology‟s Contributions to Other Disciplines” for an understanding of the importance of anthropology for other social sciences.
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