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Chapter 1 & 2

ANTH 203 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1 & 2: Positio, Homo Habilis, Oldowan


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 203
Professor
Naotaka Hayashi
Chapter
1 & 2

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ANTH 203 Midterm 1 Study Notes - Chapter 1 & 2
Chapter 1: Understanding Anthropology
Science is comparative and we require variation in order to observe in what conditions
phenomena appear
o Science is distinguished in three ways:
Its questions
What we want to know, why it was established in the first place,
what part of reality are we examining
Its perspective
The angle at which it approaches a subject or the attitude it
adopts towards it
Its method
The specific data-gathering activities it practices in order to apply
its perspective or to answer questions
Anthropology: the science of humanity or the study of human diversity; the study of the
diversity of human bodies and behaviours in the past and the present
o Physical or biological anthropology: the diversity of human bodies, including
physical adaptation, group or race characteristics, and human evolution
Examine the actual anatomical remains of past humans
Primatology: the study of physical and behavioural characteristics of the
species called primates
o Archaeology: the study of the diversity of human behaviour in the past
Examine the things that people left behind
Artifacts: portable objects that people made and used (ie.
pottery, clothing, jewellery, tools, weapons)
Features: larger, immovable objects (ie. buildings, walls,
monuments, canals, roads, farms)
Ecofacts: the environmental remains from past human social
contexts (ie. wood, seeds, pollen, animal bones, shells)
Garbology: the study of contemporary trash to examine how humans
make, consume, and discard material objects in the present
o Linguistic anthropology: the study of the diversity of human language in the past
and present, and its relationship to social groups, practices, and values
Examine the similarities and differences in living languages (ie. grammar,
vocab, everyday use)
Examine changes in language over time (ie. Shakespearean English)
Attempt to reconstruct ancestral languages or linking languages (ie.
English to German)
Attempts to understand language use in social life and practices
o Cultural/social anthropology: the study of the diversity of human behaviour in
the present
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Goal is to learn the thoughts, feelings, actions, and institutions of people
Portrayed in National Geographic magazine or the Discovery channel
Urban anthropology: the study of humans in urban settings
Franz Boas was deeply concerned with practical social issues, such
as racism, nationalism, criminology, and education
Medical anthropology: the study of practices concerning health and
medical treatments
Forensic anthropology: the use of anthropological knowledge to solve
crimes (ie. identify victims, time and cause of death, etc)
Visual anthropology: the study of production, presentation, or use of
artistic media (ie. painting, body art, clothing designs, etc)
Ethnomusicology: the study of musical forms and their use in culture
Ethnobotany: the study of uses of plants in various cultures
Developmental anthropology: how modern forces affect and change
societies (ie. advocating for rights)
Feminist anthropology: the study of oes issues ad roles ad ho
gender is defined, practiced, and controlled
Cultural anthropology:
Three main phenomena that forced a reconceptualization:
o Colonialism
o Postcolonial independence and nationalist/indigenous movements
o Modernization and globalization
Glocalization: a combination of global and local, suggests the unique local forms and
effects of wide-spread global processes
The anthropological perspective (the unique point of view of anthropology) has three
components:
o Comparative or cross-cultural study: what is possible and necessary for humans
The examination of a wide variety of societies when considering any
particular cultural question, for purposes of comparison
This approach is valuable because there are many other cultures
to observe and by observing, we can discover:
o The commonalities across cultures (things that are
necessary for humans)
o The variation across cultures (how many ways is there to
be human)
Sociological imagination: researchers must learn to see meanings, rules,
relatioships, istitutios, ad other pheoea that are iisile to
the members of the group (and analyze how they influence behaviour
individually and collectively)
Every culture is a minority (there is no typical culture)
o Holism: a case study system that has parts that are interconnected to one
another
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The examination of every part of a culture in relation to every other part
and to the whole
Each culture should be approached as a whole (not just a single trait like
politics or economy)
Culture has parts
ie. kinship is part of culture so what kinds of kinship are there in
cultures (how does childrearing, marriage, etc. vary)
The parts are interconnected
ie. the study of marriage cannot be isolated (one must consider
language, politics, religion, gender roles, etc.)
Each part has a unique function and contributes to the function of the
whole
Ethnography: a written account of a particular culture, including its
environment, economy, kinship, politics, and religion, as well as
discussion on culture change
o Cultural relativism: it is a fact (cultures are different in their standards, values,
etc.), it is a method (we must understand culture on its own terms to study it
accurately), and it is a theory (the explanation of how groups make their
judgements and actions depends on the role of cultural meanings and standards)
Understanding or judging culture in terms of its own notions of good,
normal, moral, valuable, and meaningful
ie. polygamy is bad in Western culture, but not anywhere else in
the world
Different cultures have different ideas of what is good, bad, moral, legal,
etc.
One must relate to the culture in order to fully understand what they do
and why
Culture shock: surprise, confusion, or pain one feels when encountering a
culture unfamiliar or unexpected to their own
Ethnocentrism: the attitude that oes ulture is the est, the right, or
the only point of view
Critics of cultural relativism say:
It leads to a positio of o stadards at all ie. do hat you at
to do if it feels good
o Rather, it is descriptive and says that judgement is not
ipossile ie. here this goes, ad there that goes
It means that you are condoning the behaviour
o Rather, one does not have to approve of something to
understand it (if one is to condone, it means you are
judging favorably)
It means that if anything the culture believes is true
o Rather, some things are nonsense (ie. a culture can say the
Earth is flat for them, while round for us)
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