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Chapter 1

Week 1 - Harris Chapter 1, Chapter 2.doc

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University of Guelph
ANTH 1150
Scott Schau

Cultural Anthropology – Harris Chapter 1 Anthropology is the study of humankind- of ancient and modern people and their ways of living. The Five Fields of Anthropology 1. Cultural Anthropology: the description and analysis of cultures - Socially learned traditions of past and present ages - Describes and interprets present-day cultures - Creates hypothesis and theories about the causes of past and present culture similarities and differences 2. Archaeology: examines the material remains of past cultures (left behind or below the surface of the earth) 3. Anthropological linguistics: the study of languages spoken by human beings - Interested in how language influences and is influenced by other aspects of human life - Studies the relationship between the evolution and change of languages 4. Physical Anthropology (biological anthro): biologically determined nature of homo sapiens - seeks to reconstruct the course of human evolution by studying fossil remains 5. Applied Anthropology: uses the findings of all other types of fields to solve practical problems What is distinctive about cultural anthropology? Holism: the distinction of anthropology among the social sciences is that it is holistic; it tired to understand the processes that influence and explain all aspects of human thought and behaviour Fieldwork Fieldwork: refers to first hand experience with the people being studied. It involves integration into community through long-term residence and knowledge of the local language and customs while maintaining the role of observer - They collect their primary data through fieldwork Fieldnotes: Data collected by anthologists - Includes journals, daily logs, diaries, interviews, behavioural observations, and transcripts of audiotapes Participant Observation: Places the ethnographer at the scene where a combination of direct observation and interviewing provides the evidence from which ethnographic accounts are constructed. Direct systematic behaviour observations: refer to the study of activity patterns that show patterns of action and interaction of the people we study. - Who we observe, when and where we observe, what we observe, how we observe. - WWWWH; Who When Where What How Culture shock: feeling of anxiety and disorientation that develops in an unfamiliar situation when there is confusion about how to behave or what to expect - Shifts from one culture to another - This happens when you develop relationships known as fictive kinship Informants: people through whom the anthropologist learns about the culture through observation and by asking questions - Imp to choose informants that are knowledgeable and articulate Ethnography Ethnography: is a firsthand description of a living culture based on personal observation - means “portrait of a ppl” - written description of; customs, beliefs and behaviours based on your fieldwork Ecological anthropology: interaction between environment and technology to study human adaption and change Economic anthropology: studies how goods and services are distributed through formal and informal institutions Political anthropology: focuses on political integration, stratification, methods of conflict resolution, leadership, and social control Medical anthropology: studies biological and sociocultural factors that affect health and illness Psychological anthropology: studies how culture affect personality, child rearing, emotions, attitudes and social behaviour Ethnology - Anthropologists use this method to understand patterns of thought or behaviour that occur in a number of societies. - This is a study of a particular topic or problem in more than one culture, using a comparative perspective Difference between ethnography and ethnology!! - Ethnography studies customs and beliefs, etc, in a single culture while ethnology studies the same things but between different cultures Anthropology and Science A humanistic approach: it describes and interprets each culture on its own terms’ it believes comparisons distort the unique qualities of a given culture A scientific approach: explains cultural differences and similarities; it believes that regularities exist across cultures and can be discovered through empirical data collection and systematic comparison. - As a science it looks at patterns and interrelationships to create hypothesis and explanations from what we observe Why Study Anthropology? - Anthropologists mainly work at university teachers, colleges, museums; (natural history museum, archaeology, art and folklore museum) - in recent years their fields have expanded: government agencies with welfare, drug abuse, mental health, environmental impact, foreign aid, education, housing, etc. Cultural Anthropology – Harris Chapter 2 The Nature of Culture Definitions of cultures Culture: learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behaviour found in human societies. It is a socially acquired lifestyle that includes patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and acting. - Culture is a complex whole that includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, custom, and any characteristics present in that society. - Sometimes seen as a “pure idea” or even compared to a computer “software” (bcz like a culture it tells ppl what to do under various circumstances) Society, Subculture, and Sociocultural System Society: this term refers to an organized group of ppl who share a homeland and who depend on each other for their survival and well- being. - All societies have groups of ppl that have different lifestyles that are not shared by the rest of the society - ^ Which brings us to the term subculture Subculture: these members share certain cultural features that are different from other members of society - Subcultures can be very small (females, males, children, adults) - Larger subcultures are based on groups such as: ethnic, religious, class distinctions. - Sociocultural: reminder that society forms a complex system of interacting parts Enculturation (passing of cultural traits from one generation to the next) Enculturation: conscious and unconscious learning experience whereby the older generation invites, induces, and compels the younger generation to adopt traditional ways of thinking and behaving. - Ex: Chinese use chopsticks instead of forks - Enculturation is learned through adults and the elder - Learned through encouragement and punishment Ethnocentrism: a belief that one’s own patterns of behaviour are always natural, good, beautiful, or important and that strangers, to the extent that they life differently, live by strangers, inhuman, disgusting, or irrational standards. - ppl who think other cultures are for example disgusting, would not necessarily think that if they were in that culture that being disgusting would actually be their own way of behaving. - Ethnocentrism leads to tolerance of different cultures and makes us want to lear
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