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Chapter 1

ANTH 1150 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Linguistic Description, Siouan Languages, Language Change

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Course Code
ANTH 1150

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Chapter 1: The Nature of Anthropology
What is Anthropology?
The study of humankind in all times and places. Anthropologists seek
to produce reliable knowledge about people and their behavior, about
what makes them different and what they all share in common.
Anthropologists are interested in all aspects of humanity; the difference is they
are concerned with
that has to do with humans. (human nature)
They espose the fallacies of racial and cultural superiority
“Anthropology has much to say about human destiny” –Laura Nader
The Development of Anthropology
Two examples are the accounts of other people by Herodotus the Greek and by
the Arab Ibn Khaldun, written in the 5th century B.C. and 14th century A.D.
Until recently people have been restricted in their geographical horizons by this
we mean having limited modes of traveling to distinct places
Adequate modes of transportation and communication were essential
in order to study foreign peoples and cultures
Another significant element that contributed to the slow growth of anthropology
was the failure of Europeans to recognize that beneath all the differences, they
shared a basic “humanity” with people everywhere
Colonialism: When one nation dominates another, through occupation
(colonies), administration (military presence), and control of resources, thereby
creating a dependency
political control and economic gain were the major impetus for
Cultural Imperialism: Promoting one nation’s values, beliefs, and behavior as
superior to all others. Often associated with the Western world inundating other
cultural groups with technology, religion, and ways of living (most often via the
media), but also through missionism (see Chapter 12), education, and economic
control, thereby strongly influencing how people will live.
The Development of Anthropological Thought
“Cultural progress”- all cultures passed through evolutionary stages until they
reached the technologically advanced level of Western societies.
A time where the concept of race was put forth
These 19th century cultural evolutionary theories were proposed by
American anthropologists EDWARD TYLOR and LOUIS HENRY
Most famous empiricist was FRANZ BOAS (1858-1942), who argued
that each culture is unique, with a unique history, and is neither
superior nor inferior to another
o he rejected racism and promoted cultural relativism (Ch.12), a
belief that all cultures are equally and must be studied on their
own terms
o Boasians also developed the “Four Field Approach”
British anthropologists A.R. Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski turned
their attention to the functions of economic, social, religious, and political
institutions that are found in every culture
MALINOWSKI argued that anthropologists should consider how the
various systems of a culture work to meet the needs of its members
o one of the first anthropologists to pay close attention to his key
informants’ point of view
RADCLIFFE-BROWN concentrated on how culture as a whole functions
to maintain itself
1950s-60s; study of culture change
LISA WHITE proposed that culture changed in direct response to
technological “progress” eg. Industrial Revolution
JULIAN STEWARD built on the idea of technology as a cultural mover,
suggesting that societies evolve to fit a particular ecological niche and
that the environment influences the way of life
Culture change also comes about through population density, trade
networks, and warfare
CLAUDE LEVI STRAUSS held that FREE WILL and the ability to make
choices based on ideas and desires influenced culture. He identified a
universal pattern of human thinking in all peoples
CLIFFORD GEERTZ took a more particularist approach, studying the
uniqueness of each culture and the actions that have meaning for them
Canadian Anthropology
Three major influences are evident in the development of Canadian
Anthropology: museums, academic departments (second stronghold for
Canadian Anthropology), and applied research
National Museum of Canada in Ottawa
linguistic, and archaeological research into aboriginal cultures
were early advocates for aboriginal rights to religious and cultural
1960s- Harry Hawthorn (Canadian Anthropologist) was actively involved in
aboriginal policy issues
he examined the sociocultural reasons for tensions between local
residents and the Doukhobors who had moved to British Colombia
from Saskatchewan
MARC-ADELARD TREMBLAY; helped shape gov’t policies that have strengthened
Quebec’s identity and self-determination
Father Joseph-Francois Lafitau (1681-1746) & Sir Daniel Wilson (1816-1892)
Two early contributors to Canadian Anthropology
A Note about Terminology
Eskimos = “eaters of raw meat”
First Nations, Inuit, Metis are used today in Canada to identify aboriginal peoples
In US, Native American or Indian are preferred terms
Indian is used in Central & South America
The Discipline of Anthropology
Anthropology is traditionally divided into FOUR fields:
1. Biological Anthropology- concerned primarily with humans as biological
Paleoanthropology; the study of fossil remains with the goal of
reconstructing human biological evolution
Primatology- is the study of the biological and social nature of our
closest relatives: prosimians, monkeys, and apes
o Dian Fossey (gorillas), Jane Goodall (chimpanzees), Birute
Galdikas Canadian (orangutans), Linda Fedigan (Japanese
macaques and capuchins)
o Forensic anthropology: A field of applied biological
anthropology and archaeology that specializes in the
identification of human skeletal remains for legal
2. Archaeology- the study of material remains, by reconstructing the lives of
people who lived in the past
Prehistoric Archaeology (Pre-contact Archaeology); the study of
ancient cultures that did not possess writing systems to record their
Historical Archaeology the study of past cultures that possessed
written records of their history
3. Linguistic Anthropology- study of human languages of the past and the
present, as a means for people to relate to each other and to develop and
communicate ideas about each other and the world
Linguistic anthropologists study the way language is used as a
resource for practicing, developing, and transmitting culture
Creates social distinctiveness and develops relationships with one
Descriptive linguistics: the study of patterns and structure in language
(the way a verb is conjugated or a sentence is formed)
Historical linguistics: the study of language origins, language change,
and the relationships between languages

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