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