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Chapter 1

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ANTH 1150
Hank Davis

Stephanie Oliveira 1 Mirror for Humanity Mirror for Humanity Chapter 1: What is Anthropology?  Anthropology is much more than the study of nonindustrial peoples. It is a comparative science that examines all societies, ancient and modern, simple and complex.  Ethnography- Ethnographic fieldwork entails spending a year or more in another society, living with local people and learning about their way of life. Human Adaptability  Anthropology is the exploration of human diversity in time and space.  Anthropology studies the whole of human condition: past, present and future; biology, society, language and culture.  Creativity, adaptability and flexibility are basic human attributes and human diversity is the subject matter of anthropology.  Anthropology is the study of human species and its immediate ancestors. It’s a comparative and holistic science.  Holism- the study of the whole human experience. Looks at every aspect.  People share societies with other animals but culture is more distinctly human.  Cultures- traditions and customs, transmitted through learning that form and guide the beliefs and behavior of the people exposed to them.  Enculturation- When children learn a tradition by growing up in a society.  The most critical element of cultural traditions is their transmission through learning rather than through biological inheritance.  Culture rests certain features on human biology. Adaption, Variation and Change  Adaption refers to the processes by which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses, such as those posed by climate and topography or terrains, also called landforms.  Humans use biological and cultural means of adaption Forms of Cultural and Biological Adaption (to High Altitude) Form of Adaptation Type of Adaptation Example Technology Cultural Pressurized airplane cabin with oxygen masks Genetic Adaptation Biological Larger “barrel chests” of (occurs over native highlanders generations) Long term Biological More efficient physiological respiratory system, to adaptation (occurs extract oxygen from during growth and “thin air” development of the individual organism) Short-term Biological Increased heart rate, physiological hyperventilation adaptation (occurs when the individual organism enters a new environment)  Humans have the capacity for short-term or immediate physiological adaptation so when lowlanders arrive in high lands, they immediately increase their breathing and heart rates, they start to hyperventilate, the pulse increases and blood reaches their tissue faster. All these responses maintain an adequate supply of oxygen to the body.  Social and cultural means of adaptation have become more important. Humans have devised diverse ways of coping with the range of environments they have occupied in time and space.  For millions of years, hunting and gathering of nature’s bounty was the sole basis of human subsistence. It took a few 1000 years for food production to replace foraging in most areas.  6,000-5,000 BP: the first civilizations arose. There were powerful and complex societies (ex: Ancient Egypt) that governed large geographic areas.  Throughout human history, major innovations have spread at the expense of earlier ones. Todays global economy link all people in the modern world system. This generates new challenges for anthropology. General Anthropology  A.k.a “four field anthropology” includes four main subfields.  General anthropology explores the basics of human biology, society, and culture and considers their interrelations. Cultural Forces Shape Human Biology  Cultural Forces constantly mold human biology (Biocultural refers to the combination of biological and cultural perspectives and approaches to solve an issue)  Cultural traditions promote certain activities and abilities, discourage others and set standards.  Cultural standards of attractiveness and propriety influence participation and achievement in sports. Ex: Americans run not just to compete but to stay fit while Brazil’s beauty standards has accepted more fat. Stephanie Oliveira 3 Mirror for Humanity  Culture is an environmental force that affects our development as much as nutrition, heat, cold and altitude does. It also guides our emotional and cognitive growth and helps determine the kinds of personalities we have as adults. 4 Subfields of Anthropology (1) Socio-cultural Anthropology:  Is the study of human society and culture. It explains social and cultural similarities and differences.  To interpret cultural diversity, you must engage in two kinds of activity: ethnography (based on fieldwork) and ethnology (based on cross-cultural comparison).  Ethnography provides an account of a particular community, society or culture.  During fieldwork, the ethnographer gathers data that he/she organizes, describes, analyses, and interprets to build and present that account, which may be in the form of a book, article or film.  Ethnographers observe discriminatory practices directed toward such people, who experience poverty unlike political scientists who study programs that national planners develop.  Ethnology examines, interprets,
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