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Anthropology (533)
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Chapter 1

ANTA02 - Chapter 1.docx

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Maggie Cummings

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 Sociocultural anthropology: An anthropological approach that retains the British focus on social anthropology at the same time as it adds the American focus on culture to produce something slightly different from either one  Sociocultural anthropologists acquire their knowledge by: o Spending time with people o Talking to them o Observing what they do o Trying to understand their lives  In North America, anthropology is divided into four different approaches: o They focus on different aspects of the anthropological question  Biological anthropology  Archaeology  Linguistic anthropology  Sociocultural anthropology  Biological anthropology – oldest of four o Focuses on human beings as one of a great multitude of organisms that in habitat the earth o Paleoanthropology, primatology, forensic anthropology  Archaeology o Studies human history and its artifacts in order to learn how people lived  Linguistic anthropology o Examines the relationship between language and culture o Interested in how people use language in both a physical and historical sense  Sociocultural anthropology o Look at how societies are structured and how cultural meanings are created o Interested in differences among peoples; but also look for similarities in people construct their own versions of what it means to be human o Explore both the universal and the particular o Do fieldwork and gather data by talking to people and participating in and observing their day-to-day lives o Incorporates aspects of both: the methodological and analytical rigor of the sciences, and the interpretive insights and nuances of the humanities  Culture: the system of meanings about the nature of experience that are shared by a people and passed on from one generation to another, including the meanings that people give to things, events, activities, and people  Working definition of culture: o Culture is about meaning; cultural meanings must be learned; and, once learned, meanings are shared by members of a particular culture o However, people from different backgrounds understand these experiences in different ways (hunger, sex, death, etc.)  Food is an example of how a culture takes the “raw materials” of human life and makes them meaningful  Of all the organisms on earth, only humans dwell largely in worlds that they themselves have created by giving meanings to things  Humans are cultural animals o Ascribe meanings of their own creation to objects, persons, behaviors, emotio
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