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Chapter 1

ANT100Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Sociocultural Anthropology, Franz Boas, Linguistic Anthropology

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Maggie Cummings

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ANTA02 Textbook Notes Chapter 1
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
Basics of Anthropology
Sociocultural anthropologists find patterns of meaning even in objects as simple as a classroom chair. (ie purpose,
context, use)
The term “anthropology” comes from two Greek words: anthropos, meaning “human beings,” and logia, meaning
“the study of” or “the knowledge of.” (everything humans do or have done in the past)
Anthropology also includes collecting evidence of how and when we became human and comparing humans to
other organisms in the world
Bronislaw Malinowski: observing “from the native‟s point of view”
Subdisciplines are biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology
or cultural anthropology
o Biological anthropology , oldest of the four subdisciplines, focuses on human beings as one of a great
multitude of organisms that inhabit the earth. Specialties include paleoanthropology (study of fossil
remains), primatology, (study of primates), forensic anthropology, study of human remains for
identification and cause of death.
o Archaeology studies human history and its artifacts. Archaeologists typically look at the material remains
of human groups in order to learn how people lived.
o Linguistic anthropology examines the relationship between language and culture, how people use
language and communication, and the history of language development in societies
o Sociocultural Anthropology looks at how societies are structured and how cultural meanings are created,
and differences and similarities in how people construct their own versions of what it means to be human.
Anthropology is seen as a combination of the sciences and humanities
Sociocultural anthropologists do fieldwork among the societies and cultures they study, gather data by talking to
people and by participating in and observing their day-to-day lives
Members of a society view the world in a similar way because they share the same culture
Culture: is the system of meanings about the nature of experience that is shared by a people and passed from
one generation to another
Culture enables human beings to make sense of their life experiences and to understand those experiences as
meaningful in particular ways.
Life, Death, Sex, Food are common amongst humans, but are interpreted differently by different cultures
Different cultures view and deal with death differently
Although all humans need food, there are different views on what is acceptable as edible, and how it is eaten
Human beings are cultural animals; they ascribe meanings of their own creation to objects, persons,
behaviours, emotions, and events and then proceed to act as if those meanings are real.
History of Anthropology
Anthropology began in the “age of exploration” launched by Christopher Columbus when he came to the
Americas in 1492
This was a time when Europeans first met a different type of people, Jesuit missionaries wrote about natives (first
type of anthropology)
Edward Tylor was the first formally recognized anthropologist in 1883 in Britain, he was an armchair
anthropologist, wrote the bookPrimitive Culture”. He wrote about culture from a Victorian perspective,
believing that some civilizations/cultures were lesser than others.
Thomas F. McIlwraith became the first anthropology worker in UofT in 1925
Armchair Anthropologist: Refers to an approach to the study of various societies that dominated Anthropology
in the late 1800s. It involved the collection, study, and analysis of the writings of missionaries, explorers, and
colonists who had sustained contact with non-Western peoples. Armchair anthropologists used these documents
to make comparisons and generalizations about the ways of life of various groups.
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