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Chapter 1

ANTH 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Ethnography, Food Security, Primatology


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 100
Professor
Mc Guire Erin- Lee
Chapter
1

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Frameworks: help to organize thoughts & guide our understanding of both
the natural & cultural world
help to understand phenomenas & guide us towards an explanation
Anthropology: the scholarly study of humans
aims to describe in the broadest sense what it means to be human
also interested in the study of human culture (past & present), human
biology, and other methods & perspectives
how one defines “anthropology” depends on the context & their focus
used as a framework to understand how humans came, & continue, to be
lens of anthropology: a particular set of ideas, methods, theories, ethics,
views & research results in order to provide focus & clarity
Humans: a certain kind of primate whose normal means of moving around is
bipedalism (walking on two legs) & emerged serval million years ago
Homo sapiens, the genus & species we all belong to, is not sufficient enough
some anthropologists equate humans with Homo sapiens, the genus Homo, or
the family Homininae (includes the genus Homo, as well as other genera
existing between 7-1 million years ago)
Culture: the learned & shared things that people think (ideology), do
(behaviours/customs), & have (material culture) as members of a society
used to explain the diversity of human ways of life
contains many different components including:
-subsistence: the methods by which people get their food (foraging,
pastoralism, horticulture, agriculture or industrialism)
-diet: the specific types of foods eaten
-technology: the way people have made or used things
-communication: all the ways people have of communicating
-settlement patterns: movement of people within their territories &
how they create their living spaces
-economic systems: the way people obtain & distribute resources
-social systems: methods in which order is maintained within a
community or group
-political systems: the process in which order to maintained with
other groups
-belief systems: shared beliefs & values
-art: visual & performing arts
-health & healing: physical & mental health, illnesses, & methods of
treatments
is very dynamic, fluid, & ever-changing
all components do not change at the same rate or order, but they so
eventually change
it is possible to be a part of & operate between multiple cultures &
subcultures at the same time
The goals of anthropology:
discover what makes people different
discover what people have in common
learn to look at our own culture more objectively (like an outsider)
produce new knowledge & theories about humankind & behaviour
The branches of anthropology:
1. Cultural anthropology: focuses on cultures of the present & recent past
ethnology: the systematic collection, comparison, and contrast of
ethnographies (generic)
ethnography: an account of a particular group of people (specific)
ethnographic research: the process of studying culture in a filed setting
participant observation: immersing oneself in a culture by both
observing & participating in it
2. Archaeology: the study of humans through their material remains &
physical evidence of their activities
artifacts: primary raw data found during fieldwork
3. Biological (physical) anthropology: focuses on human biology past &
present by studying human biological evolution & contemporary biological
variability
began as an attempt to classify the world’s population into different races
primatology: considered a subfield of biological anthropology, in which
they study nonhuman primates in order to better understand our place in
the animal world & how early humans may have evolved
palaeoanthropology: another subfield, in which involves the study of
early human biology & culture
Forensic (ergonomics): identify victims & their characteristics
4. Linguistic anthropology: the study of human languages through
classification, language change, usage, & it’s interaction with culture
5. Applied anthropology: utilizes skills & methods of each of the branches
The key elements of the anthropological perspective:
holistic: view elements of human biology & culture as being interrelated
-recognize that a full understanding involves studying links & that all
components of culture are intricately interrelated
evolutionary: puts observations about humans into a temporal
framework that takes change over time into consideration
comparative: consider a wide range of similarities & differences in
human societies before making generalizations
qualitative: focuses on using descriptive research (qualitative) rather than
statistics (quantitative)
focused on linkage: focuses on the linkage between human biology &
culture, the linkage between different parts of the human body, & the
linkage between various components of a culture
focused on change: understand that human biology & human cultures
are undergoing constant change, which ties with holistic & evolutionary
perspectives & focusing on linkages
-interested in how & why change occurs, within groups & over time
based on field work: work done in the field in order to gain experience
& knowledge through first hand observations & to collect their own data
more interested in populations rather than individuals
interested in the big-picture things (ex. what makes us human?)
interested in the small things (ex. how do people greet each other?)
most biological & cultural traits are adaptive in some way
biological & cultural traits aren’t perfect
there are multiple ways of adapting, & no one way is better than another
similar problems can be solved in different ways
The history of anthropology:
emerged globally in the 1800s, primarily in Europe
emerged out of interest in cultural diversity around the world &
observations & interests in ancient archaeological sites & artifacts
Lewis Henry Morgan - began pure theoretical work in anthropology in
North America in the 1800s by making huge contributions to both
ethnography & theory
-unilinear theory:
salvage ethnography: became the most common form of anth. in the
late 1800s & early 1900s, done with a sense of urgency to document
cultures on the assumption that they were rapidly changing & disappearing
Franz Boas - the most dominant figure in the history of N.A. anth.
-was an outspoken critic of Morgan’s unilinear model of evolution
-developed the four-filed approach in anthropology
-cultural relativism:
-historial particularism:
its history is intricately intertwined with the Indigenous people of the
continent, were anthropologists were making contributions to the discipline
at the expense of Indigenous people
Indigenous people are not as central to N.A. anth. as they once were & the
relationship between anthropologists & Indigenous people has improved
Situating anthropology:
can be found in multiple contexts, including the academic, business world
& popular culture
considered to be part of the liberal arts or a social science
Importance of anthropology:
make important contributions to people suffering from epidemics, natural
disasters & conflict
offer a lot in the discussion & planning for a sustainable future
make useful contributions to climate change & food security
Anthropology Chapter 1 - Introduction
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