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Chapter 1

Anthropology 1026F/G Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Dual Inheritance Theory, Interactive Evolutionary Computation, Linguistic Anthropology

Course Code
ANTH 1026F/G
Alexis Dolphin

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Anthropology: Chapter 1
- The study of humans and their closest relatives over space and time
- Addresses the entire scope of the human experience – past and present
- Brings in multiple perspectives to study “what it is to be a human”
- Includes: behaviour, social relationships (eg. kinship and marriage patterns),
religion, ritual, technology, subsistence, economic and political patterns
- Also includes biological and evolutionary dimensions of humans such as:
genetics, anatomy, skeletal structure, adaptation to disease, other environmental
factors, growth, nutrition and evolutionary processes
-Anthropology: field that studies human culture and evolutionary aspects of
human biology; includes cultural and physical anthropology, linguistics, and
-Evolution: a change in the genetic structure of the population from one
generation to the next
-Scientific method: an approach to research where a problem is identified, a
hypothesis is stated and the hypothesis is tested through the collection and
analysis of data
-Biocultural evolution: the mutual, interactive evolution of human biology and
culture – the concept that biology makes culture possible and that developing
culture influences the direction of biological evolution
Humans = product of combined influences of biology and culture
Culture: all aspects of human life (eg. technology, traditions, language,
religion, social roles).
Learned and shared through generations (not transmitted by
biological or genetic means)
Key themes:
Human variation: how/why we differ (and similarities)
Human adaptation: how has human biology and culture
changed over time and current
Biocultural Framework: mutual interactive evolution of
human biology and culture
Note: how does culture respond to or affect environment
and biology: biology makes culture possible and culture
determines direction of biological change in an
Enculturation: process where individuals (usually children) learn the
values and beliefs of the family, peer groups, or society where they are
*culture is learned not biologically determined!
As biological beings: humans are subject to same evolutionary forces as
other species
Species: a group of organisms that can interbreed and produce fertile
offspring (reproductively isolated from other species)
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Adaptation: functional response of organisms/populations to an
environment – results from evolutionary change (usually as a result of
natural selection)
Subfields of Anthropology: Cultural (Social) Anthropology, Linguistic, Archaeology,
Physical (Biological) Anthropology
1) Cultural (Social) Anthropology: the study of all aspects of human behaviour
- Practice: participant observation (field – do what people do find motivations,
feel what they feel, experience rituals, daily occurrences, etc.)
Ethnography: in-depth analysis and reporting on how people live their life
- Study basically anything anywhere: power/inequality, ethnicity, sexuality,
No longer focused strictly on “the exotic other” as often portrayed in
popular media – a lot of Anthropology is done in North America (so: not
just foreign “unknown” cultures)
- Sometimes subfield: Medical Anthropology:
Study of the cultural attributes of health and disease
Sometimes considered a subfield, but is commonly called the “5th field” of
Linguistic Anthropology: the study of human speech and language (including origins of
- Key interests:
1) Linguistic Histories:
Can identify language families and past relationships between human
populations by examining similarities between current languages
2) Social Meanings:
Relationship between language and culture: language reflects societies –
eg. power relationships
- Language can encode many meanings – eg. geographical origins, identity, and
social class (social meanings can relate to the tones or cadence of speech)
- Since language is unique to humans, some linguistic anthropologists study
language acquisition in infants
3) Revitalization movements
Physical/Biological Anthropology: the study of human biology within the framework of
evolution – has emphasis on interaction between biology and culture
- Has recently been a shift in emphasis to biologically oriented topics: eg. genetics,
evolutionary biology, nutrition, physiological adaptation, growth and
- Origin of Physical Anthropology:
Natural historians: scientists studying how modern species came to be
(beginning to doubt the literal and biblical interpretation of creation)
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