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Chapter 1

Anthro 1026F/G Chapter 1 Notes

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Anthropology 1026F/G
Alexis Dolphin

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 archaeology - 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 environment • Enculturation: process where individuals (usually children) learn the values and beliefs of the family, peer groups, or society where they are raised • *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) • 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, technology • 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 “5 field” of Anthropology Linguistic Anthropology: the study of human speech and language (including origins of languages) - 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 development - Origin of Physical Anthropology: • Natural historians: scientists studying how modern species came to be (beginning to doubt the literal and biblical interpretation of creation) • Origin of the Species: human evolution  collect fossils and develop a chronological sequence of relationships among them to gain perspective on how humans came to be - Research goals: • Human origins • Human biological evolution/adaptation • Human biological variation (eg. variation due to habits, expression of genes, genes, etc)  adaptive significance: want to identify the evolutionary factors that have prod
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