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Chapter 1

AN101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Richard Potts, Coevolution, Ethnocentrism

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Magdalena Kazubowski- Houston

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Anthropology: Chapter 1- The Anthropological Perspective on the Human Condition
Anthropology is considered to have four main specialties
1. Biological anthology
2. Archaeology
3. Linguistic anthropology
4. cultural anthropology
Richard Potts- The foundation of culture contains five elements
1. Transmission- copying behaviour by observation or instruction
2. Memory- because traditions cannot develop unless the new behaviour is remembered
3. Reiteration- the ability to reproduce or imitate behaviour or information that has been learned
4. Innovation- the ability to invent new behaviour
5. Selection- the ability to select which innovations to keep and which to discard
Potts adds three elements that evolved later and made human culture possible;
6. Symbolic coding or symbolic representation- something we share with other species in
particular, the great apes
7. Complex symbolic representation- the ability to communicate freely about the past the future
and the invisible
8. Institutional development- the creation of complex and variable forms of social organization
Culture and the human brain coevolved each furnishing key features of the environment to
which the other needed to adapt
Culture is shared as well as learning and can be adapted to meet present of future needs
Such learning is sometimes called habitus since it is rooted in habitual learning
Cultural patterns can be traced over time
Cultural patterns also vary across space
Human species as a whole can be said to have culture as a distinguishing attribute, but actual
human beings would only have access to particular human culture, either their own or others
E.B Taylor- defined culture or civilization
Ortner; calls for three imperatives
1. Maintain a strong presumption of cultural difference but make it do new things
2. Emphasize the issue of meaning making
3. Situate cultural analysis within and beneath the larger analyses of social and political events
and processes
Human experience is inherently ambiguous, experience must be interpreted
Cultural determinism requires us to accept three assumptions about human nature and human
That cultures have neat boundaries between them
That every culture offers people only one way to interpret experience
That people living in these closed cultural worlds are passively moulded by culture
Ethnocentrism is a form of reductionism