Chapter One Outline

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University of Rhode Island
APG 203
Professor Garcia- Quijano

CHAPTER ONE I. HumanAdaptability A.Anthropology is the study of the human species and its immediate ancestors. 1. Anthropology is holistic in that the discipline is concerned with studying the whole of the human condition: past, present, and future; biology, society, language, and culture. 2. Anthropology offers a unique cross-cultural perspective by constantly comparing the customs of one society with those of others. B. People share both society and culture. 1. Society is organized life in groups, a feature that humans share with other animals. 2. Cultures are traditions and customs, transmitted through learning, that govern the beliefs and behaviors of the people exposed to them. 3. While culture is not biological, the ability to use it rests in hominid biology. C. Adaptation is the process by which organisms cope with environmental stresses. 1. Human adaptation involves interaction between culture and biology to satisfy individual goals. 2. Four types of human adaptation (see the illustration of these with regard to adjustment to high altitude). a. Cultural (technological) adaptation. b. Genetic adaptation. c. Long-term physiological or developmental adaptation. d. Immediate physiological adaptation. D. Humans are the most adaptable animals in the world, having the ability to inhabit widely variant ecological niches. 1. Humans, like all other animals, use biological means to adapt to a given environment. 2. Humans are unique in having cultural means of adaptation. E. Through time, social and cultural means of adaptation have become increasingly important for human groups. 1. Human groups have devised diverse ways of coping with a wide range of environments. 2. The rate of this cultural adaptation has been rapidly accelerating during the last 10,000 years. a. Food production developed between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago after millions of years during which hunting and gathering was the sole basis for human subsistence. b. The first civilizations developed between 6,000 and 5,000 years ago. c. More recently, the spread of industrial production has profoundly affected human life. II. GeneralAnthropology A. The four subdisciplines of American anthropology. 1. The academic discipline of American anthropology is unique in that it includes four subdisciplines: cultural anthropology, archaeological anthropology, biological or physical anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. 2. This four-field approach developed in the U.S. as earlyAmerican anthropologists studying native peoples of NorthAmerica became interested in exploring the origins and diversity of the groups that they were studying. 3. This broad approach to studying human societies did not develop in Europe (e.g., archaeology, in most European universities, is not a subdiscipline of anthropology; it is its own department). B. The four subdisciplines share a similar goal of exploring variation in time and space to improve our understanding of the basics of human biology, society, and culture. 1. Variation in time (diachronic research): using information from contemporary groups to model changes that took place in the past; and using knowledge gained from past groups to understand what is likely to happen in the future (e.g., reconstructing past languages using principles based on modern ones). 2. Variation in space (synchronic research): comparing information collected from human societies existing at roughly the same time, but from different geographic locations (e.g., the race concept in the U.S., Brazil, and Japan). C. Any conclusions about "human nature" must be pursued with a comparative, cross-cultural approach. III. Cultural Forces Shape Human Biology A. Cultural traditions promote certain activities and abilities, discourage others, and set standards of physical well-being and attractiveness. B. Culture has more to do with sports success than "race" does. 1. In Brazilian culture, women should be soft, with big hips and buttocks, not big shoulders; since competitive swimmers tend to have big, strong shoulders and firm bodies, competitive swimming is not very popular among Brazilian females. 2. In the U.S., there are not manyAfrican-American swimmers or hockey players, not because of some biological reason, but because those sports are not as culturally significant as football, basketball, baseball, and track. IV. The Subdisciplines ofAnthropology A. Cultural anthropology combines ethnography and ethnology to study human societies and cultures for the purpose of explaining social and cultural similarities and differences. 1. Ethnography produces an account (a book, an article, or a film) of a particular community, society, or culture based on information that is collected during fieldwork. a. Generally, ethnographic fieldwork involves living in the community that is being studied for an extended period of time (e.g., 6 months to 2 years). b. Ethnographic fieldwork tends to emphasize local behavior, beliefs, customs, social life, economic activities, politics, and religion, rather than developments at the national level. c. Since cultures are not isolated, ethnographers must investigate the local, regional, national, and global systems of politics, economics, and information that expose villagers to external influences. 2. Ethnology examines, interprets, analyzes, and compares the ethnographic data gathered in different societies to make generalizations about society and culture. a. Ethnology uses ethnographic data to build models, test hypotheses, and create theories that enhance our understanding of how social and cultural systems work. b. Ethnology works from the particular (ethnographic data) to the general (theory). B. Interesting Issues: EvenAnthropologists Get Culture Shock 1. "Culture shock" is alienation that results from stepping outside one's own cultural frame and into a different one. 2. The example of Kottak’s work among theArembepe suggests that culture shock eases once we begin to grasp the logic of a culture that is new to us. C. Archaeological anthropology reconstructs, describes, and interprets past human behavior and cultural patterns through material remains. 1. The material remains of a culture include artifacts (e.g., potsherds, jewelry, and tools), garbage, burials, and the remains of structures. 2. Archaeologists use paleoecological studies to establish the ecological and subsistence parameters within which given groups lived. 3. The archaeological record provides archaeologists the unique opportunity to look at changes in social complexity over thousands and tens of thousands of years (this kind of time depth is not accessible to ethnographers). 4. Archaeology is not restricted to prehistoric societies. a. Historical archaeology combines archaeological data and textual data to reconstruct historically known groups. b. William Rathje’s "garbology" project in Tucson,Arizona. D. Biological, or physical, anthropology investigates human biological diversity across time and space. 1. There are five special interests within biological anthropology: a. Paleoanthropology: human evolution as revealed by the fossil record. b. Human genetics.
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