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What is Anthropology?

by: Carina Sauter

What is Anthropology? ANTH 1102

Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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About this Document

This is Dr. Birch's introduction to the course and introduction to the term "anthropology".
Introduction to Anthropology
Dr. Birch
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1102 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Birch in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 125 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Georgia.


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Date Created: 01/22/16
What is Anthropology? I. Origins of Anthropology th th • 17 and 18 century – colonized and non colonized • Western expansion • Human cultural and biological variability • Actual study began • Originally aligned with natural history o Study of human beings similar to study of flora and fauna • Wealthy were expected to have in their homes: o Garden o Library o Cabinet of curiosities § Fossils, plant specimens, artifacts, textiles/pots § Helped build natural history museums o Birds, rocks, fossils, people (non western) § All treated as scientific specimen o Viewed under glass – people and cheetahs are the same • 19 century anthropology: “armchair anthropology” o used data collected by others (missionaries, explorers, colonial officials) to propose theories about other cultures o mainly focused on “primitive” society o based on biased accounts, written by people on their own agendas o ex. Missionaries trying to convert people o Western people thought they were naturally superior o “anthropology on the veranda”: people would just sit and watch and take credit, observe what’s going on around them o generated own opiniths and based accounts on that rather than science o ended by early 20 century • American Anthropology: Late 19 and Early 20 Century o Franz Boas: “The Father of Modern Anthropology” § First ethnographic field writer o Lived among people he was trying to understand § Taught at Columbia University from 1896-1912 o Founded the first PHD program in anthropology § 1907 essay questions for anthropologists: o Why are the tribes and nations of the world different? o How have the present differences developed? o Questions go hand-in-hand o Seem simple but they ask “why” and “how” § You need to answer each question to answer the other § Advocated the “four field approach” o Integration of different fields of study to one over arching subject § Empirical observations as opposed to grand theories • Theory after data and observation § Cultural anthropology § Biological anthropology § Linguistic anthropology § Anthropological anthropology § And a fifth sub discipline (today) • Applied anthropology o Putting knowledge gains from 4 fields to modern world § Advocated using the scientific method to develop and test theories about human behavior • Sub-disciplines of Anthropology 1. Cultural Anthropology o Boas specialty o Describes, analyzes, interprets and explains social and cultural similarities and differences § Ethnography: fieldwork in a particular culture § Ethnology: comparative study of ethnographic data o May compare two cultures 2. Biological Anthropology o The study of human biological variation – past and present o Use diverse array of methods and theories § Chemistry, medicine, biology § Answer questions only from data from human body o Paleoanthropology: the study of human evolution o Human genetics o Human growth and development o Biological plasticity: bodily change and adaptation to stress, throughout life o Primatology: the biology, evolution and behavior of nonhuman primates 3. Linguistic Anthropology o Explores how language shapes § Communication § Social identity and group membership (accents/dialects) § Cultural beliefs and ideologies § Cultural representations of natural and social worlds o Historical linguistics: study of variation over time o Sociolinguistics relationship between social and linguistic variation 4. Anthropological Archaeology o The study of human culture through material remains o Reconstructing past human societies using the “stuff” they left behind § Artifacts (potsherds, tools, ornaments) § Refuse (garbage) § Burials (remains) • The nature of burials (ex. Holes vs pyramids) § Entire settlements and distribution of the landscape • Who lived there? How many? How long? (5.) Applied Anthropology o Application of anthropological data, perspectives, theory, and methods to identify, assess, and solve contemporary social problems § Understand, assess problems § Working with communities and governments • Anthropology at UGA o Ecological and environmental anthropology o Many professors/ graduate students are interested in human/environment interaction o Mutual relationship between humans and environment o Ecological anthropology: the study of cultural adaptations to environments § How humans adapt to environment § How we preserve, maintain and manipulate the environment o Environmental anthropology: conservation and sustainability § Management of resources 1. Integrative – combines data and knowledge from different disciplines and practices 2. International – we communicate and collaborate with scholars, students, and communities from all over the world 3. Stewardship – of natural and cultural resources • Key Concepts o Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity § A holistic discipline (complete) § A comparative discipline (cross-cultural comparison) o Adaptation: the process by which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses/strains § Humans adapt using biological and cultural means o Variation: biological and cultural differences between human populations o Humans are a product of biocultural development = biocultural perspective § Culture is the learned traditions and customs that form the basis of the beliefs and behavior of the people exposed to them § Biology includes our physical structure, function, growth, and evolution (genetically determined with some plasticity) • 45,000 years ago, humans went from Africa to Ice Age Europe o needed to grow hair to keep warm {biologically}, but went too fast, so we {culturally} adapted by killing animals for their fur o we had darker skin from Africa, and over time we {biologically} adapted to lighter skin to absorb more vitamin D. o ONLY BY our cultural adaption could we have survived • Anthropology: the study of change o how we change o how we adapt to change • Scientific methodology o One can only formulate theories and conclusions after thorough and rigorous collections and examinations of evidence § Ex. Grid systems in archeology o A research question is a problem to be solved o A hypothesis is suggested but as yet unverified explanation o A variable is the thing (or things) to be understood o An association is an observed relationship between two or more variables o A theory is a set of ideas formulated to explain something


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