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Anthropology 102, Chapters 1 and 2

by: Jamie Bynum

Anthropology 102, Chapters 1 and 2 ANT 102

Jamie Bynum
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These are notes that are in no way guaranteed to help with any sort of exams. These are notes that I took as I was reading "Culture Counts: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" by Nanda...
Intro Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Weaver
Class Notes
Cultural, Anthropology




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This 27 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jamie Bynum on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANT 102 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Dr. Weaver in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Intro Cultural Anthropology in Cultural Anthropology at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.


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Date Created: 08/31/16
Chapter 1 Section 1: Specialization in Anthropology Biological or Physical Anthropology • Biological (or Physical) Anthropology: The study of humankind from a biological perspective, primarily on aspects of hu- mankind that are genetically inherited - Includes subfields such as skeletal analysis (osteology), the study of human nutrition, the statistical study of human popula- tion (demography), the study of patterns of disease (epidemiol- ogy), and primatology - Best known for the study of human evolution and the biological processes involved in human adaption - Human variation is concerned with physiological differences among humans - Biological anthropologists also study living nonhuman primates, such as monkeys and apes; studied for the clues their chem- istry, physiology, morphology (physical structure), and behavior provide about our own species Linguistics • Linguistic Anthropology: The study of language and its relation to culture - Linguistic anthropologists want to understand how language is structured, how it is learned, and how this communication takes place - Language is a complex symbolic system that people use to communicate and transmit culture Archaeology • Archaeology: The study of past cultures through their material remains - Archaeologists do not observe human behavior and culture di- rectly but rather reconstruct them from material remains or arti- facts; their principal task is to infer the nature of past cultures based on the patterns of artifacts left behind Cultural Anthropology • Cultural Anthropology: The study of human thought, behavior, and life ways that are learned rather than genetically transmit- ted and that are typical of groups of people • Ethnography: The major research tool of cultural anthropology, including both fieldwork among people in a society and the writ- ten results of such fieldwork • Emic: Examination of societies using concepts, categories, and distinctions that are meaningful to members of those societies • Etic: Examinations of societies using concepts, categories, and rules derived from science; and outsider’s perspective • Ethnology: The attempt to find general principles or laws that govern cultural phenomena through the comparison of cultures - Anthropologists define society as a group of people persisting through time and social relationships among these people - Culture is the major way in which human beings adapt to their environments and give meaning to their lives - An ethnographer attempts to describe an entire society or a particular set of cultural institutions or practices - Ethnologists compare and contrast practices in different cul- tures to find regularities Applied Anthropology • Applied Anthropology: The application of anthropological knowledge to the solution of human problems - Used to solve practical problems in business, politics, delivery of services, and land management Using Anthropology: Forensic Anthropology - Forensic anthropologists use their anthropological training to identify skeletal or badly decomposed human remains Everyday Anthropology Most important aspect of anthropology is the way an anthropo- - logical perspective demands that we open our eyes and experi- ence the world in new ways Section 2: Anthropology and “Race” - Most anthropologists believe that “Race” is not a scientifically valid system of classification; however, they have not come to an agreement on a classification method - Traits of the face (skin/eye/hair color) enable us to rapidly as- sign individuals to a racial group; good clue that race is about society, not biology - Anthropology teaches us that the big differences among human groups result from culture, not biology Section 3: Why Study Anthropology - Anthropology is the university discipline that focuses on under- standing different groups of people Chapter Review - Anthropology is a comparative study of humankind; anthropolo- gists study human beings in the past and in the present and in every corner of the world - Anthropologists study the entire range of humans’ biological, social, political, economic, and religious behavior as well as the relationships among the different aspects of human behavior in the past and present - Anthropology stresses the importance of culture in human adaptation; it asserts that critical differences among individuals are cultural rather than biological - Anthropology demonstrates that race is not a valid scientific category but rather is a social and cultural construct - Anthropology courses develop three important ways of thought that are applicable to the broad range of occupations followed by anthropologists: 1) Anthropology focuses on understanding other groups of people within their own historical and cultural context; 2) Anthropologists grapple with the question of what it means to be human by observing, collecting, recording, and at- tempting to understand the full range of human cultural experi- ence; 3) Anthropology encourages us to use our understanding of other cultures to think about our own Chapter 2 Section 1: Feral Children - Feral or wild children are human children who are alleged to have grown up by themselves in the wild, apart from human civ- ilization - There is no reliable evidence that any human child has ever been raised by members of another species, such as wolves or bears - Two most famous feral children are Peter the Wild Boy and Vic- tor the Wild Boy of Aveyron - Peter was found in 1725 in what is today Northern Germany; brought to the court of King George I in England, was taught a few simple words and tasks; ran away in 1751, but was brought back and had a large bronze collar placed on him - Victor lived in the forests around Aveyron in Southern France at the end of the 1790s; he was also taught a few simple words and tasks, but could not learn much - Author Jonathan Swift imagined Peter trying to comprehend the alien social customs of the British aristocracy - Author Daniel Defoe wondered about the degree to which Peter really was a human being; did he have a soul?; he could not speak, maybe he could not think - Lord Monboddo said that wild children proved mother was nat- ural to humanity: speech, upright posture, walking on two feet are all capacities that people had to be taught through a process of civilization - Victor was captured and displayed in the era immediately fol- lowing the French Revolution; many believed that humans, in their natural form, free of European culture, lacked morals but were essentially noble • Six Characteristics Shared By All Cultures: 1. Cultures are made up of learned behaviors. People are not born knowing their culture. They learn it through a process called enculturation 2. Cultures all involve classification systems and symbols. Peo- ple use cultural symbols to create meaning Cultures are patterned and integrated. Thus, changes in one 3. aspect of culture affect other aspects. However, elements of culture do not necessarily work smoothly with one another 4. Cultures are shared. Although there may be disagreement about many aspects of a culture, there must be considerable consensus as well 5. Cultures are adaptive and include information about how to survive in the world, but cultures can contain much that is maladaptive 6. Cultures are subject to change. Whether propelled by their in- ternal dynamics or acted upon by outside forces, cultures are always in flux - Based on this list, we might define culture as the learned, sym- bolic, at least partially adaptive, and ever-changing patterns of behavior and meaning shared by members of a group Symbol: Something that stands for something else • • Anthropological Theory: A set of propositions about which as- pects of culture are critical, how they should be studied, and what the goal of studying them should be • Major Anthropological Theories: 1. Nineteenth-Century Evolution: A universal human culture is shared, in different degrees, by all societies 2. Turn-Of-The-Century Sociology: Groups of people share sets of symbols and practices that bind them into societies 3. American Historical Particularism: Cultures are the result of the specific histories of the people who share them 4. Functionalism: Social practices support society’s structure or fill the needs of individuals 5. Culture and Personality: Culture is personality writ large; it both shapes and is shaped by the personalities of its mem- bers 6. Cultural Ecology and Neo-Evolutionism: Culture is the way in which humans adapt to the environment and make their lives secure 7. Ecological Materialism: Physical and economic causes give rise to cultures and explain changes within them 8. Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology: Culture is a mental template that determines how members of a society under- stand their world 9. Structural Anthropology: Universal original human culture can be discovered through analysis and comparison of the myths and customs of many cultures 10. Sociobiology: Culture is the visible expression of underlying genetic coding 11. Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology: Culture is the way in which members of a society understand who they are and give lives meaning 12. Postmodernism: Because understanding of cultures most re- flect the observer’s biases, culture can never completely or accurately be described 13. Globalization: Culture is best identified as the global flow of identity, symbolism, money, and information Section 2: Culture is Made Up of Learned Behaviors - Almost every aspect of our lives is layered with learning - In every society, human beings learn their culture continuously, not just in childhood - All humans remain physically, emotionally, and intellectually, immature well into their teens and early 20s; lengthy period has profound implications: 1) Allows time for an enormous amount of childhood learning, 2) Demands that human cultures be de- signed to provide relatively stable environments that protect the young for long periods of time • Enculturation: The process of learning to be a member of a par- ticular group - The inuit, a hunting people of the Arctic, teach their children to deal with a world that is dangerously problematic - Inuit must learn to maintain a “constant state of awareness” and an “experimental way of living”; children brought up to constant- ly test their physical skills and learn their own capacity for pain and endurance Inuit children learn largely through watching elders; discour- - aged from asking questions; play is a critical part of learning, especially hand-eye coordination - Anger and aggression are avoided; they prize reason, judge- ment, and emotional control • Culture and Personality: A theoretical position in Anthropology that helps that cultures could best be understood by examining the patterns of child rearing and considering their effect on so- cial institutions in adult lives Section 3: Culture is the Way Humans Use Symbols to Organize and Give Meaning to the World - Different cultures have different models for understanding and speaking about the world • Ethnoscience: A theoretical position in Anthropology that focus- es on recording and examining the ways in which members of a culture use language to classify and organize their cognitive world • Cognitive Anthropology: A theoretical position in Anthropology that focuses on the relationship between the mind and society Using Anthropology: Culturally Specific Dis- eases: Case of Lia Lee - The ways in which people classify, experience, and understand health and illness differ dramatically among cultures - Lia Lee’s parents couldn’t tell anyone her daughter was having seizure because no one spoke Hmong or understood Hmong culture; Lia was diagnosed with epilepsy; her parents believed her soul was separated from her body and she could become a shaman, so they refused treatment; they fought with doctors and child services over her treatment Symbols and meaning - Words, objects, and ideas can all be symbols - Nonhuman animals must learn through experience or imitation, so they can only learn a small amount - Symbols have the ability to condense meanings; people may take a single symbol and make it stand for an entire constella- tion of ideas and emotions; religious and national symbols often have this characteristic • Symbolic Anthropology: A theoretical position in Anthropology that focuses on understanding cultures by discovering and ana- lyzing the symbols that are most important to their members Interpretive Anthropology: A theoretical position in Anthropology • that focuses on using humanistic methods, such as those found in the analysis of literature, to analyze cultures and discover the meanings of culture to its participants - Analyzing the cultural texts in public events, celebrations, and rituals gives us clues and insights into the meaning of culture for its participants - Interpretive and symbolic anthropologists use methods drawn from the humanities rather than from the sciences to uncover and interpret the deep emotional and psychological structure of societies; their goal is to understand the experience of being a member of a culture and to make their experience available to their readers Section 4: Culture is an Integrated Sys- tem—Or Is It? • Organic Analogy: The comparison of cultures to living organ- isms Societies, like a body, is made up of integrated systems - - Organic analogy implies that properly functioning societies should be stable and conflict-free - In all societies, social life is characterized by conflict as well as concord; often the parts of society may rub, chafe, and grind against each other • Functionalism: A theoretical position in anthropology that fo- cuses on finding general laws that identify different elements of society, showing how they relate to each other, and demon- strating their role in maintaining social order • Ecological Functionalism: A theoretical position in Anthropology that focuses on the relationship between environment and so- ciety - Ecological functionalists are concerned with ways in which cul- tural practices both alter and are altered by the ecosystem in which they occur Section 5: Culture is a Shared System of Norms and Values—Or Is It? • Norms: Shared Ideas about the way things ought to be done; rules of behavior that reflect and enforce culture • Values: Shared ideas about what is true, right, and beautiful - Human behavior is not always consistent with cultural norms or values • Subculture: A group within society that shares norms and val- ues significantly different from those of the dominant culture • Dominant Culture: The culture with the greatest wealth and power in a society that consists of many subcultures • Historical Particularism: A theoretical position in Anthropology associated with American anthropologists of the early 20th cen- tury that focuses on providing objective descriptions of cultures within their historical and environmental contexts • Postmodernism: A theoretical position in Anthropology that fo- cuses on issues of power and voice; Postmodernists hold that anthropological accounts are partial truths reflecting the back- grounds, training, and social positions of their authors Section 6: Culture is the Way Human Beings Adapt to the World • Adaption: A change in the biological structure or life ways of an individual or population by which it becomes better fitted to sur- vive and reproduce in its environment - A human’s biological adaption to the world is learning culture; most humans automatically learn the culture of their social group • Plasticity (in Anthropology): The ability of humans to change their behavior in response to a wide range of environmental and social demands - Humans may inherit a great deal of cultural misinformation that hinders their survival • Cultural Ecology: A theoretical position in Anthropology that fo- cuses on the adaptive dimensions of culture Section 7: Culture is Constantly Chang- ing - No culture has ever been stuck in time or isolated from other cultures for very long - Cultures change due to conflict, outside contact, population growth, disease, climate change, and natural disaster - Cultural change can happen in small increments or revolution- ary bursts - Most cultural change is very slow - Since the 16th century, the most important source of change has been the development of a world economic system based primarily in Europe and Asia • Innovation: An object or way of thinking that is based upon but is qualitatively different from existing forms • Diffusion: The spread of cultural elements from one society to another - Innovation and diffusion are not simple processes; new ideas must be accepted Section 8: Culture Counts - Culture is learning, symbolism and meaning, patterns of thought and behavior, the things we share with those around us, the ways in which we survive in our world, and dynamism and change Chapter Review - Culture is the learned, symbolic, at least partially adaptive, and ever-changing patterns of behavior and meaning shared by members of a group - Almost all human behavior is learned; humans learn throughout their entire life span - Humans understand the world by classifying it and using sym- bols to give it meaning; different cultures use different systems of classification; people use symbols to give meaning to their lives - Like biological organisms, cultures are systems of related ele- ments working together; unlike biological organisms, cultural systems include contradictions that lead to conflict - Norms are shared ideas about the way things ought to be done; values are shared ideas about what is true, right, and beautiful; people wishing a culture normally do not fully agree on norms and values - Culture is the way humans adapt to their world; unlike other species, humans adapt primarily through cultural learning; this enables people to respond to change rapidly but can, in some cases, be maladaptive - All cultures change; innovation and diffusion are two sources of change; many factors determine the acceptance or rejection of a cultural change - Culture makes humans unique, but the vast differences be- tween human cultures make cultural understanding a chal- lenge; anthropology supplies tools to meet that challenge


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