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Week One Notes

by: Benjamin Notetaker

Week One Notes Anthropology 1000

Benjamin Notetaker
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Notes from the first three days of class covering all information discussed in class and on the slides.
Introduction to Anthropology
Dr. Christopher Berk
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Benjamin Notetaker on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anthropology 1000 at Auburn University taught by Dr. Christopher Berk in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views.


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Date Created: 08/31/16
Anthropology Week One What is Anthropology Anthropology -Kottak definition of Anthropology: “study of the human species and its immediate ancestors” -Historically, anthropology focused on nonindustrial people away from the anthropologists country or region of origin -This has changed over time. Kottak writes, “anthropology is much more than the study of nonindustrial people. It is a comparative science that examines all societies, ancient and modern, simple and complex” (Kottak 1). -One way to think: anthropology proves a cross-cultural perspective on human behavior, thought, and culture. -Strives for two things 1. Make the familiar strange 2. Make the strange familiar -Study of the human condition (species), its evolution, and its variations over time and space -Especially interested in how and why modern humans vary so dramatically, yet are so similar -Want to explain similarities and differences among humans -Study society (organized life in groups) -A holistic discipline -Kottak definition: “The study of the whole of the human condition: past, present, and future; biology, society, language, and culture.” The Nacirema -“The Anthropologist has become so familiar with the diversity of ways in which different people behave in similar situations that he is not apt to be surprised by even the most exotic customs” (CC 287). -Conformity and Conflict ch. 31 by Horace Miner, originally published in 1956 -Describes the strange cultural rituals of the Nacirema -The name is a pseudonym, to protect their identity and location -The rituals are described in such a way as to make them highly mystical when in fact they are daily activities practiced by every American. -Nacirema is an acronym for American -Rituals described include but are not limited too: -Rubbing the teeth with a hog’s hair bundle (brushing teeth) -Visiting medicine men (doctors) who write notes in an ancient mystic language (prescriptions written in short hand) that are taking to herbalists (pharmacists) for medicine -Cleansing rituals (hand washing) -visits to holy mouth men (dentists) -their work is an exorcism of the evils of the mouth -Men scrape and lacerate their face (shaving) Subfields of Anthropology 1. Cultural 2. Archaeology 3. Biological / Physical 4. Linguistic -These are distinct but complimentary and share many assumptions and starting points th -American Anthropology, as a scientific field, traces to the 19 century. Early ones focused on Native Peoples of North America Culture -social (i.e. learned) rather than biological -taught from birth -instructions are both direct (do this. do that.) and indirect (picked up through observation) -This is called enculturation, or socialization -learning one’s culture involves things as small as how you dress, how you talk, and so forth -our beliefs shape how we view our physical appearance in relation to culturally constructed ideas of desirability Archaeology -reconstructs, describes, and interprets human behavior and cultural patters through material remains (commonly called artifacts) -can analyze social organization, diet, culture shift, amongst many other things Ex: Moundville, AL and Australian Aboriginal Stone Tools Biological Anthropology -studies: “Human biological diversity in time and space” (kottak 10) -Five special interests: 1. evolution as shown by fossils 2. human genetics 3. human growth and development 4. biological plasticity (body’s ability to it’s environment) 5. bio evolution, behavior, and social life of monkeys, apes, and other non-human primates Ethnographic Fieldwork Anthropology as a Qualitative Science -gathers in depth information from small groups of people -Ethnography: field work (study of one culture) -Ethnology: cross cultural comparison (compares a lot of different Ethnographic findings) -Bronislaw Malinowski -polish nation -started studies in 1914 (got stranded for 4 years due to WWI starting) -his most famous book: “Argonauts of the West Pacific” (1922) -focused on the people of the Trobriand Islands (papua new guinea) -His Approach -Cut yourself off from you own type of people and immerse yourself in the culture you’re studying -Find patterns, structure, “anatomy” of social life and then fill in details of everyday life, the “imponderabilia,” through close observation then collect a “corpus inscriptionum,” a set of telling examples -Do all this in order to “grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to grasp his vision of his world.” -Anthropological Research -based around firsthand, personal study of particular cultural settings -Ethnography involves: -long term residence -learning a new language (or a new style of yours) -developing intimate relationships with people unlike you (who may not like you) -Field work will result in constant embarrassment -works through a series of reversals -things remote made to seem nearby, accessible -things near to us are made to seem remote, even unattractive -otherness is gradually turned into the familiar -familiar is gradually turned into a sense of otherness -Techniques -Participant Observation -take part in the community life you’re studying -helps to find out why they value what they do -Rapport -form relationships and bonds -These people become key cultural consultants (called “informants” in old anthropology) -genealogical method -who you live with, how is marriage organized, how do you trace your family -life history -KCC’s life reveals the culture as a whole -contrasting perspectives (put together you get the full picture) -Emic: local perspectives, insider’s perspective -Etic: external, analytical, outsider’s perspective -Thanksgiving -pilgrims and natives first harvest together -Emic (American) perspective sees it as very unique -Etic (the world) sees it as just another fall feast -Different Models -problem oriented: based on public health, trying to help with a problem (disease or hunger) -longitudinal: long term study based on repeated visits, might be looking at one question over decades -Team Research: brings in many different researches to blend their skills -Multi-sited: looks at many places in one country, or many countries Dr. Berks Research -work located in Tasmania, Australia -Tasmanian Aboriginal Peoples -came over on land bridge during Ice Age -separated geographically about 12,000 years ago -led to developing unique -considered extinct in 1876 -drew inspiration from USA civil rights (primarily black panthers) challenged the governments to recognize them as aboriginal (began in 1970s and succeeded in early 1980s) -Hobart, Tasmania -primarily speak English (very different kind of English) -Anthropologists are extremely reliant on openness and acceptance of strangers -Usually off something in return (education, health care, etc.) -Education programs -Public displays -Bushwalks: hikes to aboriginal sites (usually secret locations) -Shell collection: used in jewelry (often in secret locations) -Exhibition Design: basket making and what not -Protests and Rallies -32,000 year old archaeological site in way of new road -Using informal and formal interviews are used Ethics -informed consent -must hide names of those who would like them to be -must inform your subjects you’re doing research What is Culture? E.B. Tylor’s definition of Culture -Culture, or civilization, taking in it’s wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (1871) -singular, synonymous with civilization What is Culture? -Human cultures are dependent on 1. Symbolic Communications 2. Learning (conscious and unconscious) 3. The Ability to Live in Groups -all three are routed in biology (this can’t explain anthropology overall) Distinctive Features of Culture -It (is): -learned -shared -symbolic (we all call chairs, chair etc.) -shapes and channels nature -all encompassing -integrated -adaptive and maladaptive -changing -inclusive and exclusive Culture Levels and Scales -anthropologist also recognize culture systems that are large, and smaller, than nation-states -National, international, and subcultures (cultures within a nation) Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding -Richard Lee: Eating Christmas in Kalahari -buying the big ox and getting told it was too small for the meal when it was actually excellent, the natives lied to Mr. Lee to prevent him from becoming arrogant -Laura Bohannan: Shakespeare in the Bush -She read Hamlet to the natives and they “corrected” practically every major plot point to make sense in their culture -Both these readings showcase ways in which the assumptions, beliefs, and expectations of the anthropologist can be challenged during research -They also highlight the productivity of cultural misunderstanding Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism -Ethnocentrism is similar to naïve realism. It is the tendency to view one’s culture as superior and to apply one’s own cultural values in judging the behavior and beliefs of peoples raised in other cultures -In order to counteract such ethnocentrism anthropologists employ cultural relativism, which is the viewpoint that behavior in one culture should not be judged by the standards of another culture. It should be understood relative to its own system of meaning. -Cultural relativism is an analytical tool to help one engage and think about different cultures Cultural Dimensions -Universality -Occur all over the world in every culture -constant sexuality, language, kinship, food, taboo against incest -Generality -Occur in many cultures but not all of them -ex. nuclear family vs. polygamy -Particularly -Not prevalent just unique to a culture -types of marriages, what counts as incest Culture Change -Diffusion: borrowing cultural items (ideas, styles, religions, technologies, and languages) -Acculturation: borrowing of traits due to prolonged contact -Independent Invention: cultures invent their own tools, weapons, -Globalization and Mass Mediation


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