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Anthropology Notes Week 6 9/29

by: Nick Xie

Anthropology Notes Week 6 9/29 ANTH 100

Marketplace > University of Illinois at Chicago > Anthropology > ANTH 100 > Anthropology Notes Week 6 9 29
Nick Xie
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These notes cover lecture material from 9/29 over Biocultural Anthropology.
Anthropology 100: The Human Adventure
Douglas Smit
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nick Xie on Wednesday September 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 100 at University of Illinois at Chicago taught by Douglas Smit in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 49 views. For similar materials see Anthropology 100: The Human Adventure in Anthropology at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Date Created: 09/28/16
Biocultural Anthropology Exploring the relationship between Environment, Biology, and Culture 4 Fields of Anthropology ­ Physical/Biological o Study of human evolution and variation, both past and current ­ Social/Cultural o Study of cultures and societies of human beings and very recent past ­ Linguistic o Study of language, its structure, evolution, and social and cultural contexts ­ Archeology o Study of past societies and their cultures, eg tools, food remains Biocultural Anthropology ­ Present since the foundations of American anthropology in the early 20  century ­ Used holism and the four­field approach as a lens for viewing the larger  science/humanities chasm in the discipline ­ Today: Early foundations and the development of the biocultural split Early foundations ­ Franz Boas (Papa Franz) o Founding father of American anthropology o Physicist o Used 4 field holism (including the biocultural approach) to combat racism o measured skulls of new immigrants in New York, study recently revalidated  Concluded that skull size didn’t = social standing, instead growth was  stunted by diet o Wanted to write his dissertation on the color of seawater o However, he then talked to the local population, realized that different  populations have different conceptions of color o Realizes he can’t write a scientific dissertation on the color of seawater o Concluded “human beings are biocultural organisms” Adaptationism ­ “Darwinian synthesis”: Mendel + Darwin = Evolutionary biology ­ Basic premise is adaptationist o View that all or most traits are optimal adaptations o Not wrong  Bipedalism: advantages, why might we have evolved to walk upright  Same with big brains, tool use, our hands  All have advantages toward our survival, but does this apply to our entire  body?  Just because something exists, does it mean it’s natural? ­ Studying Adaptations in the field, Successes o 1950s, Sickle­cell/ Malaria studies  Found that the same gene that codes for sickle cell anemia often protects  against malaria o 1960s, Human Adaptability Section of the International Biological Program  Ex: Adaptations to high altitude, cold stress, heat stress  Turns out some populations have much more brown fat Rise of SocioBiology ­ Distinct from most anthropological perspectives ­ Seeks to explain human behavior in terms of Darwinian evolutionary theory ­ Most anthropologists think it’s bs now ­ For sociobiologists the choices we make and behaviors we carry out are a result of  unconscious determination of the costs and benefits of different behaviors ­ Basically means that genes determine behavior ­ E. O. Wilson (1975) o Studied mainly ants o Tried applying the same theories he had about ants to humans about behavior Adaptationism and the Naturalistic Fallacy ­ The spandrels of San Marco o San Marco: church in Italy  Has paints on the spandrels o Spandrels: upside down triangle structures between the outer curve of an arch o People may think that those were designed in for the paintings, but not actually  Was just practical in an architectural sense ­ Genetic and Evolutionary Determinism ­ The belief that because something exists, it is somehow natural 1990s, The Biocultural Synthesis ­ DOHaD = Developmental Origins of Health and Disease o Study of how the first nine months determine the rest of our life o Dutch people famine  Not many people died, but most people were essentially very hungry for 2  years  Found that women who had children during those two years had children  who had more health problems later in life ­ Explicitly rejected the idea of “natural” occurrences ­ Political Economy o Not synonymous with Marxism = inside joke with anthropologists o Study of how resources are distributed within a society  Why the rich are rich and why the poor are poor ­ “Spaces of Vulnerability” o How does our society create spaces of vulnerability for some people but not  others? Social Determinants of Health ­ What are some social determinants of health in your own life? o Ex: Parents’ standings in society, parents’ financials?  o Location: pollution, ex. Pilsen; Stressors: money, upcoming exams; Food:  availability, price; Proximity to healthcare Social inequalities and health ­ Social structure + inequalities in social position + inequalities in access to determinants = inequalities in health Puerto Rico Project ­ High blood pressure is often correlated with skin color in Latin America o Darker = higher o Clarence Gravlee  Did a questionnaire of what people’s socioeconomic status was  Asked people what their skin color was  Then measured their actual skin color o Turns out High Socioeconomic Status individuals with dark skin had the highest  blood pressure o “Color incongruity” = Stress = High Blood Pressure o People were less likely to experience racism when associating with people of the  same color ­ Why? Race? Genetics? Stress? Class? o Race is sometimes an index for class


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