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ANTH 021

by: Katherine Reid
Katherine Reid
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Week 1, Intro & Outlines of Study of Anthropology
Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Teresa Mares
Class Notes
Anthro, Anthropology, Cultural, Cultural Anthropology, UVM, University of Vermont, Vermont, Teresa Mares, Mares, intro




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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katherine Reid on Thursday March 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anthro at University of Vermont taught by Dr. Teresa Mares in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 50 views. For similar materials see Cultural Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Vermont.

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Date Created: 03/31/16
Anthropology, Class 1 Intro - Anthropology is a broad term - “Is this anthropological?” YES - two ethnographies this semester - Raising questions about humans - flawed discipline - constant state of reinvention - research methods Four Fields of Anthropology - Within Anthropology, there are radical differences - The primitive and the native leads to misunderstanding - we observe what is made to be observed- how do you get to accuracy and truth when you’re dealing with people (who don’t tell the truth)? - Reality vs. Mystique of Anthropology - “The study of human nature, human society, and the human past.” - Overlay past and present, human culture in action - how does place and space show culture? - relationship to other disciplines: anthropology tends to cover a broader span of time and range of topics - How humans have changed over time in an evolutionary sense - Sub-Disciplines Biological Anthropology - how are people organisms? - What does that mean in our relationship to the natural world and ancient past? - How bodies as a reflection of our culture and society - Three Major Areas: ⁃ Nonhuman primate ⁃ human evolution ⁃ contemporary human variation Archaeology - Study of “stuff” - Study of the past human cultures through their material remains - Major Areas: ⁃ Prehistoric ⁃ Historical Linguistic Anthropology - Study of communication among humans (not limited to humans) - Three Major Areas: ⁃ Historical linguistics ⁃ Descriptive (or structural) linguistics ⁃ Sociolinguistics - Engaging with social theory - Applied dimensions of work, applying knowledge to the world Cultural Anthropology - Study of living contemporary people and their cultures, the people who are living - Major Areas of Specialization: ⁃ Economic ⁃ Psychological ⁃ Medical ⁃ Political ⁃ Development ⁃ Food Systems Anthropology, Class 2 Applied Anthropology - Involves use or application of anthropological knowledge to help solve social problems - Not technically a separate field- integrating different fields Today’s Class • What makes anthropology unique among the social sciences? (science or humanity study?) • How do cultural anthropologists conduct research about culture? • What does fieldwork involve? How has it changed? *Hallmark feature, very diverse* MIT Film How do they carry out their fieldwork? - Doing things alongside different humans as much as talking to them - getting glimpse into inner lives - how to shuttle between lab and fieldwork - observe, make predictions/develop story about phenomena, then return to test predictions - studying out other people do their jobs, and doing those jobs alongside those people - immersion - personal interest in research topics - gained mutual respect between researchers and those who are being researched Holism/ Holistic Approach: anthropologists are trying to fit together all that is known about human being (pg. 2) culture is integrated and complex; in order to understand one piece, you have to acknowledge the existence of the whole Comparative: anthropologists must consider similarities and differences in as wide a range of human societies as possible before generalizing about what it means to be human (pg. 3) Evolutionary: anthropologists are curious about how we got to be what we are today (pg. 3) There is history, contemporary existence is a recent iteration of human life, therefore what came before is of interest to anthropologists - all anthropologists study culture** - Culture: sets of learned behaviors and ideas that human beings acquire as members of society (pg. 4) - Fieldwork: anthropologist’s personal, long-term experience with a specific group of people and their way of life (pg. 5) - Pitfalls- becoming too attached emotionally, overriding intellectual non-biased stance; by being present, you can change the dynamics/ context of a situation; how big is the focus- info could be skewed because your specific group is an outlier; people tell you what you want to hear- want to save their name/reputation How fieldwork/research has evolved - 1870’s- “Armchair” Approach: intensification of the Age of Exploration- people going other places for various reasons. Wealthy, white men relying on the information of their missionaries, etc. Detachment - Early 1900’s- “Verandah” Approach: Present in the field site, but observing from a place of superiority, not living daily life with people in study - Today- Participant Observation: living with, speaking with, doing activities alongside people whom you are studying- immersion Participant Observation • Learning about culture by living in a culture for an extended period • Bronislaw Malinowski took this approach while studying the people the Trobriand Islands • Key Elements: - Living with the people (informants or participants) - Participating in their everyday life - Learning the language • Still European, still sitting in a place of superiority/ placement- studying “data” or the “native/ primitive” • Etic - data collected according to the outsider researchers’ questions and categories - “deductive”; goal of being able to test or apply a hypothesis - Often emphasizes quantitative data (numbers) • Emic - seeks to understand what insiders say ad understand about their culture, their categories of thinking - “inductive”; not hypothesis-driven - Often emphasizes qualitative data- immeasurable (emotional, stories, narratives, etc.) • Power hierarchies can pose problems when researchers are outsiders from a group of people in question of study, therefore trust has to be built to bridge that gap Early Fieldwork: - to record as much as possible of people’s culture (language, songs, rituals, social life, etc.) because many were disappearing - most research conducted in small, isolated cultures - “arrogant” Changing Methods in a Global, Integrated World: - Larger-scale cultures (more integrated) - Global-local connections - cultural change - “humble/realistic” - Change/ Shift in Power - Shift toward studying personal, local home and community Innovation: Multi-sited Research - Fieldwork conducted on a topic in more than one location - Especially helpful when studying migrant populations and commodity chains (how products move around the world) Is Anthropology a Science? - Anthropology has moved… • From Positivism (and a belief in “objective knowledge”) • Through Modernism (which emphasizes that modern= good!) • Through Postmodernism (and critiquing modernist understandings of science and truth) • To an emphasis on Reflexivity (and a continuous questioning of our roles and relationships in the fields) Page 11- Reflexive Anthropology - Fieldwork has to be reflexive - researchers have to recognize how who they are as individuals affects their research, instead of assuming they are invisible to the people they are studying


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