Unit 1
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Unit 1. Introduction to Anthropology. What is anthropology?. Anthros=man, human Logos=study of Discipline of infinite curiosity about human beings Comparing humans from all areas and all time periods Tends to be a focus on non-Western cultures.

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Unit 1

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Unit 1

Introduction to Anthropology


What is anthropology?

  • Anthros=man, human

  • Logos=study of

  • Discipline of infinite curiosity about human beings

  • Comparing humans from all areas and all time periods

    • Tends to be a focus on non-Western cultures


  • Holistic approach to anthropology—we study all aspects of humanity

  • Forms of study:

    • Physical anthropology—study of humans and their evolution and biological variations between populations

    • Archaeology—study of prehistoric populations and cultures through material remains (bones, tools, etc.)

    • Linguistics—study of language

    • Cultural anthropology—study of cultural variation and universals (religion, economics, social order, sex, art, etc.)


  • Culture—set of learned values, behaviors, and beliefs that are characteristic of a particular society

  • Cultural relativism

  • Ethnocentrism

    • Often referred to as a hatred/fear of other cultures (XENOPHOBIA)


Noteworthy Anthropologists

  • Franz Boas (1858-1942) German-American

    • Father of American Anthropology

    • Famous for applying scientific method to cultural studies

    • Studied the Inuits in Canada

    • Appealed to all anthropologists to not treat studied cultures with a bias/disdain

  • Jane Goodall (1934-) English primatologist

    • Has led study of chimpanzee social and family life for last 45 years in Africa

    • Advocate for chimpanzees and environment

    • Discovered tool-making abilities in chimpanzees

  • Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American

    • Studied problems adolescents in US face by living with and studying Samoans

      • Does our civilization cause adolescent angst or is it natural across culture?

      • She concluded that transition from childhood to adulthood lacks the emotional or psychological distress our teenagers face


Noteworthy Anthropologists

  • Charles Darwin (1809-1882) English naturalist

    • Created natural selection

  • Mary (1913-1996) & Louis Leakey (1903-1972) English archeologists

    • Followed by son Richard

    • She discovered “Laetoli footprints” in Tanzania

    • Pushed hard in research to prove Darwin’s theories correct

    • Both studied and found evidence of human evolution

  • BronislawMalinowski (1884-1942) Polish

    • Studied reciprocity and Melanesia (Papua New Guinea)

    • Began use of direct study of day-to-day research instead of simply interviewing subjects or use of limited contact—live amongst the subjects

      • Goal of anthropologists should be “to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world.”


Some assumptions about culture

  • Culture is adaptive—New Guinea tribes often view women as unclean—they need to adapt or go extinct

    • Maladaptive behavior

    • Adaptive behavior

      • Tropical cultures often have a post-partum sex taboo


More assumptions

  • Culture is integrated into a society—traits of a culture are not just thrown into a society; it’s there for a reason

    • This means we cannot just think of things from other cultures we could apply to us.

    • How would a post-partum sex taboo affect us?


3rd assumption

  • Culture is always changing

  • Change in environment can cause a change in culture

    • EX: global warming—how will that change our culture?


Evolution v. Creationism

  • Evolution—change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation

  • Charles Darwin—rejected belief that all creatures were created independently

    • Published The Origin of Species in 1859

    • Detailed findings from research during the 1830s during a long sailing voyage on The Beagle—most notable was his studies of the finch on the Golapagos Islands off Ecuador

      • Finches had characteristics depending on the island they were on


  • Natural Selection —Darwin’s belief that the genes of strong individuals will be passed on more often than the genes of weaker individuals (Survival of the Fittest)

    • Adaptation—ongoing natural selection as populations change in response to environmental changes

    • Speciation

    • Mutation


Human Evolution


Specific Human Ancestors

  • A. Afarensis(Lucy)—3-4 million years ago

    • Eastern Africa (Ethiopia)

    • Small brain

    • Long arms—good climber

    • Bipedal

    • Lived in small social groups with one dominant male and several breeding females


9 minutes


Specific Human Ancestors (cont.)

  • A. Africanus—2-3 million years ago

    • Southern Africa

    • Larger head=larger brain

    • More human-like facial features

    • Ape-like curved fingers


Specific Human Ancestors (cont.)

  • Homo Habilis (“handy man”)—1.75-2.25 million years ago

    • Eastern Africa (Tanzania)

    • Very short and very long arms

    • Brains were half the size of modern humans

    • Remains found with tools

    • Human-like face with smaller teeth


Specific Human Ancestors (cont.)

  • Homo Neanderthalensis—30,000 years ago

    • Europe and Western Asia

    • Stone tool users (axes & spears)

    • Did not discover fire, but harnessed it

    • Adapted to colder climates (shorter but bulky bodies and larger noses)

      • Men were about 5 ½ feet

      • Suffered from sever arthritis

    • Could create sounds and differentiate between vocal sounds (language?)

    • Performed some sort of ritualistic burial ceremonies

    • Some evidence that cannibalism may have occurred


Neanderthal--50 minutes


Specific Human Ancestors (cont.)

  • Homo Erectus (“upright man”)—30,000-1.25 million years ago

    • Eastern Africa, Europe & Asia

    • Believed to be the first hominid to have left Africa

    • Brain size = 75% size of our brains

    • Less sloped forehead and smaller teeth

    • Males averaged 5’10” tall

    • Used mostly advanced stone tools (i.e. double edged axe)

    • Hunter-gatherer society


Specific Human Ancestors (cont.)

  • Homo Sapiens (Modern Man)—200,000 years ago

    • Cro-Magnon man—Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa

    • Anatomically modern

    • Used sculpture, engraving, painting, body ornamentation, and music

    • Complex languages developed

    • Given credit for causing the extinction of Neanderthals

    • Modern man has created rituals, traditions, ethics, social norms, and laws (SOCIAL ORDER)


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