What is anthropology
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What is Anthropology?. From Greek anthropos (human) and logia (study) Study of Humankind Who we are, how we came to be that way Social, cultural, and biological beings. Four Subfields. Archaeology Historical Prehistoric Resource management Physical Anthropology Paleoanthropology

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What is Anthropology?

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What is anthropology

What is Anthropology?

  • From Greek anthropos (human) and logia (study)

  • Study of Humankind

  • Who we are, how we came to be that way

  • Social, cultural, and biological beings


Four subfields

Four Subfields

  • Archaeology

    • Historical

    • Prehistoric

    • Resource management

  • Physical Anthropology

    • Paleoanthropology

    • Evolutionary psychology

    • Primatology

    • Human variation

    • Forensic

  • Linguistics

    • Historical

    • Descriptive

    • Ethnolinguistics

    • Sociolinguistics

  • Social/Cultural Anthropology

    • (Ethnology): e.g., economic, psychological, medical, urban, political, applied


What is anthropology

“We [anthropologists] have been the first to insist on a number of things: that the world does not divide into the pious and the superstitious; that there are sculptures in jungles and paintings in deserts; that political order is possible without centralized power and principled justice without codified rules; that the norms of reason were not fixed in Greece, the evolution of morality not consummated in England. Most important, we were the first to insist that we see the lives of others through lenses of our own grinding and that they look back on ours through ones of their own.”

- Clifford Geertz

1926-2006


Five hallmarks of anthropology

Five Hallmarks of Anthropology

  • Cultural relativism

  • Subjective understanding (emic vs. etic)

  • Holism

  • Fieldwork

  • Comparison


What is anthropology

  • Cultural relativism

    • Viewing other cultural practices in the context of the cultural system

      • No absolute standards

    • Suspension of value judgment for the purpose of study

      • Tool for understanding logic of behavior

    • Opposite of ethnocentrism

      • Ethnocentrism:

        • Viewing other cultures through the lens of your own culture

        • Judging other’s behavior based on the standards of your own cultural assumptions and practices

        • Belief that your own culture is superior to others


What is anthropology

Subjective Understanding

How people view their own behavior – their explanation, logic

Emic: Inside, “native’s point of view”

Etic: Outside, ethnographer’s view, analysis

Theoretical approaches:

Interpretive

Behavior stems from way people perceive and classify the world

Uses emic analysis

Materialist

Material conditions, e.g. the environment, determine thoughts and behaviors

Uses etic analysis


What is anthropology

Holism

Interrelated parts in context of the whole

Culture


What is culture big c little c

What is Culture?Big ‘C’, little ‘c’

  • ‘Culture’ – arts, refinements, high and low, cultured/uncultured persons

  • culture – the way of life of a people


Definitions of culture

Definitions of “Culture”:

Edward Tylor (1871):

“Culture 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”


Clyde kluckhohn mirror for man 1944 compiled by geertz

Clyde Kluckhohn – “Mirror for Man” (1944)(Compiled by Geertz)

  • The total way of life of a people

  • The social legacy the individual acquires from his group

  • A way of thinking, feeling, and believing

  • A theory on the part of the anthropologist about the way in which a group of people in fact behave

  • A storehouse of pooled learning

  • A set of standardized orientations to recurrent problems

  • Learned behavior

  • A mechanism for normative regulation of behavior

  • A set of techniques for adjusting both to the

    external environment and to other men

  • A precipitate of history

  • A behavioral map, sieve, or matrix


Clifford geertz 1973

Clifford Geertz (1973)

“The concept of culture I espouse...is essentially a semiotic one. Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative one in search of meaning.”


Gary ferraro

Gary Ferraro:

  • Everything that people have, think, and do as members of a society

    • Material objects

    • Ideas, values, attitudes

    • Behavior patterns

  • Transmitted through learning


Capacity to symbolize

Capacity to Symbolize

  • Symbol:

    • Something that stands for (represents) something else

  • Leslie White:

    • Ability to symbolize is most important hallmark of humanity

    • Culture = “things and events, dependent on symboling”

  • Identify, sort, and classify things, ideas and behaviors

  • Language is symbol system

  • Shared symbols unify a group

  • Creativity

    • Assign arbitrary meanings

    • Distinguishes culture from animal behavior


Culture is

Culture is:

  • Shared

  • Learned

  • Largely unconscious


Culture is shared

Culture is Shared

  • Social phenomenon

  • Makes things more predictable

  • Internal diversity/degrees of homogeneity

    • Age, Gender

    • Class, caste

    • Ethnicity, religion

    • Geographical region

  • Levels of generalization

    • National

    • Regional

    • Local

    • Personal

  • Subcultures

  • Pluralistic societies


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