Anthropology. A Brief Introduction to the Most Interesting Field Known to Mankind. The Meaning of the Word. Anthropology Comes from the Greek words: Anthropos Man or Human Logos Study So Anthropology literally means the ‘Study of Human kind’.
Anthropology A Brief Introduction to the Most Interesting Field Known to Mankind
The Meaning of the Word • Anthropology • Comes from the Greek words: • Anthropos • Man or Human • Logos • Study • So Anthropology literally means the ‘Study of Human kind’
So that’s what the word means….but how can you define Anthropology? • Technically, Anthropology is defined as: • Previously stated: it is a discipline that studies humans. • Focuses upon both biological and cultural differences and similarities. • Interest in human populations that crosses all time periods and extends to all areas of the world.
What do Anthropologists do exactly? • Anthropologists gather data through field work • This is the exciting part that movies about anthropology are always made of….if movies about anthropologists were actually made… • This data is then interpreted and used to form hypotheses about how and why cultures (and specific elements within cultures) change over time.
Specialization within Anthropology • In the early days of the field Anthropologists tried to cover many aspects of a culture. • Such as the language, environment, religion and art (among many others elements) of a particular group of people. • This is also called the Holistic Approach
Specialization • As with many fields this eventually led to increased specialization within Anthropology. • Presently there are four major subdivisions within modern Anthropology
Subdisciplines of Anthropology • Linguistics • Archaeology • Cultural Anthropology • Biological Anthropology
Linguistics • The study of languages. • Existed before anthropology became recognized as its own discipline. • Within anthropology the study of languages, particularly unwritten ones, is extremely important for fieldwork. • How languages have changed over time can tell a linguist a great deal about how the culture in general has been altered. • How languages (sentences and individual words) are constructed is a central topic for linguists. • Non verbal communication is also included within linguistics, but is also of interest for cultural anthropologists as well.
Archaeology • Concerned with the physical remains of cultures. • Attempts to wrestle physical evidence of a culture from the dirt and reconstruct past life ways and cultural changes based upon this physical evidence. • Types of physical evidence may be tools, pottery, hearths, and larger features such as entire structures. • Archaeologists reach far back into human history and pre-history, which distinguishes it from some other fields and subdisciples of anthropology. • Historical archaeology- Written records • Pre-Historic archaeology- No written records
Cultural Anthropology • Cultural anthropologists are primarily interested in how cultures vary and what forces motivate them to change, as well as why certain aspects of a society may change before others. • This is the subdiscipline that be most associated with the ideas and cultures we will be examining during this class. • We will examine it in more detail later tonight.
Biological Anthropology • Also known as Physical Anthropology • Primarily concerned with studying two sets of questions: • How humans have evolved over time from our earliest primate ancestors to our modern forms (paleoanthropology) And • How and why contemporary (modern) humans vary biologically and the possible causes of this variation. • The study of modern primates (Primatology) is also included.
Biological Anthropology • The subdiscipline of Forensic Anthropology is also included within Bio. • CSI!! • Involves working with law enforcement to identify human remains and victims of disasters, war crimes, murders, missing persons, etc.
Applied Anthropology • This is a conditional 5th subdiscipline of anthropology that cuts across all four of the other subdisciplines. • Typically involves working in a more practical role. • Such as in marketing, government agencies, health organizations, community development, and charitable foundations. • Also typically outside of academic circles. • Its goal is to make anthropological knowledge useful to businesses and the general public.
The History of the Four Field (Holistic) Approach • Advanced by Franz Boas.
Franz Boas • Born 1858 • Died 1942 • Worked in other fields such as geography and physics before becoming interested in anthropology. • Applied the scientific method and standardization to the study of human cultures. • Also referred to as the Father of American Anthropology
Ethical Concerns • Do Anthropologists have any ethical obligations to the people or cultures that they study? • YES!! • We have to ensure that, in an academic sense, the people we study are protected. • i.e. protecting the identity of informants • Have a responsibility to those who have funded your research.
Ethical Concerns One of the most important: We have a responsibility to publish our findings so that others in the field, and outside the field, can have access to our data and conclusions. The dissemination of information throughout all the subdisciplines of anthropology is exceedingly important. Without it future interpretations may be based upon flawed assumptions, simply due to a lack of knowledge.
Why is Anthropology Important? • It helps us understand other cultures from different parts of the world. • Why is THAT important anyway?
Why is Anthropology Important? • It helps us put our own culture in the context of the rest of the world. • Particularly important in our modern climate of Globalization.
Why is Anthropology Important? • Anthropology is a way to expose us to a world outside of Burger King and American Idol.
CULTURAL RELATIVITY • This is particularly important when studying as many cultures as we will be in this class. • Established by Franz Boas and truly popularized by his students after his death. • The central idea of Cultural Relativity:
CULTURAL RELATIVITY • A societies customs and practices should be interpreted through the lens of THAT cultures ideas of right and wrong and NOT those of other cultures. • The danger is that Western (or other) values will be applied to other cultures and thus result in skewed interpretations and ideas about other societies.