Introduction To Anthropology, Online Version

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Introduction to Anhropological Concepts

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Introduction To Anthropology, Online Version

  1. 1. Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Culture as a Central Concept
  2. 2. What is Anthropology? <ul><li>The word is from two Greek terms: </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropos: “man” or by extension “human” </li></ul><ul><li>Logos: “study of” or “science of” </li></ul><ul><li>But any field from medicine to law is about humans </li></ul>
  3. 3. Anthropology: Study of Culture <ul><li>We might define anthropology as </li></ul><ul><li>The holistic and comparative study </li></ul><ul><li>Of humankind and its culture </li></ul><ul><li>As observed in the field </li></ul><ul><li>As reconstructed in the past </li></ul><ul><li>As reflected in language that carries it </li></ul><ul><li>And as shown in the biological capacity for it </li></ul><ul><li>But what is culture? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Culture: Anthropology’s Main Concept <ul><li>E.B. Tylor , anthropology’s founder, gave a definition to start with: </li></ul><ul><li>“ That complex whole which includes </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law, custom </li></ul><ul><li>And any other capabilities and habits </li></ul><ul><li>Acquired by man [both genders] </li></ul><ul><li>As a member of society” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Concept of Culture <ul><li>All cultures have at least five characteristics in common: </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is learned </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is based on symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is shared </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is patterned or integrated </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is usually adaptive </li></ul>
  6. 6. Culture is Learned <ul><li>All we do, say, or believe is learned, as these photos show. </li></ul><ul><li>Yanomamo mother is about to teach her daughter gardening </li></ul><ul><li>Yanomamo boys learning to hunt by shooting a lizard </li></ul><ul><li>Enculturation: learning the ways of a culture </li></ul>
  7. 7. Culture is not Genetically Acquired <ul><li>We inherit our capacity for culture </li></ul><ul><li>But unlike bees, we do not inherit our abilities </li></ul><ul><li>This scout is dancing figure-eights to </li></ul><ul><li>Tell the other bees where the pollen source is </li></ul><ul><li>But this ability is genetic </li></ul><ul><li>Our behavior is learned </li></ul>
  8. 8. Culture is Not Acquired by Conditioning <ul><li>This dog learned to carry the remote to its owner </li></ul><ul><li>After being rewarded with something else—a bone or biscuit </li></ul><ul><li>These parrots learned to talk </li></ul><ul><li>Owing to food reward for doing so </li></ul><ul><li>Both dog and birds were conditioned </li></ul><ul><li>We do not learn culture only from rewards for desired behavior </li></ul>
  9. 9. Culture is Acquired Through Symbols <ul><li>Culture is learned through language </li></ul><ul><li>Babies learn language from birth: </li></ul><ul><li>Through language they acquire culture </li></ul><ul><li>Language is based on symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Their capacity for language is inherited </li></ul><ul><li>But not their own language. </li></ul>
  10. 10. What is a Symbol? <ul><li>Definition : Object or event that is </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsically unrelated to another </li></ul><ul><li>Thing or event to which it refers </li></ul><ul><li>Example: This U.S. Flag </li></ul><ul><li>What do the stars represent? </li></ul><ul><li>What do the stripes represent? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we confuse the stars with the U.S. States? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we confuse the stripes with the 13 Colonies? </li></ul><ul><li>So both the stars and stripes are symbols </li></ul>
  11. 11. There Are Other Symbols <ul><li>What does the octagon represent? </li></ul><ul><li>How about the inverted triangle? </li></ul><ul><li>Again, would you confuse the two with stop or yield? </li></ul><ul><li>But the arrow does have an intrinsic meaning: </li></ul><ul><li>It tell you where to go </li></ul><ul><li>The Mayan figures are using a language </li></ul><ul><li>This is the most symbolic event of all </li></ul><ul><li>Even what they wear is symbolic—of nobility and their Maya-ness </li></ul>
  12. 12. Cultures are Based on Symbolism Called Language <ul><li>Expression “cat” comprises 3 sounds: </li></ul><ul><li>C-a-t or in International Phonetic Alphabet </li></ul><ul><li>[k æ t]: IPA is designed for one letter, one sound </li></ul><ul><li>[k] means nothing, nor do [æ] or [t] </li></ul><ul><li>Put together, they mean a feline animal </li></ul><ul><li>But you wouldn’t confuse “cat” with the symbol </li></ul><ul><li>Switch them around and you have [æ k t] “act” </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom line: none of the three sounds has any meaning, in and of itself </li></ul><ul><li>But they can be combined to mean many things </li></ul><ul><li>Culture is just as adaptive as language </li></ul>
  13. 13. Symbolism and Culture <ul><li>Symbols are the root of all culture </li></ul><ul><li>Bees cannot change their behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Dogs cannot be trained except by imitation and reward </li></ul><ul><li>But humans can change behavior at will </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence: Cultures are diverse </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence: Cultures can and do change </li></ul>
  14. 14. Culture is Shared <ul><li>A group with common language and custom shares a culture </li></ul><ul><li>Groups may be as small as 50 (!Kung band seen here) </li></ul><ul><li>They may comprise nation of millions (e.g. Japan, shown by these schoolgirls here) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Shared Behavior and Subcultures <ul><li>Definition: subcultures share some features with dominant culture </li></ul><ul><li>But have distinctive attributes of their own </li></ul><ul><li>Counterculture is regarded by some as a subculture </li></ul><ul><li>(Frank Zappa, counterculture icon, had a Berlin street named after him) </li></ul><ul><li>But the counterculture did not survive into the next generation </li></ul>
  16. 16. Shared Behavior and Subcultures: <ul><li>The Amish are a true subculture </li></ul><ul><li>Amish seem similar to dominant culture (farm in Indiana) </li></ul><ul><li>Until you notice all farming </li></ul><ul><li>Is by horsepower (literally) </li></ul><ul><li>There are no machines, no cars </li></ul><ul><li>Other features: have own (German) schools, communes, Anabaptist religion </li></ul><ul><li>The Amish have persisted through the generations since the 17 th cent. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Culture is Patterned/Integrated <ul><li>One aspect of culture reflects other aspects </li></ul><ul><li>They all fit into a pattern as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of integration </li></ul><ul><li>Extreme example: Teotihuacan’s pyramid (upper) </li></ul><ul><li>probably weren’t built by tribesmen like these Kawelka </li></ul><ul><li>But pig feasts did fit in with Kawelka tribal culture. How? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Example of Cultural Integration: Pyramid Construction <ul><li>To construct a pyramid like the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan </li></ul><ul><li>You need a large crew </li></ul><ul><li>Organized by a state-level society </li></ul><ul><li>Similar to this depiction at an Assyrian site </li></ul><ul><li>And a large population base </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated at 75,000-200,000 </li></ul>
  19. 19. Example of Cultural Integration: Kawelka <ul><li>The Kawelka of New Guinea </li></ul><ul><li>Organize their culture around pig feasts held every decade </li></ul><ul><li>There is no state; war was prevalent </li></ul><ul><li>Big men like Ongka (left) directed both war and feasts </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike emperors, he could not boss his tribesmen around </li></ul><ul><li>Population was about 1,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Pig feasts replaced warfare </li></ul>
  20. 20. Culture is Generally Adaptive <ul><li>Technology generally reflects features of environment </li></ul><ul><li>Settled communities: usually indicate stable food supply, </li></ul><ul><li>Such as the Aztec chinampas (raised platforms) </li></ul><ul><li>Grasslands are best for pastoralism, </li></ul><ul><li>Such as this Mongolian camp </li></ul><ul><li>Cultures can become poorly adapted during rapid change </li></ul>
  21. 21. So How Do We Define Anthropology? <ul><li>Your syllabus: “The Comparative and Holistic Study of Humankind” </li></ul><ul><li>Comparative: Tries to answer the questions of why cultures are the way they are </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic: Asks two questions: </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnographic Holism : Asks whether, and if so how, all parts of a culture fit together </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplinary Holism: Ask how all the four subfields of anthropology fit together </li></ul>
  22. 22. Four Fields of Anthropology <ul><li>Cultural Anthropology: The comparative study of cultures around the world </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeology: The comparative study of past cultures through its material cultural remains </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Anthropology: The comparative study of human attributes, past and present </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistics: The study of spoken language, a distinctly human trait </li></ul><ul><li>How they fit: all involve a question about culture: where it came from, what it entails </li></ul>
  23. 23. Defining Cultural Anthropology <ul><li>It involves the study of mostly non-Western cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Central concern is kinship , because marriage and family are our first institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Also includes technology , from hunting to housebuilding </li></ul><ul><li>Economic Anthropology : how goods and services are produced and distributed </li></ul><ul><li>Political Anthropology : The study of power and social control </li></ul><ul><li>Other areas: the supernatural , psychology, culture change, arts and oral tradition </li></ul>
  24. 24. Defining Archaeology <ul><li>Reconstruction of past cultures: focus is on techniques </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at artifacts: portable objects from tools to Venus sculptures </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at structures: Huts to pyramids </li></ul><ul><li>Excavations destroy everything: Objects have to be measured exactly where found before removal </li></ul>
  25. 25. Defining Physical Anthropology <ul><li>The studies of past and present human forms </li></ul><ul><li>Comparative Primate Anatomy: How similar or different we are from the monkeys and apes </li></ul><ul><li>Fossil Hominins: How we evolved from Australopithecus (“Lucy”) to Homo </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Capacity: Defines how we acquired ability to speak, make tools, walk on two feet </li></ul><ul><li>Human Variation: Study of so-called races—a present concern </li></ul><ul><li>Forensic Science: Tracing evidence of criminal activity </li></ul>
  26. 26. Defining Linguistics <ul><li>The study of spoken language around the world </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on phones (speech sounds) and phonemes (sound units that carry language) </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at word and sentence formation </li></ul><ul><li>Relates language to culture </li></ul>
  27. 27. The Rationale for Comparison: Science <ul><li>Here’s a cross-cultural question in economics: </li></ul><ul><li>When do cultures need money and markets? </li></ul><ul><li>Partial Answer: When everyone cannot produce everything for themselves </li></ul><ul><li>We can test this proposition against a wide range of cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Aztecs, West Africa, Haiti </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: The Inca, with limited markets but an administrative economy. Why? </li></ul>
  28. 28. The Point of Comparison: Anthropology Vs. Other Disciplines <ul><li>Economics: Focus is on industrial societies </li></ul><ul><li>Sociology: Social relations in industrial societies </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology: Study of hang-ups in industrial societies </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropology provides data on all these aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Across all cultures around the world . </li></ul>
  29. 29. Anthropology is Holistic <ul><li>Ethnographic Holism: The “fit” between different parts of a culture </li></ul><ul><li>Example: The pig feasts among the Kawelka </li></ul><ul><li>Example: The political prerequisites of pyramid building </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplinary Holism: Ask why we include the following under “anthropology” </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistics </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeology </li></ul>
  30. 30. Blind Men as Metaphor of the Social Sciences <ul><li>Economics focuses on economic man (and woman) </li></ul><ul><li>Political science is about humans hungry for power </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology is about human with various drives: sexual, hunger, prestige </li></ul><ul><li>Sociology is about social humans </li></ul>
  31. 31. Anthropology as Holistic <ul><li>Culture is intangible , so in a sense </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropologists (and everyone else) </li></ul><ul><li>Has a blindness of sorts </li></ul><ul><li>And so all disagree what culture is. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultures cannot be described </li></ul><ul><li>Without understanding how their parts fit </li></ul><ul><li>Both elephants and cultures are more than the sum of their parts </li></ul>
  32. 32. Tying The Subfields to Culture: Physical Anthropology <ul><li>Our brain: </li></ul><ul><li>Source of our language </li></ul><ul><li>Source of our tool-making ability </li></ul><ul><li>Our Lungs and Mouth: Our ability to speak </li></ul><ul><li>Our Arms and Hands: Our ability to make and use tools </li></ul><ul><li>Our Bipedal Skeleton: Our ability to stand, walk, and ability to do all of the above </li></ul>
  33. 33. Tying the Subfields to Culture: Linguistics <ul><li>We learn everything through language: </li></ul><ul><li>Even the blind and deaf (Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan) </li></ul><ul><li>We can think of things not tangible: math equations, things not present, things nonexistent </li></ul><ul><li>We can produce new words where necessary, from blip to iPod </li></ul>
  34. 34. Tying the Subfields to Culture: Archaeology <ul><li>Comparative study primarily of cultural remains of human societies </li></ul><ul><li>(Even stone tools are hard to identify) </li></ul><ul><li>Human and prehuman physical remains are also important </li></ul><ul><li>(Did Neanderthals mate with human? </li></ul><ul><li>Both archaeologists and physical anthros would like to know) </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison of past cultures is also essential </li></ul>
  35. 35. Explaining Cultures <ul><li>Popular Approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Religious Beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnocentrism </li></ul><ul><li>Culture Bound Approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific Approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Humanistic Approaches </li></ul>
  36. 36. Field Techniques <ul><li>Observation </li></ul><ul><li>Participant Observation </li></ul><ul><li>Open or Unstructured Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Closed or Structured Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Technological Enhancements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Audiotape and Videotape Recordings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aerial Photographs </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Why Cultural Anthropology? Tylor’s Answer <ul><li>E.B. Tylor (1871): </li></ul><ul><li>“ Knowledge from remote past </li></ul><ul><li>Helps us to forecast the future and </li></ul><ul><li>Fulfill our duty to leave the world better than we found it.” </li></ul><ul><li>Today we know more than Tylor and his colleagues did </li></ul><ul><li>We can ask more specific research questions than they could </li></ul><ul><li>We can provide some insight about the trajectory of our own society—where it’s going </li></ul>
  38. 38. Why Cultural Anthropology? To Beat Ethnocentrism <ul><li>To question Western assumptions about </li></ul><ul><li>Individual behavior (psychology) </li></ul><ul><li>Economic behavior (economics) </li></ul><ul><li>Political behavior (political science) </li></ul><ul><li>The Supernatural (theology) </li></ul>
  39. 39. Why Cultural Anthropology? To Apply the Ethnographic Record <ul><li>To see what has been done about problems besetting all culture </li></ul><ul><li>To see if addressing problems in the past can be applied to today’s cultures or cultures </li></ul><ul><li>To see what will happen if we continue what we are doing now (global warming; extremes in wealth and poverty [ diagram ]; wars) </li></ul><ul><li>To see what could be done to improve society </li></ul>
  40. 40. Scope of This Course <ul><li>Foundations of Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Elements of Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Research Techniques and Methods </li></ul><ul><li>Biological Factors of Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistics and Culture </li></ul>
  41. 41. Components of Culture <ul><li>Marriage, Family, and Kinship </li></ul><ul><li>Economic Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Political and Legal Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological Anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropology of the Supernatural </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization and Culture Change </li></ul>
  42. 42. Conclusion <ul><li>Anthropology is the study of humankind </li></ul><ul><li>It involves four aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Study of Humans as Biological Creatures </li></ul><ul><li>Study of Humans as Creatures of Language </li></ul><ul><li>Study of Humans as Culture-Bearers in the past </li></ul><ul><li>Study of Humans as Cultures-Bearers of the Present </li></ul><ul><li>These all concern cultural anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>But the immediate concern is the present and the future </li></ul>

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