Discovering Anthropology: Introduction


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Slides from week 1 of Discovering Anthropology, taught by Nick Pearce at the Durham University Foundation Centre.

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Discovering Anthropology: Introduction

  1. 1. Foundation Centre Dr. Nick Pearce
  2. 2. Session outline What is ‘human’? Course overview Learning resources The anthropological paradigm 4 sub fields What is culture? Is the human body cultural?
  3. 3. Are humans unique? What makes us different to other animals?
  4. 4. Week Theme Assignment (there are formatives each week) 1 Welcome and overview What is it to be human? 2 Biological Anthropology 3 Linguistic Anthropology 4 Cultural Anthropology Summative Assignment: Observing Culture 5 Cultural Anthropology 2 6 Archaeological Anthropology 7 Birth and mothers’ experiences Assignment 1 deadline 8 Coming of Age: from child to adult 9 Death: making sense of death 10 Revision: Sex, Death and Monkeys Mock Test Course Overview
  5. 5. Textbooks Reading pack is textbook Libraries Second hand market Online,, abebooks Be careful about currency of book (edition etc.) Also some topics are contentious (ie evolution)
  6. 6. Online resources Duo teaching materials Reading List Pinterest and YouTube
  7. 7. Assessment Formative – each week Summative – 40% Observing Culture, report – 60% Test
  8. 8. Break Time
  9. 9. The Anthropological Paradigm anthropos (man or human) and logia (study of). Evolution History Cross-Cultural Observation & Participation
  10. 10. Sub-fields Anthropology has four major sub- fields Biological Linguistic Cultural Archaeological
  11. 11. Biological Anthropology Biological anthropology is the study of human biological origin and diversity Biological anthropology (sometimes called physical anthropology) is divided into two major parts (1) Evolutionary anthropology is the study of the evolution of the human species, the relationships between Homo sapiens and other primates, and the fossil record of primate evolution (paleoanthropology). (2) Contemporary biological anthropology, the study of living populations, details the biological variation of human populations, their genetic structures, and the way they adapt to varying environments (deserts, the Arctic, and high altitude). It also involves the study of skeletal biology (anatomy), human growth and development, and human interaction with diseases.
  12. 12. Linguistic Anthropology Linguistic anthropology is the study of language and speech in both contemporary and past cultures Linguistic Anthropology is composed of four basic branches. • Historical linguistics deals with the emergence of language and how languages have changed and diverged over time. • Descriptive linguistics is the study of the sounds (phones), sound systems, grammar, syntax, and the meanings that are attached to words in specific languages. • Sociolinguistics is the study of the relationship between language and social relations. As an example, sociolinguists might study how one's social standing affects his or her language usage. • Ethnolinguistics is the examination of the relationship between culture and language and how the two interact and influence one another.
  13. 13. Cultural Anthropology Cultural anthropology is the study of the lifeways of contemporary peoples Anthropologists collect data on living peoples by conducting extensive fieldwork going out into the world's societies and observing people as they interact and live their lives. This is called ethnography. Cultural Anthropologists are interested in the extent of variation and in discovering general cultural principles or patterns. Areas may include social anthropology ecological anthropology kinship studies medical anthropology symbolic anthropology
  14. 14. Archaeological Anthropology Archaeology is the study of the lifeways of people who existed in the past Using cultural remains, archaeologists study the behavior patterns of extinct peoples. The goal of archaeology is to elucidate the past by asking when, where, what, and why/how the people in the past did things. Archaeologists are interested in knowing about cultural patterns such as diet social organisation status differences adaptation to the environment migrations evolution of populations
  15. 15. What is culture? Everyone has a culture. It shapes how we see the world, ourselves, and others. “Culture is a system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artefacts that the members of a society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that is transmitted from generation to generation through learning.” (Bates and Plog, 1990)
  16. 16. What is culture? • Culture is not nature • Culture is learned • Culture influences and shapes behaviour • Culture is often unconscious
  17. 17. The Human Body: Natural or Cultural? • The following images are from a book by Howard Schatz (2002) “Athlete” • They are of elite level athletes from various sports • Make a note of the variety
  18. 18. • How might we think of this variety as cultural? • Now think of variety amongst non-elite athletes, the rest of humanity
  19. 19. For next week… Check duo for homework Biological Anthropology Human evolution - our bodies and the world around us