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Anthropology 101
The Study of Pretty Much Everything
What is Anthropology?
• The study of the human condition
• Comes from “anthropos” (Greek for “man”)
and “ology”- (the study of)
• A branch of the social sciences
• Focus is on the development of human
form and culture past and present
• Split into four sub-disciplines
Cultural Anthropology
• The study of living cultures
• Focus on social behavior and how they
identify themselves, both within their
society and to the world
Linguistic Anthropology
The study of human
language and
Includes the
physiological relationship
of the brain to speech
Explores cultural
significance of language
and the movement of
cultural groups
Biological Anthropology
The study of human
physical form and
evolutionary history
and population
The study of past
cultures and
peoples through
their material
Studied through
careful survey and
All sub-disciplines practice anthropology- which is
the governing principle behind the study of
But not all anthropologists practice each individual
(You can be an anthropologist without being an
archaeologist, but you can't be an archaeologist
without being an anthropologist. Get it?)
What is Culture?
The key concept in
Explains how people's
activities, behaviors,
and beliefs are linked
Makes up our beliefs
and assumptions about
how the world
operates- informs our
actions (past and
Culture is learned
Culture includes all
learned behaviors
(not genetic)
Example: a sneeze
is genetic, but your
reaction “Bless you”
“Salut” or
“Gesundheit” is
Culture is Shared
Core ideas and
behaviors are shared
within a society
Most enculturation
occurs in childhood
Children learn through
experimentation, and
Culture is Integrated as a Society
The knowledge and values of
a people operate together to
create and maintain a
functioning society
Not every person reproduces
cultural traits exactly the
same, but they tend to work
towards the same goals and
Culture is Adaptive
Culture is a learned
series of behaviors
adopted to cope with
the natural and social
Cultural adaptations
are fluid and always
Culture is Symbolic
Your cultural education
teaches you the codes to
understanding what your
symbols mean
Symbolism is one way of
communicating information
about how to act and
theminterpret the world
Language and art are both
Symbols may be unique to a
culture or shared between
This picture □ is a symbol, to
you it may mean a box or
square, but to an Egyptian it
means “house”
Cultural Relativism
Each culture has its own
history of development; their
values and adaptations are
unique to what worked for
Ethnocentrism means
interpreting and judging
another culture by your own
cultural standards
Anthropology tries to
recognize this bias and view
each culture in their own right
and from their perspective
The concept was created by
anthropologist Franz Boas in
the early 20th Century
Key concept in anthropology
Culture is Patterned and Structured
• Ways to deal with
subsistence, getting and
using resources
• Social and Political
organizational systems
• Understanding of
supernatural world and
symbolic thought
Approaches to Anthropology
Cognitive based
Activity based
Culture is built from
constructions in our
understanding of
the world
Culture is a
response to the
physical conditions
in a particular
History of Anthropological Thought
As old as classical
philosophy- Nabonidus
(538BC) considered first
Interest in the material
remains of the past began
after the destruction of
Pompeii in 79AD
During the Scientific
Revolution (1500-1800's)
people started collecting and
studying relics of the past
The first real scientific inquiry
about man's development
stemmed from the voyages
of discovery and our first
contact with indigenous
In the 17-1800's,
antiquarians began seriously
looking for, collecting and
displaying artifacts
This led to the development
of scientific theories about
the history of man and
Significant advances in knowledge of the world
CJ Thomsen- 3 age system (1819) Stone, Bronze, Iron Age
Boucher de Perthes- Antiquity of man (1850's)
Charles Darwin- Origin of Species (1859)
European interest in Classical archaeology
Schliemann's Troy (1870's)
Napoleon's Egypt (1798)
England in Greece (1800's)
North American survey of Native American sites and the
“mound builders” (Squier & Davis-1850's, Cyrus Thomas1880's)
Century Cultural Evolutionary
Came from clash of European, Western, and Traditional worlds
A comparative method of defining humanity
Unilinear, tied to rise of nationalism and racism
“Social Darwinism” in contrast to Darwin's evolutionary theory
Tried to use biological justification to create social order
3 stages of man: savagery, barbarism, civilization
Grouping of current and past societies into bands, tribes, chiefdoms, states
Polygenesis (multiple origins for human beings, separate species)
Applied term “progress” to the “evolution” of savages to civilized
Ranked European Caucasians above all other races
Resulted in early 20th Century experiments with eugenics
Century Culture History
In part, a response to culture evolution theory
Emphasized method of studying change in cultures; need to
chronicle periods in material styles and traits (traditions) and
their zone of outside influence (horizons)
Focus on reconstructing relationships in time and space
between cultures and what causes material change
Influenced archaeological methodology
Migration vs. diffusion vs. independent creation
Flinders Petrie, Franz Boas (cultural relativism), V. Gordon
Childe, Oscar Montelius, James A. Ford, Edward Tylor, A.V.
Kidder, Gen. Pitt-Rivers, Mortimer Wheeler, Nels Nelson
The New Archaeology
Began in 1960's, made archaeology more of an anthropological discipline
than the “handmaiden to history”
Leslie White, Julian Steward, and Marvin Harris developed theories of
culture as adaptation to environment (culture materialism and neoevolutionism)
Lewis Binford developed processual archaeology to make the study
scientific and objective. Based on observation of activities and reconstruction
from archaeological record. Positivist.
Ian Hodder developed postprocessualism, which tried to remain subjective,
emphasizes that we cannot understand anything outside of our own
experiences, so our study is merely a construction of another's reality.
What makes more sense to you?
(Ideational vs. Adaptive, processual
vs. postprocessual)
What kinds of circumstances may
cause a culture to adapt or create a
new technology?
Do you think we can really
understand a past culture from
reconstructing their lives?
Anything you don't quite