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What is Anthropology? (continued) Terese Gagnon Recitation, ANT 121 Week 2 • Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to the solution of human problems. (American Anthropological Association) What makes anthropology distinct? • Holistic • Comparative What do ‘real’ anthropologists do? Many things! http://www.aaanet.org/sections/index.cfm For example… My research explores historical trajectories of socio-political change among precontact Native societies of Eastern North America. I am particularly interested in the historical development of Northern Iroquoian societies of the Lower Great Lakes and the Late Woodland-Mississippian transition in the Southeast. Conceptually, my work is underpinned by a desire to explore the relationship between long-term processes of cultural change and the lived experience of individuals and communities. I am at heart a problem solver. Convinced of the crucial importance of research and theory in informing policy and practice, I am also aware of the political, institutional and methodological challenges associated with making this a reality. I have past experience and a profound interest in working to address some of the more intractable conservation and development challenges: reconciling the rural development imperative with customary land rights and social justice; enabling communities and societies to reconcile their economic development aspirations with social and environmental sustainability; grappling with the inevitable trade-offs of alternative land uses and governance arrangements. • I am interested in the dynamic interactions between human behavior, biological variation and patterns of health and disease. In my research and teaching, I rely on a biocultural perspective to consider behavioral, economic, and biological correlates of human adaptability. I am interested in examining the multiple pathways through which culture change may affect health. I have focused my research of these questions in lowland Bolivia. I am interested in economic, ecological, and evolutionary aspects of subsistence decision-making and behavior among rural populations of foragers and farmers. I have explored these issues through ethnographic fieldwork among Mikea, Masikoro, and Vezo of southwestern Madagascar since 1996. I teach these topics in such courses as economic anthropology, African ethnography, and evolution and human behavior. What is culture? • ‘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.’ Tyler (British anthropologist) 1870: 1; cited by Avruch 1998: 6 What do cultural anthropologist do? a.k.a ‘tools of the trade’ Fieldwork Ethnography Participant Observation Interviews Ethnology/ Comparison Humans of New York: as Metaphor for Cultural Anthropology “These portraits — poignant, poetic, playful, heartbreaking, heartening — dance across the entire spectrum of the human condition not with the mockingly complacent lens of a freak-show gawker but with the affectionate admiration and profound respect that one human holds for another.” Questions?