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Anthropology Anthropos = Humanity Logos = Study of…

Anthropology seeks to describe and account for the past, the present, and the future of Homo sapiens

Anthropology’s Reputation: Anthropology’
• The Study of the Bizarre and the Marginal
– The Study of Oddments by Eccentrics – The Study of Strangers by Strangers – Making the Strange, Familiar and the Familiar, Strange

The Unique Scope of Anthropology

The topical, temporal, and geographic scope of anthropology is broader than that of any other social or human science All of the other human sciences take a partial view of humanity

Topical Scope
• Sociology: patterns of social life • Political Science: governance and power • Economics: production, distribution and consumption • Psychology: mental processes and behavior • Religious Studies: supernatural beliefs and practices

Anthropology adopts a holistic perspective on humanity

Geographical Scope
• Anthropologists study every part of the world that has ever contained human beings or human ancestors • The other social sciences have a strong bias towards studying Western peoples Anthropology adopts a global perspective on humanity

Temporal Scope
• Anthropologists seek to understand not only the historical development of our own species, but of those ancestral to it, as well. • The other social sciences tend to limit their study to literate, modern human societies. Anthropology adopts a diachronic perspective on humanity

Four Fields of Anthropology
tics Linguis l ica ys Ph


Applied anthropologists come in all four flavors

By approximate numbers within each subdiscipline

Anthropological Fields of Study
Two Broad Foci of Study: Biology and Culture • Physical (Biological) Anthropology
– Human Origins (Paleontology and Primatology) Primatology) – Human Variation

• Cultural Anthropology
– Archaeology – Linguistics – Ethnology (also called Cultural or Social Anthropology

Physical Anthropology
Key Concept: Evolution Human Origins
– Human Paleontology: the study of the human and Paleontology: human ancestral fossil records
• What are the evolutionary phases leading up to humanity and how has humanity itself evolved?

– Primatology: the study of the mammalian group to Primatology: which humans belong: Primates (including the prosimians, monkeys and apes) prosimians,
• Primatologists study primate biology and behavior to place humanity in its natural evolutionary perspective.

Physical Anthropology
Human Variation
– The study of how and why contemporary and recent human populations vary biologically – Race → Human Adaptation
• Modern populations and skeletal remains

– Borrow techniques and concepts from:
• Human Genetics: inheritance of traits Genetics: • Population Biology: impact of the environment Biology: • Epidemiology: impact of diseases Epidemiology:

Physical Anthropology
University of Alabama
– ANT 270: Introduction to Physical Anthropology
• Offered in the Fall • Syllabus:

• Web site:

• Lab work with hands on experience

Cultural Anthropology
Key Concept: Culture

Cultural Anthropology is divided into several distinct disciplines based on the nature of the data used to understand patterns of human thought and behavior
– Archaeology – Linguistics – Cultural (a.k.a. Social Anthropology or Ethnology)

The study of past human societies by the analysis of their material remains
– Prehistory: study of the material remains of prePrehistory: preliterate peoples – Historical Archaeology: study of the material remains Archaeology: of peoples who also left written records.

University of Alabama
– ANT 103: Great Discoveries in Archaeology
• SB core credit • Syllabus:

– ANT 107: Introduction to Archaeology
• SB core credit • Syllabus:

Linguistic Anthropology The study of human languages, the primary vehicles of culture
– Historical Linguistics: how languages Linguistics: change and how they are related to one another – Structural Linguistics: study of the variation Linguistics: in language construction – Sociolinguistics: study of how language is Sociolinguistics: actually used in social contexts.

Linguistic Anthropology
University of Alabama
– ANT 210: Language and Culture

Cultural Anthropology
(Text calls Ethnology): the study of the customary thought and behavior of contemporary or recent societies
– Ethnography: detailed description of the customary Ethnography: behavior and thought of a particular people – Cross-cultural comparison: investigation of the Crosscomparison: relationship between cultural and social elements across societies – Ethnohistory: study of written documents in order to Ethnohistory: analyze recent social and cultural change.

Cultural Anthropology
University of Alabama
– ANT 102: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
• Same format as 100: lecture and lab • Syllabus:

• Humanistic perspective
– emphasis on relativity – emphasis on the understandings of participants – emphasis on meaning

• Scientific perspective
– emphasis on objectivity – emphasis on observation – emphasis on explanation

• Scientific approach--there are regularities in behavior and biology that can be discovered
– Hypothesis: Provisional statement of relationship between facts--usually a “because” statement – Theory: Broad explanatory statement that has been subjected to testing and falsification and found to be accurate given current knowledge
• To say something is “just a theory” is inappropriate since theory has grounding in empirical knowledge

Why Study Anthropology?

“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.” man.”
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34)

Why Study Anthropology?
Learning something about the biological and cultural history of, and variation within, our species produces insight into the human condition It reminds us that:
– Each of us is like all human beings – Each of us is more like some subset of humans than the rest – Each of us is unique

Why Study Anthropology?
• Anthropology helps us overcome ethnocentrism and avoid unnecessary cross-cultural misunderstandings cross• Racial and ethnic differences take on much less significance if they are understood in anthropological perspective

Anthropological Skills
• Cultural Relativism: view other cultures from their Relativism:
own internal perspective
– Interact with people of diverse cultures, making allowances for differences in customs and beliefs – Provide insight into social problems by supplying information about how issues such as aging or bereavement are dealt with in other cultures

• Social Sensitivity: anthropologists learn the Sensitivity

importance of events and conditions that cause people to do things differently
rules” of novel social settings rules”

• Social Agility: learn how to quickly size up of the “cultural Agility: • Social Perspective: learn to evaluate how the behavior of Perspective:
individuals is shaped by their positions in specific socio-cultural sociosystems – This enables the anthropologist to “act locally and think globally”

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