Introduction to General
Anthropology
Zdzisław Głębocki, Ph.D.
Lecture 1
The Essence of Anthropology
Lecture Preview
What is Anthropology?
 How Do Anthropologists Do What
They Do?
 How Does Anthropology Compare to
Other Disciplines?

Making Sense of Being
Human
• Where did we come from?
• Why are we so radically different from some
animals and so surprisingly similar to others?
• Why do our bodies look the way they do?
• How do we explain so many different beliefs,
languages, and customs?
• Why do we act in certain ways?
What Is Anthropology?
The study of the biological and
cultural evolution and diversity of
human beings, past and present.
 Anthropology is a comparative
discipline which seeks to understand
what makes people different and what
they all have in common.

What Do Anthropologists
Do?
Anthropologists are concerned with
the description and explanation of
reality.
 They formulate and test hypotheses
concerning humankind so they can
develop theories about our species.

The Development of
Anthropology



Anthropology as a distinct field of study
developed relatively recently.
The encounter with other peoples began
500 years ago as Europeans sought to
extend their trade and political
domination to all parts of the world
focused attention on human differences.
Europeans gradually came to recognize
that despite all the differences, they
might share a basic humanity with
people everywhere.
Anthropological
Perspectives

A fundamental principle of anthropology, that
the various parts of culture must be viewed in
the broadest possible context in order to
understand their interconnections and
interdependence.

Theories about the world and reality based on
the assumptions and values of one’s own
culture.
Visual Counterpoint:
Class Discussion

American infant sleeping arrangements (left) differ from
those of the Nenet, a reindeer-herding culture from
Siberia (right)
Visual Counterpoint:
Class Discussion

Infants in the United States typically sleep apart from
their parents, but cross-cultural research shows that
co-sleeping is the rule.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- What cultural reasons do we have for having infants
sleep apart from parents?

What impacts on health might be associated with
these contrasting sleeping patterns?
Four Sub-Fields of
Anthropology
Four Sub-Fields of
Anthropology
Physical Anthropology
 Archaeology
 Linguistic Anthropology
 Cultural Anthropology

Applied Anthropology

Often seen as the fifth sub-field of
anthropology.

Uses anthropological knowledge and
methods from the four sub-fields to
solve practical problems, often for a
specific client.
Physical Anthropology
Also called biological anthropology.
 Focuses on humans as biological
organisms, evolution, and human
variation.
 Analyze fossils and observe living
primates to reconstruct the ancestry of
the human species.
 The biocultural perspective focuses
on the interaction of biology and
culture.

Physical Anthropology
Also called biological anthropology.
 Focuses on humans as biological
organisms, evolution, and human
variation.
 Analyze fossils and observe living
primates to reconstruct the ancestry of
the human species.
 The biocultural perspective focuses
on the interaction of biology and
culture.

The Biocultural Perspective:
Class Discussion

Classic period (AD 600) Mayan maxilla or upper jaw
demonstrating dental surgery (inlaid jade) – from the
National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology,
Guatemala City
The Biocultural Perspective:
Class Discussion

Many cultures alter their bodies through surgical
techniques for aesthetic, political, and economic
reasons.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Why do you think the Mayans altered their teeth?

Do people in Europe/Poland alter their bodies? If so,
how and why?
Physical Anthropology

Paleoanthropology
• The study of the origins of the human species.
Physical Anthropology

Forensic anthropology

Specializes in the identification of human
skeletal remains for legal purposes.
Physical Anthropology

Primatology

The study of living and fossil primates.
Mandrill
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Physical Anthropology

Human Growth, Adaptation, and
Diversity

The study of the ways in which the
natural and cultural environment
impacts human growth and biological
diversity
Cultural Anthropology
The study of different patterns in
human behavior, thought, and
feelings.
 Focuses on humans as cultureproducing and culture-reproducing
creatures.
 Two main components: ethnography
and ethnology.

Culture

A society’s shared and learned ideas,
values, and perceptions, which are
used to make sense of experience
and which generate behavior and are
reflected in that behavior.
Studying Culture:
Fieldwork
The term anthropologists use for onlocation research.
 Participant observation - The
technique of learning a people’s
culture through direct participation in
their everyday life over an extended
period of time.

Studying Culture:
Ethnography

The systematic description of a particular
culture based on firsthand observation.
Studying Culture:
Ethnology

The study and analysis of different
cultures from a comparative or
historical point of view, utilizing
ethnographic accounts and
developing anthropological theories
that help explain why certain
important differences or similarities
occur among groups.
Linguistic Anthropology
Studies human languages:
 Description of a language - the way a
sentence is formed or a verb
conjugated.
 History of languages - the way
languages change over time.
 The study of language in its social
setting, such as discourse – an
extended speech act on a particular
topic.
Linguistic Anthropology

Kallawaya language-speakers from Bolivia
Archaeology
Studies material remains in order to
describe and explain human behavior.
 Study tools, pottery, and other
features such as hearths and
enclosures that remain as the
testimony of earlier cultures.

Rapa Nui

A tiny volcanic island in the middle of the southern Pacific
Ocean, also known as Easter Island. The landscape is
punctuated by nearly 900 stone “heads,” some towering to
65 feet, called moai by the islanders.
Teotihuacan

One of the largest Pre-Columbian cities in Mexico (AD 300650). In addition to impressive stepped-pyramids, the city
boasts many palaces decorated with painted murals which
provide clues about the worldview of these ancient people.
Bioarchaeology

The study of human
remains as a record of
cultural processes.
Cultural Resource
Management

A branch of archaeology tied to
government policies for the protection
of cultural resources and involving
surveying and/or excavating
archaeological and historical remains
threatened by construction or
development.
Cultural Resource
Management

A Pre-Columbian rock carving from Tecaltzingo in
Puebla, Mexico. Notice the damage caused by
modern graffiti.
Cultural Resource
Management

CRM is also about care of archaeological sites for the
benefit of all.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why should we be concerned about preserving
archaeological sites?
How Do Anthropologists
Do What They Do?
Anthropology as one of the
Humanities
 Anthropology as a Science
 The Comparative Method

Anthropology as one of the
Humanities

The holistic and comparative
perspective of Anthropology has led to
many insights on human failures and
successes, weaknesses and
greatness

Helps us think about the shared
experience of being human.
Anthropology as a
Science
Anthropology is empirical - based on
observations of the world rather than
on intuition or faith.
 Theory



An explanation of natural phenomena,
supported by a reliable body of data.
Hypothesis

A tentative explanation of the relation
between certain phenomena.
Anthropology’s
Comparative Method
Uses the methods of other scientists
by developing hypotheses and
arriving at theories.
 Anthropologists make comparisons
between peoples and cultures past
and present, related species, and
fossil groups.

Questions Of Ethics
Anthropologists have obligations to:
 Those whom they study.
 Those who fund the research.
 Those in the profession who expect a
study to be published so they can
further the research in the field.
How Does Anthropology
Compare to Other
Disciplines?
Anthropologists focus on the
interconnections and interdependence
of all aspects of the human
experience, past and present.
 This holistic and integrative
perspective equips anthropologists to
grapple with the issue of globalization.

Anthropology and
Globalization



Globalization refers to worldwide
interconnectedness, evidenced in global
movements of natural resources, human
labor, finance capital, information,infectious
diseases, and trade goods.
The forces driving globalization are
technological
innovations, lower transportation and
communication costs, faster knowledge
transfers, and increased trade and financial
integration among countries.
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What Is Anthropology?