Chapter 1; What is Anthropology?
Anthropology  the study of the human species and its immediate ancestors. It is uniquely comparative
and holistic  study of the whole of the human condition: encompassing past, present and future; biology,
society, language and culture.
Culture  traditions and customs transmitted through learning, that form and guide the beliefs and
behavior of the people exposed to them. Culture itself isn’t biology, but it rests on certain features of human
Adaption refers to the processes by which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses. Humans
adapt using biological and cultural means.
Forms of cultural and biological adaptations to high altitude
Form of adaption
Type of adaption
Genetic adaption (occurs over generations) Biological
Long-term physiological adaption (occurs
during growth and development of the
individual organism)
Short-term physiological adaption (occurs
spontaneously when the individual
organism enters a new environment)
Pressurized airplane cabin with
oxygen masks.
Lager ‘barrel chests’ of native
More efficient respiratory system,
to extract oxygen form ‘thin air’
Increased heart rate,
Rate of change accelerated during past 10,000 years
• Foraging was sole basis of human subsistence for millions of years
• It took only a few thousand years to develop food production: economy based on plant cultivation and/or
animal domestication
• Spread of industrial production profoundly affected human life
General anthropology  anthropology as a whole. Sub disciplines explore variations in time and space, they
influences each other. The sub disciplines are:
1. Sociocultural /cultural anthropology; the comparative, cross-cultural study of human society and culture.
Subfield that describes, analyzes, interprets and explains social and cultural similarities and differences.
o Ethnography > fieldwork in a particular cultural setting, provides an account of a particular
group, community, society or culture.
o Ethnology > examines, interprets and analyzes the results of ethnography.
Requires fieldwork to collect data
Often descriptive
Group / community specific
Uses data collected by a series of researchers
Usually synthetic
Comparative / cross-cultural
2. Archeological; reconstructs, describes and interprets human behavior and cultural patterns through
material remains. Archaeologists also study the cultures of historical and living people. Historical
archaeology combines archaeological data and textual data to reconstruct historically known groups.
o Many archeologists study ecology > study of interrelations among living things in an
o Paleoecology > looks at the ecosystems of the past.
3. Biological / physical; combining biological and cultural approaches to a given problem. Culture is key
environmental force determining how human bodies grow and develop.
 Human evolution as revealed by the fossils record (paleoanthropology)
 Human genetics
Human growth and development
Human biological plasticity (the living body’s ability to change as it copes with stresses, such as heat,
cold and altitude)
 Primatology (the biology, evolution, behavior and social life of monkeys, apes and other nonhuman
4. Linguistic
Study of language in its social and cultural context across space and time. Some linguistic anthropologists
also make inferences about universal features of language, linked perhaps to uniformities in the human
brain. Others reconstruct ancient languages by comparing their contemporary descendants and in so doing
make discoveries about history. Still others study linguistic differences to discover varied perceptions and
patterns of thought in different cultures.
• Historical linguists reconstruct ancient languages and study linguistic variation through time
• Sociolinguistics: investigates relationships between social and linguistic variation
Reasons to split anthropology: early American anthropologists were concerned especially with the history
and cultures of the native people of North America. Another reason was the interest in the relation between
biology and culture.
Anthropology is a science  field of study that seeks reliable explanations, with reference to the material
and physical world. Anthropology is a humanistic science > study that seeks reliable interpretations and
possibly explanations with reference to the socio-cultural and physical world. .
Anthropology has strong links to natural sciences (geology), social sciences (sociology) and humanities
(English, classics, philosophy, arts).
Cultural anthropology and sociology share an interest in social relations, organization and behavior. The big
- Initially, sociologists focused on industrial West, anthropologists on nonindustrial societies
- Different methods of data collection and analysis emerged
In many areas and on many topics, anthropology and sociology are converging
Psychological anthropology studies cross-cultural variations in child rearing and identity.
Malinowski study of Trobriand Islanders of the South Pacific suggested modifications in Freud’s Oedipus
complex theory. According to Freud, boys become sexually attracted to their mothers at the age of 5. If, as
Freud said, the Oedipus complex always creates social distance based on jealousy toward the mother’s
sexual partner, this would have shown up in Trobriand society, but it didn’t. Malinowski concluded that the
authority structure did more to influence the father-son relationship than did sexual jealousy.
Anthropology has 2 dimensions; academic anthropology and practicing or applied anthropology > using
anthropology to solve contemporary problems. It focuses on problems emerging from increasing cultural
diversity. Applied archaeology (public archeology) includes activities as contract archaeology, public
educational programs, historic preservation and cultural resource management. (CRM > deciding what
needs saving when entire archaeological sites can’t be saved.
Ethnology > comparative science that attempts to identify and explain cultural differences and similarities,
test hypotheses and build theory to enhance our understanding of how social and cultural systems work.
Ethnologists compare, contrast and make generalizations about societies and cultures.
Theory > set of ideas formulated to explain something. Suggest or imply multiple associations and attempt
to explain them.
Association > an observed relationship between two or more variables (water and air temperature).
Hypotheses > a suggested but as yet unverified explanation (how and why the thing to be understood is
associated with or related to something else; predictor variable).
Theories suggest patterns, connections and relationships that may be confirmed by new research.
Chapter 2; What is Culture?
According to Tylor cultures, systems of human behavior and thoughts, obey natural laws and therefore can
be studied scientifically. Enculturation > process by which a child learns his or her culture. The ease with
which children absorb any cultural tradition rests on the uniquely elaborated human capacity to learn.
Our cultural learning depends on the uniquely developed capacity to use symbols > something, verbal or
nonverbal, that stands for something else. There is no obvious connection between the symbol and the
Geertz defines culture as ideas based on cultural learning and symbols. Culture is learned directly, through
observation and unconsciously.
Although individuals differ in their emotional and intellectual tendencies and capacities, all human
populations have equivalent capacities for culture. Chimpanzees and Gorillas have rudimentary cultural
abilities, no other animal has that.
Culture is an attribute of individuals as members of groups.
Culture takes the natural biological urges we share with other animals and teaches us how to express them
in particular ways. Our culture—and cultural changes—affect the ways in which we perceive nature, human
nature and “the natural”
Culture, as defined anthropologically, encompasses features that are sometimes regarded as trivial or
unworthy of serious study, such as popular culture.
Cultures are integrated, patterned systems. Core values > key, basic or central values that integrate a
Culture I she main reason for human adaptability and success. Humans have biological and cultural ways of
coping with environmental stress. Cultural traits may be called adaptive if they help individuals cope with
environmental stresses. But such traits can also be maladaptive (onaangepast).
Similarities between humans and apes, are evident in anatomy, brain structure and biochemistry.
Hominids > members of hominid families; any fossil or living human, chimp or gorilla.
Hominins > hominids excluding the African apes; all human species that ever existed.
Many human traits reflect that our primate ancestors lived in trees
• Grasping ability and manual dexterity, depth and color vision, learning ability based on a large brain,
substantial parental investment in offspring and tendencies toward sociality and cooperation.
There is a substantial gap between primate society (organized life in groups) and fully developed human
culture, which is based on symbolic thought.
Things humans share with other primates
Thing in which humans differ from other primates
The ability to learn from experience and change
Humans share more things
Employ tools
By chimps most mating occurs when females
Aim and throw objects
Humans have exogamy and kinship systems
Universal > something that exists in every culture.
Generality > culture pattern or trait that exists in some but not all societies.
Particularity > distinctive or unique culture trait, pattern or integration.
Universal traits are the ones that more or less distinguish Homo sapiens from other species:
• Biological: a long period of infant dependency, year-round sexuality, and a complex brain
• Psychological: common ways in which humans think, feel, and process information
Generalities occur in certain times and places but not in all cultures, they may be widespread but not in all
cultures (for example; nuclear family). Generalities occur in societies because of borrowing or through
inheritance from a common cultural ancestor. Also domination (as in a colonial rule); when customs and
procedures are imposed on one culture by another more powerful culture.
Cultural particularity > trait or feature of culture that is not generalized or widespread. Because of cultural
borrowing, traits that are useful (that have the capacity to please large audiences and don’t clash with the
cultural values of potential adopters) are more likely to spread. Also many cultural traits are shared as
cultural universals and as a result of independent invention. Cultures are integrated and patterned
differently and display tremendous variation and diversity.
Anthropologists have theorized about the relationship between the system (culture, society) and individual.
- Cultural is contested; different groups in society struggle with one another over whose ideas, values,
goals and beliefs will prevail.
- The ideal culture consists of what people say they should do and what they say they do. Real culture
refers to their actual behavior as observed by the anthropologist.
- Cultural is public and individual.
- Culture has been seen as social glue transmitted across the generations. Contemporary
anthropologists now emphasize how day-to-day action, practice or resistance can make and remake
- Practice theory > recognizes that individuals within a society or culture have diverse motives and
intentions and different degrees of power and influences.
Different levels of culture:
- National culture; cultural features shared by citizens of the same nation.
- International culture; cultural traditions that extend beyond national boundaries.
- Subculture; different cultural traditions associated with subgroups in the same nation.
Ethnocentrism > judging other cultures using one’s own cultural standards.
Cultural relativism > idea that behavior should be evaluated not by outside standards but in the context of
the culture in which it occurs. Anthropologists employ cultural relativism not as a moral belief but as a
methodological position; in order to understand another culture fully, we must try to understand how the
people in that culture see things.
Different people and groups have different opinions about what is proper, necessary and moral. When you
want to understand a meaning within any cultural context, we should ask who is relatively advantaged to a
Human rights > rights based on justice and morality beyond and superior to particular countries, cultures
and religions. They are seen as inalienable (nations can’t abridge or terminate them) and international
(larger than and superior to individual nations and cultures).
Cultural rights > idea that behavior should be evaluated not by outside standards but in the context of the
culture in which it occurs.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) > an indigenous group’s collective knowledge and its applications. They are
claimed as cultural rights, allowing indigenous groups to control who may know and use their collective
knowledge and its applications. According to the IPR concept, a particular group may determine how its
indigenous knowledge and the products of that knowledge are used and distributed, and the level of
compensation required.
Ways of how cultures change:
O Diffusion > borrowing of cultural traits between societies.
- Direct > when two cultures trade, intermarry or wage war on one another.
- Forced > when one culture subjugates another and imposes its customs on the dominated group.
- Indirect > when items move from group A to group C via group B without any firsthand contact
between group A en C.
O Acculturation > an exchange of cultural features between groups in firsthand contact. Parts of the cultures
change, but each group remains district.
O Independent invention > the independent development of a cultural feature in different societies.
Globalization > the accelerating interdependence of nations in the world system today. It describes a series
of processes that work transnationally to promote change in a world in which nations and people
increasingly are interlinked and mutually dependent. Emigrants send a lot of information to home, such
people live multilocally; in different places and cultures.
Mark Smith and Michele Doyle draw an distinction between 2 meanings of globalization:
- Globalization as fact; the spread and connectedness of production, communication, and
technologies across the world. As used in this book, this is the primary meaning of globalization. New
aspects; the speed of global communication, the scale of global networks and the volume of
international transactions.
- Globalization as contested ideology and policy; efforts by the International Monetary Fund, World
Bank, WTO and other international financial powers to create a global free market for goods and
Russia and other former Soviet-bloc countries, opened to world capitalism with the fall of the Soviet Union in
1989-1990. A new truly global economy could emerge; based on knowledge and information, networks are
transnational and its core activities can proceed as a unit in real time.
Chapter 3; Method and Theory in Cultural
Anthropology emerged as a distinctive field of inquiry as early scholars worked on Native American
reservations and traveled to distant lands to study small groups of foragers and cultivators. The process of
becoming a cultural anthropologists has required a field experience in another society.
Ethnography emerged as a research strategy in societies with greater cultural uniformity and less social
differentiation than are found in large, modern, industrial nations.
The characteristic field techniques of the ethnographer includes:
1. Direct, firsthand observation of behavior , including participant observation
2. Conversation with varying degrees of formality
3. The genealogical method
4. Detailed work with key consultants, of informants
5. In-depth interviewing, often leading to collection of life histories
6. Discovery of local beliefs and perceptions
7. Problem-oriented research of many sorts
8. Longitudinal research, the continuous long-term study of an area or site.
9. Team research, coordinated research by multiple ethnographers.
Interview schedule > form guide used to structure a formal, but personal, interview.
Questionnaire > form used by sociologists to obtain comparable information from respondents.
Genealogical method > using diagrams and symbols to record kin connections. In many nonindustrial
societies, kin links are basic to social life. Anthropologists need to collect genealogical data to understand
current social relations and to reconstruct history.
Key cultural consultant > expert on a particular aspect of local life.
Life history > of a key consultant, a personal portrait of someone’s life in a culture. This reveal how specific
people perceive, react to, and contribute to changes that affect their lives.
One goal of ethnography is to discover local views, beliefs and perceptions, which may be compared with the
ethnographer’s own observations and conclusions. In the field they combine 2 research strategies;
Emic > research strategy focusing on local explanations and meanings. Cultural consultant:
individual ethnographer gets to know, in the field, the people who teach him about their culture.
Etic > research strategy emphasizes categories, interpretations, and features that the anthropologist
considers important. (scientist-orientated) This approach realizes that members of a culture often
are too involved in what they are doing to interpret their cultures impartially.
Ethnographers typically combine emic and etic strategies in their fieldwork. The statements, perceptions,
categories and opinions of local people help ethnographers understand how cultures work. Local beliefs also
are interesting and valuable in themselves. However, people often fail to admit or recognize, certain causes
and consequences of their behavior.
Longitudinal research > the long-term study of a community, region, society, culture or other unit, usually
based on repeated visits. This is often team-research.
Traditional ethnographic research focused on a single community or culture, which was treated as more or
less isolated and unique in time and space. The shift has been toward recognition of ongoing and
inescapable flows of people, technology, images and information. Nowadays fieldwork must be more
flexible and on a larger scale. Ethnography is increasingly multitimed and multisited. We can’t ignore the
outsiders (migrants, developers etc.). Kluckhohn > anthropology could provide a ‘scientific basis for dealing
with the crucial dilemma of the world today: how can people of different appearance, mutually unintelligible
languages and dissimilar ways of life get along peaceably together.’
In large-scale societies, anthropologists combine ethnography and survey research. Survey research > the
study of society through sampling, statistical analysis and impersonal data collection. It usually draws a
sample > a smaller study group chosen to represent a larger population. Sometime they use a random
sample. Variables > attributes that vary among members of a sample or population. Combination of survey
research and ethnography can provide new perspectives on life in complex societies. (> large, populous
societies with stratification and a government) In the best studies, the hallmark of ethnography remains.
Ethnography (traditional)
Survey research
Studies whole, functional communities
Studies a small sample of a larger population
Usually based on firsthand fieldwork, during which
information is collected after rapport, based on personal
contact, is established between researcher and hosts.
Often conducted with little or no personal contact between
study subjects and researcher, as interviews are frequently
conducted by assistants over the phone of in printed form
Traditionally interested in all aspects of local life (holistic)
Usually focuses on a small number of variables
Traditionally conducted in nonindustrial, small-scale societies,
where people often are not literate
Normally carried out in modern nations, where most people
are literate, permitting to fill in their own questionnaires
Makes little use of statistics, because the communities being
studied tend to be small, with little diversity besides that
based on age, gender and individual personality variation
Depends heavily on statistical analyses to make inferences
regarding a large and diverse population, based on data
collected from a small subset of that population
Anthropologists must be sensitive to culture differences and aware of procedures and standards in the host
country. Informed consent > agreement to take part in research, after having been informed about its
nature, procedures and possible impacts. Anthropologists should try to include host country colleagues in
their research planning (1), establish collaborative relationships with host country institutions (2), include
host country colleagues in dissemination and publication of the research results (3) and ensure that
something is given back to the host country (4).
The Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) recognizes that anthropologists have
obligations to their scholarly field, the wider society, the human species and the environment. The main
obligation is to do no harm to the people being studied.
Ethical concerns raised by anthropologists in war zones:
It may be impossible to identify themselves as anthropologists in war zones.
They are asked to negotiate relations among several groups, the responsibilities to their units may
conflict with their obligations to the local people they study
It is difficult for local people to give informed consent without feeling forced to provide information
Information could help target specific groups for military actions
Military may indirectly endanger research and researcher
Tylor (1871-1958): offered a definition of culture, proposed it as a topic that could be studied scientifically.
He proposed a unilinear path; from animism to polytheism, then monotheism and finally science. Religion
would retreat as science probided better and better expalnations.
Morgan (1870-1997): The League of the Iroquois is anthropology’s earliest ethnography. He assumed that
human society had evolved through a series of stages; savagery, barbarism and civilization. Savagery and
barbarism both had three sub stages: lower, middle and upper. His brand of evolutionism is known as
unilinear evolutionism > idea of a single line or path of cultural development.
Both they were interested in survivals; practices that survived in contemporary society form earlier
evolutionary stages. Vb. The belief in ghosts today would represent a survival from the stage of animism.
The Boasians
Four-Field anthropology: Boaz: contributed to cultural, biological and linguistic anthropology. The children of
immigrants differed physically from their parents not because of genetic change but because they had grown
up in a different environment. Human biology is plastic. Benedict: civilization is the achievement of no single
Historical Particularism: Boas and his followers disputed the idea of one evolutionary path. They argued
Morgans’ idea, the same cultural result could not have a single explanations because there are many ways to
it. Their position was one of historical particularism > idea that histories are not comparable; different paths
lead to the same cultural result. This rejected what scholars called the comparative method, which was
associated with any anthropologists interested in cross-culture comparison.
Independent Invention versus Diffusion: to explain cultural generalities the evolutionists had stressed
independent invention: eventually people in many areas had come up with the same cultural solution to a
common problem. They stressed the importance of diffusion or borrowing among cultures;
Cultural trait (something like a bow and arrow)
Trait complex (the hunting pattern that went along with it)
Culture area (based on the diffusion of traits and trait complexes across a particular geographic area.
Historical and diffusion were complementary. As culture traits diffused, they developed their particular
histories as they entered and moved through particular societies. Historical particularism was based on the
idea that each element of culture had its own distinctive history and social forms that might look similar
were far from identical because of their different histories.
Functionalism (> approach focusing on the role of sociocultural practices in social systems)
Focused on the role of culture traits and practices in contemporary society instead of the search for origins.
Malinowski  customs and institutions in society were integrated and interrelated, so if one
changed, the other would change as well. Needs functionalism > humans had a set of universal
biological needs, customs developed to fulfill those needs.
Conjectural History  Radcliffe-Brown > social anthropology could never hope to discover the
histories of people without writing. Focus on the role that particular practices play in societies today.
He advocated that social anthropology be a synchronic (at one time) rather than a diachronic (across
time) science.
Structural functionalism  Radcliffe-Brown and Pritchard; customs function to preserve the social
structure. Social systems are comparable to anatomical and physiological systems.
Functionalism Persists  there are social and cultural systems and their elements are functionally
related. If one part change, the other will also change. Some elements are more important than
Configurationalims (> view of culture as integrated and patterned) Benedict and Mead
Related to functionalism, culture is seen as integrated. Traits might not spread if they were not accepted by
a particular culture or if they met environment barriers. Although traits may diffuse in from various
direction, culture traits are uniquely patterned or integrated. Mead was particularly interested in how
cultures varied in their patterns of enculturation. Culture is a powerful force that created almost endless
possibilities. She was more interested in how cultures were uniquely patterned than in explaining how they
got to be that way.
Steward  Multilinear evolution; cultures envolve along several different lines.
White  general evolution; energy capture is the main measure and cause of cultural advance. Cultures
might not evolve in the same directions. They both were also interested in the causes.
Cultural materialism (> idea that cultural infrastructure determines structure and superstructure)
Harris adapted multilayered models of determinism associated with White and Steward. All societies had an
infrastructure  the systems of production and reproduction. Structure  social relations grow out of social
infrastructure. Superstructure  religion, ideology, aspects of culture farthest away from the meat and
bones that enable cultures to survive. Infrastructure determines structure and superstructure.
Science and Determinism
Harris  anthropology is a science, based on explanation and the role is to discover causes.
Mead  a determinist, cultural determinism viewed human nature as more or less a blank slate on which
culture could write almost any lesson.
Culture and the Individual
Culturology  White; cultural anthropology is a science named culturology. Cultural force were so
powerful that individuals made little difference.
The Superorganic  Kroeber; the superorganic > cultural realm (gebied), whose origin converted an
ape into an early hominin (special domain of culture, beyond the organic and inorganic realms).
Culture is the basis of a new science, cultural anthropology. He didn’t attempt to explain cultural
forces, he simply used them to show the power of culture over the individual. (cultural determinist)
Durkheim  calling for a new social science; conscience collectif. This science would be based on the
study of social facts, analytically distinct from the individuals from whose behavior those facts were
Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology
Turner recognizes links between symbolic anthropology (>study of symbols in their social and cultural
context) and such other fields as (social) psychology and psychoanalysis.
Geertz; interpretive anthropology > the study of a culture as a system of meaning. Geertz defined culture as
ideas based on cultural learning and symbols.
Lévi-Strauss; human minds have certain universal characteristics, which originate in common features of the
Homo sapiens brain. A universal aspect of classification is opposition or contrast. One tale can be converted
into another by doing the following:
Converting the positive element of a myth into its negative
Reversing the order of the elements
Replacing a male hero with a female hero
Preserving or repeating certain key elements
Agency > the actions of individuals, alone and in groups, that create and transform culture.
Practice theory > individuals within a society vary in their motives and intentions and in the amount of power
and influence they have. Focus on how such varied individuals influence and transform the world they live in.
Leach > focused on how individuals work to achieve power and how their actions can transform society.
Wolf > focused on how such people without history participated in and were transformed by the world
system and the spread of capitalism.
Mintz > focused on political economy (> the web of interrelated economic and power relations in society).
Wallerstein > world-system theory. Criticized for overstressing the influence of outsiders / colonialism.
Theorists have focused more on local agency, the transformative actions of individuals and groups within
colonized societies. Gramsci > hegemony; a stratified social order in which subordinates comply with
domination by internalizing their rulers’ values and accepting dominations as natural.
Bourdieu en Fouclault > it is easier to dominate people in their minds than to try to control their bodies.
Stoler > examined systems of power, domination, accommodation and resistance.
Increasing specialization
• Cultural anthropologists now head for the field with a specific problem in mind, rather than with
goal of producing a holistic ethnography
• Ethnography has expanded to include regional and national systems and the movement of people
following globalization
• Witnessed crisis in representation—questions about the role of the ethnographer and the nature
of ethnographic authority
• Must stay aware of our biases and our inability to totally escape them
Anthropologist focuses on one or maybe two things of society (economic, gender, religion).
Chapter 4; Applying Anthropology
Applied Anthropology > the use of
anthropological data, perspectives,
theory and methods to solve
contemporary problems.
Anthropology’s subfield
Biological or physical
Examples of application
Development anthropology
Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
Forensic anthropology
Study of linguistic diversity in classrooms
Application was a concern in GB
and in the US. Malinowski proposed that practical anthropology should focus on Westernization, the
diffusion of European culture into tribal societies. There is a connection between early anthropology and
colonialism. During WWII, anthropologists studied German and Japanese culture at a distance in an attempt
to predict the behavior of the enemies.
50 – 60’s > most anthropologists were professors. 70-80’s > more anthropologists worked by international
organizations, government, businesses, hospitals and schools. Their reputation is to speak up for the
underdog. But they also have clients that are neither poor nor powerless. CRM anthropologists help decide
how to preserve significant remains when sites are threatened by development or public works.
Anthropologists are experts on human problems and social change, proper roles for applied anthropologists
Identifying needs for change that local people perceive
Working with those people to design culturally appropriate and socially sensitive change
Protecting local people from harmful policies and projects that may threaten them
Development anthropology > field that examines the sociocultural dimensions of economic development.
Ethical dilemmas often confront development anthropologists.
A commonly goal of recent development policy is to promote equity (billijkheid). Increased equity > reduction
in absolute poverty, with a more even distribution wealth. Some development projects actually widen
wealth disparities, that is, they have a negative equity impact.
To maximize social and economic benefits, projects must be culturally compatible, respond to locally
perceived needs, involve men and women in planning and carrying out the changes that affect them,
harness traditional organizations and be flexible. Avoid overinnovation > trying to achieve too much change.
Developments projects that fail usually are either economically or culturally incompatible. Cultural
incompatibility  build a school because people think education is important, but the children are to hungry
they can’t concentrate.
Also avoid underdifferentiation > seeing less-developed countries as all the same; ignoring cultural diversity.
Governments acts as an agent of and for its people. When governments are of the people and have strong
personal ties to common folk, they are more likely to promote democratic economic development. Realistic
development policies promote change but not overinnovation.
Attention to culture is fundamental to anthropology and education > study of students in the context of
their family, peers and enculturation. View children as total cultural creatures whose enculturation and
attitudes toward education belong to a context that includes family and peers. Sociolinguists and cultural
anthropologists have worked side by side in education research.
The roles of cities have change recently because of the time-space compression made possible by modern
transportations and communication systems. As industrialization and urbanization spread globally,
anthropologists increasingly study these processes and the social problems they create. Urban anthropology
> cross-cultural and ethnographic study of cities and urban life. Lots of people move from the city to a town,
poor people are moving into the city.
Redfield > contrasted rural and urban contexts in 1940s. Applying anthropology to urban planning starts by
identifying key social groups in specific urban contexts, avoiding the fallacy of underdifferentiation. After
identifying those groups, the anthropologist might elicit their wishes for change, convey those needs to
funding agencies and work with agencies and local people to realize those goals.
Medical anthropology > the comparative, biocultural study of disease, health problems and health care
systems. They examine such questions as which diseases and health conditions affect particular populations
and how illness is socially constructed, diagnosed, managed and treated in various societies.
Disease > a scientifically identified health threat caused by a known pathogen.
Illness > a condition of poor health perceived or felt by an individual (when a doctor can’t find anything).
Perceptions of good and bad health are culturally constructed.
Various cultures and ethnic groups recognize different illnesses, symptoms and causes and have developed
different health care systems and treatment strategies. In many areas, the world system and colonialism
worsened the health of indigenous peoples by spreading diseases, warface, servitude and other stressors.
Health standards vary in time and space:
Personalistic disease theories; blame illness on agents (witches, ghosts, spirits)
Naturalistic disease theories; explain illness in impersonal terms (bijv. Western medicine aims to link
to scientifically demonstrated agents that bear no personal malice towards their victims. Or people
blame poor health on unbalanced body fluids)
Emotionalistic disease theories; illness blamed on emotional experiences (Anorexia)
All societies have health care systems > beliefs, customs and specialists concerned with preventing and
curing illness. Curer > one who diagnoses and treats illness (often a Shaman). Scientific medicine > a health
care system based on scientific knowledge and procedures.
Industrialization and globalization have spawned their own health problems. Dangerous machinery,
Isolation, poverty, homelessness etc. In the US and other developed countries, good health has become
something of an ethical imperative. Individuals are expected to regulate their behavior and shape
themselves in keeping with new medical knowledge. Getting epidemic disease may be interpreted today as a
moral failure.
Medical anthropology also considers the impact of new scientific and medical techniques on ideas about life,
death and personhood (what it means to be a person).
Anthropology and Business; anthropologists may acquire unique perspective on organizational conditions
and problems.
Ethnography and observations as ways of gathering data
Focus on diversity
Cross-cultural expertise.
Anthropologists are specialists on cultural diversity and observing behavior in natural settings, including
home and office.
Chapter 5; Language and communication
Language > primary means of communication, written or spoken. It is transmitted through learning, as part
of enculturation. Based on arbitrary, learned associations between words and the things for which they
stand. Language allows people to conjure up elaborate images, to discuss the past and future, to share
experiences and to benefit from their experiences. Anthropologists study language in its social and cultural
Call systems > communication systems of nonhuman primates, it consist of a limited number of sounds.
They are less flexible than language because they are automatic and can’t be combined. At some point in
human evolution, our ancestors began to combine calls an to understand combinations.
Apes can learn to use, if not speak, true language. Cultural transmission > transmission through learning,
basic to language. Apes share still another linguistic ability with humans: productivity.
Human language
Primate call systems
Speak of thing and events that are not present >
Stimuli-dependent; the food call will be made only in
the presence of food; it can’t be faked
Generate new expressions by combining other
Consist of a limited number of calls that can’t be
expressions > productivity
combined to produce new calls
Group specific in that all humans have the capacity
Tend to be species specific, with little variation
for language, but each linguistic community has its
among communities of the same species for each
own language, which is culturally transmitted
Those who have the nonspeech version of FOXP2, a mutated gene, aren’t able to make fine tongue and lip
movements that are necessary for clear speech. This explains why chimps don’t speak. Language offered an
adaptive advantage. Adaption can occur more rapidly by Homo Sapiens than by other primates, because
their adaptive means more flexible and creative.
People don’t only communicate through learning, nonverbal communication is very important. Kinesics >
study of communication through body movements and facial expressions.
The scientific study of a spoken language involves several interrelated areas of analysis:
Phonology > study of speech sounds, which sounds are present and significant in a language;
Morphology > how sounds combine form morphemes (words and their meaningful parts);
A language’s lexicon > a dictionary containing all its morphemes and their meanings;
Syntax > arrangement of words in phrases and sentences.
Phoneme > smallest sound contrast that makes a difference, that differentiates meaning.
Phonetics > study of speech sounds in general, what people actually say in various languages.
Phonemics > study of sound contrasts in a language.
Chomsky; argued that the human brain contains a limited set of rules for organizing language, so that all
languages have a common structural basis. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis > rather than seeking universal linguistic
structures and processes, they believe that different languages produce different ways of thinking.
Focal vocabulary > specialized sets of terms and distinctions that are important to certain groups. Language
and culture are interrelated. Semantics > a language’s meaning system.
Ethnosemantic > study of lexical (vocabulary) categories and contrasts. Kinship terminology and color
terminology are well studied.
Linguistic performance (what people really say) is the concern of sociolinguists. Their field investigates
relationships between social and linguistic variation, or language in its social context. They focus on features
that vary systematically with social position and situation. Linguistic change occurs not in a vacuum but in a
Ethnic diversity is revealed by the fact that millions of Americans learn first languages other than English.
Style shifts > varying one’s speech in different social contexts. Diglossia > languages with high (formal) and
low (informal) dialects.
Honorifics > terms of respect, used to honor people. Kin terms can be associated with gradations in age, rank
and status.
Mainstream Americans evaluate the speech of low-status groups negatively, calling it uneducated. This is not
because these ways of speaking are bad in themselves but because they have come to symbolize low status.
Speech habits help determine how others evaluate us and thus our access to employment and other
material resources. Bourdieu: linguistic practices as symbolic capital that people, if trained properly, can
convert into economic and social capital.
Black English vernacular (BEV) > rule-governed dialect spoken by some African Americans (vernancular
means ordinary, casual speech). BEV is a complex linguistic system with its own rules. It has grammatical
differences with SE. By BEV, the verb ‘to be’ is omitted. SE is not superior to BEV, but it is the prestige dialect.
Historical linguistics > study of languages over time.
Daughter languages > languages sharing a common parent language (e.g. Latin).
Protolanguages > the original language from which daughter languages diverge.
Subgroups > linguistic closely related languages. Dialects of a single parent language become distinct
daughter languages, especially if they are isolated from one another. Some of them split, and new
granddaughter languages develop.
One aspect of historical linguistic is language loss. When languages disappear, cultural diversity is reduces as
well. Harrison; an indigenous language goes extinct every two weeks, as its last speakers die. There are 7000
languages remaining, about 20 percent are endangered.
Chapter 6; Ethnicity and Race
Members of an ethnic group (>one among several culturally distinct groups in a society or region) share
certain beliefs, values, habits , customs and norms because of their common background. Ethnicity >
identification with an ethic group. Cultural differences may be associated with ethnicity, class, region or
religion. Status > any position that determines where someone fits in society. Some statuses are ascribed >
people have little or no choice about occupying them (e.g. age, race and gender). Achieved statuses > social
status based on choices or accomplishments.
Some, particularly ascribed, statuses can be mutually exclusive (male and female). Some statuses are
contextual (mother and senator). When ethnic identity is flexible and situational, it can become an achieved
status. In many societies an ascribed status is associated with a position in the social-political hierarchy.
Certain groups, minority groups, are subordinate (ondergeschikt). They have inferior power and less secure
access to resources than do majority groups. Race > ethnic group assumed to have a biological basis.
Discrimination against such a group is racism.
Historically, scientist have approached the study of human biological diversity in two main ways:
Radical classification, now largely abandoned.
The current explanatory approach, focuses on understanding specific differences
Racial classification > the attempt to assign humans to discrete categories based on common ancestry.
In theory, a biological race would be a geographically isolated subdivision of a species in theory.
A race is supposed to reflect shared genetic material (inherited from a common ancestor), but early scholars
instead used phenotypical traits (usually skin color) for racial classification. Phenotype > an organism’s
evident traits, its manifest biology - anatomy and physiology.
Which traits should be primary? Early European and American scientists gave priority to color; white, black
and yellow. This overly simplistic classification was compatible with the political use of race during the
colonial period.
The color-based labels aren’t accurate, many people don’t fit into any race. No single trait can be used for
racial classification. The characteristics on which races are based supposedly reflect genetic material that is
shared and that has stayed the same for long periods of time. But phenotypical differences and similarities
don’t necessarily have a genetic basis.
Traditional racial classification assumes biological characteristics such as skin color were determined by
heredity (erfelijkheid) and that they were stable over many generations. We now know that a biological
similarity doesn’t necessarily indicate recent common ancestry. Natural selection is the process by which the
forms most fit to survive and reproduce in a given environment do so. The role of natural selection in
producing variation in skin color explanatory approach to human biological diversity.
Skin color is a complex biological trait, influenced by several genes.
Melanin; chemical substance manufactures in the epidermis (opperhuid) that determines human skin color. By
screening out UV radiation from the sun, melanin offers protection against a variety of maladies, including
sun burn and skin cancer.
Before the 16th century, most of the world’s very dark-skinned peoples lived in the tropics, a belt extending
about 23 degrees north and south of the equator. Outside the tropics, skin color tend to be lighter. Melanin
confers a selective advantage on darker-skinned people living in the tropics.
Dark Skin Color
Light skin color
Melanin is natural sunscreen
In tropics: Screens out UV
Reduces susceptibility to folate destruction and thus to
Prevents sunburn and thus enhances sweating and
Reduces disease susceptibility
Reduces risk of skin cancer
Outside tropics: reduces UV absorption
Increases susceptibility to rickets, osteoporosis
No natural sunscreen
Outside tropics: admits UV
Body manufactures vitamin D and thus prevents rickets
and osteoporosis
Increases susceptibility to folate destruction and thus to
Inpaired spermatogenesis
Increases susceptibility to sunburn and thus to impaired
sweating and poor thermoregulation
Increases susceptibility to diseases and to skin cancer
Cultural alternatives
NS in action today
Foods, vitamin D
East Asians in
northern UK, Inuit
with modern diets
Folic acid/folate
Whites still have
more NTDs
Shelter, sunscreens,
To broaden public understanding of race and human varation, the AAA offers its RACE project. It examines
race through the eyes of history, science and lived experience. Three key messages: (1) race is a recent
human invention, (2) race is about culture, not biology and (3) race and racism are embedded in institutions
and everyday life.
It is not possible to define human races biologically. Only cultural constructions of race are possible. It is
better to use the term ethnic group rather than race to describe any social group (Africans, Latinas).
Races are ethnic groups assumed to have a biological basis, but actually race is socially constructed.
In the US, racial identity is acquired at birth.
Rule of descent > social identity based on ancestry.
Hypodescent > automatically places children of mixed marriages in the group of their minority parent. This
divides American society into groups that have been unequal in their access to wealth, power and prestige.
The U.S. Census Bureau has gathered data by race since 1790. Initially this was done because the
Constitution specified that a slave counted as three-fifths of a white person and because Native Americans
were not taxed. Attempts to add a multiracial census category to the Census opposed by the NAACP. Radical
classification is a political issue involving access to resources, including jobs, voting districts and programs
aimed at minorities.
Canadian census asks about ‘visible minorities’. Persons, other than Aboriginal people (aka First Nations in
Canada), who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in color. Canada’s visible minority population has been
increasing steadily.
Japan is commonly viewed as a nation that is homogeneous in race, ethnicity, language and culture.
Although less diverse than most counties, Japan is hardly the uniform entity Nakasone described. About 10
percent of its population consist of minorities. Intrinsic racism: belief that perceived racial difference is
sufficient reason to value one person less than another.
The Japanese define themselves by opposition to others, whether minority groups in their own nation or
outsiders, anyone who is ‘not us’. The ‘not us’ should stay that way; assimilation generally is discouraged.
Like blacks in the US, Japan’s Burakumin are stratified by class (> class-structured, with differences in wealth,
prestige and power).
Brazilians use many racial labels. Racial identity is more flexible than in the US, more of an achieved status.
Brazilian racial classification pays attention to phenotype. Genotype (what you are genetically) and
Phenotype (what you appear as). Brazil’s system of racial classification is changing in the context of
international identity politics and rights movements.
Nation > society sharing a language, religion, history, territory, ancestry and kinship. Once this was
synonymous with tribe or ethnic group. Now nation has come to mean state > stratified society with formal,
central government. Nation-state > an autonomous political entity; a country. Because of migration,
conquest and colonialism, most nation-states aren’t ethnically homogeneous. There is a substantial regional
variation in countries’ ethnic structures.
Europe: worked to homogenize diverse pre-modern populations to a common culture
Africa: plurality group of about 22%, with second-largest slightly less
Latin America: majority group and single minority group
Asia and the Middle East: ethnic majorities
Nationalities > ethnic groups that have, once had, or want their own country. Anderson: they are ‘imagined
communities’. Language and print played a crucial role in the growth of European national consciousness. In
creating multitribal and multiethnic states colonialism (>long-term foreign domination of a territory and its
people) often erected boundaries that corresponded poorly with preexisting cultural divisions. But colonial
institutions also helped create new ‘imagined communities’ beyond nations.
Ethnic diversity may be associated with positive group interaction and coexistence or with conflict. There are
nation-states in which multiple cultural groups live together in reasonable harmony, including some less
developed countries.
Assimilation > absorption of minorities within a dominant culture. It is incorporated into the dominant
culture to the point that it no longer exists as a separate cultural unit.
Assimilation isn’t inevitable, and there can be ethnic harmony without it. Ethnic distinction can persist
despite generation of interethnic contact. Plural Society > society with economically interdependent ethnic
groups. Barth; ethnic boundaries are most stable and enduring when groups occupy different ecological
niches. When different ethnic groups exploit the same ecological niche, the militarily more powerful group
usually will replace the weaker one. Shifted focus from specific cultural practices and values to relations
between ethnic groups.
Multiculturalism > view of cultural diversity as valuable and worth maintaining. It is the opposite of the
assimilationist model, in which minorities are expected to abandon their cultural traditions and values,
replacing them with those of the majority population. In the US and Canada, multiculturalism is of growing
importance. This reflects an awareness that the number and size of ethnic groups have grown dramatically in
recent years. Multiculturalism seeks ways for people to understand and interact with a respect for their
difference, it assumes that each group has something to offer to and learn from the others.
Migration also is fueled by rapid population growth, coupled with insufficient jobs in the less developed
Ethnicity can be expressed in peaceful multiculturalism of in discrimination or violent interethnic
confrontation. The roots of ethnic differentiation can be political, economic, religious, linguistic, cultural or
racial. Causes of conflict and violence:
Sense of injustice because of resource distribution
Economic or political competition
Reaction to discrimination, prejudice; expressions of devalued identity
Prejudice > devaluing (looking down on) a group because of its assumed attributes. People are prejudiced
when they hold stereotypes (>fixed ideas, often unfavorable, about what members of a group are like)
about groups and apply them to individuals. Discrimination > policies and practices that harm a group and
its members. De facto > practiced, but not legally sanctioned. Or de jure > part of the law.
Although the multicultural model is increasingly prominent in North America, ethnic competition and
conflicts also are evident. New arrivals versus long-established ethnic groups.
Forms of discrimination against ethnic groups:
- genocide > deliberate elimination of a group through mass murder;
- ethnocide > destruction of cultures of certain ethnic groups;
- forced assimilation > force them to adopt the dominant culture;
- cultural colonialism >
Ethnic expulsion > removing groups who are culturally different from that country’s dominant ethnic group.
Refugees > people who have been forced or who have chosen to flee a country, to escape persecution or
war. Cultural colonialism > internal domination by one group and its culture or ideology over others.
Types of Ethnic Interaction
Plural Society
Nature of interaction
Ethnic groups absorbed within dominant culture
Brazil; US in early, mid-20th
Areas of Middle East with
Canada, US in 21th century
Society or region contains economically
interdependent ethnic groups
Cultural diversity valued; ethnic cultures coexist
with dominant culture
Devaluing a group based on assumed attributes
Discrimination de jure
Legal policies and practices harm ethnic group
South African apartheid; former
segregation in southern US
Nazi Germany, Bosnia, Cambodia
Discrimination de facto
Ethnic Expulsion
Not legally sanctioned, but practiced
Deliberate elimination of ethnic group through
mass murder
Cultural practices attacked by dominant culture or
colonial power
Forcing ethnic group(s) out of a country or region
Spanish Basques under Franco
Ugandan Asians, Serbia, Bosnia
Chapter 7; Making a living
Adaptive strategy > means of making a living; productive system. Cohen > the most important reason for
similarities between two or more unrelated societies is their possession of a similar adaptive strategy. He
developed a typology of societies based on correlations between their economies and their social features:
foraging, horticulture, agriculture, pastoralism and industrialism.
Foraging > people rely on available natural resources rather than controlling the reproduction of plants and
animals. Today, almost all foragers have a t least some dependence on food production or on food
producers. But it survived modern times in certain environment.
The Dobe Ju/ ‘hoansi San are surrounded by a waterless belt. Most of the 100.000 San who survive today live
in poverty on society’s fringes. Botswana relocated the San Bushmen outside their ancestral territory to
create a wildlife area. The high court reversed the order but most are prevented from returning.
Typologies are useful because they suggest correlations. (> association; when one variable change, another
does too) Foragers often lived in band-organized societies, their band was a small group of fewer than a
hundred people, all related by kinship or marriage. A typical characteristic of the foraging life is mobility.
People shifted band membership several times in life. Fictive kinship > personal relationships modeled on
kinship, such as that between godparents and godchildren. All human societies have tended to encourage a
division of labor based on gender. All foragers have maintained social distinctions based on age.
Cultivation (teelt)
Horticulture (tuinbouw) > nonindustrial plant cultivation with fallowing It makes intensive use of none
of the factors of production, land, labor, capital and machinery. Slash-and-burn techniques > clear
land by cutting down and burning forest by setting fire to the grass covering a plot. The plot often is
used for only a year. Shifting cultivation > shifts to another plot each year.
Agriculture > cultivation using land and labor continuously and intensively. It requires more land
than horticulture.
o Domesticated Animals > use animals as means of production; transport, machines and for
their manure.
o Terracing > (the Ifugao) To prevent that soil and crops on the hills would be washed away.
The labor necessary to build and maintain a system of terraces is great.
Irrigation > agriculturalists can schedule their planting in advance, because they control
water. Because of that it is possible to cultivate a plot year after year. It is a capital
investment that increases in value.
Costs and Benefits of Agriculture > Agricultural land can yield on or two crops annually for
years. Agriculture requires more labor, relative to horticulture their yield is lower.
Agricultural societies ten to be more densely populated than horticultural societies.
Cultivation continuum > intermediate economies that combine horticultural and agricultural features.
Horticulture always has a fallow period whereas agriculture does not. Agriculture > first time humans tried
to control the environment. For the first time they ‘ruled’. People settled down, some people can stop
producing food.
The range of environment available for food production has widened as people have increased their control
over nature. Increasing labor intensity and permanent land use have major demographic, social, political and
environmental consequences. Intensive cultivators are sedentary.
• Pastoralists: herders whose activities focus on such domesticated animals as cattle, sheep, goats, camels,
and yaks. Move around with their animals. In some cases is it combined with a type of agriculture. They
barter the products of their animals with the products of agriculture. Transhumance > some people stay with
their animals at a place, but a part of the society leaves this area a part of a year (for example when it gets to
• Attempt to protect their animals and to ensure reproduction in return for food and other products
• Typically make use of herds for food
• Before the Industrial Revolution, pastoralism was almost totally confined to Old World
• Pastoral nomadism: members of pastoral society follow herd throughout the year
• Transhumance: part of group moves with herd; most stay in home village
• Economy: system for the production, distribution, and consumption of resources
• Mode of production: way of organizing production; “set of social relations through which labor is deployed
to wrest energy from nature using tools, skills, organization, and knowledge” (Wolf, 1982)
Identity more and more based on clothes, work etc.
• Division of economic labor related to age and gender is a cultural universal, but specific tasks assigned to
each sex and age vary. Usually families that are cooperation in production of food etc. In our society we are
not often working with our close family.
• Betsilio of Madagascar have two stages of teamwork in rice cultivation
• Means, or factors, of production include land, labor, technology, and capital
• Land, completely different function for the different kind of production / living.
• Less permanent among foragers than for food producers
• Among food producers, the rights to means of production also come through kinship and marriage
• Labor, tools, and specialization
• In nonindustrial societies, access to land and labor comes through social links
• Yanomami of Venezuela and Brazil
• When factory workers produce for sale and for their employer’s profit, rather than for their own use, they
may become alienated from the items they make.
Each town produced for themselves, specialization came later. Workers don’t really identify by the products
they make > they are not owned by them. So people have very different relations to products in nonindustrial and in industrial economies.
• A case of industrial alienation:
• Malaysia—one response to factory relations of production has been spirit possession
• Ong: spirit possession expresses anguish at, and resistance to, capitalist relations of production
• How are production, distribution, and consumption organized in different societies?
• What motivates people in different cultures to produce, distribute or exchange, and consume?
• Anthropologists view economic systems and motivations in a cross-cultural perspective
• Economizing: rational allocation of scarce means (or resources) to alternative ends
• Classical economic theory assumes wants are infinite and means are limited
• People in various societies put their scarce resources toward building
• Subsistence fund
• Replacement fund
• Social fund
• Ceremonial fund
• Peasants: small-scale agriculturalists who live in nonindustrial states and have rent fund obligations
• Live in states—organized societies
• Produce food without elaborate technology
• Pay rent to landlords
Peasant > differences with farmer, a ‘boer’ is a farmer. A peasant is a very small farmer, who doesn’t own
the land on which he works. He has to pay for the land, in money or a piece of his food.
• Polanyi: three principles orienting exchanges: market principle, redistribution, reciprocity (very import
anthropological concept)
• Society usually dominated by one, but it doesn’t mean you don’t use the others.
• Dominant principle of exchange is the one that allocates means of production
• Market principle: buying, selling, and valuation are based on supply and demand
• Bargaining is characteristic
• Redistribution: flow of goods into a center, then back out; characteristic of chiefdoms. In a redistributive
system, products are first offered to the chief, and he redistribute it to people who need it. A good chief
doesn’t use much for himself.
• Reciprocity: exchange between social equals, normally related by kinship, marriage, or close personal ties.
Between people who are very close to each other. (bijv. Jagers&verzamlaars)
• Generalized reciprocity: exchanges among closely related individuals. When I give something to
you, I don’t necessarily need something back, often happens in families. Because people are close,
you will get something back in the further.
• Reciprocity continuum: running from generalized reciprocity (closely related/deferred return) to
negative reciprocity (strangers/immediate return)
• Balanced reciprocity: midpoint on reciprocity continuum, between generalized and negative reciprocity
• Negative reciprocity: potentially hostile exchanges among strangers. When you try to maximize your
You can’t say which reciprocity belongs to which society. Often the reciprocities are combined.
• In North America, the market principle governs most exchanges
• Also redistribution and generalized reciprocity
• Balanced reciprocity would be out of place in a foraging band
• Potlatch: festive event within regional exchange system among tribes of North Pacific Coast of North
America. In ceremonies they give away products they found (fish etc.) to people. They try to teach it to
other people, to help people. Giving products away, even if you may need them in the near future, invest in
social relations with other people. When you run out of food, maybe the other people could help you then.
• Some tribes still practice the potlatch
• Potlatches traditionally gave away food, blankets, pieces of copper, or other items
• If the profit motive is universal, how does one explain the potlatch, in which wealth is given away?
• Suttles and Vayda: potlatch is cultural adaptation to alternating periods of local abundance and
• Potlatching also served to prevent the development of socioeconomic stratification, a system of
social classes