PPT1: Four Subfields, Two Perspectives

The examination, description, and
explanation of similarities and
differences, stability and change in
human culture and biology
The study of what it means to be human.
Biological Anthropology
 Cultural Anthropology
 Anthropological Linguistics
 Archaeology
 “Humanistic”
(You’ll find each of these represented in
each subfield.)
 Humanistic
(these words are not very accurate labels
for what we are talking about, but they
will work for now. Throughout the
semester we will be exploring each of
these and how they relate to each
Focus on
(Answering the “why”
question with models
of causation—cause
and effect.)
Focus on
(Asks “what does this
MEAN? How does it
FEEL?” Sometimes
the “why” question
defies a cause and
effect answer.
A cause and effect
answer involves
temperatures, air
pressure, information
about wind-speed
and storm surge.
A humanistic inquiry
might understand
the question “why”
to mean: “why us?
Why now?” In other
words, why do bad
things happen to
innocent people?
I assume that the idea of a meteorology
of Katrina is clear to you.
 For an example of a more humanistic
approach to the disaster check out the
Mississippi Oral History Program of The U
of Southern Mississippi, which has been
interviewing survivors…
As grand theories these approaches can
be incompatible—oil and water.
 In practice, (that is, as approaches to
questions) though they can both be
drawn on. Generally, anthropologists
are willing to do a little of each.
 If this doesn’t all make sense right now,
hang in there. We’ll see and discuss
some examples.
(Formerly called “physical anthropology”)
Growth and Development
 Human origins
 Environmental Adaptations
 Changes in morphology
 Changes in the distribution of
Diet and nutrition
 Osteology
 Forensic anthropology
Just in case you think I made it up, here is a link
about the “body farm”:
The study of human culture
 (duh…)
"Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad,
ethnographic sense, 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."
“an organization of phenomena—acts
(patterns of behavior), objects (tools;
things made with tools), ideas (belief,
knowledge), and sentiments (attitudes,
‘values’)—that is dependent upon the
use of symbols,”
“the acquired knowledge that people
use to interpret their world and generate
social behavior”
Ethnographic fieldwork
› Interviews
› Participant observation
 P/O means assuming a role or position
recognized within the group you are studying.
While participating in the everyday life of the
group you are constantly recording your
observations in fieldnotes and a daily log.
Ethnographic fieldwork contd.
› The resulting report of fieldwork is called an
Ethnographic fieldworkers may also:
› Run focus groups
› Conduct surveys
› Make maps
› Make films or photos
Reconstructing the past based on
material remains, including artifacts and
Archaeology has a coolness that is the envy of the other subfields:
Surveying (mapping)
 Excavation
 Artifact (laboratory) analysis
› Can determine material and thus source of
raw materials
› Wear patterns can yield clues about use and
thus about everyday life in the past society.
A focus on communication
› Verbal and non-verbal
› The cognitive processes involved
› How languages are learned
› Variation among languages
› Variation within languages (accents, dialects)
› The historical development of languages
› The documentation of endangered languages
The claim that one language is superior
to another
› When does this happen? Can you think of
› How might a linguist respond to this issue?
About 50% of the people with advanced
degrees in Anthropology work as
academics (teachers).
 The others might work for the
government, non-profits, or corporations.
Applied anthropologists might:
› Work on product design
› Assess educational programs
› Work as internal consultants, for example
studying corporate culture and making
› Design public education campaigns
› Advocate or testify for marginalized groups
› Invent Go-Gurt??? check it out

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