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Cultural Anthropology

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Presentation on theme: "Cultural Anthropology"— Presentation transcript:

1 Cultural Anthropology
An Introduction

2 Anthropology: An Introduction
What is culture? *It is a specific group’s learned and shared behaviors, knowledge and beliefs. Anthropology is the study of humanity and covers a broad range of topics that include the prehistoric origins of humans and contemporary cultural diversity.

3 The Concept of Culture…
Culture exists among all human beings… Micro-culture or local culture, refers to distinct patterns of learned and shared behaviors and ideas found in local regions and among particular groups. Micro- cultures are based on ethnicity, gender, age etc. Culture is not the same as Nature however it is believed by many anthropologists that the relationship between culture and nature is of great importance as a field of study. Culture is learned and based on the symbols of one particular cultural context. Culture shapes what we… Eat/drink How to and where we sleep Eliminating

4 Anthropological Terminology
Globalization: increased international ties related to the spread of westernized-style capitalism that affects all world cultures. Localization: Transformation of global culture by local cultures into something “new.” Class: A way to categorize people on the basis of their socio-economic or political position. Ethnicity: Shared sense of identity amongst a cultural group. Gender: Culturally constructed and learned behaviors and ideas attributed to males, females, or blended genders. Indigenous People: Groups of people who have a long standing connection with their home territories that predates colonial or outside societies.

5 Race vs. Ancestry “Race”: A classification of people basis of supposedly homogeneous and largely superficial biological traits such as skin color or hair characteristics Ancestry: The biological factors that reflect the individual’s ancestral background or history.

6 The Four Fields of Anthropology
Biological Anthropology Archaeology Linguistic Anthropology Cultural Anthropology Applied Anthropology

7 Biological/Physical Anthropology
The study of humans as biological organisms, including evolution and contemporary variation. There are 3 sub-fields of Biological Anthropology Primatology Paleoanthropology Contemporary human biological Variation

8 Archaeology The study of past human cultures through the excavation and analysis of their material remains. Some forms of archaeology are based upon the culture, time period and/or region being studied… Prehistoric archaeology Concerns the human past prior to written records Historical archaeology Concerns the human past in societies that have written documents. Old World archaeology (Africa, Europe and Asia) New World archaeology (North, Central and South America) Other forms of archaeology are based upon the context or where the archaeology takes place Underwater archaeology Industrial archaeology Archaeology of contemporary life

9 Linguistic Anthropology
The study of human communication, including its origins, history, and contemporary variation and change. Linguistic Anthropology has 3 sub-fields Descriptive/Structural linguistics Sociolinguistics Historical linguistics

10 Cultural Anthropology
…Is the study of contemporary peoples and their respective cultures. Cross-culturally considers the many variations and similarities between individual cultures without placing their own culture’s morals, taboos and values upon another. Areas of specialization within Cultural anthropology Economic anthropology Psychological anthropology Medical anthropology Political anthropology International development anthropology

11 Cultural Anthropology: History & Theories
Late 19th century – The Birth of Anthropological Theory First definition of culture… “Culture, or civilization…is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a man as a member of society.” -- Sir Edward Tylor (1871) Cultural Evolution (Late 19th century) Lewis Henry Morgan- Developed insider’s view and comparative method Sir James Frazer- Comparative study of Religion culminating in the book, “The Golden Bough.” Inspired by Biological evolution this theory asserts that all cultures evolve from lower to higher forms over time. Ethnocentrism: judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture rather than by the standards of that particular culture.

12 Early 20th Century: Anthropology
Cultural Relativism (Late 19th century) Franz Boas “Father of American Anthropology” -- Cultural Rel., Historical Particularism, and advocacy Theory that each culture must be understood in terms of the values and ideas of that culture and not judged by the standards of another culture. Functionalism (early 20th century) Bronislaw Malinowski– developed method of participant observation The theory that a culture is similar to a biological organism, in which parts work to support the operation and maintenance of the whole.

13 Mid-late 20th century: Anthropological Theories
Cultural Materialism- (1960’s) Marvin Harris Theory that it takes the material features of life, such as the environment, natural resources, and mode of livelihood, as the bases for explaining social organization and ideology. Cultural Materialists believe that these basic features of life shape their culture, even though people may not realize it. Influenced by Marxist Theory– which is focused on a cultural group’s livelihood. 3-Mode System of Cultural Materialism 1. Infrastructure Structure Superstructure 1. Natural resources, economy, and population 2. Kinship, social and political organization 3. Ideas, values and beliefs

14 Interpretive Anthropology
Clifford Geertz (mid-Late1960’s) Postmodernist theories show up in anthropology – a combination of French Structuralism and Symbolic anthropology (Thick-description of local culture) The view that cultures are best understood by studying what people think about, their ideas, and their symbols meanings that are important to them. 2 Postmodernist theoretical directions (1990) Structurism – how the cultural and Technological media shapes human behavior Agency- Human will; and the power of individuals to create and change culture by acting against structures.

15 Biological Determinism vs. Cultural Constructionism
A theory that explains human behavior and ideas as shaped mainly by biological features such as genes and hormones. B.D.s place a lot of emphasis on gene selection and hormones that could explain types of behavior Cultural Constructionism: A theory that explains human behavior and ideas as shaped mainly by learning. C.C’s emphasize the passing down of cultural knowledge to explain behavior.

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