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Cultural Anthropology


Cultural Anthropology A Perspective on the Human Condition Emily A. Schultz Robert H. Lavenda The anthropological perspective is holistic comparative field based ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cultural Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology
  • A Perspective on the Human Condition
  • Emily A. Schultz
  • Robert H. Lavenda

Chapter 1
  • The Anthropological Perspective

Anthropology aims to describe in the broadest
sense what it means to be human.
Anthropology The study of human nature, human
society, and the human past.
The anthropological perspective is
  • holistic
  • comparative
  • field based
  • evolutionary

  • Holism
  • Describes how anthropology tries to integrate
    all that is known about human beings and their
    activities at the highest and most inclusive

  • Comparison
  • Requires anthropologists to consider
    similarities and differences in as wide a range
    of human societies as possible before
    generalizing about human nature, human society,
    or the human past.

  • Evolution
  • Anthropologists place their observations about
    human nature, human society, or the human past in
    a temporal framework that takes into
    consideration change over time.

Anthropology relies on the concept of culture to
explain the diversity of human ways of life.
  • Culture
  • Sets of learned behavior and ideas that human
    beings acquire as members of society.
  • Human beings use culture to adapt and to
    transform the world in which they live.

In the United States today, anthropology is
generally considered to have 5 major subfields
  • biological anthropology
  • cultural anthropology
  • linguistics
  • archaeology
  • applied pnthropology

  • Biological anthropology
  • The subfield of anthropology that looks at human
    beings as biological organisms and tries to
  • what characteristics make them different from
    other organisms and
  • what characteristics they share.

Biological anthropology began as an attempt to
classify all the worlds populations into races.
  • By the early 20th century, some anthropologists
    and biologists were arguing that race was a
    cultural label invented by human beings to sort
    people into groups and that races with distinct
    and unique sets of biological attributes simply
    did not exist.

  • After World War II, the new physical
    anthropology that Washburn developed at the
    University of California, Berkeley, repudiated
    racial classification and shifted attention to
    patterns of variation and adaptation within the
    human species as a whole.

  • Two specialties within biological anthropology
  • Primatology
  • The study of nonhuman primates, the closest
    living relatives of human beings.
  • Paleoanthropology
  • The search for fossilized remains of humanitys
    earliest ancestors.

  • Cultural anthropology
  • The subfield of anthropology that shows how
    variation in the beliefs and behaviors of members
    of different human groups is shaped by sets of
    learned behaviors and ideas that human beings
    acquire as a member of societythat is, by
  • Cultural anthropologists study cultural
    diversity in all living human societies,
    including their own.

  • Cultural anthropologists gather information
    through fieldwork.
  • Fieldworkers gain insight into another culture by
    participating with members in social activities
    and by observing those activities as outsiders.
    This research method, known as participant-observa
    tion, is central to cultural anthropology.

  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Approaches cultural diversity by relating varied
    forms of language to their cultural contexts.

  • Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols
    used to encode ones experience of the world and
    of others.
  • Linguistic anthropologists study language, not
    only as a form of symbolic communication, but
    also as a major carrier of important cultural

  • Archaeology
  • A cultural anthropology of the human past, with
    interests ranging from the earliest stone tools
    to twentieth-century garbage dumps.

  • Applied anthropology
  • Uses information from other anthropological
    specialties to solve practical cross-cultural
    problems in areas such as health care and
    economic development.
  • Some applied anthropologists have become
    management consultants some carry out market
    research, and their findings may contribute to
    the design of new products others have become
    involved in policy issues.

  • Medical anthropology
  • A form of applied anthropology that concerns
    itself with human health, particularly the
    factors that contribute to disease or illness and
    the ways that human populations deal with disease
    or illness.

  • Critical medical anthropologists link questions
    of human health and illness in local settings to
    social, economic, and political processes
    operating on a national or global scale.
  • They pay attention to the way social divisions
    based on class, race, gender, and ethnicity can
    block access to medical attention or make people
    more vulnerable to disease and suffering.

  • Anthropology involves learning about the kinds of
    organisms we human beings are, the various ways
    we live our lives, and how we make sense of our
  • Studying anthropology can equip you to deal with
    people from different cultural backgrounds in a
    less threatened, more tolerant manner.