Chap1 - Contents The Subficlds of Anthropology...

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Unformatted text preview: Contents The Subficlds of Anthropology PFrysz'crzf .«1mhropclogy PM}: fsmrs'c .4 rd: (2 sofa-g Ararhropofagfmf f.iugm'5!z'cs C'zaz’rm'm' Arzcr’zr'ogfiofogy The Perspective of Cultural Anthropologfi“ Hoh’sm Camper m m '2'; m KcZan'I'fsm The Contribution of Anthropoiogj.‘ Czdrazr'af anrhropologisrs investigate the: diversify of harm»: ways of fife. How and u-‘hj' son'sm'm' have developed so marry differcnr kinds of religion {.5 one {mpon'am qua.us of Cidnn'al anrhropofog}: 'Hu's .Tr'r‘nzrau pries: 5.5 officiating ar .4 (‘r'anmrmm n-thro-pol—o-gy [NL anthmpologia, fr. anthrop- + Jogfa 40ng 1? the science of man; esp: the study of man in relation to distribution, origin, classification, and relationship of races, physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture. ' As this definition from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary implies, anthropology is the study of humanity in the broadest possible framework. Anthropologists are interested in almost eve- rything about people. We want to know when and where the human species originated, how and why we evolved into our present form, and the ways in which this biological evolution continues to affect us today. Anthropologists want to know about the technological, economic, political, and intellectual develop- ment of humanity. We want to know the extent to which differ— ent human populations vary in their biological and social charao teristics and to understand why these differences exist. Anthropologists try to explain why peeple in some places believe that sickness is caused by dead ancestors, whereas others claim that tarantulas throw magical darts into their bodies, and still others tell you that the spirits of evil humans leave their bodies at night and Seek out the internal organs of their victims, which they devour from the inside out. We want to understand the rules that you know unconsciously that instruct you when to how your head and speak reverently, when to sound smart, when to act dumb, and when to cuss like a sailor. Anthropologists are in— terested in why Americans eat cattle but devout Hindus do not, and in why some New Guinea people periodically engorge them— selves with pork but some Middle Easterners regard pig flesh as unclean- We want to know why Balinese are fascinated by cock fights, Spaniards by bull fights, Thais by fish fights, and North Americans by people fights. In short, anthropologists are liable to be curious about practically everything human: our evolution, our genes, our bodies, our emotions, our behaviors, and our thoughts. _ If you already have the impression that anthropology is a broad field and that anthropologists have quite diverse interests, you are right. In fact, it is commonly Said that the main'distin- guishing characteristic of anthropology—the thing that makes it different from the many other fields that also include people as their subject matter—is its broad scope. A good way to emphasize this broad Scope is to say that anthropologists are interested in all human beings—whether living or dead, “primitive” or “civi- lized"——and that they are interested in many different aspects of humans, including their skin color, family lives, political systems, tools, personality types, and languages. No place or time is too remote to escape the anthmpologist’s notice. No dimension of hu- ‘tezre of Anthropology mankind, from genes to art styles, is outside the anthropologist’s attention. he Subfields of Anthoology Anthropology as a discipline, then, is enormously wide ranging. Of course, no single individual can be equally expert. in all of humanity nor in all aspects of humans. Although the field is'diverse, as a practical matter individual anthropologists narrow the scope of their interests. During their academic training, anthropologists today nearly always specialize in One of four subdisciplines, each of which focuses on only one or a few dimensions of humankind. One subfield is con- cerned primarily with the evolutionary origins and biological diversity of the human species. An- other deals mainly with the technological and cultural dC\ elop ment of humanit}r over long time spans. The Other two focus on the languages and cultures of contemporary and historically recent human pOpulations. i’hysieal Anthropology As its name implies. the subfield of physical an— thropolog' deals with the physical and biological aspects of human populations. It is concerned with topics such as the biological evolution of humankind; the social behavior and ecologi‘ of our closest living relatives, monkeys and apes; and the physical variation of living populations. One subject investigated by physical anthro— pology is the emergence of Homo sepiens (the scientific name of humanity} from prehuman, apelilte anccstors. This specialization is known as paleoanthropology. Over the decades of tedious searching and painstaking excavations, paleoan— thropologists have traced the outlines of how humans evolved anatomically and behaviorally. Although our knowledge remains incomplete, most paleoanthropologists presen’tl}i believe that the divergence between the evolutionary lines leading to modern species of African apes (chim- panzees and gorillas) and to modern humans oc- curred at least five million years ago. Chapter t o Other physical anthropologists, called pri- matologists, Specialize in the evolution, anatomy, social behavior, and ecology of primates, the tax— onomic order to which humans belong. Through studying fossils of extinct primates and compar— ing the anatomy of living species, primatologists can establish the evolutionary relationships be— tween various primate species. By conducting field studies of how living primates forage, mate, move around, and interact socially, primatolo— gists hope to shed light on the forces that affected early human populations, and thus help us under— stand how and why we evolved. Studies conduct- ed of ground—dwelling monkeys and apes. such as baboons, gorillas, and chimpanzees, have been especially fruitful in this regard. Another type of biological anthropologist studies how and why human pepulations vary physically- All humans are members of a single species. Nonetheless, the residents of different continents once were more isolated from one an— other than they are today, and during this separa- Physical anthropologists investigate the biological dimensions oi humans, including our evolution, physical diversity, and the behavior of primates, our closest nonhuman relatives. Here primatologisi Sarah Blalier Hrdy weighs a Iangur, a spouse of monkeyr that lives in india. The Nature of Anthropology 3 tion they evolved differences in height, overall bodily form, skin color, blood chemistry. and oth- er physical traits. Anthropologists who study human physical variation seek to measure and explain the biological differences between human populations. Prehistoric Archaeology Along with physical anthropology, prehistoric'ar— chaeologylis probabl}r the subfield that most peo— ple think of when they hear the word anthropolo- gy. Archaeology is the study of the way of life of past peoples through the excavation and analysis of the physical remains they left behind, such as tools, ornaments, and other artifacts: plant pol- len; and animal and human bones. Modern ar- chaeology is divided into two major kinds of study, one "historic", the other “prehistoric.” Historic archaeologists use the evidence pro— vided by excavated remains to enhance our un- derstanding of historic peoples—Wheels, peoples who had writing and about whom Written records are available. For example, historic ar- chaeologists might work in an early colonial set- tlement and use the artifactual materials they dis‘ cover to supplement historical records such as diaries, letters, land records, and tax-collection An archaeological Field crew under the direction of Michaei Whalen excavates a site in the American Southwest. Prehistoric archaeologists attempt to reconstruct the past by careful and systematic excavation of the maledal remains of prehistoric peoples. 4 The Nature of Anthropology documents. One type of historic archaeologist, the classical archaeologist, deals primarily with the ancient civiliZations and empires of Europe and the Midd1e East, inCluding Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Persia. In contrast, prehistoric archaeologists investi- gate human prehistory—“that is, the periods of time in a region before writing developed. The painstaking excavation and careful interpretation of these remains are often the only scientific means available to discover how people lived in the prehistoric past. Archaeological research also is the only way to trace the outlines of human technological and cultural change over the many thousands of years before written records were made. Modern prehistoric archaeologists attempt to learn more than merely “what happened in prehistory.” Reconstructing the ways of living of long-extinct peoples is only one of the aims of this subfield. Archaeologists want to know not only what happened, but also why particu— lar things happened at particular times and places. One major question, for example, is why people gradually began to cultivate plants, when the hunting and collecting-of wild ani— mals and plants seemed to suffice for tens of thousands of years. Another important ques tion is why civilization developed not just once but a minimum of three or four times in var ious parts of the world. In the attempt to an- swer causal questions such as these, archaeolo- gists have developed highly sophisticated methods of excavation and laboratory analysis. Anthmpological Linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguists describe and analyze the sound pat- terns, combinations of sounds, meanings, and structure of sentences in human languages. They also attempt to determine how two or more lan- guages are related historically. Modern linguists are especially interested in whether all human languages share any universal features. Some re- cent work suggests that human infants are born with knowledge of a set of generalized rules that allow them to discover the specific rules of the language around them and to formulate new sentences by applying these rules. Not all linguists consider themselves anthro pologists. Anthropological linguists usually focus on unwritten languages and are especially (3011* cerned with relatiOns between language and other aspects of human behavior and thought- An anthro pological linguist might deseribe and analyze a lan~ guage hitherto unknown to linguistic science, but he or she is likel}r also to be interested in how the language is used in various social contexts- For ex~ ample, what speech style must One use with people of higher social standing? How does a local political leader use language to earn' people’s allegiance? What can the naming of various parts of the natu— ral and social environment tell us about peOple's perceptions of these environments? Anthropological linguists also investigate the similarities between the struCture of language and culture. Language is one kind of shared knowledge: speakers know unconsciously how to combine sounds into sequences that can be inter- preted correctly by others. It is lilccljyr that we can learn much about culture~—another.- kind of shared knowledge—by studying language. We re- turn to this subject in chapter 4. Cultural Anthropolog’ Cultural anthropology (also called social or soci- ocultural anthropology) is most concerned with the Cultural and social dimensions of contempo— rary and historically recent human populations. Sociocultural anthropologists conduct studies of living peOples, most often by visiting and living among a particular people for an extended period of time, usually a year or longer. During these periods of fieldwork, most cultural anthropolo— gists attempt to learn and communicate in the local language and to live in close contact'with the people. Their aim is to learn how the local society is organized. how people Customarin be— have in certain situations. how they stage their rituals, how the local political system works, and so forth. When cultural anthropologists return from their fieldwork experience, they report their findings in a book or in scholarlyjournals, so that the information collected becomes part of the ac- cumulated knowledge about humanity. These written descriptions of how a single human popu- lation lives are called ethnographic? (ethnogra- phy means “writing about 'a people“). Chapter t Cultural anthropologists usually collect data on contemporary peoples by living with them, often in much the same way as the people themselves. Here lieldworker Richard Lee soclalizes with the Ban a southern Africa people who until recently lived by hunting and gathering. Through their own fieldwork and through reading others' ethnographics, sociocultural an- thropologists hope to gain a knowledge of the enormous social and cultural variation that exists among the many human populations of the world. (An introduction to this diversity in human ways of living is found in part 3 of this book). But ethnography is not the only interest of social anthropologists. We attempt to do more than merely record and describe the ways of life of peoples of various regions. We want to know not just how humanity is diverse in some respects and uniform in others but also the reasons for cliversit}r and uniformity. We seek explanations of particular behaviors as well as for differences and similarities between the world’s peoples. When cultural anthropologists attempt to an— alyze and explain the way of life of the people of a region, or to compare a variety of ways of living in order to test hypotheses about the causes of human lifeways in general. they are practicing ethnology. Ethnologists seek to discover the causes of the differences and similarities between the customs and beliefs of diverse human popula— tions. As we shall see in the following chapters, ethnologists have proposed and attempted to test a great many hypothescs about the causes of dif- ferences and similarities between peoples. and about how one custom or belief is related to other customs and beliefs. The Na lure of Anthropology 5 m The Perspective of Cultural Anthropology Taken as a whole, then, anthropology is indeed a very broad discipline. One or another kind of an- thropologist studies human biology, prehistory, language, and contemporary ways of life. Even by itself, cultural anthropology, which is the main subject of this text, greatly overlaps with other disciplines that study people. For example, an ethnographer is likely to collect information on a society’s agriculture, leadership patterns, be— liefs about the cosmos, music, and art forms. The ficldworl-cer might therefore find it useful to be acquainted with the work of economists, geogra— phers, political scientists, philosophers, musicolo- gists, and artists or art historians. Likewise, a sociocultural anthropologist engaged in a study of some region may read the ‘WOI‘liS of historians, sociologists, novelists, economists, psychologists, and political scientists who also write about the region. Cultural anthropology cuts across many disciplines, encompassing many of the subjects that other scholars consider their special prov— ince—law, religion, politics, literature, and so on. Do cultural anthropologists then regard their field as the master science of living humanity? Indeed, some do. But there is no need for such academic imperialism. Researchers in other so— cial sciences and the humanities investigate some subjects better than do anthropologists, just as anthropologists have their own unique contribu- tion to make to studies of other kinds. Most cul- tural anthropologists believe that the main differ- ence between their discipline and other human sciences lies not in the subjects they investigate so much as in the approach they take to their stud- ies. This approach involves analyzing human ways of life holistically, comparatively, and rela- tivistically. These three elements of the anthropo- logical perspectiVe on humanity together make up the unique contribution of anthropology. so it is worthwhile introducing each in some detail. Holism Cultural anthropologists are constantly aware that whatever they are investigating in some pop— 6 The Nature ol Anthropology ulation is only a small part of a total system of customs, values, beliefs, and attitudes. They have found that any particular aspect of this system cannot be understood in isolation from others. This holistic perspective means that no single aspect of 'the lifeway of a population makes sense unless its relationships to other aspects are ex- plored. Holism requires, for example, that an an- thropologist studying the religious beliefs and rituals of a population must investigate how the religion is influenced by the local family life, the economy, the pattern of political leadership, the relationship between the sexes, and a host of oth— er factors. This effort to study everything about a population in order to gain full insight into any- thing about their way of life is one reason why ethnographic fieldwork requires extended visits and close contact with the local people. Why do sociocultural anthropologists insist on studying a people from a holistic perspective? There are two important reasons. First, various aspects of the way of life of a population do influ— ence one another. We discuss this integration in the next chapter and provide numerous examples of it throughout the text. Second, because of the history of our field, cultural anthropologists have devoted most research to non-Western and preindustrial pcoples-——those that are knowri popularly as tribal or primitive. The lifeways of such peoples are different in many respects from those of people who live in industrialized socie- ties. We therefore cannot assume that the various aspects of their lives fit together in the same way as our own. We must treat the interconnections between family and economy, religion and poli— tics, and so on as unknowns. By adopting a holis~ tic perspective, fieldworkers try to minimize the chances of misunderstanding a foreign lifeway. =araiivisrn 1 "\ in the early decades of its existe nce, sociocultural anthropology was concerned mainly with the non-Western peoples of the world, who often act— ed and thought quite differently from members of civilized nations. Anthropologists soon learned that ideas and concepts that applied to their oum societies often did not work else-where. They learned to mistrust, for example, opinions es- poused by French scholars about human nature when the only humans the scholar had ever en- countered lived in western EurOpe. Indeed, a fa- vorite exercise of anthropologists in the early part of the twentieth century was to use their knowl- edge of non-Western peoples to shoOt holes in theories of human nature and of human society formulated by scholars in other disciplines. Ari— thropologists believe that any valid theories about humans must be formulated and tested with a comparative perspective. The ways of life of human beings in different times and places are far too diverse for any theory to be accepted un- less it has been tested in a wide range of human populations. The failure to adopt such a comparative per— spective continues to afflict popular ideas about humanity. We can best understand the kinds of dead ends to which such ideas can lead by an example. In the 19605 an eminent zoologist wrote a book that became enormously popular. One of the "facts" about people he tried to explain is why we are pair bondedfl—that is, why one human male establishes and maintains sexual and mari- tal relationships with one human female, and vice versa. He believed this pair bonding was rooted in our biological makeup, which in turn was caused by the way our ancestors had to adapt to male hunting in open country some million or so years ago. The problem is that the behavior that was supposedly rooted in our common biolo- gywtlie pair bond—is in fact a characteristic of only some humans. In only some societies do men and women establish a pair bond (of course, the zoologist lived in one such society). Because anthropologists are likely to know—or at least to take the trouble to find out—about the diversity of human societies, they are less likely to make the mistake of believing that the behaviors found in their own society arenatural to humankind. They know that such "universal Characteristics of human nature“ usually turn out out to be univer- sal at all- They know that facts musr be validated and theories tested with a comparative perspec— tive. RelativiSIn The concept of cultural relativism tor relativity) is an important one to anthropologiSts. It has two meanings. The first refers to an attitude about the relative worthiness of ways of life. The second refers to a methodological approach to studying societies that differ from our own. First, cultural relativism means that we view Chapter 1 other ways of acting, thinking, and feeling as just as valid as those of our own cultural tradition. Relativisrn means that .we do not view foreign lifeways as inferior to our own; that is, we do not take an ethnqcentric attitude towards members of other cultural traditions. Ethnocentrism is the opinion that the moral standards, values, man- ners, knowledge, and so. forth of one's own cul- ture are superior to those of other people. Viewing other people's customs, moral stan- dards, religious practices, and so on relativistical- ly is an idea that is easy to grasp but difficult to put into practice. Most of us are brought up in societies that value the right of people to elect their own political leaders; that allow freedcim of speech, religion, assembly. and so on; that give lip service to equality of opportunity regardless of race and sex; and that allow individuals to choose their own spouses. Hereditary privileges, suppres- sion of what we conceive to be individual rights, racism and sexism, arranged marriages, and oth— er practices may he as abhorrent to anthropolo- gists as individuals as to any other member of a democratic seciety. Anthropologists are as enti- tied to be as personally offended by such prac- tices as anyone else. Thinking relativistically, then, does not mean that one should have no per— sonal opinions and make no moral judgments. Rather, it means that we realize that each human group’s ways of acting, thinking, and feeling are the result of its long history, and that we see the full implications of this fact: the present genera— tion (you and i) did not think up values like de— in0cracy, freedom, and equal opportunity, but in- herited these values front our past. As individuals. you and i deserve no more credit for these ideas than we do blame for the actions of' some of our ancestors who enslaved Africans and massacred Native Americans. If we find cultural attitudes and practices such as male dominance and authoritarianism morally abhorrent, we have no right to feel morally superior, for we as indi- viduals did not create the standards that allow such judgments to be made. Relativism obviOuSly implies toleration be— tween the peoples of the world, a toleration that comes from the knowledge that all of us are largely a product of the traditions into which We happen to have been born and of the conditions under which we happen to be living. The value of a relativistic attitude towards other ways of life is one of the main practical lessons of anthropolo- The Nature or Anthropology 7 gy. Understanding and even appreciation of peo- ple who do not act or think the way we do cer- tainly becomes more valuable as improved communication and transportation bring the var- ious peoples of the world into frequent contact with one another. In addition to teaching tolerance between members of different cultural traditions, relativ- isrn is an approach to the scientific description and understanding of different ways of life. This approach—uthe second meaning of relativism—re- quires that the anthrOpologist search for the sen- sibility and rationality of actions and beliefs that seem puzzling. A good deal of sociocultural an~ thropology tries to make sense out of the behav- iors and beliefs of other people that, at first glance, seem nonsensical or irrational. Why do some hungry people refuse to eat things they know are edible? Why do some people believe that others have the supernatural power to make them sick, when in fact no one has such powers? Why in some societies is it customary for well-to- do families to give away their possessions? Why are there customs such as human sacrifice, infanr ticide, cannibalism, self—torture, painful initiation rituals, and amputation of fingers when a relative dies? Approaching the explanation of such behav- iors and beliefs relativistically means assuming that they are not attributable to simple ignorance, blind superstition, or collective perversion, but that they are sensible and intelligible once we understand enough about them and their causes and effects. In part 3 of this text, we explore nu— merous examples of attempts to interpret strange customs and beliefs rclativistically by determin— ing how they fit into other aspects of a people’s way of life. ..._. m?» The Contribution of Anthropology What unique insights does anthropology offer about humanity? Of what practical use is the in— formation that members of the various subdis— ciplines have gathered about the past and present of humankind? At one level, such questions are irrelevant. The accumulation of scientific knowl- 8 The Nature of Anthropology edge about the natural and human world should be valued in its own right. The investigation of a particular subject need have no immediate practi- cal use to the society that sponsors it; its value may come both from its satisfaction of human curiosity and from its possible future applications to problem solving- Could Darwin-nor mid—nine teenth-century English society—have known that his theory of natural selection would be useful a century later to the solution of environmental problems? Did the physicist who first realized that mass could be converted into energy foresee nuclear power or, for that matter, the hydrogen bomb? We may not be able to see any apparent immediate practical value of the knowledge we gain about the world, but we cannot know the uses to which it might be put in the future. At another level, however, these questions de- mand an answer. The resources that any modern nation is prepared to devote to research are limit- ed, and it is perfectly valid to ask why they should be used to support one kind of study rather than others. In part 4 we say a great deal more abOut the specific contributions of knowledge derived from anthropological research to the solution of human problems. For now, we want to note some of the most general insights that anthropology offers. First, because of its broad scope, anthropolo- gy allows us to understand the biological, techno- logical, and cultural development of humanity over the longest possible time spans. Most of the Scientific data that we currently have about human biological evolution, prehistoric popula- tions, and tribal peoples were collected by anthros pologists. Because much of this knowledge has become a part of the cultural heritage of industri— alized nations, where it is recorded in textbooks and taught (or often mistaught) in schools, it is easy to forget that someone had to discover and interpret it. For example, only in the late nine— teenth century did scientists generally accept that people are related to apes, and only in the late twentieth century did some of the details about the closeness of this relationship become appar- out. But it is not just facts that anthropology has contributed to our storehouse of accumulated knowledge. Theoretical ideas and concepts from anthropology have been incorporated as well. For example, most people in modern nations are aware of the concept of culture—shared and so- cially transmitted habits and beliefs—and use the term in their everyday lives. They are not aware that the scientific meaning of this word, as used in the phrase “Japanese culture," is not very old. Into the nineteenth century it was popularly be- lieved that the varying ways of acting, thinking, and feeling of different human populations were transmitted across the generations not by learn- ing but by biological heredity. Patterns of behav~ ior and thought were believed to be rooted in an individual's biological constitution. Because there were easily observable differences in the physical appearances between members of different races, it was thought that physical differences also ac— counted for differences in behaviors and beliefs. In other words, differences that we now know are due largely to cultural inheritance were confused with racial differences caused by biological inher- itance. Although they were not solely responsible for clarifying the distinction between culture and race, anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Mar- garet Mead, and Ruth Benedict made major con- tributions by showing that differences in culture cannot be attributed to biological heredity. Again, we see that anthropology already has added to our accumulated knowledge of humankind but that most people are not aware of this contribu tion. A second contribution of anthropology, and especially of the sociocultural subfield, is that it helps us to avoid some of the misunderstanding that commonly arises when individuals of differ— ent cultural traditions come into contact. As we shall see in future chapters, our upbringing in a particular society influences us in subtle ways of which we are not aware. North Americans gener- ally know how to “read” each other's actions on the basis of speech styles or body language, but theSe cues do not necessarily mean the same things to people from different traditions. A North American trying to appear competent to a Latin American may come across instead as arro— gant and egoustical. A Canadian businessman peddling his wares in Turkey may wonder why his host will not cut the chitchat and get down to business, whereas the Turk wonders why the VlSl- tor thinks they can do business before they have become better acquainted. Anthropology can help make us aware that when we interact with people from other cultural traditions, their actions are not always intended to mean what we take them to mean, and therefore much miscommunication Chapter 1 can be avoided. This is a lesson that diplomats and corporations engaged in international busi- ness are belatedly beginning to learn (see Box 1:1). Third, the holistic, comparative, and relativ- istic approach of anthrOpology offers members of industrialized societies their best hope of discov- ering how the quality of their lives compares to that of preindustrial peeple. The popular stereo- type of “tribal” or "primitive" people—a stereo- type derived partly from Tarzan and cowboy rnoviesmis somewhat contradictory- In our own society we usually see "savages" as either dirty or noble. When we see them as dirty savages, We ;magine them in caves or grass huts, grabbing out a meager living with only the bare rudiments of technology, ignorant even of the fact that they could grow crops from seeds. Their long hours of drudgery are interrupted only by their bodily desires for sleep, sex, and sustenance, and by the periodic frenzied ritual dances required by their superstitions. The men beat "their" females, kick their dogs, and steal one another’s property when :hey get the chance. As we turn on our TVS, sip our Perrier, and kick back in our recliners, we are glad we were born into the material comforts and security of the twentieth century. When we see preindustrial people as noble savages, we imagine them living in harmony with :neir environments, apologizing to the spirit of ea h deer they are forced to kill to survive. Their wants are simple: food, family, and fire are all they need and all they desire. Women are equal, the elderly reSpected. Private property is un- known, sharing universal, conflict rare, murder unimaginable. As we return from a hectic day at the office and leek the doors and windows behind as to keep everybody elSe out, we wish we could trade our lives for theirs, or at least that we could recOver some of the humanness that we seem to have lost. We imagine life in a natural state, then, as either hell or paradise, perhaps depending mainly on how we feel about our own lives at the mo- ment. Neither of these images of preindustrial peoples is accurate. The truth about such either/ or stereotypes often is somewhere in between the two extremes, but not in this case. The truth is that our knowledge about preindustrial peoples shows that their ways of life are too diverse to fit either of our contradictory images of them and too complex to say that they simply fall some- The Nature of Anthropology 9 . . a ' .gu'ltura1__diflére' .e bec’ mes necessa" newspapers " _ international b'ustness need to develop more understanding of coltureldiiferences. By SEl-l‘i’ON JOi-l. Associated Press Writer - N EW YOR‘ K '{APJ—A woman executive ._,on-the brink ‘ of clinching a big business deal, abruptly caile'd off negotiations with Arab businessmen who had persistently ignored her and talked oniy to her subordinates. '. ' ‘ ‘ - “1 don’t care how much money l'm going to lose by walking outon them like this," she fumed. ‘fi lust cannot stand thishu‘miliating male chuauvinist game any more. i'rn through." The woman. vice president of a large US. company, got so angry she forgot itwas only a game. says Ellen Flaider,who coonseis US. firms in international negotiation tactics. “But if she cou ldn’t tolerate the chauvinistic attitude of some men in aciassroom. whatwould happen when she has to face ‘real’ Arab businessmen?” Ms. Raider Said in a recent interview. It's a game business needs to learn to play. The U.S. trade deficit hit a record $148.5 billion in 1985. as I imports in December alone exceeded exports by $17.4 billion. the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Ms. Raider is one of bait a dozen "cross-cultural consultants” offering advice and training in dealing with foreign buyers. ' “There was a time when we sold our goods on world markets with conviction that they were the best—ii not the only—products in the world." Ms. Raider said- “But a strong competition from foreign countries in recent years has changed all that. “We are now forced to scramble like everybody else in order to sell our goods overseas." That takes more than a good product. and a skilled negotiator. “You have to know local customs. business 10 The Nature of Anthropology “a ‘95 Wlhtihsee ensé'séiiih -: nette _ . .. -. . .. .. . h USATiirith'adlasfsdr alérse'céntrast- itheSigningserenidpyi’hdiiei‘si.the. Japanese'éitébu _ e' o'egaii'i. saris the'contr‘aét I- ’ -‘ intent-i3}. His s_¢ruii;_riy'séerii'és endless. ' - -- - _. The'Aiiter" "as “aerated and dilated to take sine 'ofi' - eachitem; _f_ ' 7 1; " 21-. - 'What the .u; _. _ _ _ _ it know. darkest-tits,“ wasthatthej'Jlapanesepresidentwas'mereiy,; ' ' ' demonstrating'his'aLithority, netbacking'out. With morel'than 4 million Americans gdirig abroad on business trips each year. even iittie mistakes add up. Noteven the giantco'rnpanies are immune. : ' When Coca+Cola Co. finally got'an entree into - -, China’s vast—market, its {cool sales people came up“, with four Chinese"_¢haracters_for a phonetical equivalentofthe softdrink: ‘fKe Kou Ke La." That translated as. “Bite the wax tadpole." Coke tried again. and found a closer equivalent with a better meanin g; "KO lieu KoLefi' which tranisiatejs; “May the mouth rejoice." Sales rose sharply.‘according to Lewis Griggs, produceroi T'Going International." a' film pitched at large corporations and business schools. .' " ' ' ' _ ' in a series ofto'ur films, .Griggs makes the point-that fundamentat Cultural differences are important in business negotiations. “in Saudi Arabia, you should never inquire about one's wife [sic] white in Mexico. it’s essential that you do so," Griggs says. “And in Japan, small gifts are. almost obligatory in business situations whereas gift— giving is prohibited in China.” ' George Fienwick oi Flenwick Associates of Scottsdale, Ariz.. says that minor misunderstandings and irritants can snowball into lost opportunities'._ 'j “Cultural differencesdon't cause a trade deficit." he said. “but understanding them can help reduce it.”_ _ ,3. (D 0 c. 1". <_.. .m- 1. :1 Source: Copyrighted by the Associated Press. Reprinted by permission. ' where in the middle. We attempt to convey some of this diversity and complexity in part 3. Anthro~ pology can offer no final answer to questions like, Is civilization worth it? or Has the qualityr of our lives improved? What anthropology—and an- thropology alone-{art do is to reveal the alter— nate ways of living deVeloped by diverse seg- ments of humanity. Barring global catastrophe. we are unlikely to return to any of these alternal times, but at teast the information gained by eth— nographers allows eaCh of us individually to judge the benefits against the costs of life in an industrialized world. Fourth, because of its comparative approach to humanity, anthropology allows us to identify which aspects of our own way of life are amena- ble to change. For example, we often hear state- ments like “Men have been going to war since the beginning of time,” the implication being tlut men have always fought each other and are doomed to continue to do so. Or we used to hear that women are unsuited to hold high political offices or managerial jobs because of their physi- ology, which supposedly gives them nurturing persorialities and snakes lhcni unwilling to make the tough decisions. Or we may hear that the prof- it motive is universal, racial hatred is innate, peo- ple are basically lazy, all societies are di\idcd into haves and have-riots, and all humans need to he— licve in a god. Without a comparative perspective on hu- mankind, we have no way ofjudging the truth of such ideas. Unless we look beyond the bounda— ries of our own nations, we cannot separate what is unique to our way of life from what is general to all people. And if we cannot tell what is unique from what is general, we do not know our chances of eliminating warfare, sexism. racism. poverty, and crime. If these problems turn out to afflict all peeplcs, then the}? may indeed bodilli— cult to solve. If, on the other hand, they turn on: to afflict only some societies, then we can be fair— l_\' confident that we can change them through public policy or private actions. Fifth, many cultural anthropologists use their expertise in particular subjects to formulate practical ways of coping with immediate social problems. flirtation? anthropologists, who investi— gate the interrelationships between human health, nutrition, and cultural beliefs and prac- tices, have helped hospitals and agencies deliver health care more effectively to many people throughout the world. Because the spread of Che;- rsr ? Neither anthropologists nor anyone else knows how to solve worldwide problems such as overpopulation and hunger. But me comparative, holistic, and relatlwstic perspectives of mod-- stn antnropology can lead to fresh insights on such problems. pathogenic organisms is affected by things such as a people’s eating patterns and sexual behavior, medical anthropologists also work with epidemi- ologists in identifying the effects of such cultural practices on the transmission of disease. Applied a: :rltropologt'sts bring a holistic approach to devel— opment agencies and other groups attempting to introduce planned changes to the hundreds of thousands of small villages in the world. Applied anthropologists may work as consultants for iii- .xtiturions such as the US. Agency for Internation— al Development, UNESCO. the World Bank, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Two of their major roles are to provide information or. target popula— tions and to advise agronomists, engineers, and other experts on how to adapt their projects to local conditions and local. needs. The ethnograph- ic information gathered by ecortoi-nic and ecologi- cal anthropologists on preindustrial agricultural and herding practices, landowner-Ship customs, technological efficiencies, settlement patterns, The N's-tore of Anthropology 11 and so forth, have proven useful to both indige— nous people and outside eXperts in designing changes compatible with a region’s cultural and economic conditions. These and other practical uses of anthropology are discussed further in part 4 of this text. Summary Anthropology studies human beings from a very broad framework. It differs from other disci— plines in the social sciences and humanities pri- marily because of its very broad scope. The field as a whole is concerned with all human beings of the past and present and at all levels of technolog- ical development. Anthropology is also interested in all aspects of humanity: biology, language. technology, art, politics, religion, and all other dimensions of human ways of living. As a practical necessity, however, anthropol~ ogists must specialize. Traditionally, the field is divided into four subdisciplines. Physical anthro— pology studies the biological dimensions of human beings, including our biological evolu— tion, the physical variations between contempo— rary populations, and the biology and behavior of nonhuman primates. Prehistoric archaeology is concerned with human prehistory, investigating topics such as technological development, long: term changes in social and political organization, and the evolution of agriculture and civilization. Anthropological linguistics studies language. con— centrating on nonwritten languages and investi— gating the interrelationships between language and other elements of a people’s way of life. Cul- tural anthropology, the main subject of this book, is concerned with the social and cultural dimen- sions of contemporary and historically recent populations. Cultural anthropologists conduct fieldwork among the people they study and de- Scribe the results of their investigations in books and articles called ethnographies. Cultural an- thropology is more than an empirical study, for the field is also concerned with making general— izations about and seeking explanations for simi— larities and differences among the world's peo— ples. Those who conduct comparative studies to achieve these theoretical goals are known as eth- nologists. ' 12 The Nature of Anthropology Cultural anthropologists are different fro: other scholars who study living people not sr: much by what they study as by their approach to their studies. There are three main characteristics of this approach. Holism is the attempt to discern and investigate the interrelatioaships amOng soci- ocultural phenomena. The comparative perspec- tive means that any attempt to understand hu- manity or to explain some element of human societies or behavior must consider a wide range of human ways of life. This is necessary because of the tendency of most people to regard the cus— toms and beliefs of their own society as products of human nature, when in fact most of their cus— toms and beliefs are products of their cultural tradition and social environment. Relativism is partly an attitude of toleration that cultural an‘ thropologists try to adopt when studying other peoples. It requires that anthropologists not be ethnocentric in their research, for each peoples' way of life has its own history and its own stan— dards of morality and decency. In addition to be— ing an attitude, relativism is an approach to the scientific description and analysis of societies. It requires reSearchers to search for the sensibility and rationality behind customs or beliefs that seem ridiculous, inhuman, or the product of silly superstitions. Anthropology as a whole has practical value in the modern world, and it is not as esoteric as many people think. Only anthropology allows us to see the development of human biology and culture over very long time spans. Most of the knowledge we have about human evolution, pre- historic populations, and modern tribal soeieties was discovered by anthropologists. Early anthro— pologists were instrumental in popularizing the concept of culture and in showing that cultural differences are not caused by racial differences. The value of inculcating understanding and toler- ance between citizens of different nations is an— other practical lesson of anthropology, one that is increasingly important as the economies of the world become more interdependent and as the development of weaponry makes the conse- quences of international misunderstanding more serious. The information that ethnographers have collected about alternative ways of being human allows us to judge the benefits against the costs of industrialization and progress. The comparative perspective of anthropology helps us to see which elements of our own sodeties are amenable to ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/24/2009 for the course IE, KAIST IE+HSS taught by Professor Various. during the Spring '09 term at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

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Chap1 - Contents The Subficlds of Anthropology...

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