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Ses1_OPENER - 21A.100 Professor James Howe WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION September 9 2004 Welcome to the course which is an introduction to cultural or

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21A.100 – Professor James Howe WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION September 9, 2004 Welcome to the course, which is an introduction to cultural or sociocultural anthropology We will have two lectures and one discussion a week. Most of the requirements (a final exam, series of six papers adding up to about twenty pages; at least an hour a week of discussion) is set by the MIT Humanities Distribution system. This lecture will be devoted to briefly introducing the field of anthropology. For really serious introductions to the field, you should consult a textbook. Anthropology was called the science of man. We now avoid the assumption that the human species is entirely male, might say instead the science of humanity Still pretty nervy to make that claim, as if sociology, economics, history etc. weren't sciences of humanity Anthropology is different in that it has the broadest scope. Over time, covers several million years, from the first protohuman ancestors to the present. Widest range of societies, from small hunter-gatherer bands to modern countries. Until recently, anthropology was less concerned with modern complex societies than with so-called savages or primitives. Anthropologists might claim that they also covered modern society but they actually didn't typically study it. Studied ancient past societies; ancient humans and pre-humans; and contemporary “primitives”. As a recognized discipline, anthropology mostly developed in the 19 th century. It was a child of colonialism, imperialism, and the expansion of the West. It was the means by which “we” studied “them”. Anthropologists now try to live down that past, but we cannot deny it. Many academic disciplines act as if they were established by God, that their boundaries with other disciplines and their internal foci were established by God or pure logic. But many are the product of accidents or historical peculiarities. That is certainly the case for us. There is a unity to what we do, but also mess and complications. Anthropology has traditionally been said to have four fields. Early anthropologists were expected to be able to work in at least two, maybe all four. No one today does that. 4 fields are physical or biological anthropology; archaeology; anthropological linguistics; cultural anthropology.
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In everyday speech, when people say anthropology, sometimes they mean all four fields, sometimes just cultural. In this course you will get a little physical anthropology, but otherwise nothing but cultural. Which is plenty for one course. At MIT, archaeology and what little physical we teach are in another department, which is increasingly the case around the country. Today I will give you a quick and very rough sketch of the other three fields, telling you mostly what you won’t get in this course, giving you a feel for the larger field. Archaeology, the study of the past through physical remains.
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course ANTHR 100 taught by Professor Howe during the Fall '09 term at MIT.

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Ses1_OPENER - 21A.100 Professor James Howe WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION September 9 2004 Welcome to the course which is an introduction to cultural or

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