01_intro_6pp - Cultural Anthropology Anthropology 0510-210...

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Unformatted text preview: Cultural Anthropology 8/31/07 Anthropology 0510-210 Cultural Anthropology Professor William Middleton Some of Anthropology's "Big" questions What makes us human? Are there certain things that all human societies share? What are they? What makes individual societies unique? What is the meaning of human diversity? How do societies work, fail, and change over time? More Anthropological questions Is human behavior determined by biology or the environment ? Do environmental constraints determine the structure of society? What is the role of the individual in society? How do societies create and maintain order? How do societies care for their members? How does Anthropology answer these questions? Direct interaction between the Anthropologist and their subjects Observation (non-experimental) Generalization from specific cases (a single society) Testing generalizations between cases (between societies) Cross-cultural comparison What is Culture? What, exactly, do Anthropologists study? Culture Culture is not an attribute of social class Fine arts and music? 1 Cultural Anthropology 8/31/07 A Culture is not a group of people or a nation Culture is not a concrete entity that exists independently of Human Beings Groups are referred to a societies Culture is a system of shared beliefs, customs, knowledge, and understandings About Religion Supernatural creatures Artistic Expression About Dance 2 Cultural Anthropology 8/31/07 Gender roles About Food About material culture, such as fish hooks Or other things And almost every other aspect of human behavior and belief When we look at different societies, we often see many of the same sorts of things happening, but in ways that are unique to each culture Different societies each find their own solution to universal human challenges As different societies each find their own solution to specific challenges, so do different groups within a single society Culture is non-normative Rather, there are multiple modes that reflect discrete sub-cultures There is no single, modal value in a culture 3 Cultural Anthropology 8/31/07 Culture is a system to organize diversity rather than enforce conformity Culture It exists in our minds American culture is an amalgamation of many distinct sub-cultures that share some of the same basic beliefs but are different in others It cannot be studied directly In contemporary societies, culture is studied through the observation of behavior Direct observation and interaction with the subjects (informants), in their daily lives, is what sets anthropology apart from other disciplines which study similar subjects, such as sociology or psychology What people do, what they say, and what they tell us about their beliefs Cultural Anthropology often is associated with "primitive" or "pristine" societies. Today, anthropological research takes place in modern, industrial cities as often as it does in "exotic" locations This is a legacy of the early days of anthropological research that focused on evolutionary stages of society 4 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course LIBART 0510-210-0 taught by Professor Middleton during the Winter '07 term at RIT.

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