Cultural Anthropology midterm Flashcards Preview

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology midterm > Flashcards

Flashcards in Cultural Anthropology midterm Deck (30)
Loading flashcards...

What did anthropology look like at the beginning of the 20th century?

- almost no fossil evidence of human origins

- racial classifications based on anthropometrics

- linguistics was only historical, reconstructing a protolanguage 


What are the major developments in physical anthropology?

- African fossils
- Timeline for the development of upright posture
- Neanderthals are no longer considered ancestors to modern humans
- Dating methods


What was the role of Gordon Childe in archeology?

- He put together all the available information from European countries to create a prehistoric chronology for Europe


What was the negative effect of the Chomskian revolution?

- anthropologists were turned away from discribing the world's lesser known languages - they switched to using bits of data from their own languages


Branislaw Malinowski

British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski is remembered as the father of the functionalist school of anthropology as well as for his role in developing the methods and the primacy of anthropological fieldwork. Malinowski first rose to prominent notice through his studies of Pacific Islanders, especially those conducted among the Trobriand Islanders whose marriage, trade, and religious customs he studied extensively. His best known works include his classic book Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) as well as Crime and Custom in Savage Society (1926), The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (1929), and the posthumously published Magic, Science, and Religion and Other Essays (1948). Malinowski helped develop the field of anthropology from a primarily evolutionary focus into sociological and psychological fields of enquiry. Some of the more noteworthy byproducts of his fieldwork in this direction was various evidence that debunked the Freudian notion of a universal Oedipal Complex and also showed that so-called primitive peoples are capable of the same types and levels of cognitive reasoning as those from more "advanced" societies. Malinowski's ideas and methodologies came to be widely embraced by the Boasian influenced school of American Anthropology, making him one of the most influential anthropologists of the 20th century.


What are the two schools that relate anthropology to development?

- Development anthropology
- Anthropology of development


What is the role of the World Bank in development anthropology?


What is the difference between anthropology of development and development anthropology?

developent anthropology: working in development institutions, applied work in development

anthropology of development: language and discource seen as constitutive of social reality


What is the weakness of development anthropology?

- Critics suggest that the underlying framework – development – inspires a cultural politics of dominance over “Third World” countries.


The role of F. Boas in US anthropology.

Franz Boas was born at Minden, Westphalia, Germany, on July 9, 1858. After studying at the Universities of Heidelberg, Bonn, and Kiel, he received a Ph.D. in physics with a minor in geography from the University of Kiel in 1881.


His first fieldwork experience was among the Eskimo in Baffinland, Canada, from 1883 to 1884. From 1885 to 1886, Boas conducted fieldwork under the auspices of several museums on the North Pacific Coast of North America. During this time he was also involved in an important project to bring the cultures of Native Americans to the general public as part of the Chicago World's Fair from 1892 to 1893.

Franz Boas pioneered the concept of life group displays, commonly known as dioramas, and exhibited skulls of various peoples to demonstrate the irrelevance of brain size and argue the diminished significance of theories of racial distinction between humans.


Ethnographic techniques:

- observation

- interviews

- genealogical method

- informants

- life histories

- local beliefs and perceptions


Local beliefs and perceptions - two approaches:

Emic approach- how local people think

Etic approach – scientist-oriented approach


Founding fathers of anthropology:

Lewis Henry Morgan
Sir Edward Burnett Tylor
Franz Boas
Bronislaw Malinowski
Ruth Benedict
Margaret Mead


Evolutionism in Anthropology:

Morgan‘s Ancient Society:
(Savagery, barbarism, civilization
Unilinear evolutionism)

Tylor‘s Primitive Culture:
(Development of religion from animism to polytheism to monotheism); 

Both were interested in survivals – practices that survived from earlier evolutionary stages


Franz Boas bullet points:

Father of American four-field anthropology

Race, Language, and Culture

Boas showed that human biology was plastic

It could be changed by environment, culture, etc.

Biology does not determine culture

Historical particularism


Functionalism in anthropology

Role of culture traits and practices in contemporary society

Malinowski: all customs and institutions are interrelated, change in one would cause the change in the whole system (function)

Radcliffe-Brown: shift in social anthropology  from diachronic to synchronic

Evans-Pritchard: structural functionalism



Mead and Benedict

Culture seen as integrated

Mead in Samoa studying sexual behavior of adolescent people

Culture, not biology or race, determines variation in human behavior and personality



Blamed Boasians of completely rejecting evolution as whole

White argued that human economies had evolved, socipolitically there has been evolution as well

Particular cultures might not evolve in the same direction


Cultural Materialism

Marvin Harris: all societies had an infrastructure, consisting of technology, economics, and demography

Structure: social relations, kinship, distribution

Superstructure: religion, ideology, etc.

Infrastructure determines structure and superstructure


Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology

Victor Turner: how symbols and rituals are used to redress, regulate, anticipate, and avoid conflict

Close links with psychology, psychoanalysis, etc.

Clifford Geertz: culture as ideas based on cultural learning and symbols



Claude Lévi-Strauss

Human minds have certain universal characteristics, which originate in common features of the Homo sapiens brain

Such common mental structure lead people to think similarly regardless of their society

Universal aspect of classification is opposition, contrast – binary opposition


Strategies for innovation

Dev. anthropologists must work closely with local people to help them realize their own wishes

Overinnovation (too much change)

Underdifferentiation: tendency to view the less-developed countries as more alike than they are

Indigenous models: local knowledge, ability of people to feed themselves


Chomsky's view on language:

Noam Chomsky: human brain contains a limited set of rules for organizing language (universal grammar)

This is supported by creole and pidgin languages

Pidgin may develop in creoles

China, West Africa, Papua New Guinea


The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

Different languages produce different ways of thinking

English divides time into past, present, future

Hopi does not – they think about time in different ways


Sociolinguistics - style shifts

Languages in regional variations

People can switch dialects – diglossia

People employ high variant at universities, etc., and low variant in ordinary conversation

Gender differences in phonology, grammar, vocabulary, etc.


Language loss

With a loss of a language, cultural diversity is reduced as well

Past 500 years, half of languages died

Colonial languages have expanded at the expense of indigenous languages

20 % are endangered


Roots of ethnic conflict:







Types of Economic production




Symbiosis with their herds
Livestock used in variety of ways
Herds used for meat, blood, milk (yoghurt, butter, cheese)
Pastoral nomadism
Transhumance – some people move with their herds but others stay in their villages


What is a potlatch?

Potlatch - a festive event within a regional exchange system among tribes of the North Pacific Coast of North America