introduction to physical anthropology

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  • 1. Introduction to Anthropology and Physical Anthropology Anthropology 101 Online
  • 2. What is Anthropology?
    • Derived from the Greek Anthropos (man or human) and
    • Logos (logic of or science of)
    • What distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines involving humankind (medicine, sociology, psychology)
    • The definition sums up the difference: the comparative and holistic study of humankind
  • 3. Anthropology is Comparative
    • It involves comparison:
    • between todays cultures in the ethnographic present, whereby cultures are described as if they still existedlike these !Kung Bushmen in the 1950s (the job of ethnographers or cultural anthropologists)
    • Between cultures that existed through time unrecorded by historythe job of archaeologists
    • Between related species of the hominid family and hominin subfamilyLike Lucy according to this artists conception (the job of paleoanthropologists)
    • It asks the question: Can what we learn from other cultures or related species be used to understand our own?
  • 4. Anthropology is Holistic
    • It involves The Big Picture
    • It integrates all aspects of a culture
    • How do hunting, social organization, art, and religion all fit together?
    • It also involves subfields of anthropology
    • How does human biology relate to culture?
    • Can we understand ourselves from behavior of other primates?
    • What can we learn from fossil humans? Or fossil relatives of humans?
    • That involves quite a lot of juggling between subfields and specialized disciplines.
  • 5. Fields of Anthropology
    • Cultural Anthropology , comprising:
    • Linguistics, the study of spoken language
    • Sociocultural Anthropology , the study of cultures and their social organization
    • Archaeology , the study of past cultures by excavating and analyzing their remains
    • Physical Anthropology, which comprises
    • Paleoanthropology , the study of past human lifeforms
    • Primatology , the comparative study of nonhuman primate anatomy and behavior
    • Population Analysis , the study of human variation (races)
    • Forensics, the analysis of evidence related to criminal activity.
  • 6. Linguistics
    • Comparative study of spoken language
    • Foundation of all culture
    • Reason: We learn all things by language
    • Language is based on symbols
    • Symbols: Use of one thing or event
    • To understand another thing and event
    • That are intrinsically unrelated
    • Meaning is conveyed by symbols in language
  • 7. Sociocultural Anthropology
    • Comparative study of contemporary cultures
    • Comparison involves human individual and group behavior
    • Societies that govern human relations in an village (above) or other geographical space
    • Products of human behavior: tools, artifacts, housing
    • Several subfields: kinship and family, subsistence, economic, political et al; this group is an extended family.
  • 8. Archaeology
    • Comparative study of cultural remains of human societies as excavated (left) and analyzed
    • Also involves human and prehuman physical remains where they are related to the artifacts and structures they left behind.
    • Comparison involves past cultures similar to each other
    • It also involves comparisons of past cultures that are similar to present ones
  • 9. Physical Anthropology
    • Comparative study of humankinds physical attributes
    • Comparison of Homo (sapiens) sapiens
    • Among todays breeding populations (races)
    • With apes and monkeys (primatology)
    • With fossil hominids (paleoanthropology)
  • 10. Culture: Focus of All Anthropology
    • What is Culture?
    • Tylor : that complex whole which includes
    • Knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law, custom
    • And any other capabilities and habits
    • Acquired by man (both genders)
    • As a member of society
    • Generally accepted definition
    • Learned human behavior
    • Shared by a group
    • As members of society
  • 11. Culture is Learned
    • All we do, say, or believe is learned
    • Bee behavior, such as this scout bee using a dance to tell the others where the pollen is located, is genetically transmitted
    • Our behavior is not genetically transmitted
    • Dogs, like this one carrying the remote, learn by conditioning (repeated training with rewards)
    • We learn partly by imitation but mostly through language
    • Enculturation: transmission of culture from generation to generation
  • 12. Culture is Based on Symbolism
    • Culture is learned through language
    • Symbols: Use of one thing or event to refer to another thing and event that are intrinsically unrelated
    • Exercise: speech sounds c, a, and t
    • Or in IPA [k], [ ], and [t] to make [kt]
    • If we switch them around, we have new meaning: act [kt] or tack [tk]
    • We have an open system of communication
  • 13. Sign or Signal
    • A sign or signal is used
    • To refer to another thing or event
    • That is intrinsically related to the first
    • Example: goose mating call has one sound pattern while a warning call has another
    • The two patterns cannot be combined to produce a third meaning
    • So their communication system is closed
  • 14. Culture is Shared
    • A group with common language and custom shares a culture
    • Groups may be as small as 50 (!Kung band)
    • They may comprise nation of millions (e.g. Japan)
    • There may be subcultures in a culture (e.g. Hutterites in Saskatchewan) who use technology but retain traditional clothing and religious beliefs
    • Culture versus subculture is ambiguous
  • 15. Culture is Patterned/Integrated
    • One aspect of culture reflects other aspects
    • They all fit into a pattern as a whole
    • Examples of integration:
    • Extreme example: Teotihuacans Pyramid of the Sun probably wasnt built by this !Kung bandconstruction required the coordinated efforts of hundreds
    • But the !Kung have their own pattern: meat sharing elicited by arduous hunts, crude hunting gear, and game scarcity
  • 16. Conclusion: All Four Fields are Linked by the Culture Concept
    • Sociocultural Anthropology : All aspects of human are learned, symbolic, shared, and integrated from language to technology to kinship (in most societies)
    • Linguistics involves the study of language, the medium of culture
    • Archaeology constructs the cultures of the past
    • Biological/Physical Anthropology asks how we humans have the capacity for culture in the first place.
  • 17. The Science of Culture: The Role of Physical Anthropology
    • The most basic science in anthropology rests in physical anthropology
    • We first look at what determines the biological capacity for culture
    • Then we examine the basics of scientific method.
  • 18. What Does Physical Anthropology Have to Do With Culture?
    • Biologically, we have a capacity for culture through language, tool making and use, and bipedalism
    • We acquired those abilities over millions of yeartherefore fossil hominins may give us a clue as to how and when.
    • There is no indication that any one race has a greater capacity for culture than any other race.
  • 19. Physical Anthropology: Biological Capacity for Culture
    • How can we speak a language?
    • We have a brain structure for speech production and reception (both pictures)
    • Certain parts of the brain control our oral tract: tongue, vocal cords, lungs.
    • How about our tool

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