Define the specific subfield you have been assigned based on your last name and include an appropriately formatted citation for your definition.

Please do not use any Plagiarism.

In your first discussion, you will introduce yourself to your peers and explore the basic structure of the field of anthropology, including its subfields, methods of gathering information, and several key concepts.  To prepare for your initial post, be sure to read the required sections in MindEdge, listed under Required Resources in the Readings and Resources section. After reading the assigned sections, imagine that you work in the human resources department of a very large, multinational organization working on a growing international health crisis. The new director of the organization has decided to eliminate some positions to save money, and some of the first positions the director has suggested cutting are the anthropologists. Based on the assignments below, your job is to convince the director why your assigned type of anthropologist (based on the first letter of your last name) is a vital member of the organization.

First Letter of Last Name Assigned Type of Anthropologist
A–E Physical Anthropologist
F–K Linguistic Anthropologist
L–R Cultural Anthropologist
S–Z Archaeologist

The first Letter of my last C so I’m Physical Anthropologist

Introduce yourself to your peers and compose your initial post as an email to the director. Be sure to accomplish the following:

· Define the broad field of anthropology and include an appropriately formatted citation.

· Define the specific subfield you have been assigned based on your last name and include an appropriately formatted citation for your definition.

· Identify three specific tasks or ways in which your assigned type of anthropologist could add value to this imaginary multinational organization.

· Explain why cultural relativism is valuable to the employees of this imaginary organization and why ethnocentrism should be avoided.

Appendix: APA format

Each task you turn in will need to be formatted in proper APA format

Introductory Essay: What is Anthropology?

What is your “breakfast of champions?” You know, the one that reminds you of home: a nice plate of eggs, bacon, and toast…and don’t forget the beans, hash browns, and mushrooms on the side, followed by a good cup of tea. If you did forget the beans, mushrooms, and tea, then you are probably not British. What you eat can remind you that you are both a cultural AND a physical being. You are an individual influenced by culture. What do you like to eat? That is what anthropologists help us to understand about what it means to be human. Anthropology is the study of humans combining a biological and a cultural perspective. Anthropologists compare cultural practices around the world and throughout time to see the full range of human flexibility in solving the basic problems of existence, including what to eat, when, and how often.

As you explore anthropology, you may at times feel like a time traveler because anthropologists trace the origins of all things human—the origin of our species, the origin of language, and when culture, art, and creativity began. You could think of anthropology as a 3D field: it studies the human past and present day cultures worldwide, and it has a practical “applied” dimension, as it seeks to solve real world problems. To explore all of these aspects of humanity, anthropology is sometimes divided into subfields: cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, applied anthropology, and archaeology.

Before you started reading this, the first thought you may have had about anthropology may have been “Bones,” a TV portrayal of a forensic anthropologist. “Bones” is an example of “applied anthropology.” Like the lead character on “Bones,” biological anthropologists assist law enforcement agencies by applying forensic anthropological principles and methods to identify human remains. All of the other subfields, too, have an applied dimension, in which anthropologists use their skills to serve agencies in business, politics, or medicine.

Let’s go back to your breakfast table to see what anthropologists do in each of the subfields and how the subfields combine to give us a deeper understanding of culture as a way of life. You eat with a fork that comes to you from ancient Rome. This is the realm of archaeology. Archaeologists trace the invention and origin of tools and reconstructing the human past

ATH 111: Introduction to Cultural Ant… Copyright 2017 MindEdge, Inc. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited.

by uncovering and studying artifacts. Cultural anthropologists look at similarities and variations among cultures in the present day as well as changes in one culture over time, including food preferences and which tools are parts of our everyday lives. Some biological anthropologists are interested in the impact of dietary preferences on human biology. For instance, where Hinduism prevails, the diet has been vegetarian for hundreds of years. Other biological anthropologists explore the prehistoric past to see, for example, when meat first became part of our diet. Linguistic anthropology includes the study of the social use of language. One theory about the origin of language is that it began as early humans gathered around a cooking fire. An applied anthropologist might study how the food got to your breakfast table and what nutrition was lost in the process as it made its way through the American marketing system. So, what seems like the simple act of eating is actually a complex network of cultural choice and histories.

These subfields, or parts of anthropology, are united by their common approach to the study of humans—an evolutionary perspective, comparing cultures to explain similarities and differences, and a concern with the interaction between culture and biology. A reliance on first-hand observations also unites all the subfields. Each subfield relies on a unique set of research methods, often referred to as fieldwork: cultural anthropologists must go live among the people they study, archaeologists must excavate sites where people once lived, linguistic anthropologists must observe how people in different communities really speak and use language in their everyday lives, and biological anthropologists take on-site measurements among different populations of people around the world.

Fieldwork produces a rich description of daily habits and beliefs, knowledge that cannot be gathered through surveys and statistical analysis. The emphasis is qualitative data rather than quantitative data. In other words, instead of sampling a large study population, anthropologists choose only a handful of people to interview in depth and to accompany in their daily lives, calling these select people “key consultants.” 1

Anthropological subfields complement each other to provide a holistic view of what it means to be human. To understand what this means, let’s go back to eating your breakfast. The food options you might consider—what to eat and how to eat it —are shaped by social custom (the past) and the technology you have at your disposal (present); these foods, customs, and technology are all products of a long line of cultural evolution or development. Likewise, how frequently you eat is also rooted in culture. For instance, not every culture has three meals a day or shares the notion that there are unique breakfast foods. Because of the importance of technology for your way of life, there is an especially close connection between archaeology and cultural anthropology. Combining these two subfields helps us understand the different kinds of technology humans have developed throughout time and how technology interacts with the rest of our culture, that is to say our belief systems.

Anthropologists debate culture. You can think of culture as having three “layers”—what we think, what we do, and what we have. The “thinking” part of culture includes beliefs and values. For example, American culture is known for its emphasis on the individual and independence. The “doing” part of culture includes customs, habitual ways of doing things, and how we structure basic institutions such as education, politics, religion, and family. The third “layer” includes technology and how we interact with nature to get our basic resources. All of these “layers” reinforce each other. Debates in anthropology involve which one of these “layers” is the lynchpin, or core of culture, and which one, if changed, has the greatest impact.

Personally gathering social information, called participant observation, presents some challenges. Because fieldwork in cultural anthropology is conducted by individuals who are themselves cultural products, issues about objectivity have long been an issue. All anthropologists are particularly sensitive to the cultural bias they call ethnocentrism, the idea that one’s own culture is better and smarter. In the field, as the anthropologist observes and participates in the life of a community of study, it becomes essential for her or him to be aware of this ethnocentric tendency and to suspend judgment. The counter belief to ethnocentrism lies in the idea that culture is a system of beliefs, understandings, technology, and a way of doing things that has stood the test of time to allow humans to adapt and thrive in a given place. There is no one “right” way to live, a concept called cultural relativism.

Anthropology has been open to questions about its methods (from the women’s movement) and questions about the uses of the knowledge gathered (from post-modernism), mostly stemming from its colonial history. European colonialism created situations in which anthropologists could travel to “exotic” locations for their studies and anthropology provided a veneer of legitimacy for colonialism by offering to “help” the “natives”. Unfortunately, the relationships between the anthropologists and the community members simply mirrored the relationship of inequality established by the European

ATH 111: Introduction to Cultural Ant… Copyright 2017 MindEdge, Inc. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited.

colonial rulers. Such relationships came close to violating the fundamental ethics of anthropology. 2

You may be asking yourself, “Why should I care?” or “How can anthropology help me?” The focus on culture to understand the people around us can be helpful in almost any setting. Anthropology provides a perspective that allows us to navigate cultural differences. For example, linguistics teaches us that every community has a unique way of communicating. Consider the example of how we use social space to communicate nonverbally. You have decided to go out early for breakfast. You are the first customer of the day in your favorite coffee shop. You choose your favorite table. A second person arrives. She chooses the table next to you, and it is quite close. If you are an American, you may feel vaguely uncomfortable or even angry. Chances are that this second customer is from Latin America. She sits close to you, even in an otherwise empty room, because to do otherwise, to her, might be interpreted as social rejection, snobbery, or even bigotry. To you, she is violating your personal space. Cultural anthropology might introduce you to the idea that even something that we take for granted, such as personal space, is culturally defined. It varies from one culture to another. You may be able to respond differently to the situation given this knowledge, and you may even feel more comfortable with this type of cultural difference.

Notes

1 Margaret Mead and Franz Boas are two early anthropologists especially known for their fieldwork. In American anthropology, founding father Franz Boas sent his students from Columbia University into the field with the mission to record vanishing cultures, to write down the non-Western languages, and record the lives of Native American groups before they were assumed to be all gone (a fact we now know to be untrue). Boas is known for his extensive study of Kwakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest who are famous for their art. The Kwakiutl representation of a sea hawk is featured today on the football helmets of the Seattle NFL team.

Boas said that the goal of ethnography or fieldwork was to learn how the community members thought. To that end, most interviews are done within the context of “hanging out” with the residents of the community. Mead was known for her skill in writing detailed field notes, essentially diaries of everyday life. She was not only one of the first women anthropologists, she was also one of the first anthropologists to use photography and filming and to make observations regarding childbirth and childrearing.

2 Anthropologists joke: “What did the postmodern, reflexive anthropologist say to the native informant?” Answer: “Enough about you, now let’s talk about me.” However, anthropologists have been very serious in assessing their roles in the communities which they study and the impact of their research. The professional ethics of anthropology can be summed up briefly as “first do no harm.” Ethical issues center on confidentiality. It is typical for anthropologists to assign pseudonyms to the individuals they describe in a community and even to rename the community itself. For example, Scheper Hughes called the Irish community “Ballymore” in her study entitled “Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics.” This practice developed to protect the privacy of the individuals, but in some circumstances, it is sometimes necessary to protect them from harm. Anthropologists may become aware of family secrets or illegal activity in the course of their fieldwork. Doing rural fieldwork in Oaxaca, Mexico, one anthropologist explained that his greatest challenge was to conceal the fact that the main cash crop was marijuana. A policy of non-intervention in these cases is essential to maintain rapport and trust. Betrayal of these secrets might result in future anthropologists being “shut out” of any communities.

Anthropologists have also struggled with one tenet of cultural relativism, the requirement of non-intervention. For example, in the past the Florida Seminole discouraged intermarriage with whites by demanding that infants of mixed descent be left in the Everglades to die. Cultural anthropologists had to accept the practice and not intervene. The first woman Seminole chief, Betty Mae Jumper, who had been one such child that had been protected by her family, ultimately took the lead to abolish this practice. Today, that tenet has been reassessed. Anthropology has evolved in its political awareness to now include what is called “advocacy anthropology.” For example, anthropologist Darrell Posey took two Kayapo chiefs (in full war regalia) to Washington demanding that the World Bank not be allowed to build a dam that would flood their territory. Anthropologists who engage in such advocacy are sometimes criticized as not being detached, scientific observers. By engaging in such advocacy efforts, anthropology has moved far away from past colonial alliances to give voices to those who experience cultural domination.

ATH 111: Introduction to Cultural Ant… Copyright 2017 MindEdge, Inc. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited.

  • Introductory Essay: What is Anthropology?
    • Notes

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