Cultural Anthropology

Anthropology provides window to the past, a mirror for our present and a lens to look at the future.

Greek anthropos –man and logia or logos -science
Study the Human Condition

1. Describe and analyze biological evolution of human species as evidences in fossil record.
2. Describe and assess cultural development of our species as revealed in he archaeological record
3. Describe and explain human biological diversity today.
4.Describe, explain ad analyze present day cultural similarities and differences

Cultural traditions

On time


  • Biological
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics
  • Cultural

Biological (Physical)
Homo Sapiens as biological beings in present and past.
Biological evolution and variations of species.
Also study closely related primates (prosimians, monkeys and apes) because evolutionary history is close to ours

Paleo anthropology
Fossils of ancient relatives and ancestors
Leg bones 4 legged quadrupeds and two legs bipeds
Found in angle of neck of femur

Study of our nearest relatives.
Chimps and humans diverged from common ancestor 8 to 10 million years ago

Contemporary human variation
Living humans and how anatomy and physiology vary
Genetic and DNA
Tay sac
Clyde Snow





Systematic study of remains of previous cultures

  • Establish time lines
  • Describe past life ways
  • To understand process of adaptation and change.

Prehistoric archaeology
Artifacts (objects altered by humans)
Ecofacts (plants animals)

Art and architecture of classical civilizations of the Mediterranean
Art history and classics

Remains of cultures with written records
Florida fort story

Try to understand past technology by studying modern

Duplicate prehistoric techniques

Cultural Resource Management
Work on threatened archaeological sites


Study of language, how it is formed and how it works

Mechanics of language
Phonology-describe the words
Anatomical parts
Morphology and syntax
Rules for combining words

Reconstruct the history

Relationship between language and culture
Does language create your reality?

Relationship between language and social relationships.
Arabic male and female


  • Ethnographic studies
  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Play
  • Art
  • Music
  • Kinship
  • Social Organization
  • Healing Arts
  • Urban Studies

Bedouin Project
Description and comparison of adaptations made by human groups to diverse ecosystems

Description of one culture, or subculture based on fieldwork.

Comparative study of cultures

Anthropology is Holistic- broadest context possible


Apply ones own cultural values in judging the behavior and beliefs of people raised in other cultures.
True (familiar) vs. Savage, strange (different)

There are three levels of ethnocentrism: a positive one, a negative one, and an extreme negative one. The positive definition defines ethnocentrism as "the point of view that one's own way of life is to be preferred to all others". There is nothing wrong with such feelings, for "it characterizes the way most individuals feel about their own cultures, whether or not they verbalize their feeling" . It is ethnocentrism that which gives people their sense of peoplehood, group identity, and place in history–all of which are valuable traits to possess. Ethnocentrism becomes negative when "one's own group becomes the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it" . It reaches its extreme negative form when "a more powerful group not only imposes its rule on another, but actively depreciates the things they hold to be of value" . Apartheid, the holocaust, and the genocide of the American Indian are all examples of this third level of ethnocentrism.

Cultural Relativism
Any aspect of a culture should be viewed and evaluated within the context of that culture.
Awareness, tolerance and appreciation of people from different cultures.
No superior, international, universal morality, the moral and ethical rules of all cultures deserve equal respect.

Anthropologists goal: accurate accounts, and explanations of cultural phenomena. Don’t have to approve of customs to record: infanticide, cannibalism, torture
Respect human diversity
Understanding the behavioral differences and the values behind them.
Greater awareness, tolerance and acceptance


Ethnocentrism Cultural Realtivism


Close Mind Open Minded
Culturally Insensitive Culturally Sensitive


Can one eliminate Ethnocentrism?

1. "Study the cultural context in which the action occurs."
2. "Determine the circumstances of time, place, and condition surrounding it."
3. "Learn the reasoning that underlies it and the moral value it reflects."

At the heart of these three steps lies the importance of learning to "take the role of the other," the ability to see things, especially that with which we are not familiar, from the perspective of the other before any consideration of judgment is considered.

Tribal names usually translate as " the people" where as the names they have for others are not
Inuit Eskimo flesh eater
Nes Pierce
Inuit eat and enjoy raw liver.( Ethno-Cent-Repulsive)
CR- not eat but acknowledge that eating food different and if grew up eat too

Scientific Approach
To explain how the natural world works and to predict behavior
Educated guess that explain a phenomenon.
Reasonable explanation.


The steps in the experimental scientific method as usually presented are:


  • Hypothesis,
  • Controlled Experiment
  • Conclusion

Initial Observation
You notice something, and wonder why it happens. You see something and wonder what causes it. You want to know how or why something works. You ask questions about what you have observed. You want to investigate. The first step is to clearly write down exactly what you have observed.
Information Gathering
Find out about what you want to investigate.
State the Purpose of the Project
What do you want to find out? Write a statement that describes what you want to do. Use your observations and questions to write the statement.
Identify Variables
Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about what types of things affect the system you are working with. Identifying variables is necessary before you can make a hypothesis.
Make Hypothesis
When you think you know what variables may be involved, think about ways to change one at a time. If you change more than one at a time, you will not know what variable is causing your observation. Sometimes variables are linked and work together to cause something. At first, try to choose variables that you think act independently of each other. At this point, you are ready to translate your questions into hypothesis. A hypothesis is a question which has been reworded into a form that can be tested by an experiment.
Make a list of your answers to the questions you have. This can be a list of statements describing how or why you think the observed things work. These questions must be framed in terms of the variables you have identified. There is usually one hypothesis for each question you have. You must do at least one experiment to test each hypothesis. This is a very important step. If possible, ask a scientist to go over your hypothesis with you.
Design Experiments to Test Your Hypothesis
Design an experiment to test each hypothesis. Make a step-by-step list of what you will do to answer each question. This list is called an experimental procedure. For an experiment to give answers you can trust, it must have a "control." A control is an additional experimental trial or run. It is a separate experiment, done exactly like the others. The only difference is that no experimental variables are changed. A control is a neutral "reference point" for comparison that allows you to see what changing a variable does by comparing it to not changing anything. Dependable controls are sometimes very hard to develop. They can be the hardest part of a project. Without a control you cannot be sure that changing the variable causes your observations. A series of experiments that includes a control is called a "controlled experiment."
Experiments are often done many times to guarantee that what you observe is reproducible, or to obtain an average result. Reproducibility is a crucial requirement. Without it you cannot trust your results. Reproducible experiments reduce the chance that you have made an experimental error, or observed a random effect during one particular experimental run.


Sociology vs Anthroplogy

Change vs understand

Particiapant Observers