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Anthropology in the News


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Saturday, 22 June 2024, 23:15 (11:15 PM) CDT, day 174 of 2024

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Main Terms, Concepts,
Ideas and People

Greek Theatrical Mask -- Dionysus.
Greek Theatrical Mask

The Four Fields of General Anthropology

  1. archaeology

  2. physical or biological anthropology (bioanthropology)

  3. socio / cultural anthropology

  4. linguistic anthropology (slides)

Main Characteristics of Anthropology


  1. culture: as a primary concept

    • learned

      • is not inherited
        (i.e., is not biological)

      • is not “instinct”

    • shared

    • transmitted from generation to generation

    • symbolic

    • integrated

  2. cross-cultural comparative methods as major approaches to the study of human behavior development and structure

  3. holism: or the study of "humankind" as a whole, as a primary goal of anthropology

    • The approach used in this class emphasizes the "holistic" anthropological view which combines observations of "culture" and behavior with considerations of the physical and developmental aspects of humans

Three Major Debates

(after Martin J. Gannon, Understanding Global Cultures, 2nd Ed., Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001)
  1. Biological Determinism vs. Cultural Constructionism

    • “nature vs. nurture”

    • “learned vs. inherited”
      • Minnesota Twins Studies

  2. Ideationism vs. Cultural Materialism

  3. Individual Agency vs. Structuralism
    • “free will” vs. “power structures"

Basic Terms in Culture and Personality Studies:
A CP Glossary in Historical Context


  • culture: as a primary concept

    • learned

      • is not inherited
        (i.e., is not biological)

      • is not “instinct”

    • shared

    • transmitted from generation to generation

    • symbolic

    • integrated

  • "Where is culture?"

  • "Is Culture a Uniquely Human Property?"

    • "Proto-culture"

      • Of Chimps and Humans
        • 99+% [96%?] genetic
        • tool using / tool making
        • language
        • Do Monkey's Count?

  • cultural relativism

    • the perspective that each culture must be understood in terms of the values and ideas of that culture and should not be judged by the standards of another

  • absolute cultural relativism

    • the perspective that says a person from one culture should not question the rightness or wrongness of behavior or ideas in other cultures because that would be ethnocentric

  • critical cultural relativism

    • offers an alternative view that poses questions about cultural practices and ideas in terms of who accepts them and why, and who they might be harming or helping

  • "universals"


  • per-son-ality

  • modal personality

    • modal behavior

  • mean personality

  • basic personality


  • mean
  • median
  • mode


  • range of variation (range of diversity)

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  • "normal"

  • "abnormal"

  • "deviant"

  • national character

    • "typical personality traits associated with a culture"

    • Ruth Benedict

    • stereotyping?
  • beliefs / values / attitudes

    • beliefs

      • "postulates"

      • E . Adamson Hoebel -- Wikipedia

        1. existential postulates

          • relate to the question of how things exist

          • "conceptions of reality"

          • "propositions about how the universe works"

          • "When describing our own beliefs . . . we may consider them 'facts' or 'knowledge.'"
            (Bryant, DeWalt, )Courtney and Schwartz 2003)

        1. normative postulates

          • relate to how things ought to be

          • people's conception of what should occur in a given situation

          • "norms"

            • "rules, principles, or standards for behavior"

    • values

      • "conceptions of what is desirable and undersirable, good and bad"

      • + / -

    • attitudes

      • individual's likes or dislikes

        • including ambivalent

          • a person can simultaneously have positive and negative views or feelings

          • or no particular views or feelings

  • culture and biology

    • nature vs. nurture

    • "inherited" vs. "acquired"

    • "Our Sociocultural Nature"

      • instincts

      • sociobiology

  • human evolution: biological and cultural
    considers cultural influences on basic psychological

    • sex

    • aggression
  • "traditional" systems vs. "modern society"

  • "traditional healers" vs. "western medicine"

    • "sorcery"

Multiple Cultural Worlds

  • people live in multiple cultural worlds (roles)

    • sex / gender

    • age

    • ethnicity

    • race

      • Race: Can This Tenacious Concept Be Supplanted?

    • class

    • institutions

  • intergroup relations

Emic / Etic

  • emic

    • from linguistics: phonemics

      • the study of basic sounds

  • etic

    • from linguistics: phonetics

      • the study of sound unit
  • "illness"  vs. "disease"

    • “illness” = culturally specific

        • Aiyiperi

        • amok

        • anfechtung

        • brain fag

        • cholera

        • ghost sickness

        • koro

        • latah (startle reflex)

        • mal ojo (evil eye)

        • pibloktoq (Arctic hysteria)

        • susto (fright sickness)

        • windigo

        • shinkeishitsu

        • . . .

    • “disease” = universal
  • The Essence of Being Human

  • Anthropological Perspectives on Culture

  • differences and similarities

Language and Communication


Perception and Cognition

The Centrality of Learning

  • The Centrality of Learning

  • intercultural contact and cultural change

  • early childhood training


  • "study of culture at a distance"

  • in the 1940s many studies were carried on with the assumption that "culture is to society what personality is to the individual"

    • culture : society : : personality : individual

  • "Cross-Cultural Research: Scope and Methods" (intro.)


  • psychoanalysis

  • How to Comprehend Behavior and Culture sociocultural context

  • "quantitative - qualitative mix"

    • Pertti J. Pelto

Important Figures
in Culture and Personality Studies

biography reference

  • Homer Barnett, et al

    • acculturation

    • Patterns of Culture

    • Chrysanthemum and the Sword

  • Cora Du Bois

    • The People of Alor: A Social-Psychological Study of an East Indian Island

  • Erik Erickson

  • George Foster

    • "Image of the Limited Good"

    • Culture and Experience

    • Culturally Constituted Behavioral Environment (CCBE)

  • F. L. K. Hsu

  • Florence Kluckhohn

    • Clyde Kluckhohn

    • Richard Kluckhohn

    • Coming of Age in Samoa

    • Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies

    • Trance and Dance in Bali

  • Louise and George Spindler

  • Tylor, Sir Edward B.

    • "survivals"

      • traces of earlier customs that survive in present-day cultures

    • "culture"

      • "Culture . . . is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man [sic.] as a member of society" (Primitive Culture, 1871)

    • unilineal evolution

  • W.H.R. Rivers

Cultures / Places Considered

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