This lively, innovative volume presents cultural anthropology as an adventure—focusing on readers' curiosity about their own participation in humanness, and incorporating the excitement of field discoveries throughout. Combining discussions with the vitality of ethnographic accounts, it first presents the basic concepts relating to culture and social organization, applies them to specific cultures, and concludes with a survey of contemporary issues and the contributions in the field of anthropology. The Human Perspective: We the People. People Looking at People. The Adventure of Anthropology. The Organization of Human Groups: The Political Economy. Culture in Its Material Context. Sex, Marriage, and Family Relationships. Acquiring and Transmitting Culture: Language and Symbols, Order and Change. The Nature of Human Nature. The Question of Meaning: Natural and Supernatural Orders. Expressive Culture. Human Ways of Life: Foragers. Pastoralists. Horticulturalists. Agriculturists. The Adventures of Anthropology Continues: The People We Study. The People We Are.
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This is an exciting time to be an anthropologist. Both the people anthropologists have traditionally studied and the context of anthropological research have changed dramatically in the past few decades.
No longer is it possible for a lone anthropologist to travel to a remote area of the world to conduct ethnography among "his" or "her" people. There are no isolated areas of the world any more. We are all linked together by various kinds of technology, including satellite communications, the Internet, and international air travel. This means that the anthropologist no longer has exclusive access to an isolated group of people. Documentary filmmakers can be there first, and every schoolchild can then see a sensationalized account on "Ripley's Believe It or Not." As anthropologists no longer have exclusive dominance over this type of information, some are asking, "Is anthropology still relevant?"
This question was echoed recently in a query from one of my students. I was describing the traditional lifestyle of the !Kung of Africa's Kalahari Desert when a thin girl in platform shoes, skintight jeans, and a bared midriff asked, "Is this information up to date?"
The issue underlying this question was, "Is anthropology trendy enough to bother with?" After thinking it over, I replied, "The !Kung no longer live like that. But ethnographic descriptions of the !Kung will never be out of date. It's important that we know the full range of human possibilities. Otherwise, we might come to think that the way we live at any given point in time is the only way to live." In my response to my student, I found myself echoing the long-held anthropological wisdom that the reason we travel to the most remote areas of the world is to find out who we are.
Anthropology is the only scientific discipline developed for the express purpose of studying cross-cultural variation in human lifestyles. Other closely related disciplines are just beginning to recognize the importance of this research focus. Because anthropologists are 150 years ahead of the pack, anthropology is the discipline best prepared to study the rapidly changing contexts of the world's cultures. However, we must recognize the changing context of anthropology. We no longer have exclusive domain over access to a particular culture, and we must surrender the control that exclusive access to this kind of knowledge gave us.
American anthropology especially is undergoing a transition that many experience as a time of crisis. In reality, we have entered the third great era of anthropology, loosely conforming to the century mark. In the nineteenth century anthropologists framed many of the concepts that still guide the field; the twentieth century marked the era of collecting data on apparently isolated groups; the twenty-first century is ushering in an era in which anthropology must become truly international, more than simply cross-cultural. The people we have traditionally studied are now claiming the right to study us, and in so doing, they are claiming full and equal participation in the intellectual community of anthropology.
There have been attempts to internationalize American anthropology and break down the isolation of U.S. anthropologists from anthropologists in other parts of the world. The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences is publishing a series of books that "document current theoretical developments in our discipline from a world wide perspective." Vesna V. Godina of Slovenia, Chair of the IUAES Commission on Theoretical Anthropology, asserts: "Anthropology is either truly international or not at all!" Anthropology is redefining itself on both the theoretical level and at the level of ethnographic research.
Being Human: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology aims to be at the forefront of this revolution in anthropology and bring it into the classroom. From its inception, Being Human: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology has presented a holistic look at cultural anthropology, framed against an understanding of the importance of gender and intracultural variation in shaping the dynamics of human groups. The success of the first edition of Being Human has encouraged me to venture further in attempting to develop an introductory cultural anthropology text that reflects contemporary issues in anthropology and presents them in their cultural and historical context. In this, the second edition, I have sought to:
Present new research on gender and provide a consistent representation of gender roles throughout the book. As one example, a new box in Chapter 10 addresses changing views of women's participation in sports. Incorporate recent research and developments in anthropological theory on contemporary issues, including the issue of returning control over cultural objects to the people who produced them. A new box in Chapter 15 deals with the issue of patrimony in light of the controversy surrounding 'Kennewick Man." Include material on the relationship of anthropological theory and methods to the scientific enterprise as a whole. The discussion of anthropological theory and methods in Chapter 2 has been expanded and enhanced, and a new box in Chapter 16 addresses the power relationships inherent in anthropological research. Expand the discussions of applied anthropological theory, especially with respect to anthropology as a career. New boxes in Chapters 2 and 16 discuss applications of anthropology in business and air traffic safety. Reorganize and reorder some chapters and utilize anthropological pedagogical devices, including videos and ethnographies. As just one example, the discussion of types of political systems has been moved from Chapter 1 to Chapter 4, "The Political Economy." Incorporate computer technology as an aid to teaching and learning. New Internet exercises at the end of each chapter encourage students to build on their knowledge by exploring issues related to the topics being discussed.
This second edition of Being Human builds on the goals that have proven successful in the first edition, in that it presents culture as a dynamic process rather than a static formula and focuses on social interaction rather than social structure. Issues of culture change are discussed where appropriate throughout the book, rather than relegated to a chapter at the end. Further, Being Human confronts the issue of the "wethey" dichotomy by incorporating frank discussions of ethnicity and the relationship between anthropologists and the people they study.
This text also integrates studies of American and Western culture with descriptions of non-Western societies, for both philosophical and pedagogical reasons. Focusing exclusively on studies of non-Western societies implicitly poses an oppositional relationship between the anthropologist and the people being studied, with a power balance favoring the anthropologist. Moreover, including Western examples allows North American students to relate anthropological concepts to their own lives.
Being Human is designed with both the instructor and the student in mind. As I pointed out in the preface to the first edition, introductory college courses often act as gatekeepers to the field. Many future anthropologists are "converted" to the discipline as a result of taking introductory classes. This text is organized according to a logical flow of ideas from section to section and from chapter to chapter, so that students are not required to memorize a checklist of anthropological facts. Rather, they are invited to become participants in the development of anthropological concepts.
Part One presents an overview of what it means to be human and the role of anthropology in studying this important question. Part Two examines principles of social organization. Part Three discusses the ways in which human groups reflect upon their culture and social organization through the use of language and symbols. Part Four applies concepts presented in the first four sections to specific human groups, thus combining anthropological theory and ethnographic examples in the same text. Part Five explores contemporary issues and careers in anthropology.
Part One, "The Human Perspective," consists of three chapters. Chapter 1, "We the People," discusses ways of defining humanness, the relationship between biology and culture, the "wethey" dichotomy, the importance of gender and ethnicity, and the role of European colonialism in redefining the nature of human groups. Chapter 2, "People Looking at People," focuses on anthropology as a discipline. It describes the anthropological approach and subfields, as well as anthropological methods, and discusses ethical and human factors in conducting anthropological research. Chapter 3, "The Adventure of Anthropology," provides an overview of the history of anthropology, organized according to six stages or theoretical approaches: (1) speculation about human nature arising from European colonialism; (2) formulation of theories relating to natural selection and biological evolution; (3) nineteenth century social evolutionism; (4) British social anthropology; (5) American cultural anthropology; (6) interpretive anthropology.
Part Two, "The Organization of Human Groups," consists of three chapters. Chapter 4, "The Political Economy," describes the organization of power in human groups and discusses theories—including those of Marx, neoevolutionists, and economic anthropologists—that have given rise to contemporary views on the interrelatedness of political and economic systems. Chapter 5, "Culture in Its Material Context," describes subsistence patterns and exchange systems. It concludes with a discussion of cultural materialism, drawing on the examples of Marvin Harris's perspective on the Hindu sacred cow and Michael Harner's explanation of Aztec human sacrifice. Chapter 6, "Sex, Marriage, and Family Relationships," discusses issues related to kinship, including the incest taboo, forms of marriage, economic exchange at marriage, forms of descent, residence and household formation, and kinship terminology.
Part Three, "The Question of Meaning," consists of four chapters. Chapter 7, "Language and Symbols, Order and Chaos," discusses the importance of communication in human groups. It deals with the biological basis of language, the structure and nature of human language, the relationship between language and thought, and the social context of language use. The chapter concludes with a discussion of symbols and communication based on imagery. Chapter 8, "The Nature of Human Nature," focuses on psychological anthropology: concepts of self; cross-cultural studies of perception and cognition; the anthropological debate over the oedipal complex; the culture-and-personality school, national character studies, socialization studies, and indigenous healing systems. Chapter 9, "Natural and Supernatural orders," discusses aspects of religion and magic, including myth, ritual, and the organization of religious communities. It also examines the role of religion in culture change, especially with respect to revitalization movements. Chapter 10, "Expressive Culture," deals with the social and cultural roles of various types of play: the visual arts, performance arts, festivals, and sports.
Part Four, "Human Ways of Life," consists of four chapters organized around subsistence patterns. Each mini-ethnography presents a holistic look at a particular group studied by anthropologists, integrates the issue of culture change, and focuses on an important anthropological concept. Chapter 11, "Foragers," takes a comparative look at three groups: the San of Africa's Kalahari Desert, the Ainu of northern Japan, and the Kwakiutl of the northwest coast of North America. The San demonstrate the importance of kinship and generalized reciprocity in gaining access to foraging rights; the Ainu represent a foraging group adapted to a rich and varied environment; the Kwakiutl provide an example of a foraging group that developed some degree of stratification and an elaborate art complex basing their subsistence on abundant and storable resources.
Chapter 12, "Pastoralists," compares Nandi cattle-herders of Africa, Basseri sheepherders of Iran, and Yolmo zomo herders of Nepal. The Nandi provide an opportunity to explore gender roles, woman-woman marriage, and female circumcision; the Basseri illustrate the importance of flexible models of group formation in a nomadic pastoral society; the Yolmo illustrate the adaptability of pastoral societies to varying social and climatic conditions, as well as the interrelationship of Tibetan priestly religious organization with a shamanic healing complex.
Chapter 13, "Horticulturalists," compares the Yanomamo of Venezuela and Brazil, the Mundugumor of New Guinea, and Yap Islanders of the Pacific. The Yanomamo example illustrates the value of the holistic approach in understanding the interrelatedness of various aspects of social organization. The Mundugumor demonstrate the importance of theory in anthropology by describing a New Guinea Big Man complex from the perspective of the culture-and-personality school. The Yapese article describes a dramatic change in gender roles and lines of authority when a matrilineal horticultural society is taken over by U.S. political bureaucracy.
Chapter 14, "Agriculturalists," compares the Aztecs of central Mexico, the Nayar of southern India, and the Han of northern China. The Aztecs provide an example of a highly stratified society based on agriculture, trade, and conquest. The Nayar article, written from the perspective of a Nayar man, illustrates changes in economic status and gender roles in a matrilineal, matrilocal society resulting from English occupation and a shift to wage labor. The Han example illustrates the encounter between agricultural and pastoral groups in northern China as a result of population pressures, the effects of policy decisions made in Beijing, and the influence of various types of subsistence on gender roles.
Part Five, "The Adventure of Anthropology Continues," consists of two chapters. Chapter 15, "The People We Study," focuses on contemporary issues affecting the lives of people studied by anthropologists: political and economic subjugation by external powers, population pressures, pollution, and health issues, as well as economic and cultural colonialism. The chapter also notes ways in which indigenous people fight back against outside domination by seeking ways to control their own economic, political, and cultural lives. Chapter 16, "The People We Are," describes careers in academia, research institutions, museums, and various types of applied fields. It includes accounts by anthropologists who work in these areas. Applied areas discussed in the chapter include medicine and health care delivery systems, business, political and economic advocacy, and mass media as an educational tool. SUPPLEMENTS
This carefully prepared supplements package is intended to give the instructor the resources needed to teach the course and the student the tools needed to successfully complete the course.
Instructor's Resource Manual. This essential instructor's tool includes learning objectives, chapter outlines, teaching tips, suggestions for classroom activities, and topics for class discussion and written assignments.
Test Item File. This carefully prepared ...About the Author:
DR. MARI WOMACK is a writer and anthropologist specializing in symbols, religion, gender, anthropological theory and methods, and American popular culture. A research scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, she is scriptwriter for the PBS television series Faces of Culture and co-editor of The Other Fifty Percent, a reader on gender. Dr. Womack hones her classroom skills by teaching at several California institutions, including UCLA and Santa Monica College. The Santa Monica College chapter of Alpha Gamma Sigma, the student honor society, presented her with its Instructional Excellence Award in spring 2000.
Formerly an international radio broadcaster for Voice of America, Dr. Womack has been quoted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on a number of television programs, including the Today show, applying anthropological insights to contemporary issues. As a journalist, she has reported on news events ranging from U.S. presidential elections to earthquakes. She has interviewed a number of distinguished subjects, from Benezir Bhutto of Pakistan, to Nobel Prize-winning scholars, to film stars.
Dr. Womack's current interests center on producing books on anthropology for the classroom and the general public. She has been asked to edit readers on psychological anthropology and comparative religion and has completed the writing stage for two books on symbols: Symbols and Meaning and Sport as Symbol: Images of the Athlete in Art, Literature and Song. Her book on symbols for the public will be called Gods, Heroes, and Demons: The Importance of Symbols in Everyday Life.
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