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In This Section:
I. Author Bio
II. Author Letter
I. Author Bio
Carol R. Ember started at Antioch College as a chemistry major. She began taking social science courses because some were required, but she soon found herself intrigued. There were lots of questions without answers, and she became excited about the possibility of a research career in social science. She spent a year in graduate school at Cornell studying sociology before continuing on to Harvard, where she studied anthropology primarily with John and Beatrice Whiting. For her Ph.D. dissertation she worked among the Luo of Kenya. While there she noticed that many boys were assigned "girls' work," such as babysitting and household chores, because their mothers (who did most of the agriculture) did not have enough girls to help out. She decided to study the possible effects of task assignment on the social behavior of boys. Using systematic behavior observations, she compared girls, boys who did a great deal of girls' work, and boys who did little such work. She found that boys assigned girls' work were intermediate in many social behaviors, compared with the other boys and girls. Later, she did cross-cultural research on variation in marriage, family, descent groups, and war and peace, mainly in collaboration with Melvin Ember, whom she married in 1970. All of these cross-cultural studies tested theories on data for worldwide samples of societies. From 1970 to 1996, she taught at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has also served as president of the Society of Cross-Cultural Research and was one of the directors of the Summer Institutes in Comparative Anthropological Research, which were funded by the National Science Foundation. She is now executive director at the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University.
After graduating from Columbia College, Melvin Ember went to Yale University for his Ph.D. His mentor at Yale was George Peter Murdock, an anthropologist who was instrumental in promoting cross-cultural research and building a full-text database on the cultures of the world to facilitate cross-cultural hypothesis testing. This database came to be known as the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) because it was originally sponsored by the Institute of Human Relations at Yale. Growing in annual installments and now distributed in electronic format, the HRAF database currently covers more than 370 cultures, past and present, all over the world. He did fieldwork for his dissertation in American Samoa, where he conducted a comparison of three villages to study the effects of commercialization on political life. In addition, he did research on descent groups and how they changed with the increase of buying and selling. His cross-cultural studies focused originally on variation in marital residence and descent groups. He also conducted cross-cultural research on the relationship between economic and political development, the origin and extension of the incest taboo, the causes of polygamy, and how archaeological correlates of social customs can help draw inferences about the past. After four years of research at the National Institute of Mental Health, he taught at Antioch College and then Hunter College of the City University of New York. Heserved as president of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research and was president (since 1987) of the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University, until his passing.
Peter N. Peregrine grew up in the Chicago area, and spent the entire decade of the 1980s at Purdue University, where he earned a BA in English, an MS in anthropology, and a PhD. in anthropology. He found anthropology’s social scientific approach to understanding humans more appealing than the humanistic approach he had learned as an English major. He undertook an ethnohistorical study of the relationship between Jesuit missionaries and Native American peoples for his master’s degree and realized that he needed to study archaeology to understand the cultural interactions experienced by Native Americans prior to contact with the Jesuits.
While working on his PhD at Purdue University, Peter Peregrine did research on the prehistoric Mississippian cultures of the eastern United States. He found that interactions between groups were common and had been shaping Native American cultures for centuries. Native Americans approached contact with the Jesuits simply as another in a long string of intercultural exchanges. He also found that relatively little research had been done on Native American interactions and decided that comparative research was a good place to begin examining the topic. In 1990, he participated in the Summer Institute in Comparative Anthropological Research, where he met Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember.
Peter Peregrine taught at Juniata College and is currently at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he is a Professor of Anthropology and an unrepentant Packers fan. He serves as research associate for the eHRAF Collection of Archaeology and is president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences.
Peregrine’s research focuses on "big questions" of human history: Why did people come to live in cities? How do coercive leaders maintain their power? What happens when people from very different cultural and linguistic backgrounds come to live together? He has pursued answers to these questions in a variety of different ways–from archaeological excavation to complex cross-cultural statistical analyses. Most recently he has been working with other scholars at the Santa Fe Institute to integrate archaeological, linguistic, and genetic information to understand how modern humans expanded across the earth in the last forty to fifty thousand years and, more specifically, how the diversity of human languages emerged in the last twenty thousand years.
He continues to do archaeological research, and to teach anthropology and archaeology to undergraduate students. He has two daughters and two dogs, and has been married for 26 years to his high school sweetheart, Anne.
Personal Homepage: www.lawrence.edu/fast/peregrip/peregrine.html
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Peter-N.-Peregrine/e/B001H6MBR6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1310699417&sr=8-1
II. Author Letter
I have always viewed writing a textbook as a special challenge. Most of us specialize in some way—in the advanced courses we teach or are asked to teach, in our regional or topical fields of interest, and with the usual colleagues we see at conferences. It is refreshing to move outside the box. Working on a textbook does just that—it encourages you to read books and articles in fields you don’t normally read and to look at connections across subfields. Most important of all it makes you think about the gaps in our collective knowledge.
But a textbook also presents other challenges, such as the style of writing. How do you make something complex understandable but not sound patronizing or simple-minded? How do you make it interesting? How do you make it authoritative, but not authoritarian? And when describing other cultures, how do you convey respect for other people?
Human Evolution and Culture is an abridged version of the 13th edition of Anthropology that is specifically designed for shorter terms and for courses with a lot of supplementary material. Shortening a book presents even more challenges. What chapters are most essential for a good grounding in anthropology? What examples are more important than others? In general, we have found that writing less is actually harder than writing more!
We always take revisions seriously. It is a time to reflect on what needs to be added, what needs to come out, and what needs to be rearranged. One of the most significant changes in the 13th edition of Anthropology, and in this abridged version, is a greater emphasis on how the four-field disciplines make important contributions to the lives of people. These contributions are highlighted in nine boxes new to this edition. Other new boxes deal with gender issues and roles. To emphasize the importance of culture change and globalization we have moved that material toward the beginning in an integrated chapter on culture and culture change. In response to requests, we have added a chapter on the arts.
If you have comments, suggestions, or criticisms, Peter Peregrine and I would welcome them. My email address is Carol.email@example.com and my home page is http://www.yale.edu/hraf/carol_personal.htm.
Carol R. Ember
Human Relations Area Files at Yale University
Table of Contents
About the Authors
Part I Introduction
Chapter 1 The Importance of Anthropology
Chapter 2 Research Methods in Anthropology
Part II Human Evolution: Biological and Cultural
Chapter 3 Genetics and Evolution
Chapter 4 Human Variation and Adaptation
Chapter 5 Primates: Present and Past
Chapter 6 The First Hominids and the Emergence of Homo
Chapter 7 The Emergence of Homo sapiens
Chapter 8 Food Production and the Rise of States
Part III Cultural Variation
Chapter 9 Culture and Culture Change
Chapter 10 Language and Communication
Chapter 11 Economics
Chapter 12 Social Stratification: Class, Ethnicity, and Racism
Chapter 13 Sex and Gender
Chapter 14 Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Chapter 15 Political Life
Chapter 16 Religion and Magic
Chapter 17 The Arts
Part IV Using Anthropology
Chapter 18 Global Problems
Chapter 19 Applied and Practicing Anthropology