Applying Anthropology

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-07-17
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
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This supplementary reader is composed of 49 classic and contemporary articles that demonstrate the significant contributions that anthropologists make; the emphasis is on the applicability of anthropology to understanding and improving the present day human condition. Whether debating the merits of a career in anthropology or questioning why the subject should be studied, students will grow to appreciate anthropology's widespread uses, from conducting market research to working with refugee communities.

Table of Contents

* Indicates a selection new to this edition


1. Teaching Theories: The Evolution-Creation Controversy - Robert Root-Bernstein and Donald L. McEachron (The American Biology Teacher, 1982)

Through a comparison of evolution and creationism, this article examines the logic of scientific inquiry and the characteristics of scientific theory. Scientific theories are testable and correctable, which is why they lead to new and useful knowledge.

2. *Re-reading Root-Bernstein and McEachron in Cobb County, Georgia (2005)

Cultural conflicts about evolution and creationism have centered on the American classroom. This selection describes recent courtroom skirmishes on this front-in a specific local case.

3. What are Friends For? - Barbara Smuts (Natural History, 1987)

"Friendship" between adult males and females is an important part of the society of olive baboons of Kenya. These mutually beneficial long-term relationships are usually based on female choice and are only indirectly related to sex. Observations of nonhuman primates make anthropologists rethink the origin and nature of human sociality.

4. What's Love Got to Do With It? - Meredith Small (Discover, 1992)

In contrast to earlier hypotheses on the importance of territorial control in human evolutionary history, contemporary theories emphasize understanding individual strategies for reproductive success. this selection is more about sex than reproduction and raises the novel question, What is sex for?

5. Mothers and Others - Sarah Blaffer Hardy (Natural History, 2001)

Based on observations of other primates and hunter-gatherers, a new way of thinking about our species challenges long-held beliefs and has implications for child rearing and gender roles, the importance of kin groups and neighbors, and the practices and policies of our day care systems.

6. *Great Mysteries of Human Evolution - Carl Zimmer (Discover, 2003)

Despite the extraordinary number of hominid fossils discovered in the past thirty years, many questions remain open about human origins and evolution. this article asks eight basic questions about what is fundamentally human.

7. Ancient Bodies, Modern Customs and Our Health - Elizabeth D. Whitaker (1998)

Biological anthropologists believe that our long evolutionary history has shaped our bodies and therefore strongly influences our health. Infant sleeping and breast-feeding patterns are linked to health issues like birth spacing, allergies, diarrhea, and dehydration, as well as increased risk of breast cancer and sudden infant death syndrome.

8. Slumbers Unexplored Landscape - Bruce Bower (Science News, 1999)

Most of our scientific understanding of the biology of sleep is based on laboratory work and assumptions of what are normal patterns of sleep behavior. Collaborations of biological anthropologists and cultural anthropologists show that the rules and expectations of a good night's sleep are quite different in traditional societies than our own.

9. Ancient Genes and Modern Health - S. Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner (Anthroquest, 1985)

Many of the serious health problems confronting us today may be the result of an incongruity between our genetic heritage as descendants of hunter-gatherers and our current diet and lifestyle. The study of Paleolithic people may be the key to a healthy life.

10. The Tall and the Short of It - Barry Bogin (Discover, 1998)

A biological anthropologist discusses changes in the average height of populations as an example of human plasticity in the context of changing nutrition in childhood. Our environment is shaped by culture, and it affects our outward biological characteristics or phenotype.

11. *Identifying Victims after a Disaster - Dick Gould (Anthropology News, 2005)

Forensic anthropology has taken on an important role both in the American public imagination and on the front lines of disaster relief efforts. This selection discusses how archaeology and forensic anthropology have increasingly played a part in the identification of victims of human and natural disasters.


12. Battle of the Bones - Bonnichsen and Schneider (The Sciences, 2000)

How does one weigh the importance of new, and possibly revolutionary, knowledge about the prehistory of North America against the rights of some Native Americans to rebury the bones of those they believe to be their ancestors? The authors examine this contemporary controversy.

13. The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race - Jared Diamond (Discover, 1987)

The agricultural revolution has long been considered one of the most important transformations in human history. But was it for better or for worse?

14. New Women of The Ice Age - Heather Pringle (Discover, 1998)

Traditionally, scientists have emphasized male hunting activities for the success of humans in the evolutionary story. Ancient bare-breasted "Venus" figurines were interpreted according to prevailing gender stereotypes. Recent research has emphasized the critical role of women in human survival. Women played a host of powerful roles, from gatherers and weavers to hunters and spiritual leaders.

15. Disease & Death at Dr. Dickson's Mounds - Alan H. Goodman and George J. Armelagos (Natural History, 1985)

The intensification of maize agriculture among prehistoric Native Americans of the Mississippian period, combined with their involvement in a trading network, led to a drastic decline in their health.

16. The Secrets of Ancient Tiwanaku Are Benefiting Todays Bolivia - Baird Straughan (Smithsonian, 1991)

Archaeologists working at Tiwanaku discover an ingenious agricultural system used by the Inca that has led to significant increases in crop yields and the quality of life of present-day residents.

17. Easters End - Jared Diamond (Discover, 1995)

Prehistory has many examples of cultures that once flourished and then collasped--often within a relatively short period of time. Among the most mysterious and intriguing is the case of Easter Island, well known for its huge statues and speculations of Thor Heyerdahl, captain of the raft Kon-Tiki. What can we learn from the tragic story of the demise of an entire culture?

18. "Clean Your Plate. There Are People Starving in Africa!" The Application of Archaeology and Ethnography to American's Food Loss Issues - Timothy W. Jones (2005)

Food waste is a growing problem in industrial countries like the United States. In this selection, an archaeologist looks at patterns of food loss as revealed not just by talking to producers and consumers, but also by looking at their garbage.

19. Dawn of a New Stone Age Eye Surgery - Payson D. Sheets (1993)

An anthropologist applies his knowledge of the stone toolmaking technology of ancient Maya to the manufacture of surgical scapels; his obsidian blades are more than 200 times sharper than the surgical steel scalpels currently in use.



20. Body Ritual among the Nacirema - Horace Miner (American Anthropologist, 1956)

The examination and analysis of the rituals of this tribe shed light on the meaning of culture and help us reflect on our own way of life.

21. Crack in Spanish Harlem - Philippe Bourgois (Anthropology Today, 1989)

Whereas some anthropologists travel long distances to find exotic cultures, others stay closer to home. During fieldwork in a New York neighborhood on the social organization of addicts and sellers and the economics of crack cocaine, the author comes face to face with a culture of terror. Underlying the violence, the drugs, and the ruined lives is a different view of the American dream.

22. Tricking and Tripping: Fieldwork on Prostitution in the Era of AIDS - Claire E. Sterk (2000)

An anthropologist who works at a school of public health describes the fieldwork methods she used to study women's health and sexual behavior among prostitutes in New York City and Atlanta. Gaining access, establishing rapport, and leaving the field create both methodological and emotional challenges.


23. Shakespeare in the Bush - Laura Bohannan - (Natural History, 1966)

Laura Bohannan finds great difficulty in communicating the dramatic themes (and basic story line) of Hamlet to the Tiv of Nigeria. Assumptions about human motivations, morality, and the nature of reality are embedded in a cultural context and limit the possible understanding of the story. Great art does not necessarily transcend cultural boundaries.

24. "To Give Up Words": Silence in Western Apache Culture - Keith H. Basso (Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 1970)

Cross-cultural communication involves more than differences in language and gesture. This sociolinguistic analysis explores the role of silence in Apache society in particular situational contexts. There are social rules that dictate when talking is appropriate, and these rules vary across cultures.

25. A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication - Daniel N. Maltz and Ruth A. Borker (Language and Social Identity, 1982)

Misunderstandings between men and women may be due to differences in subcultural rules about speech and conversation. Sociolinguistic variation in question asking, gestures of agreement, and topic flow can cause misinterpretation of the speaker's intentions. Valuable parallels can be drawn between interethnic miscommunication and cross-class miscommunication.


26. Eating Christmas in the Kalahari - Richard Borshay Lee (Natural History, 1969)

When the !Kung San make fun of an ox that the anthropologist wants to give the group for a Christmas feast, Richard Lee learns about the important value of reciprocity in a food-foraging band.

27. Chinese Table Manners: You Are How You Eat - Eugene Cooper (Human Organization, 1986)

Knowing good manners from bad is extremely important in cross-cultural encounters. the author heightens our sensitivity by describing Chinese table manners.

28. Culture and the Evolution of Obesity - Peter J. Brown (Human Nature, 1991)

Why do people get fat? Is it cultural or is it in our genes--or, as with most things, is it some of each? This selection provides a cross-cultural and evolutionary analysis of how both biological and cultural factors in obesity evolved.


29. Race Without Color - Jared Diamond (Discover, 1994)

Race is an important and continuous topic in the United States. Contrary to common opinion, race refers not to a biological fact but rather to an arbitrary social categorization. A noted biologist explains why race is a useless idea when it comes to understanding human diversity.

30. Official Statement on Race - American Anthropological Association (Anthropology Newsletter, 1997)

Given the importance of race in current public discussion of policy and politics and given the public confusion about race after the publication of The Bell Curve, the American Anthropological Association has adopted this statement. Race is a cultural creation, not a biological fact.

31. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack -Peggy McIntosh (1988)

The author argues that there are many advantages and benefits conferred on people as members of a birth-ascribed group. Many such advantages are obvious, whereas others are not. The author helps us to see the invisible and reflect on our awareness of privilege.


32. Strings Attached - Lee Cronk (The Sciences, 1989)

Anthropologists study the universal practice of gift giving and the social expectations that such exchanges entails, as well as the social relationships the gifts maintain. These anthropological principles provide a valuable window for understanding international relations.

33. Using Cultural Skills for Cooperative Advantage in Japan - Richard H. Reeves-Ellington (Human Organization, 1993)

Cultural values and ideals are implicit in day-to-day business interactions. Cross-cultural training programs allow project managers to significantly cut project completion time and increase profit--not to mention enhancing goodwill and trust between employees.

34. *Coming of Age in Palo Alto - Katie Hafner (New York Times, 1999)

Twenty-first century anthropologists have added the high tech industry to their long list of field sites. Today, applied anthropologists use the research tools developed in more traditional field settings to help create solutions in the technology industry.


35. Our Babies, Ourselves - Meredith F. Small (Natural History, 1997)

Cross-cultural research on parenting and child development demonstrates a wide variety of parenting styles, particularly in regard to baby care. All these variations produce culturally competent adults. Parenting variations make sense given the diversity of social contexts as well as differences in cultural values.

36. *Measuring Up to Barbie: Ideals of the Feminine Body in Popular Culture - Jacqueline Urla and Alan C. Swedlund (1995)

Even children's toys like the Barbie Doll shape cultural ideas of women's beauty. In this selection, the authors discuss Barbie's history and use anthropometry to show just how impossible her ideal is for women to attain.


37. When Brothers Share a Wife - Melvyn C. Goldstein (Natural History, 1987)

Fraternal polyandry, a rare form of plural marriage, has both benefits and costs for the people of Tibet. Given the economy and ecology of this area, the practice of polyandry has adaptive functions.

38. Law, Customs and Crimes Against Women: The Problem of Dowry Death in India - John van Willigen and V. C. Channa (Human Organization, 1991)

Dowry-related violence against women in northern India is a serious and perplexing problem, difficult to explain with an anthropological functionalist approach. Economic transformations have negatively affected the status of women and have intensified economic pressures on families to provide a dowry at the marriage of daughters.

39. *How Many Fathers Are Best for a Child? - Meredith Small (Discover, 2003)

Kinship is a central topic of anthropological research, as anthropologists examine how people use culture to create variations in understandings of human biology. This selection considers the Bari of South America, whose children have one mother and several fathers.


40. The Kpelle Moot - James L. Gibbs, Jr. (Africa, 1963)

The informal moot, a method of resolving disputes among the Kpelle of Liberia, is significantly different from our court system. It emphasizes the mending of social relations between the disputing parties; the process of the hearing is therapeutic. The moot is a useful alternative model for settling disputes in our own society.

41. Contemporary Warfare in the New Guinea Highlands - Aaron Podolefsky (Ethnology, 1984)

Intertribal warfare flares up in the highlands of Papua New Guinea even after decades of relative peace. To understand why, anthropologists focus on changes in the local economic system that have, in turn, changed marriage patterns.

42. *Life Stories, Disclosure, and the Law - Michelle McKinley (Polar, 1997)

Anthropologists study different cultures on their own terms; however, even anthropologists sometimes fall prey to cultural biases. An applied anthropologist's presentation of a political refugee's case in court was shaped by American cultural expectations.


43. *Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? - Lila Abu-Lughod (American Anthropology, 2002)

One of the rationales used for war in Afghanistan after September 11th, 200l, was the liberation of Afghani women from the oppression of strict Muslim orthodoxy. The Western ethnocentrism of that rationale has obscured more complex historical and political dimensions of violence in Afghanistan.

44. Hallucinogenic Plants and Their Use in Traditional Societies - Wade Davis (Cultural Survival, 1985)

The author, whose writing about psychoactive plants and zombis Haiti has stirred controversy, surveys the use and functions of hallucinogenic plants in other societies. Particularly in traditional South American Indian societies, hallucinogens play a central role in religion and ritual.

45. *Culture, Poverty, and HIV - Paul Farmer (Infections and Inequalities, 1999)

Diseases are sometimes blamed on their stigmatized victims. Anthropologists describe and explain patterns of transmission of HIV in the global AIDS pandemic. Social and political circumstances beyond their control put poor Haitians at high risk for HIV infection.


46. *Cell Phones, Sharing, and Social Status in an African Society - Daniel J. Smith (2005)

Globalization includes the rapid distribution of new technologies to distant corners of the world. Globalization is not a uniform process but must be understood in local context. Igbo Nigerians, who call the cell phone "the fire that eats money," are enraptured by the power of the cell phone. The meaning and rules of use of the cell phone are influenced by local ideas, value, customs, and practices.

47. *Just Another Job. The Commodification of Domestic Labor - Bridget Anderson (2002)

Millions of people from poor countries travel across land and sea seeking work in wealthier countries. Globalization creates challenges for transnational migrants as they try to support their own families by performing difficult and sometimes demeaning work in the homes of strangers.

48. Circumcision, Pluralism, and Dilemmas of Cultural Relativism - Corinne A. Kratz (2002)

There are a variety of cultural practices throughout the world that involve surgical genital modification, and some of these carry risks of medical complications. Female circumcision practices in Africa have been targeted for elimination by a variety of international groups for nearly a century. Understanding how this practice is interpreted by people in different cultural contexts is the key for understanding the current controversy.

49. The Price of Progress - John H. Bodley (Victims of Progress, 1999)

Economic development, sometimes called "progress," can bring about unintended social and medical consequences, especially for marginalized tribal people. New disease burdens, ecological degradation, and increased discrimination are among the hidden costs of economic change for many people.

* Indicates a selection new to this edition

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