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Cultural Anthropology Asking Questions About Humanity

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-11-17
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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What is cultural anthropology, and how can it explain--or even help resolve--contemporary human problems?

Robert L. Welsch and Luis A. Vivanco's Cultural Anthropology: Asking Questions About Humanity, Third Edition, uses a questions-based approach to teach students how to think anthropologically, helping them view cultural issues and everyday experiences as an anthropologist might.

Inspired by the common observation that ninety-nine percent of a good answer is a good question, Cultural Anthropology combines a question-centered pedagogy with the topics typically covered in an introductory course. It emphasizes up front what the discipline of anthropology knows and which issues are in debate, and how a cultural perspective is relevant to understanding social, political, and economic dynamics in the contemporary world. Cultural Anthropology also represents an effort to close the gap between the realities of the discipline today and traditional views that are taught at the introductory level by bringing classic anthropological examples, cases, and analyses to bear on contemporary questions.

Author Biography

Robert L. Welsch is Guest Curator at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College.

Luis A. Vivanco is Professor of Anthropology at University of Vermont.

Table of Contents

Letter from the Authors
About the Authors

1. Anthropology: Asking Questions About Humanity
How Did Anthropology Begin?
The Disruptions of Industrialization
The Theory of Evolution
Colonial Origins of Cultural Anthropology
Anthropology as a Global Discipline
What Do the Four Subfields of Anthropology Have in Common?
Cultural Relativism
Human Diversity
How Do Anthropologists Know What They Know?
The Scientific Method in Anthropology
When Anthropology Is Not a Science: Interpreting Other Cultures
How Do Anthropologists Put Their Knowledge to Work in the World?
Applied and Practicing Anthropology: The Fifth Subfield?
Putting Anthropology to Work
What Ethical Obligations Do Anthropologists Have?
Do No Harm. But Is That Enough?
Take Responsibility for Your Work. But How Far Does That Go?
Share Your Findings. But Who Should Control Those Findings?
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Edward Burnett Tylor and the Culture Concept
DOING FIELDWORK: Conducting Holistic Research with Stanley Ulijaszek
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Anthropologists are Innovative
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Key Characteristics of Anthropologists in the Workplace
A WORLD IN MOTION: George A. Dorsey and the Anthropology of Immigration in the Early Twentieth Century

2. Culture: Giving Meaning to Human Lives
What Is Culture?
Elements of Culture
Defining Culture in This Book
If Culture Is Always Changing, Why Does It Feel So Stable?
How Do Social Institutions Express Culture?
Culture and Social Institutions
American Culture Expressed Through Breakfast Cereals and Sexuality
Can Anybody Own Culture?
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Franz Boas and the Relativity of Culture
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: Michael Ames and Collaborative Museum Exhibits
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Cultural Anthropology and Human Possibilities

3. Ethnography: Studying Culture
What Distinguishes Ethnographic Fieldwork from Other Types of Social Re-search?
Seeing the World from "the Native's Point of View"
Avoiding Cultural "Tunnel Vision"
How Do Anthropologists Actually Do Ethnographic Fieldwork?
Participant Observation: Disciplined "Hanging Out"
Interviews: Asking and Listening
Scribbling: Taking Fieldnotes
What Other Methods Do Cultural Anthropologists Use?
Comparative Method
Genealogical Method
Life Histories
Rapid Appraisals
Action Research
Anthropology at a Distance
Analysis of Secondary Materials
Special Issues Facing Anthropologists Studying Their Own Societies
What Unique Ethical Dilemmas Do Ethnographers Face?
Protecting Informant Identity
Anthropology, Spying, and War
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Bronislaw Malinowski on the Ethnographic Method
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: Alcida Rita Ramos and In-digenous Rights in Brazil
A WORLD IN MOTION: Transnational Migration, Ethnographic Mobility, and Digital Fieldwork

4. Linguistic Anthropology: Relating Language and Culture
How Do Anthropologists Study Language?
Where Does Language Come From?
Evolutionary Perspectives on Language
Historical Linguistics: Studying Language Origins and Change
How Does Language Actually Work?
Descriptive Linguistics
Does Language Shape How We Experience the World?
The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
Hopi Notions of Time
Ethnoscience and Color Terms
Is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Correct?
If Language Is Always Changing, Why Does It Seem So Stable?
Linguistic Change, Stability, and National Policy
Language Stability Parallels Cultural Stability
How Does Language Relate to Power and Social Inequality?
Language Ideology
Gendered Language Styles
Language and Social Status
Language and the Legacy of Colonialism
Language Ideology and New Media Technologies
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Edward Sapir on How Language Shapes Cul-ture
DOING FIELDWORK: Helping Communities Preserve Endangered Languages
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Career Trajectories for Undergraduates with a Linguistic Anthropology Background
A WORLD IN MOTION: The Emergence of a New Language in the Northern Territory of Australia

5. Globalization and Culture: Understanding Global Interconnections
Is the World Really Getting Smaller?
Defining Globalization
The World We Live In
What Are the Outcomes of Global Integration?
Colonialism and World Systems Theory
Cultures of Migration
Resistance at the Periphery
Globalizing and Localizing Identities
Doesn't Everyone Want to Be Developed?
What Is Development?
Development Anthropology
Anthropology of Development
Change on Their Own Terms
If the World Is Not Becoming Homogenized, What Is Actually Happening?
Cultural Convergence Theories
How Can Anthropologists Study Global Interconnections?
Defining an Object of Study
Multi-Sited Ethnography
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Eric Wolf, Culture, and the World System
DOING FIELDWORK: Tracking Emergent Forms of Citizenship with Aihwa Ong
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Coldplay and the Global Citizen Festival

6. Foodways: Finding, Making, and Eating Food
Why Is There No Universal Human Diet?
Human Dietary Adaptability and Constraints
Cultural Influences on Human Evolution: Digesting Milk
Why Do People Eat Things That Others Consider Disgusting?
Foodways and Culture
Foodways Are Culturally Constructed
Foodways Communicate Symbolic Meaning
Foodways Mark Social Boundaries and Identities
Foodways Are Dynamic
How Do Different Societies Get Food?
Intensive Agriculture
Industrial Agriculture
How Are Contemporary Foodways Changing?
Industrial Food Systems and Access to Healthy Food
Industrial Foods, Sedentary Lives, and the Nutrition Transition
The Return of Local and Organic Foods?
The Biocultural Logic of Local Foodways
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Audrey Richards and the Study of Foodways
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: Urban Black Food Justice With Ashant? Reese
A WORLD IN MOTION: Instant Ramen Noodles Take Over the Globe

7. Environmental Anthropology: Relating to the Natural World
Do All People See Nature in the Same Way?
The Human-Nature Divide?
The Cultural Landscape
How Does Non-Western Knowledge of Nature Relate to Science?
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Are Industrialized Western Societies the Only Ones to Conserve Nature?
Anthropogenic Landscapes
The Culture of Modern Nature Conservation
Is Collaborative Conservation Possible?
How Do Social and Cultural Factors Drive Environmental Destruction?
Population and Environment
Ecological Footprint
Political Ecology
Anthropology Confronts Climate Change
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Roy Rappaport's Insider and Outsider Models
DOING FIELDWORK: James Fairhead and Melissa Leach on Misreading the African Landscape
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Careers in Sustainability
A WORLD IN MOTION: Migrant Caravans, Global Warming, and Ecological Refugees

8. Economics: Working, Sharing, and Buying
Is Money Really the Measure of All Things?
Culture, Economics, and Value
The Neoclassical Perspective
The Substantivist-Formalist Debate
The Marxist Perspective
The Cultural Economics Perspective
So, How is Value Established?
How Does Culture Shape the Value and Meaning of Money?
The Cultural Dimensions of Money
Money and the Distribution of Power
Why Does Gift Exchange Play Such an Important Role in All Societies?
Gift Exchange and Economy: Two Classic Approaches
Gift Exchange in Market-Based Economies
What Is the Point of Owning Things?
Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Property
Appropriation and Consumption
Does Capitalism Have Distinct Cultures?
Culture and Social Relations on Wall Street
Entrepreneurial Capitalism Among Malays
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Marshall Sahlins on Exchange in Traditional Economies
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: Jim Yong Kim's Holistic, On-the-Ground Approach to Fighting Poverty
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: The Economics of Anthropology

9. Politics: Cooperation, Conflict, and Power Relations
Does Every Society Have a Government?
The Idea of "Politics" and the Problem of Order
Structural-Functionalist Models of Political Stability
Neo-Evolutionary Models of Political Organization: Bands, Tribes, Chiefdoms, and States
Challenges to Traditional Political Anthropology
What Is Political Power?
Defining Political Power
Political Power Is Action-Oriented
Political Power Is Structural
Political Power Is Gendered
Political Power in Non-State Societies
The Political Power of the Contemporary Nation-State
Why Do Some Societies Seem More Violent Than Others?
What Is Violence?
Violence and Culture
Explaining the Rise of Violence in Our Contemporary World
How Do People Avoid Aggression, Brutality, and War?
What Disputes Are "About"
How People Manage Disputes
Is Restoring Harmony Always the Best Way?
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: E. E. Evans-Pritchard on Segmentary Lineages
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: Maxwell Owusu and Democracy in Ghana

10. Race, Ethnicity, and Class: Understanding Identity and Social Inequality
Is Race Biological?
The Biological Meanings (and Meaninglessness) of "Human Races"
Race Does Have Biological Consequences
How Is Race Culturally Constructed?
The Construction of Blackness and Whiteness in Colonial Virginia and Beyond
Racialization in Latin America
Saying "Race Is Culturally Constructed" Is Not Enough
How Are Other Social Classifications Naturalized?
Ethnicity: Common Descent
Class: Economic Hierarchy in Capitalist Societies
Caste: Moral Purity and Pollution
Are Prejudice and Discrimination Inevitable?
Understanding Prejudice
Discrimination, Explicit and Disguised
The Other Side of Discrimination: Unearned Privilege
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Hortense Powdermaker on Prejudice
DOING FIELDWORK: Tamie Tsuchiyama and Fieldwork in a Japanese-American Internment Camp
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Talking About Race and Racism

11. Gender, Sex, and Sexuality: The Fluidity of Maleness and Femaleness
How and Why Do Males and Females Differ?
Shifting Views on Male and Female Differences
Beyond the Male-Female Binary
Do Hormones Really Cause Gendered Differences in Behavior?
Why Is There Inequality Between Men and Women?
Debating "The Second Sex"
Taking Stock of the Debate
Reproducing Male-Female Inequalities
Transformations in Feminist Anthropology
What Does It Mean to Be Neither Male Nor Female?
Navajo N?dleeh?
Indian Hijras
Trans in the United States
Is Human Sexuality Just a Matter of Being Straight or Queer?
Cultural Perspectives on Same-Sex Sexuality
Controlling Sexuality
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Margaret Mead and the Sex/Gender Distinction
DOING FIELDWORK: Don Kulick and "Coming Out" in the Field

12. Kinship, Marriage, and the Family: Love, Sex, and Power
What Are Families, and How Are They Structured in Different Societies?
Families, Ideal and Real
Nuclear and Extended Families
Clans and Lineages
Kinship Terminologies
Cultural Patterns in Childrearing
How Do Families Control Power and Wealth?
Claiming a Bride
Recruiting the Kids
The Dowry in India: Providing a Financial Safety Net for a Bride
Controlling Family Wealth Through Inheritance
Why Do People Get Married?
Why People Get Married
Forms of Marriage
Sex, Love, and the Power of Families Over Young Couples
How Are Social and Technological Changes Reshaping How People Think About Family?
International Adoptions and the Problem of Cultural Identity
In Vitro Fertilization
Surrogate Mothers and Sperm Donors
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: A. L. Kroeber on Classificatory Systems of Relationship
DOING FIELDWORK: Andrea Louie on Negotiating Identity and Culture in International Adoptions
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Family-Centered Social Work and Anthropology

13. Religion: Ritual and Belief
How Should We Understand Religion and Religious Beliefs?
Understanding Religion, Version 1.0: Edward Burnett Tylor and Belief in Spirits
Understanding Religion, Version 2.0: Anthony F. C. Wallace on Super-natural Beings, Powers, and Forces
Understanding Religion, Version 3.0: Religion as a System of Symbols
Understanding Religion, Version 4.0: Religion as a System of Social Action
Making Sense of the Terrorist Attacks in France: Charlie Hebdo
What Forms Does Religion Take?
Clan Spirits and Clan Identities in New Guinea
Totemism in North America
Shamanism and Ecstatic Religious Experiences
Ritual Symbols That Reinforce a Hierarchical Social Order
Polytheism and Monotheism in Ancient Societies
World Religions and Universal Understandings of the World
The Localization of World Religions
How Does Atheism Fit in the Discussion?
How Do Rituals Work?
Magical Thought in Non-Western Cultures
Sympathetic Magic: The Law of Similarity and the Law of Contagion
Applying These Principles to Religious Activities
Magic in Western Societies
Rites of Passage and the Ritual Process
How Is Religion Linked to Political and Social Action?
The Rise of Fundamentalism
Understanding Fundamentalism
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Sir James G. Frazer on Sympathetic Magic
DOING FIELDWORK: Studying the Sikh Militants
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Is Anthropology Compatible with Religious Faith?
A WORLD IN MOTION: Contemporary Pilgrimage and the Camino de Santiago

14. The Body: Biocultural Perspectives on Health and Illness
How Do Biological and Cultural Factors Shape Our Bodily Experiences?
Uniting Mind and Matter: A Biocultural Perspective
Culture and Mental Illness
What Do We Mean by Health and Illness?
The Individual Subjectivity of Illness
The "Sick Role": The Social Expectations of Illness
How and Why Do Doctors, Healers, and Other Health Practitioners Gain Social Authority?
The Disease-Illness Distinction: Professional and Popular Views of Sick-ness
The Medicalization of the Non-Medical
How Does Healing Happen?
Clinical Therapeutic Processes
Symbolic Therapeutic Processes
Social Support
Persuasion: The Placebo Effect
What Can Anthropology Do to Help Us Address Global Health Problems?
Understanding Global Health Problems
Anthropological Contributions to Tackling the International HIV/AIDS Crisis
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Arthur Kleinman and the New Medical Anthropological Methodology
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: Nancy Scheper-Hughes on an Engaged Anthropology of Health
A WORLD IN MOTION: Medical Tourism and Yemen
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Zak Kaufman, Grassroot Soccer, and the Fight to Slow the Spread of HIV/AIDS

15. Materiality: Constructing Social Relationships and Meanings with Things
Why Is the Ownership of Artifacts from Other Cultures a Contentious Issue?
Questions of Ownership, Rights, and Protection
Cultural Resource Management: Not Just for Archaeologists
How Should We Look at Objects Anthropologically?
The Many Dimensions of Objects
A Shiny New Bicycle, in Multiple Dimensions
The Power of Symbols
The Symbols of Power
How and Why Do the Meanings of Things Change Over Time?
The Social Life of Things
Three Ways Objects Change Over Time
How Do Objects Help Shape and Express Our Goals and Aspirations?
The Cultural Biography of Things
The Culture of Mass Consumption
How Advertisers Manipulate Our Goals and Aspirations
CLASSIC CONTRIBUTIONS: Daniel Miller on Why Some Things Matter
ANTHROPOLOGIST AS PROBLEM SOLVER: John Terrell, Repatriation, and the Maori Meeting House at The Field Museum
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL LIFE: Richard Busch, Education Collections Manager at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature

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