Introduction to Anthropology 2018 – Lavenda & Schultz

Anthropology Definition & Introduction

This is an outline for an Introduction to Anthropology 2018 course, providing an anthropology definition by demonstrating contemporary anthropological findings. This definition of anthropology is based on the 4th edition of Anthropology: What Does it Mean to be Human? by Robert H. Lavenda and Emily A. Schultz, published in 2018 by the Oxford University Press.

The course outline is divided into three sections of 12 classes. I divided each of the 16 chapters of Lavenda and Schultz into two parts. I left the four modules as standalone. The course outline is ideal for a 14-15 week course that meets three times each week, leaving room for exams and other activities. The outline can be easily adjusted for other formats or structured for independent reading. The links in [brackets] point to related material on Living Anthropologically and notes from previous introduction to anthropology classes.

A. Evolution & Biological Anthropology

1. What is the definition of anthropology?

2. What are the fields of anthropology?

  • Chapter 1, “What is anthropology?” (8-20).
  • Two Bears, Davina. 2006. “Navajo Archaeologist Is Not an Oxymoron: A Tribal Archaeologist’s Experience.” The American Indian Quarterly 30(3):381-387.
  • Amuyunzu-Nyamongo, Mary. 2006. “Challenges and Prospects for Applied Anthropology in Kenya. In African Anthropologies: History, Critique and Practice, edited by M. Ntarangwi, D. Mills, and M. Babiker, 237-249. Dakar: CODESRIA.

3. Is anthropology scientific?

4. How do anthropologists study evolution?

5. How is evolutionary theory evolving?

6. Are humans primates?

  • Chapter 3, “What can the study of primates tell us about human beings?” (61-72)
  • Smuts, Barbara. 1987. “What are Friends For?” Natural History Magazine 96(2). [2016-17 class Primate Friends. For updated research on baboon friendships, see Nga Nguyen’s work reported in BBC Earth News (2009)]
  • Fruth, Barbara, and Gottfried Hohmann. 2018. “Food Sharing across Borders.” Human Nature. See Bonobos Spied Sharing a Feast by Nicola Jones in Sapiens (April 2018).
  • Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko, 2016. “Primates as Metaphors/Symbols.” In The International Encyclopedia of Primatology, 1-7.

7. Why is primatology important to anthropology?

  • Chapter 3, “What can the study of primates tell us about human beings?” (73-81). [So Many Primates for Primatology]
  • Malone, Nicholas, et al. 2014. “Ethnoprimatology: Critical interdisciplinarity and multispecies approaches in anthropology.” Critique of Anthropology 34(1):8-29. See also co-author Erin P. Riley’s work on ethnoprimatology.
  • Pruetz, Jill D., and Nicole M. Herzog. 2017. “Savanna Chimpanzees at Fongoli, Senegal, Navigate a Fire Landscape.” Current Anthropology 58(S16):S337-S350. See also “Hints of Human Evolution in Chimpanzees That Endure a Savanna’s Heat” by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times (April 2018) for more on Pruetz’s work.

8. What type of dating method is the most accurate?

9. How did apes evolve?

  • Chapter 4, “What can the fossil record tell us about human origins?” (95-116)
  • Kuhn, Steven L., David A. Raichlen, and Amy E. Clark. 2016. “What moves us? How mobility and movement are at the center of human evolution.” Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 25(3):86-97.
  • Haile-Selassie, Yohannes, et al. 2015. “New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity.” Nature 521:483. See The Human Family Tree Bristles With New Branches by Carl Zimmer in The New York Times (May 2015).

10. How did Homo sapiens evolve?

  • Chapter 4, “What can the fossil record tell us about human origins?” (117-141)
  • Antón, Susan C., and Christopher W. Kuzawa. 2017. “Early Homo, Plasticity and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.” Interface Focus 7(5).
  • Bae, Christopher J., Katerina Douka, and Michael D. Petraglia. 2017. “On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives.” Science 358(6368). For a well-written summary, see Humanity’s Story Has No End of Surprising Twists by Michelle Langley in Sapiens (March 2018).

11. Can DNA tell us about race?

12. Are humans still evolving?

  • Chapter 5, “What can evolutionary theory tell us about human variation?” (156-167)
  • Thayer, Zaneta M., and Amy L. Non. 2015. “Anthropology Meets Epigenetics: Current and Future Directions.” American Anthropologist 117(4):722-735.
  • For a good discussion of plasticity (in Lavenda & Schultz:158-59) see How War Gets “Under the Skin” by Patrick Clarkin (February 2013). See also What the Archaeology of Night Reveals by Nancy Gonlin and April Nowell in Sapiens (April 2018).

B. Archaeology, History & Culture

13. What is archaeology?

14. What role do ethics play in archaeology?

  • Chapter 6, “How do we know about the human past?” (183-199)
  • Geismar, Haidy. 2015. “Anthropology and Heritage Regimes.” Annual Review of Anthropology 44(1):71-85. Check out two Engaged Anthropology Grants: Beth Scaffidi’s “Pathways to Preservation: Understanding Archaeological Looting in Arequipa, Peru Through a Cloud-based Collaborative Database and Public Outreach Film” and Asmeret Mehari’s “Decolonizing the Pedagogy of Archaeology in East Africa.”
  • Barrett, Autumn R., and Michael L. Blakey, 2011. “Life Histories of Enslaved Africans in Colonial New York.” In Social Bioarchaeology, edited by Sabrina C. Agarwal and Bonnie A. Glencross, 212-251. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

15. What is domestication (anthropology definition)?

16. What is the archaeological evidence for social complexity?

  • Chapter 7, “Why did humans settle down, build cities, and establish states?” (218-235)
  • Falk, Dean and Charles Hildebolt. 2017. “Annual War Deaths in Small-Scale versus State Societies Scale with Population Size Rather than Violence.” Current Anthropology 58(6):805-813. For a summary by Dean Falk, see Is the Clock Ticking Toward Doomsday? in Sapiens (January 2018). Another possibility: Oka, Rahul C., et al. 2017. “Population is the main driver of war group size and conflict casualties.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(52):E11101-E11110. A summary of the argument is Why human society isn’t more–or less–violent than in the past by Michael Price in Science (December 2017).
  • Kohler, Timothy A., et al. 2017. “Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica.” Nature 551:619.
  • Wilcox, Michael. 2010. “Marketing conquest and the vanishing Indian: An Indigenous response to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse.” Journal of Social Archaeology 10(1):92-117.

17. Why is it important to study culture?

18. Why does anthropology care about cultural relativism?

19. What does ethnographic mean?

  • Module 3, “On Ethnographic Methods” (257-271)
  • Lassiter, Luke Eric, and Elizabeth Campbell. 2010. “What Will We Have Ethnography Do?” Qualitative Inquiry 16(9):757-767.
  • Marte, Lidia. 2018. “‘Rich Points’ and ‘Deep-hanging Out.’” Anthropology News website, April 5, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.815.

20. What is language (anthropology definition)?

  • Chapter 9, “Why is understanding human language important?” (273-284)
  • Cerrone, Mirko. 2018. “Umwelt and Ape Language Experiments: on the Role of Iconicity in the Human-Ape Pidgin Language.” Biosemiotics.
  • Boroditsky, Lera. 2011. “How Language Shapes Thought.” Scientific American. February. See Boroditsky’s TED Talk, How language shapes the way we think.

21. What is language ideology?

  • Chapter 9, “Why is understanding human language important?” (284-297)
  • Rosa, Jonathan. 2016. “Standardization, Racialization, Languagelessness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies across Communicative Contexts.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26(2):162-183.
  • Alim, H. Samy, 2016. “Who’s Afraid of the Transracial Subject?: Raciolinguistics and the Political Project of Transracialization.” In Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas About Race, edited by H. Samy Alim, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha F. Ball, 33-50. New York: Oxford University Press.

22. Is there meaning without context?

  • Module 4, “Components of Language” (298-301)
  • Chávez, Alex E. 2015. “So ¿te fuiste a Dallas? (So you went to Dallas?/So you got screwed?): Language, Migration, and the Poetics of Transgression.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 25(2):150-172.

23. Why do we play?

24. Can anthropology explain religion?

C. Understanding Our World

25. Why does anthropology study economics?

26. Can economic anthropology contribute to a more just world?

27. What is power in anthropology?

28. How does globalization affect nation-states?

29. How does anthropology study gender?

  • Chapter 13, “What can anthropology teach us about sex, gender, and sexuality?” (393-406)
  • Power, Camilla, 2016. “Anthropological Perspectives on Sex.” In The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, edited by A. Wong, M. Wickramasinghe, r. hoogland, and N.A. Naples.
  • Wentzell, Emily. 2014. “‘I help her, she helps me:’ Mexican men performing masculinity through transactional sex.” Sexualities 17(7):856-871.

30. Is sexuality a social construct?

  • Chapter 13, “What can anthropology teach us about sex, gender, and sexuality?” (406-419)
  • Halperin, David M. 2016. “What Is Sex For?” Critical Inquiry 43(1):1-31.
  • Wesp, Julie K., 2017. “Embodying Sex/Gender Systems in Bioarchaeological Research.” In Exploring Sex and Gender in Bioarchaeology, edited by Sabrina C. Agarwal and Julie K. Wesp, 99-126. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

31. What is kinship?

32. What is marriage?

  • Chapter 14, “Where do our relatives come from and why do they matter?” (441-467)
  • Álvarez Bernardo, Gloria, Nuria Romo Avilés, and Ana Belén García Berbén. 2017. “Doing gender in Spanish same-sex couples. The distribution of housework and childcare.” Journal of Gender Studies:1-11.
  • Ramberg, Lucinda. 2013. “Troubling kinship: Sacred marriage and gender configuration in South India.” American Ethnologist 40(4):661-675.

33. How are naturalizing discourses used?

34. If race isn’t biological then what is it?

  • Chapter 15, “What can anthropology tell us about social inequality?” (479-501)
  • Watkins, Rachel J. 2012. “Biohistorical Narratives of Racial Difference in the American Negro: Notes toward a Nuanced History of American Physical Anthropology.” Current Anthropology 53(S5):S196-S209. See AnthroBites: Scientific Racism in Cultural Anthropology for an interview with Rachel Watkins.
  • Ifekwunigwe, Jayne O., et al. 2017. “A Qualitative Analysis of How Anthropologists Interpret the Race Construct.” American Anthropologist 119(3):422-434. See also Ten Skeletons Bury a Right-Wing Talking Point by Duncan Sayer in Sapiens (April 2018).

35. What is anthropology’s contribution to public health?

36. What is the future of medical anthropology?

  • Chapter 16, “How is anthropology applied in the field of medicine?” (517-529)
  • Marino, Elizabeth, and Heather Lazrus. 2015. “Migration or Forced Displacement?: The Complex Choices of Climate Change and Disaster Migrants in Shishmaref, Alaska and Nanumea, Tuvalu.” Human Organization 74(4):341-350.
  • Schuller, Mark, and Julie K. Maldonado. 2016. “Disaster capitalism.” Annals of Anthropological Practice 40(1):61-72.

Anthropology Definition: Additional Resources

For an overview anthropology definition, see the Introduction to Anthropology page. See also What is Anthropology, the Anthropology Blogs, and the 2017 Anthropology Conference, Anthropology Matters.

I used the 3rd edition of Lavenda and Schultz for an Introduction to Anthropology 2017 and Introduction to Anthropology 2016. Those course outlines may be helpful for a definition of anthropology if used books are available.

For a related approach to an anthropology definition, see the course outline for Intro to Anthro 2018 based on Anthropology: Asking Questions about Human Origins, Diversity, and Culture by Robert L. Welsch,‎ Luis A. Vivanco,‎ and Agustín Fuentes (Oxford University Press, 2017).

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