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.

A. Evolution & Biological Anthropology

1. What is the definition of anthropology?

Chapter 1, “What is anthropology?” (3-7)

2. What are the fields of anthropology?

Chapter 1, “What is anthropology?” (8-20)

3. Is anthropology scientific?

Module 1, “Anthropology, Science, and Storytelling” (21-29)

4. How do anthropologists study evolution?

Chapter 2, “Why is evolution important to anthropologists?” (31-41)

5. How is evolutionary theory evolving?

Chapter 2, “Why is evolution important to anthropologists?” (41-59)

6. Are humans primates?

Chapter 3, “What can the study of primates tell us about human beings?” (61-72)

7. Why is primatology important to anthropology?

Chapter 3, “What can the study of primates tell us about human beings?” (63-81)

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

Module 2, “Dating Methods in Paleoanthropology and Archaeology” (82-93)

9. How did apes evolve?

Chapter 4, “What can the fossil record tell us about human origins?” (95-116)

10. How did Homo sapiens evolve?

Chapter 4, “What can the fossil record tell us about human origins?” (117-141)

11. Can DNA tell us about race?

Chapter 5, “What can evolutionary theory tell us about human variation?” (143-156)

12. Are humans still evolving?

Chapter 5, “What can evolutionary theory tell us about human variation?” (156-167)

B. Archaeology, History & Culture

13. What is archaeology?

Chapter 6, “How do we know about the human past?” (169-183)

14. What role do ethics play in archaeology?

Chapter 6, “How do we know about the human past?” (183-199)

15. What is domestication (anthropology definition)?

Chapter 7, “Why did humans settle down, build cities, and establish states?” (201-218)

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. Or for a summary by Dean Falk, see Is the Clock Ticking Toward Doomsday? in Sapiens (January 2018).

17. Why is it important to study culture?

Chapter 8, “Why is the concept of culture important?” (237-246)

18. Why does anthropology care about cultural relativism?

Chapter 8, “Why is the concept of culture important?” (246-256)

19. What does ethnographic mean?

Module 3, “On Ethnographic Methods” (257-271)

20. What is language (anthropology definition)?

Chapter 9, “Why is understanding human language important?” (273-284)

21. What is language ideology?

Chapter 9, “Why is understanding human language important?” (284-297)

22. Is there meaning without context?

Module 4, “Components of Language” (298-301)

23. Why do we play?

Chapter 10, “How do we make meaning?” (303-321)

24. Can anthropology explain religion?

Chapter 10, “How do we make meaning?” (321-335)

C. Understanding Our World

25. Why does anthropology study economics?

Chapter 11, “Why do anthropologists study economic relations?” (337-351)

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

Chapter 11, “Why do anthropologists study economic relations?” (351-361)

27. What is power in anthropology?

Chapter 12, “How do anthropologists study political relations?” (363-375)

28. How does globalization affect nation-states?

Chapter 12, “How do anthropologists study political relations?” (376-391)

29. How does anthropology study gender?

Chapter 13, “What can anthropology teach us about sex, gender, and sexuality?” (393-406)

30. Is sexuality a social construct?

Chapter 13, “What can anthropology teach us about sex, gender, and sexuality?” (406-419)

31. What is kinship?

Chapter 14, “Where do our relatives come from and why do they matter?” (421-441)

32. What is marriage?

Chapter 14, “Where do our relatives come from and why do they matter?” (441-467)

33. How are naturalizing discourses used?

Chapter 15, “What can anthropology tell us about social inequality?” (469-479)

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

Chapter 15, “What can anthropology tell us about social inequality?” (479-501)

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

Chapter 16, “How is anthropology applied in the field of medicine?” (503-517)

36. What is the future of medical anthropology?

Chapter 16, “How is anthropology applied in the field of medicine?” (517-529)





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.


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