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the study of humanity, including prehistoric origins and contemporary human diversity

biological anthropology

the study of humans as biological organisms, including evolution and contemporary variation


the study of past human cultures through their material remains

linguistic anthropology

the study of human communication, including its origins, history, and contemporary variation and change

cultural anthropology

the study of living people and their cultures, including variation and change


people's learned and shared behaviors and beliefs

applied anthropology

the use of anthropological knowledge to prevent or solve problems or to shape and achieve policy goals


the theory that a culture is similar to a biological organism, in which parts work to support the operation and maintenance of the whole


the perspective in anthropology that cultures are complex systems that cannot be be fully understood without paying attention to their different components, including economics, social organization, and ideology

cultural relativism

the perspective that each culture just be understood in terms of the values and ideas of that culture and should not be judged by the standards of another

cultural materialism

a theoretical position that takes material features of life, such as the environment, natural resources, and mode of production, as the bases for explaining social organization and ideology

interpretive anthropology

the view that cultures can be understood by studying what people think about, their ideas, and the meaning that are important to them


a theoretical position concerning human behavior and ideas that says large forces such as the economy, social and political organization, and the media shape what people do and think


the ability of humans to make choices and exercise free will within dominating structures


a distinct pattern of learned and shared behavior and thinking found within a larger culture


an object, word, or action with culturally defined meaning that stands for something else; most symbols are arbitrary


increased and intensified international ties related to the spread of Western, especially US, capitalism that affects all world cultures


the transformation of global culture by local cultures into something new


a way of categorizing people on the basis of their economic position in society, usually measured in terms of income or wealth


a classification of people into groups based on supposedly homogeneous and largely superficial biological traits (hair, skin color)


a shared sense of identity among a group based on a heritage, language, or culture

indigenous people

groups who have a long-standing connection with their home territory that predates colonial or outside societies that prevail in that territory


culturally constructed and learned behaviors and ideas attributed to males, females, or blended genders


judging other cultures by the standards of one's own culture rather than by the standards of that particular culture

biological determinism

a theory that explains human behavior and ideas mainly as shaped by biological features such as genes and hormones

cultural constructionism

a theory that explains human behavior and ideas mainly as shaped by learning

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