A discipline that studies humans, focusing on the study of differences and similarities, both biological and cultural, in human populations. Anthropology is concerned with typical biological and cultural characteristics of human populations in all period and in all parts of the world.
applied (practicing) anthropology
The branch of anthropology that concerns itself with applying anthropological knowledge to achieve practical goals, usually in the service of an agency outside the traditional academic setting.
The branch of anthropology that seeks to reconstruct the daily life and customs of peoples who lived in the past and to trace and explain cultural changes. Often lacking written records for study, archaeologists must try to reconstruct history from the material remains of human cultures.
biological (physical) anthropology
The study of humans as biological organisms, dealing with the emergence and evolution of of humans and with contemporary biological variations among human populations.
An ethnologist who uses ethnographic data about many societies to test possible explanations of cultural variation to discover general patterns about cultural traits- what is universal, what is variable, why traits vary, and what the consequences of the variability might be.
The study of cultural variation and universals in the past and present.
descriptive (structural) linguistics
The study of how languages are constructed.
A person who spends some time living with, interviewing, and observing a group of people to describe their customs.
A description of society's customary behaviors and ideas.
An ethnologist who uses historical documents to study how a particular culture has changed over time.
The study of how and why recent cultures differ and are similar.
The hardened remains or impressions of plants and animals that lived in the past.
A specialty within archaeology that studies the material remains of recent peoples who left written records.
The study of how languages change over time.
Refers to an approach that studies many aspects of a multifaceted system.
All living people belong to one biological species, Homo sapiens, which means that all human populations on earth can successfully interbreed. The first Homo sapiens may have emerged 200,000 years ago.
The study of the emergence of humans and their later physical evolution.
The study of how and why contemporary human populations vary biologically.
*See human paleontology
The time before written records
A member of the mammalian order Primates, divided into the two suborders of prosimians and anthropoids.
People who study primates.
The study of cultural and subcultural patterns of speaking in different social contexts.
The process of extensive borrowing of aspects of culture in the context of superordinate-subordinate relations between societies; usually occurs as the result of external pressure.
Cultural traits that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.
The attitude that a society's customs and ideas should be viewed within the context of that society's problems and opportunities.
The set of learned behaviors and ideas (including beliefs, attitudes, values, and ideals) that are characteristic of a particular society or population.
The borrowing by one society of a cultural trait belonging to another society as the result of contact between the two societies.
Refers to judgment of other cultures solely in therms of one's own culture.
The attitude that other societies' customs and ideas can be judged in the context of one's own culture.
The process of the creation of a new culture.
The ongoing spread of goods, people, information, and capital around the world.
Cultural traits that diminish the chances of survival and reproduction in a particular environment.
Standards or rules about what is acceptable behavior.
A usually violent replacement of a society's rulers.
A group of people who occupy a particular territory and speak a common language not generally understood by neighboring peoples. By this definition, societies do not necessarily correspond to nations.
The shared customs of a subgroup within a society.
Typically tries to understand contemporary human behavior using evolutionary principles. In addition to the principle of individual selection, behavioral ecologists point to the importance of analyzing economic tradeoffs because individuals have limited time and resources.
The analysis of the relationship between a culture and its environment.
In contrast to other evolutionary ecological perspectives, this theory gives much more importance to culture as part of the evolutionary process. Dual inheritance refers to both genes and culture playing different, but nonetheless important and interactive roles in transmitting traits to future generations.
An approach that attempts to derive rules of thought from the logical analysis of ethnographic data.
Selectively breeding humans with desirable characteristics and preventing those with undesirable ones from having offspring.
A type of evolutionary ecological approach that is particularly interested in universal human psychology. It is argued that human psychology was primarily adapted to the environment that characterized most of human history- the hunting-gathering way of life.
The theoretical orientation that looks for the part (function) that some aspect of culture or social life plays in maintaining a cultural system.
The notion that higher forms of culture arise from and generally supersede lower forms.
A group of related species.
Natural selection of group characteristics.
The study of meaning.
Natural selection of individual characteristics.
The study of how external forces, particularly powerful state societies, explain the way a society changes and adapts.
Systematic study of the biological causes of human behavior.
The particular sequence of change and adaption of a society in a given environment.
The theoretical orientation that human culture is a surface represented of the underlying structure of the human mind.
A general attitude about the phenomena are to be explained.
An answer to a why question. In science, researchers try to achieve two kinds of explanations: associations and theories.
Showing that a theory seems to be wrong y finding that implications or predictions derivable from it are not consistent with objectively collected data.
Firsthand experience with the people being studied and the usual means by which anthropological information is obtained. Regardless of other methods that anthropologists may use (e.g., censuses, surveys), fieldwork usually involves participant- observation for an extended period of time, often a year or more.
Predictions, which may be derived from theories, about how variables are related.
Associations or relationships that almost all scientists accept.
To describe how something compares with other things on some scale of variation.
A description of the procedure that is followed in measuring a variable.
Living among the people being studied- observing, questioning, and (when possible) taking part in the important events of the group. Writing or other wise recording notes on observations, questions asked and answered, and things to check out later are parts of participant-observation.
probability value (p-value)
The likelihood that an observed result could have occurred by chance.
The list of cases to be sampled from.
A relationship or correlation between two or more variables that is unlikely to be due to chance.
Refers to a result that would occur very rarely by chance. The result (and stronger ones) would occur fewer than 5 times out of 100 by chance.
Something that cannot be observed or verified directly.
Explanations of associations or laws.
A thing or quantity that varies.
Differences in pronunciation characteristic of a group.
Using more than one language in the course of conversing.
Words or morphs that belong to different languages but have similar sounds and meanings.
A variety of language spoken in a particular area or by a particular social group.
The study of how languages change over time.
The study of communication by nonvocal meanings, including posture, mannerisms, body movement, facial expressions, and signs and genstures.
Vocabulary or lexicon.
The words and morphs, and their meanings, of a language; approximated by a dictionary.
The smallest unit of a language that has a meaning.
One or more morphs with the same meaning.
The study of how sound sequences convey meaning.
Refers to all the optional vocal features or silences apart from the language itself that communicate meaning.
A sound or set of sounds that makes a difference in meaning to the speakers of the language.
A speech sound in a language.
The study of the sounds in a language and how they are used.
A hypothesized ancestral language from which two or more languages seem to have derived.
The ways in which words are arranged to form phrases and sentences.
An arbitrary (not obviously meaningful) gesture, call, word, or sentence that has meaning even when its referent is not present.
A cultivated commodity raised for sale rather than for personal consumption by the cultivator.
The increasing dependence on buying and selling, with money usually as the medium of exchange.
extensive (shifting) cultivation
A type of horticulture in which the land is worked for short periods and then left to regenerate for some years before being sued again. (also called shifting cultivation)
The form of subsistence technology in which food-getting is dependent on the cultivation and the domestication of plants and animals.
May be generally defined as a food-getting strategy that obtains wild plant and animal resources through gathering, hunting, scavenging, or fishing.
Plant cultivation carried out with relatively simple tools and methods; nature is allowed to replace nutrients in the soil, in the absence of permanently cultivated fields.
People who collect food from naturally occurring resources, that is, wild plants, animals, and fish.
Food production characterized by the permanent cultivation of fields and made possible by the use of the plow, draft animals or machines, fertilizers, irrigation, water-storage techniques, and other complex agricultural techniques.
A form of subsistence technology in which food-getting is based directly or indirectly on the maintenance of domesticated animals.
Grassland with a high grass cover.
A form of shifting cultivation in which the natural vegetation is cut down and burned off. The cleared ground is used for a short time and then left to regenerate.
Grassland with a dry, low grass cover.
Economies in which almost all able-bodied adults are largely engaged in getting good for themselves and their families.
Giving with the expectation of a straightforward immediate or limited-time trade.
A system of required labor.
Gift giving without any immediate or planned return.
A universally accepted medium of exchange.
market or commercial exchange
Transactions in which the "prices" are subject to supply and demand, whether or not the transactions occur in a marketplace.
optimal foraging theory
The theory that individuals seek to maximize the returns (in calories and nutrients) on their labor in deciding which animals and plants they will go after.
Rural people who produce food for their own subsistence but who must also contribute or sell their surpluses to others (in towns or cities) who do not produce their own food.
A feast among Pacific Northwest Native Americans at which great quantities of food and goods are given to the guests in order to gain prestige for the host(s).
Giving and taking (not politically arranged) without the use of money.
The accumulation of goods (or labor) by a particular person or in a particular place and their subsequent distribution.
Objects of value for which only some goods and services can be exchanged.
A ranked group, often associated with a certain occupation, in which membership is determined at birth and marriage is restricted to members of one's own caste.
A category of people who have about the same opportunity to obtain economic resources, power, and prestige.
Societies containing social groups that have unequal access to economic resources, power, and prestige.
Things that have value in a culture, including land, tools, and other technology, goods and money.
Societies in which all people of a given age-sex category have equal access to economic resources, and power, and prestige.
The process of defining ethnicity usually involves a group of people emphasizing common origins and language, shared history, and selected aspects of cultural difference such as a difference in religion. Because different groups are doing the perceiving, ethnic identities often vary with whether one is inside or outside the group.
The granting of freedom to a slave.
The ability to make others do what they do not want to do or influence based on the threat of force.
Being accorded particular respect or honor.
The belief, without scientific basis, that some "races" are inferior to others.
Societies that do not have any unequal access to economic resources or power but with social groups that have unequal access to status positions and prestige.
A class of people who do not own their own labor of the products thereof.
Differences between females and males that reflect cultural expectations and experiences.
Roles that are culturally assigned to genders.
The degree of unequal access by the different genders to prestige, authority, power, rights, and economic resources.
primary subsistence activities
The food-getting activities: gathering, hunting, fishing, herding, and agriculture.
secondary subsistence activities
Activities that involve the preparation and processing of food either to make it edible or to store it.
The typical differences between females and males that are most likely due to biological differences.
A marked difference in size and appearance between males and females of a species.
bride price (or bride wealth)
A substantial gift of goods or money given to the bride's kin by the groom or his kin at or before the marriage.
Work performed by the groom for his bride's family for a variable length of time either before or after the marriage.
Children of siblings of the opposite sex.
A substantial transfer of goods or money from the bride's family to the bride.
The rule specifying marriage to a person within one's own group (kin, caste, community).
The rule specifying marriage to a person from outside one's own group (kin or community).
A family consisting of two or more single parent, monogamous, polygynous, or polyandrous families linked by a blood tie.
A social and economic unit consisting minimally of a parent and a child.
The marriage of a woman to two or more brothers at the same time.
Marriage in which more than one man is married to more than one woman at the same time; not customary in any known society.
Prohibition of sexual intercourse or marriage between mother and son, father and daughter, and brother and sister; often extends to other relatives.
A family unit consisting of one monogamous (nuclear) family, or one polygynous or one polyandrous family.
Goods given by the groom's kin to the bride (or her father, who passes most of them to her) at or before her marriage.
A custom whereby a man is obliged to marry his brother's widow.
A socially approved sexual and economic union, usually between a man and a woman, that is presumed by both the couple and others to be more or less permanent, and that subsumes reciprocal rights and obligations between the two spouses and between spouses and their future children.
Marriage between only one man and only one woman at a time.
Marriage of a woman to two or more men who are not brothers.
Marriage of a man to two or more women who are not sisters.
A family consisting of a married couple and their young children.
Children of siblings of the same sex.
The marriage of one woman to more than one man at a time.
Plural marriage; one individual is married to more than one spouse simultaneously.
The marriage of one man to more than one woman at a time.
postpartum sex taboo
Prohibition of sexual intercourse between a couple for a period of time after the birth of their child.
The marriage of a man to two or more sisters at the same time.
A custom whereby a woman is obliged to marry her deceased sister's husband.
One's relatives by marriage.
The rule of descent that affiliates individuals with groups of kin related to them through men or women.
A pattern of residence in which a married couples settles with or near the husband's mother's brother.
The type of kinship system in which individuals affiliate more or less equally with their mother's and father's relatives; descent groups are absent.
A pattern of residence in which a married couple lives with or near either the husband's parents or the wife's parents.
clan or sib
A set of kin whose members believe themselves to be descended from a common ancestor or ancestress but cannot specify the links back to that founder; often designated by a totem.
Kinship terms that merge or equate relatives who are genealogically distinct from one another; the same term is used for a number of different kin.
One's biological relatives; relatives by birth.
Kinship term used to refer to a genealogically distinct relative; a different term is used for each relative.
double descent or double unilineal descent
A system that affiliates individuals with a group of matrilineal kin for some purposes and with group of patrilineal kin for other purposes.
In the reckoning of kinship, the reference point or focal person.
A bilateral set of close relatives.
A set of kin whose members trace descent from a common ancestor through known links.
A clan tracing descent through the female line.
A kin group whose members trace descent through known links in the female line from a common female ancestor.
The rule of descent that affiliates individuals with kin of both sexes related to them through women only.
A pattern of residence in which a married couple lives with or near the wife's parents.
A unilineal descent group in a society that is divided into two such maximal groups; there may be smaller unilineal descent groups as well.
A pattern of residence whereby a married couple lives separately, and usually at some distance from the kin of both spouses.
A clan tracing descent through the male line.
A kin group whose members trace descent through known links in the male line from a common male ancestor.
The rule of descent that affiliates individuals with kin of both sexes related to them through men only.
A pattern of residence in which a married couple lives with or near the husband's parents.
A unilineal descent group composed of a number of supposedly related clans.
rules of descent
Rules that connect individuals with particular sets of kin because of known or presumed common ancestry.
A person's brothers and sisters.
A plant or animal associated with a clan as a means of group identification; may have other special significance for the group.
Affiliation wit ha group of kin through descent links of one sex only.
A pattern of residence that specifies just one set of relatives that the married couple lives with or near.
Those qualities people acquire during their lifetime.
A category of people who happen to fall within a particular, culturally distinguished age range.
A group of people of similar age and the same sex who move together through some or all of life's stages.
Those qualities that are determined for people at birth.
An organized group not based exclusively on kinship or territory.
an association that restricts its membership to one sex, usually male.
universally ascribed qualities
Those ascribed qualities (age, sex) that are found in all societies.
variably ascribed qualities
Those ascribed qualities (such as ethnic, religions, or social class differences) that are found only in some societies.
The process by which a third party acting as a judge makes a decision that the parties to a dispute have to accept.
A fairly small, usually nomadic local group that is politically autonomous.
The kind of political organization where the local group or band is the largest territorial group in the society that acts as a unit.
A person who exercises authority usually on behalf of a multicommunity political unit. This role is generally found in rank societies and is usually permanent and often hereditary.
A political unit, with a chief at its head, integrating more than one community but not necessarily the whole society or language group.
Formal principles for resolving disputes in heterogeneous and stratified societies.
The occasional uniting of various segments of a segmentary lineage system in opposition to similar segments.
Violence not considered legitimate that occurs within a political unit.
A state of recurring hostility between families or groups of kin, usually motivated by a desire to avenge an offense against a member of the group.
A person who holds a powerless but symbolically unifying position in a community within an egalitarian society; may exercise influence but has no power to impose sanctions.
The process by which a third party tries to bring about a settlement in the absence of formal authority to force a settlement
The process by which the parties to a dispute try to resolve it themselves.
The act of calling upon a deity to bear witness to the truth of what one says.
A means of determining guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous or painful tests believed to be under supernatural control.
A short-term use of force, generally planned and organized to realize a limited objective.
segmentary lineage system
A hierarchy of more inclusive lineages; usually functions only in conflict situations.
An autonomous political unit with centralized decision making over many communities with power to govern by force.
A society is described as having state organization when it includes one or more states.
The kind of political organization in which local communities mostly act autonomously but there are kin groups or associations that can temporarily integrate a number of local groups into a larger unit.
A territorial population in which there are kin or nonkin groups with representatives in a number of local groups.
Violence between political entities such as communities, districts, or nations.
Supernatural beings who are the ghosts of dead relatives.
A belief in supernatural forces.
A belief in dual existence for all things- a physical, visible body and a psychic, invisible soul.
Getting the supernatural to provide guidance.
Supernatural beings who were once human; the souls of dead people.
Supernatural beings of nonhuman origin who are named personalities; often anthropomorphic.
The performance of certain rituals that are believed to compel the supernatural powers to act in particular ways.
A supernatural, impersonal force that inhabits certain objects or people and is believed to confer success and/or strength.
Part-time religious practitioners who are asked to heal and divine while in a trance.
Believing hat there is only one high god and that all other supernatural beings are subordinate to, or are alternative manifestations of, this supreme being.
Recognizing many gods, none of whom is believed to be superordinate.
Generally full-time specialists, with very high status, who are thought to be able to relate to superior or high gods beyond the ordinary person's access or control.
Any set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices pertaining to supernatural power, whether that power rests in forces, gods, spirits, ghosts, or demons.
Religious movements intended to save a culture by infusing it with a new purpose and life.
Repetitive sets of behaviors that occur in essentially the same pattern every time they occur. Religious rituals involve the supernatural in some way.
A religious intermediary, usually part-time, whose primary function is sto cure people through sacred songs pantomime, and other means; sometimes called witch doctors by Westerners.
The use of certain materials to invoke supernatural powers to harm people.
Unnamed supernatural beings of nonhuman origin who are beneath the gods in prestige and often closer to the people; may be helpful, mischievous, or evil.
Believed to be not human or not subject to the laws of nature.
A prohibition that, if violated, is believed to bring supernational punishment.
The practice of attempting to harm people by supernatural means, but through emotions and thought alone, not through the use of tangible objects.
Includes all the myths, legends, folktales, ballads, riddles, proverbs, and the superstitions of a cultural group.
Two or more melodies sung simultaneously.
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
A disease caused by the HIV virus.
applied or practicing anthropology
The branch of anthropology that concerns itself with applying anthropological knowledge to achieve practical goals, usually in the service of an agency outside the traditional academic setting.
The dominant medical paradigm in Western countries today.
cultural resource management (CRM)
The branch of applied anthropology that seeks to recover and preserve the archaeological record before programs of planned change disturb or destroy it.
The health-related beliefs, knowledge, and practices of a cultural group.
The application of anthropology, usually physical anthropology, to help identify human remains and assist in solving crimes.
The application of anthropology engaged in studying health and illness, realizing that biological and social factors need to be considered to reduce human suffering.