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the contemporary period of increasing human impact on the ecosystems of our planet.
the study of humanity across time and space.
the study of how people in the past understood and used celestial objects for navigation, calendars, politics, and the timing of ritual events.
the field of anthropology that relies on the excavation of artifacts and fossils to explore how environmental and historical conditions have produced a diversity of human cultures.
objects made by humans, such as pottery or tools.
biological anthropology
the field of anthropology that focuses on the earliest processes in the biological and sociocultural development of human beings as well as the biological diversity of contemporary humans. Biological anthropologists study the origins, evolution, and diversity of our species.
cultural anthropology
the field of anthropology devoted to describing and understanding the wide variety of human cultures. Cultural anthropologists focus on such things as social thought, action, ritual, values, and institutions.
cultural other
a stereotype of a person from a different culture, used to create a cultural distinction between “us” and “them.”
cultural relativism
understanding every element of culture within the broader whole of that culture. Cultural relativism highlights how each belief or practice is related to all of the other beliefs and practices in a culture.
the process of learning and acquiring a particular culture, often intensified in childhood.
the study of how people in different cultures categorize and use plants for food, shelter, tools, transportation, art, and religion.
the notion that one’s own culture is so superior that no other culture is worth consideration. Ethnocentric people often imagine that the world would be a much better place if the beliefs, values, and practices of their own culture were spread to or imposed on everyone else in the world.
a written book or article about a particular culture.
the removal of fossils and artifacts from the ground in order to learn as much as possible about how people lived in times before and after the development of writing.
a research method that requires cultural anthropologists to live for many months or years in the societies they study, adopting local ways of living, eating, dressing, and speaking as closely as possible.
forensic anthropology
the application of the techniques of biological anthropology to solve crimes.
the remains of organism preserved in the environment.
how the elements of human life are bound together to form distinctive cultures.
the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans.
insider’s point of view
a goal of anthropological research, representing the perspectives of people who practice a particular culture.
linguistic anthropology
the field of anthropology that explores the central role of language in human cultural life. Linguistic anthropologists study the origins of language, how language shapes thought, and how language operates as a tool of power.
the depiction of some cultural groups, particularly people from the Middle East and Asia, as exotic, irrational, fanatical, and sensuous.
the depiction of some cultural groups, particularly Africans and Native Americans, as exotic, simple, highly sexual, potentially violent, and closer to nature.
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