Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

Menu
Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 What Is Anthropology?
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Study of Humanity, or "Anthropology Is Vast"
    3. 1.2 The Four-Field Approach: Four Approaches within the Guiding Narrative
    4. 1.3 Overcoming Ethnocentrism
    5. 1.4 Western Bias in Our Assumptions about Humanity
    6. 1.5 Holism, Anthropology’s Distinctive Approach
    7. 1.6 Cross-Cultural Comparison and Cultural Relativism
    8. 1.7 Reaching for an Insider’s Point of View
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Bibliography
  3. 2 Methods: Cultural and Archaeological
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Archaeological Research Methods
    3. 2.2 Conservation and Naturalism
    4. 2.3 Ethnography and Ethnology
    5. 2.4 Participant Observation and Interviewing
    6. 2.5 Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
    7. 2.6 Collections
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Bibliography
  4. 3 Culture Concept Theory: Theories of Cultural Change
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 The Homeyness of Culture
    3. 3.2 The Winkiness of Culture
    4. 3.3 The Elements of Culture
    5. 3.4 The Aggregates of Culture
    6. 3.5 Modes of Cultural Analysis
    7. 3.6 The Paradoxes of Culture
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Bibliography
  5. 4 Biological Evolution and Early Human Evidence
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 What Is Biological Anthropology?
    3. 4.2 What’s in a Name? The Science of Taxonomy
    4. 4.3 It’s All in the Genes! The Foundation of Evolution
    5. 4.4 Evolution in Action: Past and Present
    6. 4.5 What Is a Primate?
    7. 4.6 Origin of and Classification of Primates
    8. 4.7 Our Ancient Past: The Earliest Hominins
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Bibliography
  6. 5 The Genus Homo and the Emergence of Us
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Defining the Genus Homo
    3. 5.2 Tools and Brains: Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, and Homo erectus
    4. 5.3 The Emergence of Us: The Archaic Homo
    5. 5.4 Tracking Genomes: Our Human Story Unfolds
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  7. 6 Language and Communication
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Emergence and Development of Language
    3. 6.2 Language and the Mind
    4. 6.3 Language, Community, and Culture
    5. 6.4 Performativity and Ritual
    6. 6.5 Language and Power
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  8. 7 Work, Life, and Value: Economic Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Economies: Two Ways to Study Them
    3. 7.2 Modes of Subsistence
    4. 7.3 Gathering and Hunting
    5. 7.4 Pastoralism
    6. 7.5 Plant Cultivation: Horticulture and Agriculture
    7. 7.6 Exchange, Value, and Consumption
    8. 7.7 Industrialism and Postmodernity
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Bibliography
  9. 8 Authority, Decisions, and Power: Political Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Colonialism and the Categorization of Political Systems
    3. 8.2 Acephalous Societies: Bands and Tribes
    4. 8.3 Centralized Societies: Chiefdoms and States
    5. 8.4 Modern Nation-States
    6. 8.5 Resistance, Revolution, and Social Movements
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  10. 9 Social Inequalities
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Theories of Inequity and Inequality
    3. 9.2 Systems of Inequality
    4. 9.3 Intersections of Inequality
    5. 9.4 Studying In: Addressing Inequities within Anthropology
    6. Key Terms
    7. Critical Thinking Questions
    8. Bibliography
  11. 10 The Global Impact of Human Migration
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Peopling of the World
    3. 10.2 Early Global Movements and Cultural Hybridity
    4. 10.3 Peasantry and Urbanization
    5. 10.4 Inequality along the Margins
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  12. 11 Forming Family through Kinship
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 What Is Kinship?
    3. 11.2 Defining Family and Household
    4. 11.3 Reckoning Kinship across Cultures
    5. 11.4 Marriage and Families across Cultures
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  13. 12 Gender and Sexuality
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Anthropology
    3. 12.2 Performing Gender Categories
    4. 12.3 The Power of Gender: Patriarchy and Matriarchy
    5. 12.4 Sexuality and Queer Anthropology
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  14. 13 Religion and Culture
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 What Is Religion?
    3. 13.2 Symbolic and Sacred Space
    4. 13.3 Myth and Religious Doctrine
    5. 13.4 Rituals of Transition and Conformity
    6. 13.5 Other Forms of Religious Practice
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  15. 14 Anthropology of Food
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Food as a Material Artifact
    3. 14.2 A Biocultural Approach to Food
    4. 14.3 Food and Cultural Identity
    5. 14.4 The Globalization of Food
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  16. 15 Anthropology of Media
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 Putting the Mass into Media
    3. 15.2 Putting Culture into Media Studies
    4. 15.3 Visual Anthropology and Ethnographic Film
    5. 15.4 Photography, Representation, and Memory
    6. 15.5 News Media, the Public Sphere, and Nationalism
    7. 15.6 Community, Development, and Broadcast Media
    8. 15.7 Broadcasting Modernity and National Identity
    9. 15.8 Digital Media, New Socialities
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary
    12. Critical Thinking Questions
    13. Bibliography
  17. 16 Art, Music, and Sport
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 Anthropology of the Arts
    3. 16.2 Anthropology of Music
    4. 16.3 An Anthropological View of Sport throughout Time
    5. 16.4 Anthropology, Representation, and Performance
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  18. 17 Medical Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 What Is Medical Anthropology?
    3. 17.2 Ethnomedicine
    4. 17.3 Theories and Methods
    5. 17.4 Applied Medical Anthropology
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  19. 18 Human-Animal Relationship
    1. Introduction
    2. 18.1 Humans and Animals
    3. 18.2 Animals and Subsistence
    4. 18.3 Symbolism and Meaning of Animals
    5. 18.4 Pet-Keeping
    6. 18.5 Animal Industries and the Animal Trade
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  20. 19 Indigenous Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 19.1 Indigenous Peoples
    3. 19.2 Colonization and Anthropology
    4. 19.3 Indigenous Agency and Rights
    5. 19.4 Applied and Public Anthropology and Indigenous Peoples
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  21. 20 Anthropology on the Ground
    1. Introduction
    2. 20.1 Our Challenging World Today
    3. 20.2 Why Anthropology Matters
    4. 20.3 What Anthropologists Can Do
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary
    7. Critical Thinking Questions
    8. Bibliography
  22. Index
allele
an alternative form of a gene that arises by mutation and is found in the same place on a chromosome, directly impacting the expression of a genetic trait or phenotype.
allopatric speciation
speciation that occurs when two populations of the same species become isolated from each other due to a change in the environment, such as geographic isolation.
analogous structures
anatomical similarities between two species that suggest not a common ancestor but rather similar environmental adaptations.
ancestral characteristics
homologous structures or traits that may also be found in the common ancestor of the species being classified.
angiosperm theory
a hypothesis that suggests that primate origins and typical primate characteristics developed in response to the emergence of flowering plants.
arboreal theory
a hypothesis that proposes that primates evolved the traits they did as an adaptation to life in the trees.
artificial selection
the process of deliberately breeding certain specimens of plants or animals to encourage desired traits.
binomial nomenclature
the scientific naming system developed by Carolus Linnaeus that represents two parts of a taxonomic name. The name is italicized, the genus is always capitalized, and the species is always lowercased. For example: Homo sapiens.
bioarchaeology
the study of bones and other biological materials found in archaeological remains.
biological species definition
a definition of species as members of populations that actually or potentially interbreed in nature.
Catarrhini
a subcategory of the primate infraorder Simiiformes that includes any primate considered an Old World monkey, an ape, or in the lineage of humans. This classification features downward-facing nostrils and a 2.1.2.3 dental formula.
catastrophism
the theory that changes in Earth’s fauna and flora were caused by supernatural catastrophic forces rather than evolution.
Cercopithecoidea
a superfamily of the primate infraorder Simiiformes, subcategory Catarrhini, that consists of Old World monkeys.
cladistics
the classification of organisms based on branchings of descendent lineages from a common ancestor
derived characteristics
physical traits that are present in related organisms but absent from their last common ancestor. They are often associated with a speciation event.
diastema
a space or gap between the canines and the other teeth that allows for the upper and lower teeth to bite together.
ecological species definition
a definition of species that explains differences in form and behavior as the result of adaptations to the environment and natural selection.
ethnotaxonomy
the study of organism classifications and taxonomies developed and used largely by Indigenous peoples and other cultural groups.
evolution
changes that appear in a species over time. Evolution is dependent on genetic variation and natural selection to pass on beneficial traits that will increase survival of the species.
foramen magnum
the opening at the base of the skull where the spinal column and nerves enter to reach the brain. The position of the foramen magnum can be used to determine if a species was bipedal.
forensic anthropology
a branch of biological anthropology in which scientific techniques are used to determine the sex, age, genetic population, or other relevant characteristics of skeletal or biological materials related to matters of civil or criminal law.
fossils
any remains, impression, or traces of living things from a former geologic age.
gene flow
alteration of the frequencies of alleles in a population that results from interbreeding with organisms from another population.
genetic anthropology
a branch of biological anthropology that uses molecular science to explore questions concerning human origins, early human migrations, and the appearance of disease across time.
genetic drift
random changes in the frequencies of alleles in a gene pool.
genotype
a complete set of genetic material found in an organism.
gradualism
the idea that species evolve slowly and continuously over long periods of time.
great chain of being
a concept detailing a hierarchical structure of all matter and life.
Haplorrhini
a suborder of primates that contains tarsiers, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, apes, and humans.
hominid
the group representing all modern and extinct great apes, including humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and all their immediate ancestors.
hominin
the group representing modern humans, extinct human species, and all of humanity’s immediate ancestors, including the genera Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Ardipithecus.
Hominoidea
a superfamily of the primate infraorder Simiiformes, subcategory Catarrhini, that consists of gibbons, great apes, and humanlike primates, including Homo and related fossil forms.
homologous structures
similar anatomical structures that appear in different species and suggest a common ancestor.
hybrid zones
areas where two distinct species mate and produce offspring
industrial melanism
the prevalence of dark-colored varieties of animals (for example, peppered moths) in industrial areas where they are better camouflaged against predators than paler forms.
inheritance of acquired characteristics
the disproved idea that an organism can pass on to its offspring physical characteristics that it has acquired during its lifetime.
interspecific variation
the genetic variation seen between two species.
intraspecific variation
the genetic variation seen within a species.
law of independent assortment
a law of inheritance stating that different genes and their alleles are inherited independently.
law of segregation
a law of inheritance stating that when two alleles for a trait separate during the formation of new zygotes, these alleles will combine at random with other alleles.
morphology
the physical shape and structural form of an organism or species.
mutation
a change in the structure of a gene that results in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations.
natural selection
the process by which a species that is able to adapt and to pass on beneficial traits to its offspring ensures survival of the species; first formally introduced by Charles Darwin.
paleoanthropology
the study of the origins and predecessors of the present human species based fossils and other remains.
Parapithecoidea
a superfamily of primates from the early Oligocene that is believed to represent the earliest New World monkeys, though they first evolved in Africa.
phenotype
the set of observable characteristics or traits of an organism, such as color and structural morphology.
phylogenetic species definition
a definition of species based on individuals all possessing specific derived traits.
Platyrrhini
a subcategory of the primate infraorder Simiiformes that comprises New World monkeys
polygenic traits
traits that are controlled by multiple genes instead of just one.
primatology
the branch of biological anthropology dealing with the primates.
Proconsul
a genus of ape from the early Miocene.
prognathism
projection of the face, as seen in many nonhuman primates and early hominins.
Propliopithecoidea
a superfamily of primates from the early Oligocene that is related to Old World monkeys and is believed to represent the earliest catarrhine primate.
punctuated equilibrium
a hypothesis holding that the evolution of species proceeds in a characteristic pattern of relative stability for long periods of time interspersed with much shorter periods during which many species become extinct and new species emerge.
Purgatorius
genus of the earliest primate or proto-primate.
reproductive isolation
conditions that prevent potentially interbreeding populations from breeding.
socioecological system
the interrelationship between the diversity of plants and animals, humans’ environments, and the diversity of human culture and language.
species
a class of individuals that have some common characteristics or qualities.
stratigraphy
a branch of geology dealing with the classification, nomenclature, correlation, and interpretation of stratified rocks.
Strepsirrhini
a suborder of primates that includes lemurs, lorises, and galagos (bush babies).
survival of the fittest
the theory that the most evolutionarily fit members of a species will pass on their traits to later generations.
sympatric speciation
speciation without a geographic barrier.
taxa
the plural form of taxon, used to signify all taxonomic groups.
taxon
a specific group or subgroup of organisms.
taxonomy
the science or technique of naming and classifying life.
uniformitarianism
the concept that Earth’s surface was shaped in the past by slow-moving geological processes.
visual predation hypothesis
a hypothesis that explains the origins of unique primate traits as adaptations for preying on insects and small animals.
Do you know how you learn best?
Kinetic by OpenStax offers access to innovative study tools designed to help you maximize your learning potential.
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Citation/Attribution

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-anthropology/pages/1-introduction
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-anthropology/pages/1-introduction
Citation information

© Jun 13, 2022 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.