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the process by which a culture is transformed due to the massive adoption of cultural traits from another society--it is what happens to a culture when alien traitsdiffuse in on a large scale and substantially replace traditional cultural patterns. See transculturation.
a society in which political power is diffused to the degree that there are no institutionalized political leadership roles such as chiefs and kings. Bands and tribes are acephalous. Most foragers and simple horticulturalists have highly egalitarian, acephalous societies. The word "acephalous" is Greek for "without a head." achieved status a status that is acquired by doing something. For instance, someone acquires a criminal status by committing a crime. Likewise, the status of mother is attained by having a baby. See ascribed status. actual behavior what people really do in their lives rather than what they think they are doing or what they believe they should be doing. In most societies there is a discrepancy between these three kinds of behavior. It is important for anthropologists to distinguish between actual, believed, and ideal behavior when they learn about another society and its culture. adaptive mechanism a behavior, strategy, or technique for obtaining food and surviving in a particular environment. Successful adaptive mechanisms provide a selective advantage in the competition for survival with other life forms. For humans, the most important adaptive mechanism is culture. affinity a kinship link created by marriage, such as the bond between a man and his wife and her family (in-laws). People who have an affinity relationship with each other are "affines" . See consanguinity. affirmative action
a program or policy intended to correct the effects of past discrimination in employment, education, housing, etc. Usually affirmative action in the United States includes out-reach programs, hiring goals, set-asides, and/or extra opportunities for members of underrepresented minorities. age grades age-based categories of people recognized by a culture. In North America, for example, we generally label people as children, teenagers, adults, middle aged, and elderly or senior citizens. See age sets. age sets age grades that are clearly recognized in a culture as distinct identifiable groups of people. They consist of people of similar age and usually of the same gender who share a common identity and maintain close ties throughout their lives. They also pass through age-related statuses together as a group. The transition between these statuses is usually marked by a rite of passage. agnatic descent
see patrilineal descent. ambilineal descent
a form of cognatic descent in which individuals can select to trace descent either matrilineally or patrilineally. The decision may be made each generation based on the relative wealth and/or importance of the father's and the mother's family lines. ambilocal residence the residence pattern in which a newly married couple has the choice of living with or near the groom's or the bride's family. ancestor focused kindred a kindred in which the person to whom all members trace their kinship ties is dead. An example would be the descendants of a well known pioneer family. It is rare for a kindred to continue functioning as an effective kin group after
the death of the individual who was its focus. This usually occurs only when the ancestor was historically important. ancestral spirits
souls or ghosts of ancestors. A belief in ancestral spirits is consistent with the widespread belief that humans have at least two parts--a physical body and some kind of non-physical spirit. The spirit portion is generally believed to be freed from the body by death and continues to exist. Ancestral spirits are often seen as retaining an active interest and even membership in their family and society.
androgynous the characteristic of having a blend of both masculine and feminine personality characteristics but not strongly either one. animatism
a belief in a supernatural power not part of supernatural beings. For those who hold this belief, the power is usually impersonal, unseen, and potentially everywhere. It is neither good nor evil, but it can be powerful and dangerous if misused.
a belief that natural objects are animated by spirits. This belief can take diverse forms. Things in nature may all have within them different spirits--each rock, tree, and cloud may have its own unique spirit. In contrast, all things in nature may be thought of as having the same spirit. In both forms of animism, the spirits are thought of as having identifiable personalities and other characteristics such as gender.
a feeling of alienation and isolation from all other people, including family and friends.
the broad scientific study of human culture and biology. Anthropologists are interested in what it is to be human in all of our many different societies around the world today and in the past. In North American universities, the study of anthropology is usually divided into four main sub-disciplines: cultural anthropology,physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics.
anticipatory sororate a cultural pattern in which some sexual permissiveness is allowed between a man and his wife's sister in anticipation of a future marriage between them. This is usually associated with sororal polygyny.
laws prohibiting sexual intercourse and marriage between people of different "races". applied anthropology
the branch of anthropology oriented towards using anthropological knowledge for practical purposes. The work of most applied anthropologists has the goal of helping small indigenous societies adjust to the massive acculturation pressures that they are now experiencing without their suffering culture death andgenocide.
a specialized subsistence pattern that concentrates on fish and/or marine mammal hunting. Aquatic foraging is usually a far more reliable and productive strategy for obtaining food than the diversified hunting and gathering of most foragers who live away from the coasts and major rivers. The most well known aquatic foragers lived on the Northwest Coast of North America from the Klamath River of California to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. These societies specialized in salmon fishing along the rivers and hunting seals and whales off the coast. The word "aquatic" is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water.
the systematic study of the material remains of human behavior in the past. Archaeologists reconstruct the prehistory and early history of societies and their cultures through an examination and interpretation of such things as house foundations, broken tools, and food refuse.
arranged marriage a marriage partner selection process in which the future bride and groom usually do not participate actively in the decision. Marriages are commonly arranged by parents or their agents when the marriages are seen as principally uniting two families rather than just husband and wife. There is also often the rationalization that teenagers and young adults are too inexperienced to make a wise mate selection. The tradition of arranged marriages has been dramatically undermined whenever romantic love becomes a popular notion in a society. ascribed status
a status that is the result of being born into a particular family or being born male or female. Being a prince by birth or being the first of four children in a family are ascribed statuses. See achieved status. assimilation
the absorption of an individual or minority group of people into another society or group. This is achieved by learning and adopting the cultural traditions of the society to which assimilation occurs. It is also often hastened by intermarriage and de-emphasizing cultural and or biological differences.
avunculocal residence the residence pattern in which a newly married couple moves in with or near the groom's maternal uncle's house. This is strongly associated with matrilineal descent and occurs when men obtain statuses, jobs, or prerogatives from their nearest elder matrilineal male relative.
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-Bbalanced reciprocity an economic exchange in which there is an explicit expectation of immediate return. Simple barter or supermarket purchases involve this understanding. Seereciprocity. band the level of political integration in which a society consists only of an association of families living together. Bands are loosely allied by marriage, descent, friendship, and common interest. The primary integrating mechanism is kinship ties. There is no economic class differentiation. All adults of the same gender are more or less equal as far as community decision making is concerned. However, some individuals in a band may stand out for their skills and knowledge. These often are the people who have the best memories, are the best hunters, most successful curers, most gifted speakers, etc. Such people become informal leaders. Most often they are given authority by community consensus arrived at through casual discussion without the need for a formal vote. Leaders generally have temporary political power at best, and they do not have any significant authority relative to other adults within their band. Subsequently, bands are essentially acephalous
societies. The total number of people within these societies rarely exceeds a few dozen. Bands are found among foragingsocieties. barter trading goods and services directly for other goods and services without the use of money as a medium of exchange. See dumb barter. believed behavior what people honestly believe that they are doing in their lives rather than what they think they should be doing or what they actually are doing. In most societies there is a discrepancy between these three kinds of behavior. It is important for anthropologists to distinguish between actual, believed, and ideal behavior when they learn about another society and its culture. berdache see two-spirited. bewitching
using magical acts and/or the assistance of supernatural beings to cause something to occur. Bewitching is an integral part of witchcraft.
bilateral descent the cognatic pattern of descent in which every biological ancestor and descendant is a socially recognized relative. Everyone is a member of both his or her father's and mother's families. This is not the same as bilineal descent.
bilineal descent the cognatic pattern of descent in which an individual is both a member of his mother's matrilineage and his father's patrilineage. Also known as "double descent." This is not the same as bilateral descent.
bisexual an individual who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted by members of the same and the opposite gender. See heterosexual and homosexual. Black English the social dialect spoken by many African Americans. It also known as Ebonics . biological anthropology see physical anthropology. body language see kinesics. boundary maintenance (in reference to ethnic groups) reinforcing an ethnic group's unity and distinctness by emphasizing the traits that set its members apart from others, rather than what they share in common with them. bound morpheme a morpheme that has meaning but can not stand alone. The prefix dis in the English word dislike is an example. bride price things of high value given by a groom to his bride's father. It is a way of showing respect for the bride and her parents. At the same time, it is a compensation for the bride's family for the loss of her economic services. It is also a way of validating the groom's right to future offspring. Bride price is most common among polygynous, small-scale, patrilineal societies--especially
in sub-Saharan Africa and among Native Americans. Bride price is also referred to as "bride wealth"and "progeny price." See dowry. bride service work or services done by a groom for his wife's family instead of paying a bride price. Bride service is usually for a set period of time, often years. It is a common practice in societies that have little material wealth and strong rules requiring sharing that prevent the accumulation of wealth. bureaucracy an administrative system that divides governing tasks into specific categories carried out by different individuals and/or departments. Members of a bureaucracy are referred to as bureaucrats.
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-Ccaste an individual's rigidly ascribed, or inherited, status within society. The most extensive caste system is in India where it is associated strongly with the Hindu religion. There are 4 major Indian castes originally based on vocation: the Brahmans (or Hindu priests), warriors, farmers, and shop keepers. The castes are all ranked relative to each other with the Brahmans being at the top. In addition, there are people in India who are outside of the caste system. These outcasts are at the bottom of society. One's caste is extremely important in India. People are careful to marry within their own caste and to avoid physical contact with members of lower castes because of the danger of pollution. cereals the edible seeds of grasses. The economically most important cereals include wheat, rice, and corn (maize), oats, rye, millet, and sorghum. These grains provide the bulk of the calories consumed by people in the world today. chiefdom the level of political integration in which a society has a more or less permanent political leader (i.e., a chief) but no bureaucracy of professional
administrators. The chief provides direction and authority for the society as a whole. Sometimes there is an advisory council as well. In a few of the more complex chiefdoms in Africa and Hawaii, there have been paramount chiefs and lesser chiefs who perform some administrative functions. Chiefs and their families generally have a higher standard of living than ordinary people within their society. What makes this possible is that chiefs usually perform a society wide economic redistribution function that is cloaked in the guise of ritual gift giving. This essentially siphons off surplus agricultural products from farmers and then redistributes them throughout the society. In the process, a small amount is held back in order to support the chief's somewhat more lavish lifestyle. The ritualized redistribution of surplus food and other commodities in chiefdoms is, in a sense, the rudimentary beginnings of a taxation system. It is tolerated by people because of the economic advantages that it can provide in addition to social stability. The larger territorial size of chiefdoms often encompasses diverse environmental zones with somewhat different products. The redistribution of agricultural surpluses can serve as a method of providing greater food variety for the populace as a whole. Chiefdoms commonly have a population of tens of thousands of farmers. The large population size generally means that the people have less in common than do those in the smaller societies of bands and tribes. Disputes inevitably arise that cannot be settled by informal means based on kinship and friendship. A chief usually functions as an arbitrator and judge in these cases. circumcision removing all or part of the foreskin of the penis. This surgery is usually done with a knife as part of a rite of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood for boys. See subincision. clan
a group of people who claim unilineal descent from the same ancestor but who cannot specify all of the actual links. The ancestor is genealogically so remote that he or she is often thought of as a mythical being, animal, or plant. Clans usually consist of a number of related unilineages. See totem.
class a group of people thought of as a unit because they are similar in terms of social and/or economic factors. In America, for instance, a class distinction iscommonly made between "white collar" well paid office workers and lower
paid "blue collar" factory workers and manual laborers. In state level societies of the past, the most important class distinction was between the ruling elite and the commoners. Bands, tribes, and early chiefdoms did not have classes, though individuals were often ranked relative to each other. clitoridectomy cutting off all or part of the clitoris and sometime all or part of the labia. This surgery is usually done as part of a rite of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood for girls. In Western Nations, clitoridectomy is often referred to as "genital mutilation." See infibulation. cognatic descent tracing kinship through both the mother's and the father's ancestors to some degree. Cognatic descent occurs in four forms: ambilineal, bilineal, parallel, andbilateral descent. collateral relative uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces and other consanguinal kinsmen beyond ego's main line of descent. colonial powers a term referring mostly to the Western European nations that carved out colonies in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Pacific during the 18th through the early 20th centuries. The U.S., Russia, and Japan also acquired colonial empires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. commerce large-scale buying and selling of goods and services within and between societies that usually have market economies. common law a law that has evolved over time and is part of the cultural tradition rather than being created by enactment in legislatures or by rulers. In large-scale societies, many laws derive from old common laws but are now formalized by being written down in penal codes. Virtually all laws in small-scale societies are unwritten common laws. consanguinity a socially recognized biological descent link, such as between a woman and her father, aunt, or daughter. Individuals who have a consanguinity relationship are "consanguines" to each other. Consanguinity literally
means "with the blood", reflecting the old incorrect assumption that biological inheritance is passed on through blood rather than DNA. See affinity. contagious magic
magic that is based on the principle that things or persons once in contact can afterward influence each other. In other words, there is a permanent relationship between an individual and any part of his or her body. As a consequence, believers must take special precautions with their hair, fingernails, teeth, clothes, and feces. If anyone obtained these objects, magic could be performed on them which would cause the person they came from to be affected.
core values the fundamental values that provide the basis for social behavior in society. They are what people believe is desirable or offensive, appropriate or inappropriate, and correct or incorrect. creole a pidgin language that has become the mother tongue of a population. In Haiti, for example, a French-African pidgin became the creole language that is spoken in that nation today by the majority of the population as their principle or only language. crime a deviation from the social norm that is of such magnitude as to go beyond what would be considered bad manners or odd behavior. Societies respond to such exceptionally deviant actions by creating laws to curb and sometimes punish them. There is no universal agreement between the societies of the world about what constitutes criminal behavior or how it should be dealt with. Sufficient ethnographic data have been collected over the last century to show that societies with different kinds of economies have radically different sorts of laws and legal concerns. See tort. cross cousin one's father's sister's children or mother's brother's children. The gender of the children is not relevant in making this distinction. See parallel cousin.
see transvestite. Crow naming system a matrilineally based kin naming system in which siblings and parallel cousins of the same gender are given the same term of reference (5 = male and 6 = female) as are mother and mother's sister (2). Other people in ego's father's matrilineage are lumped across generations (1 = male and 3 = female), reflecting the comparative unimportance of the father's side of the family in societies using the Crow system.
a devoted religious group, often living together in a community with a charismatic prophet leader. Cults are generally considered to be potentially dangerous, unorthodox, extremist groups by the dominant religious organizations in a society.
the study of contemporary and recent historical cultures all over the world. The focus is on social organization, culture change, economic and political systems, and religion. Cultural anthropology is also referred to as social or sociocultural anthropology.
cultural relativity suspending one's ethnocentric judgments in order to understand and appreciate another culture. Anthropologists try to learn about and interpret the various aspects of the culture they are studying in reference to that culture rather than to their own. This provides a better understanding of how such practices as polygamy and cannibalism can function and even support other cultural traditions. cultural universals cultural traits that are shared by all of humanity collectively. Examples of such general traits are communicating with a verbal language, using age and gender to classify people, and raising children in some sort of family setting. No matter where people live in the world, they share these universal cultural traits. However, different cultures have developed their own specific ways of carrying out or expressing these general traits. culture the full range of learned behavior patterns that are acquired by people as members of a society. A culture is a complex, largely interconnected whole
that consists of the knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, skills, and habits learned from parents and others in a society. Culture is the primary adaptive mechanism for humans. culture bound syndrome a disease that has a very limited distribution around the world due to the unique sets of environmental circumstances and cultural practices that cause it to occur. koro, kuru, and Widigo psychosis are examples. culture death
the complete disappearance of a culture as a result of the total acculturation or the death of all of the people who shared it.
the loss of cultural traits. As cultures change and acquire new traits, old no longer useful or popular ones inevitably disappear. An example of culture loss is the disappearance over time of certain words and phrases in a language. In some cases, the words continue to be used but acquire new, very different meanings. Culture loss is accelerated during periods of acculturation and transculturation.
culture shock feelings of confusion, distress, and sometimes depression that can result from the psychological stress caused by the strain of rapidly adjusting to an alien culture.
This is a common phenomenon for travelers who are totally immersed in the language and customs of another society, day and night, without a break. It is largely due to being forced to constantly experience new, unfamiliar cultural practices and traditions. Transculturating people also are likely to experience culture shock. Until
the new culture becomes familiar and comfortable, it is common to have difficulty in communicating and to make frustrating mistakes. This is usually compounded by feelings of homesickness. These feelings can be emotionally debilitating. However, culture shock eventually passes for most people. curandero a Latin American folk curer. Cuanderos believe that they have received a divine calling to their profession, and they may have direct contact with the spirit world. They usually apprentice for years under an older curandero. In Mexico and Central America, there are curandero generalists and specialists. Yerberos are knowledgeable about herbs. Parteras are
midwifes. Sabadoros are specialists in massaging patients. Curanderos may also specialize in particular kinds of illness-e.g., curandero de aire , etc. A female curandero is a curandera . cyclical round of migrations
seasonal migrations of foragers or pastoralists between different environments in their territories. This often involves migrations that take people from spring to summer camps and then to fall and finally winter ones. This cycle of migrations that is repeated yearly is determined by the resources that can be exploited at particular times of the year in different areas. Carrying out such a round of migrations increases the amount of food that can be obtained by a society. As a result a somewhat larger population can be supported.
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-Ddescent socially recognized links between ancestors and descendants, such as the bond between children and their parents. descriptive kin naming system see Sudanese naming system. developed nation (or society)
a nation or society that is relatively wealthy and usually industrialized. Most of the people in developed nations have adequate access to food, electricity, fossil fuels, education, and medicine with the consequence that their lives are materially more comfortable and their life spans are significantly longer than those inunderdeveloped nations. The United States, Canada, most of Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand are developed nations.
dialect a variant of a language. If it is associated with a geographically isolated speech community, it is referred to as a regional dialect. However, if it is spoken by a speech community that is merely socially isolated, it is called a social dialect.
diffusion the movement of cultural traits and ideas from one society or ethnic group to another. While the form of a trait may be transmitted to another society, the original meaning may not. For instance, McDonald's hamburgers are thought of as a cheap, quick meal in North America, but they are generally considered to be a special occasion food in China. diglossia the phenomenon in which different dialects of a language or different languages are spoken by a person in different social situations. Diglossic people may quickly switch back and forth between dialects or languages, depending on the person they are talking to at the time. This is the case with the educated elite of Haiti. They usually speak standard French among themselves but use the Haitian French creole language on the street dealing with poor uneducated Haitians. Diglossia is also referred to as "code switching." discrimination the act of distinguishing differences between people and showing favoritism or prejudicial rejection of them. See prejudice and stereotype. disease vector an intermediate host and/or disease transmitting organism for a contagious disease. Mosquitoes, fleas, lice, ticks, flies, and even snails are common disease vectors. distribution and exchange (systems of)
the practices that are involved in getting the goods and services produced by a society to its people. See systems of production. diversified foraging
a hunting and gathering subsistence pattern in which there is not a concentration of efforts in harvesting a small number of species. Rather, virtually all potential food sources in the environment are exploited. Most pedestrian foragers take a diversified approach. In contrast, aquatic and equestrian foragers are specialized. A diversified subsistence pattern has the advantage of relative economic security if there are fluctuations in the weather, water supply, or periodic die-offs of the food sources. The disadvantage is that the total amount of food calories acquired is often less and the amount of time required to secure them is greater compared to specialized foraging.
a magical procedure by which the cause of a particular event or the future is determined.
division of labor
referring to the jobs that are normally assigned to people based on such things as gender and age. In most foraging societies, large animal hunting is an occupation of adult males, while domestic tasks, child rearing, and plant food collecting are mostly adult female jobs. In the Western industrialized nations today, the division of labor is based mostly on age, knowledge, skills, and preference. Gender is often rejected as a criteria for job assignment in these contemporary societies.
double descent see bilineal descent. dowry money, property, or other things of high value given by a bride's family to the groom, ostensibly to establish a new household. It is her share of the family inheritance. A dowry is, in a sense, the reverse of a bride price. drop of blood criterion see hypodescent. dumb barter barter without direct contact between the traders. Individuals from one group leave trade goods at a neutral location on the edge of their territory and then leave. Sometime later, members of the other community pick up the goods and leave something in exchange. The first group then returns and either picks up the things that were left by the strangers or leaves them until additions or substitutions are made that are acceptable. In the past, dumbbarter of this sort occurred in parts of West Africa, Northern Scandinavia, India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Timor, New Guinea, and the Amazon Basin of South America. Dumb barter is also known as "silent trade" and "depot trade."
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(for race classification)
-EEbonics see Black English. egalitarian
referring to societies in which all people are equal in terms of economic and political rights. Foraging bands are the most egalitarian societies. However, even in these societies, there are differences based on age and sometimes gender.
ego (in reference to diagramming kinship) in a kinship diagram, the individual to whom all relationships are referred. emic categories
referring to the categorization of things according to the way in which members of a society classify their own world. In other words, this is the way their culture and language divide up reality. Such emic categories generally differ from culture to culture and provide valuable insights into the perceptions and world view of other peoples. Discovering, recording, and analyzing emic categories is the task of ethnoscience. See etic categories. eminent domain the right of a government to take legal possession of private property for public use. In most Western countries, the property owner is financially compensated for the loss based on what is considered to be fair market value. An example of eminent domain is a government taking someone's house and land in order to build a road through the property. enculturation the process of being socialized to a particular culture. This includes learning the language, customs, biases, and values of the culture. Through enculturation an individual learns the statuses, roles, rules, and values of his or her own culture. The most intensive period of enculturation is usually during early childhood, but the process continues throughout life. endemic
a disease that is always present in a community, usually at a low, more or less constant frequency. Malaria, arthritis, and high blood pressure are examples. See hyperendemic. endogamy a marriage partner selection rule requiring that marriage be to someone within a defined social group such as an extended family, religious community, economic class, ethnic or age group. Selection is always further restricted by exogamy rules. epidemic
the occurrence of a disease in a population in which it appears, rapidly spreads between people, reaches a high frequency, and then subsides. Contagious diseases such as influenza, measles, and AIDS follow this pattern.
Epidemics usually appear seasonally as a result of changing human interaction patterns and changes in the environment. See pandemic. epidemiology the field of medical research that studies the causes of diseases and how to cure or control them. Epidemiologists also track the frequency and geographic distribution of diseases over time. In addition, they study the causal relationships between diseases. equestrian foraging
a specialized subsistence pattern in which horses are used extensively in hunting large game animals. Equestrian foragers evolved in only two areas of the world--the Great Plains of North America and the sparse grasslands of Southern Argentina. In both cases, pedestrian foragers acquired horses from Spanish settlers in the early 17th century. Over several generations, horse breeding and riding skills were honed. This resulted in a revolutionary change in these Native American societies. The horse became the principle mode of transportation and dramatically increased hunting success in the pursuit of large animals. These societies became larger, more mobile, and were now able to travel over larger areas throughout the year. Horses allowed them to effectively follow the seasonal migrations of large herbivores over hundreds of miles. In North American the prey of choice was the bison and in South America it was the guanaco. ("Equestrian" is derived from the Latin word equus meaning horse.)
Eskimo naming system a bilateral descent based kin naming system in which members of the nuclear family are given terms of reference based only on their gender and generation. Aunts (3) and uncles (4) are distinguished from parents (1 = father and 2 = mother) and separated by gender. The spouses of aunts and uncles may also be given these kin terms. All cousins are lumped together with one kin term (7) without regard to gender. No kin name distinction is made between uncles, aunts, and cousins with regards to side of the family.
ethnic group a category or group of people considered to be significantly different from others in terms of cultural (dialect, religion, traditions, etc.) and sometimes physical characteristics (skin color, body shape, etc.). Commonly recognized American ethnic groups include American Indians, Jews, Latinos, Chinese, African Americans ("blacks"), European Americans ("whites"), etc. ethnicity ethnic group identity. ethnic symbol selected traits used as symbolic badges of identity to emphasize distinctness from other ethnic groups. Dialect, religion, and style of dress are common ethnic symbols. Biological characteristics, such as skin color and body shape, may be used as ethnic symbols as well. ethnocentrism the deep felt belief or feeling that your culture is superior to all others. Being fond of your own way of life and condescending or even hostile toward other cultures is normal for all people. Alien culture traits are often viewed as being not just different but less sensible and even "unnatural." This results in the interpretation of other people in terms of one's own cultural values and traditions. An example is people from monogamous societies condemning polygamy as being "unnatural" and immoral. Ethnocentrism is universal and normal but not necessarily morally defensible or desirable because it prevents
understanding other cultures. It also interferes with meaningful intercultural communication. See cultural relativity. ethnocide
the act or attempt to systematically destroy another people's ethnicity or culture. Usually the term ethnocide is applied to intentional acts resulting in culture death. The legalized "kidnapping" of Native American children so that they could be educated as Europeanized Canadians and Americans during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is an example of ethnocide. See genocide.
ethnography anthropological research in which one learns about the culture of another society through fieldwork and first hand observation in that society. Ethnography is also the term used to refer to books or monographs describing what was learned about the culture of a society. ethnology an anthropological study that systematically compares similar cultures. An example of an ethnological study would be a comparison of what cultures are like in societies that have economies based on hunting and gathering rather than agriculture. The data for this sort of ethnology would come from the existingethnographies about these peoples. In other words, an ethnology is essentially a synthesis of the work of many ethnographers. ethnopharmacology the scientific study of traditional uses of plants and other organisms for medical purposes. Ethnopharmacology is a specialization within ethnobiology, which is an interdisciplinary field of research carried out by people trained in cultural anthropology, biology, and medicine. ethnoscience the field of anthropology that tries to learn about how people in different cultures categorize things in their environment. The focus is on emic categories. This data provides important insights into the interests, concerns, and values of cultures. etic categories
referring to the classification of things according to some external system of analysis brought in by a visitor to another society. This is the approach of
biology in using the Linnaean classification system to define new species. It assumes that ultimately, there is an objective reality and that is more important than cultural perceptions of it. See emic categories. exogamy a marriage partner selection rule requiring that marriage be with someone outside of a defined social group such as one's nuclear family. Selection is usually further restricted by endogamy rules. extended family two or more nuclear families tied together by bonds of descent. Usually an extended family contains living relatives from three or more generations.
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-Ffamily of orientation
see nuclear family.
family of procreation
see nuclear family.
feuding prolonged hostility and occasional fighting between individuals and their supporters. It is a universal form of aggression that mostly occurs between members of the same society, though it can occur between people from separate societies as well. It is caused by a desire for revenge for a perceived prior wrong. Usually, both sides in feuds believe that they have been wronged and seek to settle the score. Inherent in feuds is a failure in communication between the feuding parties and the belief that there needs to be "an eye for an eye." Without adequate retribution, there is minimally a loss of face for the families involved. fictive kinship
a socially recognized link between individuals, created as an expedient for dealing with special circumstances, such as the bond between a godmother and her godchild. Fictive kinship bonds are based on friendship and other personal relationships rather than marriage and descent.
people who live in more or less isolated, small societies and obtain their food by foraging wild plants and hunting wild animals. Foragers generally have a passive dependence on what the environment contains. They do not plant crops and the only domesticated animals that they usually have are dogs. Most foraging societies do not establish permanent settlements. Rather, they have relatively temporary encampments with tents or other easily constructed dwellings. The length of time that they stay in any one location is largely determined by the availability of resources. Foragers are also referred to as hunters and gatherers.
formal education structured and directed teaching and learning primarily under the control and direction of adult teachers who are professional "knowers." Formal education is usually what happens in a classroom. See informal education.
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-Ggender sexual identity as male or female. genealogy the family history, or record of descent, of an individual from his or her ancestors. generalized reciprocity gift giving without the expectation of an immediate return. It is understood that at some time in the future there will be an appropriate repayment. Seereciprocity. general purpose money
a portable, arbitrarily valued medium of exchange. All market economies today use this form of money. It can have a variety of physical forms--e.g., coins, paper money, or bank checks. It can also be simply a digital transmission from one computer to another that occurs with the use of credit cards or the electronic transfer of funds. The key point about general purpose money is that anything that is for sale can be bought with it--everyone accepts it. General purpose money is also referred to as "standardized currency." See special purpose money. genocide the act or attempt to systematically kill all members of an ethnic group or culture. The Nazi extermination of Jews and gypsies by the millions before and during World War II is an example of genocide. See ethnocide. globalism the progressive emergence of a single worldwide economic system and the simultaneous reduction in global cultural and political differences. A presumed result of globalization would be the merging of previously separate political entities and the growth in power and prestige of international institutions. Those who advocate globalism generally believe that ethnocentrism, nationalism, and tribalism are obstacles that must be overcome. god or goddess
a powerful supernatural being with an individual identity and recognizable attributes. Another term for a god is a deity . Like spirits, gods have individual identities and recognizable attributes (gods are male and goddess are female). However, gods and goddesses are more powerful than spirits and other lesser supernatural beings--they can effectively alter all of nature and human fortunes. As a result, they are commonly worshipped and requests are made of them to help in times of need.
godparent a person who sponsors a child and assumes some parental responsibility for its upbringing. A godparent shares this responsibility with the "real" parents. A godparent is a fictive kinsman who may be either a godmother or a godfather to a godchild. grammar the part of language analysis that is concerned with how the sounds are used to make sense. Grammar consists of morphology and syntax.
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a mind altering drug that can cause profound hallucinations or an altered state of awareness. Most hallucinogens used for religious purposes by shamans and others are derived from plants.
a kin naming system in which relatives are distinguished only by generation and gender. This results in just 4 different kin terms of reference. Ego's father and all male relatives in his generation are referred to by the same kin term (1). Likewise, ego's mother and all female relatives in her generation have the same kin term (2). All brothers and male cousins are linked by giving them the same kin term (3). Sisters and all female cousins are also referred to by the same term (4).
eating only vegetable foods. Animals that have this sort of diet are herbivores or vegetarians.
a society consisting of many different ethnic and/or "racial" groups, social classes, languages and/or dialects, and cultural traditions. The U.S. and Canada are heterogeneous societies. See homogenous society. heterosexual an individual who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted by members of the opposite gender from himself or herself. Heterosexuality generally refers to sexual interaction between members of the opposite gender. See bisexual and homosexual.
a society that is divided into unequal social classes and individual statuses. There commonly is a ranking of classes and statuses in hierarchical societies such that those that are at the top of the ranking have greater power and wealth. Large intensive agriculture based societies typically have a social and political pyramid with an elite ruling class at the top and the majority of the people at the bottom.
Hispanic referring to Spanish and/or Latin American cultural traditions. In the U.S., Portuguese speaking Brazilians also are often considered Hispanics for official census recording purposes while people from Spain and Portugal are frequently excluded. See Latino. holism
the view that human existence can be adequately understood only as a multifaceted whole. Human beliefs and actions must be seen in terms of their interrelatedness with all other aspects of culture, human biology, social interaction, and environmental influences.
a society that predominantly or entirely consists of people who share the same ethnicity/race, language, and cultural traditions. Most small-scale societies are homogenous. A few large-scale ones, like Japan, are as well. See heterogeneous society. homosexual an individual who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted by members of his or her own gender. Homosexuality generally refers to sexual interaction between members of the same gender. In North America, female homosexuals are often referred to as "lesbians" while males are known as "gays." See bisexual andheterosexual. horticulturalists
people who obtain most of their food by low intensity farming. This subsistence pattern involves at least part time planting and tending of domesticated food plants. Pigs, chickens, or other relatively small domesticated animals are often raised for food and prestige. Many horticultural societies supplement their farming subsistence base with occasional hunting and gathering of wild plants and animals. They usually practice slash and burn field clearing methods and do not add additional fertilizer or irrigate. Multicropping is common. They often have a partial reliance on foraging for wild foods.
Their societies are usually larger and more sedentary than those of foragers but still are at a low technological level and relatively small-scale.
household a residential group usually, but not always, consisting of members of the same family. humoral pathology a naturalistic medical system based on the idea that our bodies have four important fluids or humors--blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Each humor is thought to have its own "complexion." Blood is hot and wet. Phlegm is cold and wet. Black bile is cold and dry. Yellow bile is hot and dry. These complexions have nothing to do with actual temperature and humidity. In addition to bodily fluids, three internal organs are considered highly important in humoral pathology. Each one has its own characteristic complexion. The heart is dry and cold. The brain is wet and cold. The liver is hot and wet. Specific forms of illnesses, medicines, foods, and most natural objects also have specific complexions. Curing an illness involves discovering the complexion imbalance and rectifying it. hunters and gatherers
hyperendemic an endemic disease present at a continuously high frequency within a population. hypodescent the criterion for assigning individuals to specific "races" based on only a distant hereditary relationship. The Nazis used this criterion for labeling people as Jews whose only connection with Judaism was a grandparent. Similarly, it has been used in North America to label people as African American even if they were mostly European in biological ancestry. Hypodescent is also known as the "drop of blood" criterion. hypothesis a tentative explanation for a set of observable or measurable facts that is tested using the scientific method.
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-Iincest taboos rules prohibiting sexual intercourse with close relatives. The prohibition includes at least members of one's nuclear family and may extend to more distant relatives in some cultures. ideal behavior what people believe that they should do in their lives rather than what they think they are doing or what they actually are doing. In most societies there is a discrepancy between these three kinds of behavior. It is important for anthropologists to distinguish between actual, believed, and ideal behavior when they learn about another society and its culture. imitative magic see sympathetic magic. indigenous
referring to the native population of an area.
a world-view in which it is believed that humans are not separate from nature and the supernatural world. Living creatures and non-living objects in nature as well as supernatural beings are thought to be human-like in their motivations, feelings, and interactions. When the characteristics of this type of world-view were first proposed in the early 1950's by Robert Redfield, it was called a "primitive world-view." See metropolitan world-view. Industrial Revolution
the transition from a society primarily dependent on hand tools produced by individual craftsmen to one with machine and power tools developed through large-scale industrial production. In Western Cultures, this began to occur during the last half of the 18th century. It resulted in increased individual wealth, progressive urbanization, and globalization of the economy.
the killing of children. Extreme threat of starvation has at times forced some societies, such as the Inuit of the North American Arctic, to kill family members. When this occurred, the decision was usually to eliminate the youngest daughter because she was the least likely to add to the family's food supply. Though illegal, female infanticide does occur occasionally in India and mainland China where there is a high value placed on having sons. infibulation Infibulation is partially closing off the opening to the vagina by sewing, pinning, or clamping part of the vulva. This surgery is usually done as part of a rite of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood for girls. See clitoridectomy. informal education learning as a result of imitation, experimentation, and repetitive practice of basic skills. This is what happens when children role-play adult interactions in their games. See formal education. informal negative sanction an "unofficial", non-governmental punishment for violations of social norms. Informal negative sanctions usually are in the form of gossip, public ridicule, social ostracism, insults, or even threats of physical harm by other members of the community. See negative sanction and positive sanction. informant someone who is not only knowledgeable about his or her own culture but who is able and willing to communicate this knowledge in an understandable way to an anthropologist or some other outsider. Ethnographers usually try to develop a warm and trusting relationship with their informants. This makes it more likely that they will learn what the informant's culture is really like. ingroup-outgroup dynamics
the social and psychological forces that operate in the interaction between groups of people and societies. In this interaction, ethnocentrism and the desire to defend ethnic boundaries generally inhibits clear communication and cultural diffusion.
a person, other than a spouse, whose kinship relationship to ego is only through a marriage bond. Brother-in-law and mother-in-law are examples. In-laws are often considered to be relatives by societies following the Eskimo kin naming system.
However, such affinal relatives are usually considered to be more distant in terms of kinship obligations and privileges than consanguinal ones.
inner-directed personality a personality that is guilt oriented. The behavior of individuals with this sort of personality are strongly controlled by their conscience. As a result, there is little need for police to make sure that they obey the law. These individuals monitor themselves. The inner-directed personality is one of the modal personalitytypes identified by David Riesman in the early 1950's. intensive agriculture
a subsistence pattern characterized by full-time farming in which large beasts of burden or highly mechanized farm equipment (e.g., rototillers and tractors) are used to prepare the land for planting and later to harvest crops. Intensive agriculture usually involves the use of irrigation or other forms of water management. Often there is monocropping with heavy applications of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. This form of agriculture is highly productive but generally capital intensive.
interaction distance the distance our bodies are physically apart while talking with each other. If two speakers have different comfortable interaction distances, a ballet of shifting positions usually occurs until one of the individuals is backed into a corner and feels threatened by what may be perceived as hostile or sexual overtures. As a result, the verbal message may not be listened to or understood as it was intended. Interaction distance is an aspect of proxemics. internalization of the moral code the situation in which people accept society’s moral code and do not need police or
other external means of social control to get them to follow it. They feel guilty if they do something “wrong” and punish themselves or turn themselves in for punishment.
something new that is created. Invented cultural traits may be new things or ideas. It is rare for inventions to be based on entirely new principles, functions, and forms. Most often, old principles are applied to new functions and/or forms. Inventions may also result from stimulus diffusion
a kin naming system in which the same term of reference is used for father and father's brother (1) as well as mother and mother's sister (2). Parallel cousinsfrom both sides of the family are lumped together with siblings but distinguished by gender (5 = male and 6 = female). All cross cousins are similarly lumped together and distinguished by gender (7 = male and 8 = female).
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-Jjoint family two or more relatives of the same generation living together with their respective spouses and children. Joint families typically consist of 1-2 generations. Seeextended family. judgment sample a probability sample that includes only a limited number of key people selected by an anthropologist to be his or her informants based on the likelihood that they possess knowledge concerning the research questions and will be most able to communicate it. For example, religious leaders would be the most likely informants if research concerns religious beliefs and practices. The judgment sample approach works best if the focus of research concerns cultural information that only some members of the host society possess.
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a family group bound together by their kinship ties to one person. An individual's kindred consists of all of the people who are related to him or her
throughconsanguinal ties and possibly affinal ones as well. That is, it includes one's biological relatives and sometimes spouses and in-laws.
the part of non-verbal communication consisting of gestures, expressions, and postures. This part of paralanguage is also known as body language.
kin naming system
a culturally defined set of rules for terms of address and reference to be used for specific categories of relatives. There are 6 different kin naming systems in use around the world: Eskimo, Hawaiian, Sudanese, Omaha, Crow, and Iroquois. Kin naming systems are also referred to as "kin terminological systems."
culturally defined relationships between individuals who are commonly thought of as having family ties. Kinship is based on marriage, descent, and, occasionally, fictive relationships as well.
koro an irrational perception that one's prominent sexual body parts are withdrawing into the body and subsequently being lost. In the case of men, the concern is that their penis and testes are shrinking. For women, the focus is on the perceived shrinking of the vulva and nipples. In both cases it is a fear of the loss of masculinity or femininity followed by premature death. Koro is traditionally believed to be caused by "unhealthy sex" (e.g., masturbation or sex with prostitutes). It also thought to be caused by "tainted" foods. Koro is found in China and areas of Southeast Asia where Chinese culture has diffused (especially Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore). Kula Ring the complex system of inter-island commerce that existed among the Trobriand Islanders of the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The Kula Ring was a closed trading system in which only established senior male trading partners from each island could participate. The trade was carried out with large outrigger sailing canoes. On the surface, it appeared to be primarily an exchange of gift items and ceremonial feasting organized to reinforce bonds between senior trading partners. The trade network was essentially circular. If a trader was traveling in a clockwise direction around the circuit, he would give long necklaces of red shells (soulava) as gifts to his trading partner. If he
was traveling in a counterclockwise direction, he would give armbands of white shells (mwali). These necklaces and armbands were the kula items. While the senior trading partners were formally greeting each other and reinforcing their friendship by giving kula gifts, the younger men were usually unloading more practical trade items on the beach to be bartered. These were mostly surplus luxury items from their home islands. While the kula items were exchanged via a system of generalized reciprocity, the regular trade goods were mostly traded in a manner that resulted in balanced reciprocity. kuru a fatal disease caused by prions that was found among the South Foré people of the eastern New Guinea Highlands. The symptoms include palsy, contracted face muscles, and the loss of motor control resulting in the inability to walk and eventually even eat. Kuru victims become progressively emaciated. Death almost always occurs within 6-12 months of the onset of symptoms. This disease was spread among the South Foré as a result of cannibalism. Kuru is a variant of Kreutzfeld-Jacob disease in humans as well as scrapies and mad cow disease in livestock and some wild animals.
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-Llanguage a specific set of rules for generating speech. large-scale farming
see intensive agriculture.
generally, a society with cities, industry, intensive agriculture, and a complex international economy. Such societies have socio-economic classes and a government with hierarchies of officials. The importance of kinship is diminished in social, economic, and political matters (in comparison to small-scale societies).
latent functions functions that are less apparent and more difficult to uncover (e.g., building a bridge to keep workers employed and provide a recognizable symbol of a city). See manifest functions.
Latino in contemporary American usage, this is a person of Hispanic ethnic identity. The feminine form of "latino" is "latina"? law a society's rules of conduct that are usually based on social norms and generally recognized by its members as binding or enforceable. See common law. lesbian a woman who is sexually attracted to other women--a female homosexual. levels of political integration a term referring to general types of political systems used to organize and manage societies. As a society's population size and territory grow, it must develop new political solutions to keep from splitting apart. In the 1950's, the American Anthropologist, Elman Service described four levels of political integration that have have been used around the world to solve this problem-band, tribe, chiefdom, and state. While there are some unique cultural variations of each of these levels, they are remarkably similar from one society to another. Subsequently, classifying a society in terms of its level of political integration has proven to be a useful tool in comprehending the wide range of human cultures and societies from small foraging communities to modern nation states. levirate a rule specifying that a widow should marry the brother of her deceased husband. This keeps the dead man's wealth and children within his family. It also continues the bond between the husband's and wife's families. This rule is most common in societies that have patrilineal descent and polygyny. linguistics the comparative study of the function, structure, and history of languages and the communication process in general. Linguistics is also referred to as linguistic anthropology.
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-Mmachismo the Spanish and Latin American ideal of men being confident, strong, dignified, brave, overtly masculine, and sexually active. This ideal of a macho , or "real man", was brought to the New World from Spain and Portugal. Its ultimate origin is probably to be found in the Islamic cultural traditions of North Africa that heavily influenced the culture of the Spanish Peninsula until the end of the 1400's A.D. See marianismo. magic
using ritual formulas to compel or influence supernatural beings or powers to act in certain ways for good or evil purposes. By performing certain magical acts in a particular way, crops might be improved, game herds replenished, illness cured or avoided, animals and people made fertile. This is very different from television and stage "magic" that depends on slight-of-hand tricks and contrived illusions rather than supernatural power.
majority group an ethnic/racial group that has the largest population and usually the greatest economic and political power in a society. The majority group in North America today consists mostly of European Americans. See minority group. mal de ojo (the "evil eye")
a kind of personalistic illness in Latin America and parts of the Mediterranean Basin resulting from soul loss. The cause is traditionally thought to be a strong person staring at a weak individual. The eyes of the strong person drain the power and/or soul from the weak one. Proof that this has occurred to someone is that he or she cries inconsolably without a cause, has fitful sleep, diarrhea, vomiting, and/or a fever. It is thought that powerful people can cause this draining of the soul intentionally or unintentionally. In traditional Mexican and Central American culture, women, babies, and young children are thought of as being weak, while men as well as rich and politically powerful people of either gender are strong. People who believe in the existence of mal de ojo are likely to seek out acurandero to cure it. marianismo the Spanish and Latin American ideal of women being modest, restrained, virtuous, and nurturing. Women are expected to be sexually abstinent before marriage and passive in response to their husbands' demands after marriage.
Women are expected to have sexual intercourse only with their husbands. "Marianismo" comes from the Virgin Mary, whose life women are encouraged to emulate as a model of "proper" femininity. See machismo. marriage the socially recognized union of two or more people. It is a universal method of regulating heterosexual intercourse by defining who is acceptable as a sexual partner and who is not. Marriage establishes social relationships that are the foundation for families and households. manifest functions functions that are obvious and easily discovered even by strangers (e.g., building a bridge to get to quickly get across a narrow waterway). See latent functions. market economy an impersonal but highly efficient system of production, distribution, and exchange that is principally characterized by: 1) the use of money as a means of exchange, 2) having the ability to accumulate vast amounts of capital (i.e., wealth that can be used to fund further production), and 3) having highly complex economic interactions that are ultimately international in the scale of their inter-relatedness. See non-market economy. matricentric family
a nuclear family in which there is no continuing adult male functioning as a husband/father. This man is missing due to death, divorce, abandonment, or no marriage having taken place. In such families, the mother raises her children more or less alone and subsequently has the major role in their socialization. Matricentric families are also referred to as being "matrifocused" . matrilineage a multi-generational group of relatives who are related by matrilineal descent. Matrilineages usually consist of a number of related nuclear families descended from the same woman. matrilineal descent
unilineal descent that follows the female line. With this pattern, people are related if they can trace descent through females to the same female ancestor. Both males and females inherit membership in a matrilineal family line, but only females can pass it on to their descendants.
the residence pattern in which a newly married couple moves in with or near the bride's mother's house. This keeps women near their female relatives, while men must leave their natal households. Matrilocal residence is strongly associated with matrilineal descent. mechanized grain farming
intensive farming for the production of cereals (e.g., corn, wheat, oats) in which hundreds and even thousands of acres are planted, tended, and harvested by a small number of people using large machinery (e.g., tractors and combines). There usually are heavy applications of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. This highly productive form of intensive mono-cropping agriculture is capital but not labor intensive. The Great Plains of North America is predominantly a region of mechanized grain farming.
medical system a system of explaining, diagnosing, and curing illness. There are two broad types of medical systems in the world-natural
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