Anthropology: a global perspective, 8th Edition
Educational Goals and Orientation of This Text
The world has become a small place. Global communications, international trade, geopolitical events, and ease of travel have brought people from different cultures into more intimate contact than ever before, forcing this generation of students to become more knowledgeable about societies other than their own. This textbook is grounded in the belief that enhanced global awareness is essential for people preparing to take their place in the interconnected world of the twenty-first century. Anthropology is ideally suited to introduce students to this global perspective. Through exploring the range of human diversity, the subfields of anthropology help liberate students from narrow, parochial views and enable them to appreciate the full sweep of the human condition.
The anthropological perspective, which stresses critical thinking, the evaluation of competing hypotheses, and the skills to generalize from specific data, is fundamental to a well-rounded education. This text engages readers in anthropology by delving into both classic and current research. It reflects a commitment to anthropology’s holistic and integrative approach, demonstrating how the four basic subfields of anthropology—biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology— together yield a comprehensive understanding of humanity. Insights from each of the subfields are woven together to reveal how anthropologists unlock the working of a particular society or discover the threads that unite human societies in the past an present. In examining anthropological research, this text often draws on research from other disciplines, including an array of findings from biology, paleontology, history, psychology, sociology, political science, religious studies, and research in other areas that shed light on anthropological inquiry. Exploring interactions between anthropology and other fields further underscores anthropology’s unique, holistic perspective that sparks the critical imagination that brings the learning process to life.
The comparative approach, another cornerstone of anthropology, is also highlighted throughout the text. When anthropologists assess fossil evidence, artifacts, languages, or cultural beliefs, they weigh the evidence from a comparative perspective, even as they acknowledge the unique elements of each case, society, or culture. Anthropologists draw on examples from across both time and space. The text consequently casts an inquiring eye on materials from numerous geographical regions and historical eras to enrich student understanding. In evaluating human evolution, prehistoric events, language divergence, or developments in social structure, anthropologists must rely on a diachronic approach, and draw on models that accommodate change through time.
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