Cultural Anthropology (9th Edition)
Educational Goals and Orientation of This Text
The world has become a small place. Global communications, international trade, geopolitical events with worldwide impact, and ease of travel have brought people and 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 an enhanced global awareness is essential for people preparing to take their place in the fastpaced, increasingly interconnected world of the twentyfirst
century. Anthropology is ideally suited to introduce students to a global perspective. Through exploring the range of human diversity, each of the subfields of anthropology helps liberate students from a narrow, parochial view and enables them to appreciate the full sweep of the human condition.
The anthropological perspective, which stresses criticalthinking, the evaluation of competing hypotheses, and the skills to generalize from specific data, contributes significantly to a well-rounded education. This text engages readers in anthropology by delving into both classic and current research in the field. This reflects a commitment to anthropology’s holistic and integrative approach. It spells out how the four basic subfields of anthropology—biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology— together yield a comprehensive understanding of humanity. Because the subfields often overlap, insights from all of them are woven together to reveal the holistic fabric of a particular society or the threads uniting all of humanity. In examining anthropological research, this text often refers to research conducted in other fields. Contemporary anthropologists draw on the findings of biologists, paleontologists, geologists, economists, historians, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, religious studies specialists, philosophers, and researchers in other areas whose work sheds light on anthropological inquiry. In addition to enlarging the scope of the text, exploring interactions between anthropology and other fields sparks the critical imagination that brings the learning process to life.
The comparative approach, another cornerstone of the anthropological perspective, is also highlighted in this text. When anthropologists assess fossil evidence, artifacts, languages, or cultural beliefs and values, they weigh comparative evidence, while acknowledging the unique elements of each case, society, or culture. The text casts an inquiring eye on materials from numerous geographical regions and historical eras to enrich student understanding. A diachronic approach also characterizes this textbook. In evaluating human evolution, prehistoric events, language divergence, or developments in social structure, anthropologists must rely on models that reflect changes through time, so this diachronic orientation suffuses the text.
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