Dr. Lauren Arenson
Physical Anthropology Anthro 1L Cultural Anthropology
Paired / Online / ITV
Humanities Scholar's Option
Glossary
A-H

acculturation: cultural change that occurs in response to extended firsthand contacts between two or more previously autonomous groups.

acephalous society: a society without a political head such as a president, chief, or king.

achieved status: social standing and prestige reflecting the ability of an individual to acquire an established position in society as a result of individual accomplishments (cf. ascribed status).

adaptation: changes in gene frequencies resulting from selective pressures being placed upon a population by environmental factors; results in a greater fitness of the population to its ecological niche.

administrative system: a twentieth-century system of ownership in which land is owned and managed by the state; found in China, the Soviet Union, and some parts of Africa and Latin America.

affinal kin: persons related by marriage.

age grade: a group of people of the same sex and approximately the same age who share a set of duties and privileges.

age set: a group of people roughly the same age who pass through various age grades together.

alienation: the fragmentation of individuals' relations to their work, the things they produce, and the resources with which they produce them.

allomorphs: forms contained in morphemes that differ in sound but not in meaning.

allophones: sounds that belong to the same phoneme.

altruistic act: a behavior characterized by self-sacrifice that benefits others.

ambilineal descent: a descent ideology based on ties traced through either the paternal or the maternal line.

ambilocality: residence of a married couple with or near the kin of either husband or wife, as they choose.

animal husbandry: the breeding, care, and use of herd animals, such as sheep, goats, camels, cattle, and yaks.

animatism: belief in an impersonal supernatural force.

animism: belief in a soul, a spiritual essence that differs from the tangible, physical body.

anthropological linguistics: the scientific study of human communication within its sociocultural context and the origin and evolution of language.

anthropology: the study of humanity - our physical characteristics as animals, and our unique non-biological characteristics we call culture. The subject is generally broken down into three subdisciplines: biological (physical) anthropology, cultural (social) anthropology, and archaeology.

aphasia: a language disorder resulting from brain damage.

applied anthropology: the activity of professional anthropologists in programs that have as primary goals changes in human behavior believed to ameliorate contemporary social, economic, and technological problems.

archaeology: a subdiscipline of anthropology involving the study of the human past through its material remains.

arranged marriage: any marriage in which the selection of a spouse is outside the control of the bride and groom. art the process and products of applying skills to any activity that transforms matter, sound, or motion into forms considered aesthetically pleasing to people in a society.

ascribed status: social standing or prestige which is the result of inheritance or hereditary factors (cf. achieved status).

authority: the ability to exert influence because of one's personal prestige or the status of one's office.

autonomy: taking commands from only one authoritative source, oneself, and rejecting all attempts to override one's autonomy. Moral autonomy entails making the final decisions about what one should do. Political autonomy entails having the liberty to act upon the decision one has made.

avunculocal residence: residence of a married couple with or near a brother of the husband's mother who is usually a senior member of his matrilineage.

balanced reciprocity: gift giving that clearly carries the obligation of an eventual and roughly equal return.

band: a small territorially-based social group consisting of 2 or more nuclear families. A loosely integrated population sharing a sense of common identity but few specialized institutions.

bifurcation: a basis of kin classification that distinguishes the mother's side of the family from the father's side.

bilateral descent: a descent ideology in which individuals define themselves as being at the center of a group of kin composed more or less equally of kin from both paternal and maternal lines.

bilocal residence: regular alternation of a married couple's residence between the household or vicinity of the wife's kin and of the husband's kin.

biological imperatives: the basic human drives for food, rest, sexual satisfaction, and social contact.

biological species: a group of interbreeding populations that is reproductively isolated from other such groups.

bound morphemes: morphemes that must be attached to other morphemes to convey meaning.

bourgeoisie: a Marxian term referring to the middle class.

bride price: payment made by a man to the family from whom he takes a daughter in marriage.

bride service: service rendered by a man as payment to a family from whom he takes a daughter in marriage.

bride wealth: property given by the family of the groom to the family of the bride to compensate them for the loss of their daughter's services.

call system: a repertoire of sounds, each of which is produced in response to a particular situation.

carrying capacity: the point at or below which a population tends to stabilize.

caste: a social category in which membership is fixed at birth and usually unchangeable.

cattle complex: an East African socioeconomic system in which cattle represent social status as well as wealth.

census: a comprehensive survey of a population designed to reveal its basic demographic characteristics.

centralization: concentration of political and economic decisions in the hands of a few individuals or institutions.

ceremonial fund: the portion of the peasant budget allocated to religious and social activities.

chiefdom: a term used to describe a society that operates on the principle of ranking, i.e. differential social status. Different lineages are graded on a scale of prestige, calculated by how closely related one is to the chief. The chiefdom generally has a permanent ritual and ceremonial center, as well as being characterized by local specialization in crafts.

civilization: a term used by anthropologists to describe any society that has cities.

clan: a unilineal descent group usually comprising more than ten generations consisting of members who claim a common ancestry even though they cannot trace step-by-step their exact connection to a common ancestor.

class: a ranked group within a stratified society characterized by achieved status and considerable social mobility.

closed corporate community: a community that strongly emphasizes community identity and discourages outsiders from settling there by restricting land use to village members and prohibiting the sale or lease of property to outsiders.

code sheets: anthropologists' checklists of observed behaviors and inferred motivations for or attitudes toward them.

cognates: words so similar from one language to the next as to suggest that both are variants of a single ancestral prototype.

cognitive anthropology: the study of how peoples of different cultures acquire information about the world (cultural transmission), how they process that information and reach decisions, and how they act on that information in ways that other members of their cultures consider appropriate.

cognitive imperative: the human need to impose order on the world by mental processes.

cognitive processes: ways of perceiving and ordering the world.

collateral relatives: people to whom one is related through a connecting person.

communal cult: a society with groups of ordinary people who conduct religious ceremonies for the well-being of the total community.

community identity: an effort by speakers to identify themselves with a specific locality and to distinguish themselves from outsiders.

conflict: in its political manifestation, conflict exacts an ever-increasing toll in human lives and misery.

conjugal relationship: the relationship between spouses.

consanguineal kin: persons related by birth.

control: in the scientific method, a situation in which a comparison can be made between a specific situation and a second situation that differs, ideally, in only one aspect from the first.

controlled comparison: a method in which hypotheses are tested by comparing two or more populations that are similar or identical in most respects other than that which has been defined as the independent variable.

conversion: the use of a sphere of exchange for a transaction with which it is not generally associated.

corporate ownership control: of land and other productive resources by a group rather than by individuals.

corporateness: the sharing of group members in specific rights.

corvee: unpaid labor in lieu of taxation, usually on road construction and maintenance.

creation-science: the idea that scientific evidence can be and has been gathered for creation as depicted in the Bible. Mainstream scientists and the Supreme Court discount any scientific value of creation-science statements.

creole: a pidgin language than has evolved into a fully developed language, with a complete array of grammatical distinctions and a large vocabulary.

cross-cousins: mother's brothers' children and father's sisters' children.

cross-cultural research: (holocultural research) a method that uses a global sample of societies in order to test hypotheses.

cultural anthropology: a subdiscipline of anthropology concerned with the non-biological, behavioral aspects of society; i.e. the social, linguistic, and technological components underlying human behavior. Two important branches of cultural anthropology are ethnography (the study of living cultures) and ethnology (which attempts to compare cultures using ethnographic evidence). In Europe, it is referred to as social anthropology.

cultural determinism: the idea that except for reflexes all behavior is the result of learning.

cultural diffusion: the spreading of a cultural trait (e.g., material object, idea, or behavior pattern) from one society to another.

cultural ecology: a term devised by Julian Steward to account for the dynamic relationship between human society and its environment, in which culture is viewed as the primary adaptive mechanism.

cultural environment: the complex of products of human endeavor, including technology and social institutions.

cultural evolution: the theory that societal change can be understood by analogy with the processes underlying the biological evolution of species.

cultural materialism: the theory, espoused by Marvin Harris, that ideas, values, and religious beliefs are the means or products of adaptation to environmental conditions ("material constraints").

cultural relativism: the ability to view the beliefs and customs of other peoples within the context of their culture rather than one's own.

cultural universal: those general cultural traits found in all societies of the world. culture shock a psychological disorientation experienced when attempting to operate in a radically different cultural environment.

culture area: a region in which several groups have similar culture complexes.

culture of poverty: a self-perpetuating complex of escapism, impulse gratification, despair, and resignation; an adaptation and reaction of the poor to the marginal position in a class-stratified, highly individuated, capitalistic society.

culture: learned, nonrandom, systematic behavior and knowledge that can be transmitted from generation to generation.

deep structure: an abstract two-part mental model consisting of a noun phrase and a verb phrase, with the optional addition of an adverb or adverbial phrase.

demographic transition: a rapid increase in a society's population with the onset of industrialization, followed by a leveling off of the growth rate due to reduced fertility.

demography: the study of the processes which contribute to population structure and their temporal and spatial dynamics..

dependent variable: a variable that is affected by the independent variable.

descent group: a group of consanguineal kin united by presumed lineal descent from a common ancestor.

descent ideology: the concept of kinship as a basis of unambiguous membership in a group and possibly of property rights and political obligations.

descent relationship: the ties between mother and child and between father and child.

descent tracing: one's kinship connections back through a number of generations.

descriptive linguistics: that branch of anthropological linguistics that studies how languages are structured.

diachronic studies: use of descriptive data from one society or population that has been studied at many points in time.

differentiation: organization in separate units for various activities and purposes.

diffusion: when elements of one culture spread to another without wholesale dislocation or migration.

diglossia: the situation in which two forms of the same language are spoken by people in the same language community, depending on the social situation.

displacement (language) The ability to communicate about events at times and places other than those of their occurrence; enables a person to talk and think about things not directly in front of him or her.

divination: a practice in which an element of nature acts as a sign to provide supernatural information to the diviner.

division of labor: the set of rules found in all societies dictating how the day to day tasks are assigned to the various members of a society.

domestic cycle: the changes in household organization that result from a series of demographic events.

domestic mode of production: the organization of economic production and consumption primarily in the household.

domestication: the process by which people try to control the reproductive rates of animals and plants by ordering the environment in such a way as to favor certain species.

double descent: a system of descent in which individuals receive some rights and obligations from the father's side of the family and others from the mother's side.

dowry: payment made by the bride's family to the groom or to the groom's family.

dysfunction: the notion that some cultural traits can cause stress or imbalance within a cultural system.

ecclesiastical cult: a highly complex religious system headed by a full-time priest.

ecological determinism: a form of explanation in which it is implicit that changes in the environment determine changes in human society.

ecology: the study of the dynamic relationships of organisms to each other and the total environment.

economic class: a group that is defined by the economic position of its members in relation to the means of production in the society--the wealth and relative eocnomic control they may command.

economic system: the ideas and institutions that people draw upon and the behaviors in which they engage in order to secure resources to satisfy their needs and desires.

ecosystem: a group of organisms with specific relationships between themselves and a particular environment.

egalitarian society: a society that recognizes few differences in wealth, power, prestige, or status.

emic: a perspective in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories that are relevant and meaningful to the culture under analysis.

empirical: received through the senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste), either directly or through extensions.

empiricism: reliance on observable and quantifiable data.

enculturation: the process by which human infants learn their culture.

endogamy: a rule requiring marriage within a specified social or kinship group.

entrepreneurs: individuals who are willing to take risks and break with traditional practices in order to make a profit.

entrepreneurship: economic innovation and risk taking.

environment: everything external to the organism.

equilibrium: a balance among the components of an ecosystem.

ethnicity: a basis for social categories that are rooted in socially perceived differences in national origin, language, and/or religion.

ethnobotany: a subdiscipline of anthropology that explores how societies perceive and categorize plants in their environment and how they use these plants for food, medicine, ritual, etc.

ethnocentrism: the tendency to judge the customs of other societies by the standards of one's own ethnographic present: describes the point in time at which a society or culture is frozen when ethnographic data collected in the field are published in a report.

ethnography: that aspect of cultural anthropology concerned with the descriptive documentation of living cultures.

ethnohistory: the study of ethnographic cultures through historical records.

ethnology: a subset of cultural anthropology concerned with the comparative study of contemporary cultures, with a view to deriving general principles about human society.

ethnomusicology: the study of music in a cross-cultural perspective.

etic: a perspective in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories of the anthropologist's culture to describe another culture.

evolution: the process by which small but cumulative changes in a species can, over time, lead to its transformation; may be divided into two categories: physical evolution (adaptive changes in biological makeup) and cultural evolution (adaptive changes in thought and behavior).

evolutionary ecology: the study of living organisms within the context of their total environment, with the aim of discovering how they have adapted.

exchange: the distribution of goods and services among members of a society.

exogamy: marriage outside a particular group with which one is identified.

extended family household: a multiple-family unit incorporating adults of two or more generations.

family household: a household formed on the basis of kinship and marriage.

fictive kin: persons such as godparents, compadres, "blood brothers," and old family friends whom children call "aunt" and "uncle".

field dependence: the tendency to see the field of vision as a single unit, with separate objects existing only as part of the whole.

field independence: the tendency to see the objects in one's field of vision as discrete units, distinct from the field as a whole.

fieldwork: the firsthand observation of human societies.

fission-fusion society: a constantly changing form of social organization whereby large groups undergo fission into smaller units and small units fuse into larger units in response to the activity of the group and the season of the year.

floodwater farming: the practice of planting crops in areas that are flooded every year in the rainy season, the floodwaters thus providing natural irrigation.

folktales: traditional stories found in a culture (generally transmitted orally) that may or may not be based on fact.

foraging: collecting wild plants and hunting wild animals for subsistence.

formal interview: an interview that consists of questions designed to elicit specific facts, attitudes, and opinions.

formal organization: a group that restricts membership and makes use of officially designated positions and roles, formal rules and regulations, and a bureaucratic structure.

formalism: a school of economic anthropology which argues that if the concepts of formal economic theory are broadened, they can serve as analytic tools for the study of any economic system.

fossil: the remains or traces of any ancient organism.

fraternal polyandry: marriage of one woman with a set of brothers.

free morphemes: morphemes that are complete words when standing alone.

freehold: private ownership of property.

French structuralism: the theoretical school founded by Claude Levi-Strauss that finds the key to cultural diversity in cognitive structures.

function: the contribution that a particular cultural trait makes to the longevity of the total culture.

functional-processual approach: see processual archaeology.

functionalism: the theory that all elements of a culture are functional in that they serve to satisfy culturally defined needs of the people in that society or requirements of the society as a whole.

gender: a cultural construct consisting of the set of distinguishable characteristics associated with each sex.

generalized reciprocity: informal gift giving for which no accounts are kept and no immediate or specific return is expected.

genetic determinism: the idea that all behavior, including very specific behavior, is biologically based, in contrast to cultural determinism.

genetics: the study of the mechanisms of heredity and biological variation.

grammar: the formal structure of a language, comprising phonology, morphology, and syntax.

grammatical structure: the rules for organizing elements of a language into meaningful utterances.

graphic arts: those forms of art such as painting and drawing.

great English vowel shift: a linguistic change during the Middle English period, when speakers of English began to alter the sounds of vowels, eventually changing all vowel sounds in the language.

group: a number of individuals who interact on a regular basis and have a sense of collective identity.

habitat: the specific area where a species lives.

habitus: as defined by Bourdieu, a culturally specific way not only of doing and speaking, but also of seeing, thinking and categorising. Habitus tends to be"naturalized" in that it is taken for granted or assimilated into the unconscious so that habitus is a necessary condition of action and shared understanding.

hafted: attached with a binding to a shaft or handle (e.g. a "hafted knife").

half-life: the time taken for half the quantity of a radioactive isotope in a sample to decay (see also radioactive decay).

hammerstone: a natural rounded, largely unmodified pebble used as an unhafted hammer.

hand-axe: a Paleolithic stone tool usually made by modifying (chipping or flaking) a natural pebble.

hand-level: a small, simple, hand-held surveying instrument for establishing horizontal lines-of-sight over short distances.

hand-maul: a carefully manufactured unhafted stone hammer.

haplotype: a set of genes that determine different antigens but are closely enough linked to be inherited as a unit; also : the antigenic phenotype determined by a haplotype.

hard palate: the bony roof of the mouth that separates the mouth from the nasal cavity, permitting the animal to breathe and chew at the same time.

Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium: a mathematical model of genetic equilibrium: p2 + 2pq + q2 = 1.

harem: a subunit of a larger social group consisting of a male associated with two or more females.

harpoon head (point): the arming tip of a harpoon. generally classifiable into 2 main forms - toggling and barbed - each of which may be composite or single-piece, and may or may not carry additional cutting-blades or side-blades. Always have line-guards or other means of line attachment.

harpoon: a thrown or thrust spear-like weapon armed with a detachable point fastened to a retrieving line.

hearth: a fireplace, often circular and may be unlined, rock or clay-lined, or rock-filled.

heat treatment: an aboriginal process by which the flaking properties of a rock were improved by controlled heating in a fire.

heel-toe stride: a method of progression characteristic of humans in which the heel strikes the ground first and the person pushes off on the big toe.

hegemony: preponderant influence or authority of one individual or social group over another. heliocentric: a sun-centered model of the universe.

hematite: a natural iron oxide which was used as a reddish pigment.

heme: a constituent of the hemoglobin molecule that consists of a globin and four home units. Each heme unit contains an atom of iron.

hemochorial placenta: the type of placenta found in most primates in which materials pass between the maternal and fetal bloodstreams through a single vessel wall.

hemoglobin A2: a normal variant of hemoglobin A that consists of two alpha and two delta chains and is found in small quantity in normal human blood.

hemoglobin A: a normal adult hemoglobin whose globin unit consists of two alpha and two beta chains.

hemoglobin C: an abnormal variant of hemoglobin A that differs from the latter in having a single amino acid substitution on the beta chain at the same position as the substitution producing hemoglobin S.

hemoglobin F: a normal variant of hemoglobin, known as fetal hemoglobin, that consists of two alpha and two gamma chains and is found in the fetus and early infant. It is gradually replaced by hemoglobin A.

hemoglobin S: an abnormal variant of hemoglobin A that differs from the latter in having a single amino acid substitution on the beta chain; known as sickle hemoglobin.

hemoglobin: the red pigment in erythrocytes that carries oxygen to and carbon dioxide from body tissues.

hemolytic disease: disease involving the destruction of blood cells.

hemophilia A recessive: x-linked trait characterized by excessive bleeding due to faulty clotting mechanism.

henge: literally, "hanging rock," this term is often applied to the Neolithic stone monoliths found in Britian.

herd: among geladas, a large social unit consisting of several bands that come together under very good grazing conditions.

hermeneutics: formal study of methods of interpretation. Following Gadamer, the hermeneutical process is often regarded as involving complex interaction between the interpreting subject and the interpreted object.

heterodont dentition: the regional differentiation of teeth by function.

heterozygosity: the quality of being heterozygous. Having two different alleles of a particular gene.

high-altitude mountains sickness: a condition that includes shortness of breath, physical and mental fatigue, rapid pulse rate, headaches; occurs in persons not acclimatized to high altitudes.

higher taxa: taxa above the species level, such as family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom

hindbrain: the posterior of three swellings in the hollow nerve cord of the primitive vertebrate brain; formed by a thickening of the wall of the nerve cord.

hinge-fracture: a weak or inward-directed blow against cryptocrystalline or fine-grained rock will produce a flake which breaks off (or "hinges") halfway along, without carrying through to a thin tapered end.

historic period: the time after European contact, or the beginning of written recording.

historical archaeology: the archaeological study of historically documented cultures. In North America, research is directed at colonial and post-colonial settlement, analogous to the study of medieval and post-medieval archaeology in Europe.

historical linguistics: the study of how languages change over time.

historical particularism: a detailed descriptive approach to anthropology associated with Franz Boas and his students, and designed as an alternative to the broad generalizing approach favored by anthropologists such as Morgan and Tylor.

historiographic approach: a form of explanation based primarily on traditional descriptive historical frameworks.

hoards: deliberately buried groups of valuables or prized possessions, often in times of conflict or war, and which, for one reason or another, have not been reclaimed. Metal hoards are a primary source of evidence for the European Bronze Age.

holism: the philosophical view that no complex entity can be considered to be only the sum of its parts; as a principle of anthropology, the assumption that any given aspect of human life is to be studied with an eye to its relation to other aspects of human life.

holocene: the post-glacial period, beginning about 10,000 B.P.

holocultural research: see cross-cultural comparison.

home base: a location to which males and females return in human societies.

home range: the area occupied by an animal or animal group.

homeostasis: a term used in systems thinking to describe the action of negative feedback processes in maintaining the system at a constant equilibrium state.

hominid: a member of the family Hominidae, which includes humans.

Hominidae: family of the superfamily Hominoidea that includes humans.

hominoid: a member of the superfamily Hominoidea, which includes apes and humans.

Hominoidea: superfamily of the suborder Anthropoidea that includes the apes and humans.

Homo sapiens: the human species.

homodont dentition: situation in which all teeth are basically the same in structure, although they may differ in size, as is found in reptiles.

homologous chromosomes: chromosomes of the same pair containing the same genes but not necessarily the same alleles.

homology: a similarity due to inheritance from a common ancestor.

homoplasy: a similarity that is not homologous. Homoplasy can arise from parallelism, convergence, analogy, and chance.

homozygous dominant: having two dominant alleles of the same gene.

homozygous recessive: having two recessive alleles of the same gene.

homozygous: having two like alleles of a particular gene; homozygous dominant when the allele is dominant and homozygous recessive when the allele is recessive.

horizon: (1) a discrete regional cultural period or level of cultural development marked by some easily recognizable criterion or trait. (2) in soil-science terminology, a natural developmental zone in a soil profile such as the "A-horizon".

horizontal angle: in mapping, the angle of sight measured on the level or horizontal plane.

horizontal circle: with major surveying instruments, the graduated horizontal table around which the sighting telescope revolves; used to measure the horizontal angle.

horizontal datum: a base measuring point ("0.0 point") used as the origin of rectangular coordinate systems for mapping or for maintaining excavation provenience.

horizontal distance: the measurement of distance on a true level plane.

horizontal migration: a nomadic pattern characterized by regular movement over a large area in search of grass; also called plains migration.

horizontal provenience: the location of an object on a two-dimensional plane surface.

hormones: complex molecules produced by the endocrine glands that regulate many bodily functions and processes.

horticulture: a simple form of agriculture based on the working of small plots of land without draft animals, plows, or irrigation; also called extensive agriculture.

house-pit: an aboriginally excavated house floor.

household: a domestic residential group whose members live together in intimate contact, rear children, share the proceeds of labor and other resources held in common, and in general cooperate on a day-to-day basis.

human factors research: see ergonomics.

Human Relations Area Files: (HRAF) a compilation of reports on 330 societies that are used for cross-cultural research.

hunter-gatherers: a collective term for the members of small-scale mobile or semi-sedentary societies, whose subsistence is mainly focused on hunting game and gathering wild plants and fruits; organizational structure is based on bands with strong kinship ties.

hunting and gathering: involves the systematic collection of vegetable foods, hunting of game, and fishing.

hybrid inviability: a form of reproductive isolation in which a mating between two species gives rise to a hybrid that is fertile but nevertheless does not leave any offspring.

hybrid sterility: a form of reproductive isolation in which a hybrid of two species is sterile.

hybrid: the result of a cross or mating between two different kinds of parents.

Hylobatidae: family of the superfamily Hominoidea that includes the lesser apes, consisting of the gibbons and siamang.

hypercalcemia: a condition characterized by high levels of calcium in the blood, caused by excessive amounts of vitamin D; results in sluggish nerve reflexes and calcification of soft tissues.

hyperplasia: growth by virtue of an increase in the total number of cells resulting from mitosis.

hypertrophy: growth by virtue of an increase in the size of cells.

hypothesis: a statement that stipulates a relationship between a phenomenon for which the researcher seeks to account and one or more other phenomena.

hypothetico-deductive explanation: a form of explanation based on the formulation of hypotheses and the establishment from them by deduction of consequences which can then be tested against the archaeological data.

hypoxia: low oxygen pressure due to being at high altitude.

 

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