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
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
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
animatism: belief in an impersonal supernatural
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,
aphasia: a language disorder resulting from brain
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
ascribed status: social standing or prestige which
is the result of inheritance or hereditary factors (cf.
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
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
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
bifurcation: a basis of kin classification that
distinguishes the mother's side of the family from the
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
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
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
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
code sheets: anthropologists' checklists of observed
behaviors and inferred motivations for or attitudes toward
cognates: words so similar from one language to
the next as to suggest that both are variants of a single
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
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
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
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
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
culture: learned, nonrandom, systematic behavior
and knowledge that can be transmitted from generation to
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
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
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
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
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
empiricism: reliance on observable and quantifiable
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
environment: everything external to the organism.
equilibrium: a balance among the components of
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
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
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
foraging: collecting wild plants and hunting wild
animals for subsistence.
formal interview: an interview that consists of
questions designed to elicit specific facts, attitudes,
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
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
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
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
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
hand-level: a small, simple, hand-held
surveying instrument for establishing horizontal
lines-of-sight over short distances.
hand-maul: a carefully manufactured unhafted
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
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
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
hegemony: preponderant influence or authority
of one individual or social group over another.
heliocentric: a sun-centered model of
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
hemoglobin A: a normal adult hemoglobin
whose globin unit consists of two alpha and two
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
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
hemolytic disease: disease involving the
destruction of blood cells.
hemophilia A recessive: x-linked trait
characterized by excessive bleeding due to faulty
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
house-pit: an aboriginally excavated house
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
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,
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
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
hypoxia: low oxygen pressure due to
being at high altitude.