Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rig Vedic Society in India

By 1500 B.C.E. Indo-Aryan tribes had established themselves in the Punjab region  and had composed most of the hymns in Hinduism’s oldest text, the Rig-Veda. 

That text is a collection of more than 1,000 hymns addressed to various Vedic gods.The society described in the hymns of the Rig-Veda was nomadic and pastoral. 

Indo-Aryan society was divided into three classes: kings, priests, and commoners. Aryan life centered on cattle, horses, and warfare. This can be seen in the hymns’ many metaphors involving cows, in their use of cattle as a sign of wealth, and in the special energy with which they condemn those who steal or threaten to steal Aryan herds. 

Indo-Aryans protected their herds through warfare.  This was a warrior culture whose major warrior god, Indra, was shown fighting against the “enemies of the Aryans,”

Friday, December 21, 2012

Stone Age Communities in India

From before 30,000 B.C.E. and up to  10,000 B.C.E. Stone Age communities of hunters and gatherers lived on the Indian subcontinent. The earliest of these human communities are known primarily from surface finds of stone tools. 

Paleolithic peoples lived by hunting and gathering in the Soan River Valley, the Potwar plateau regions, and the Sanghao caves of northern Pakistan and in the open or in caves and rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The artifacts found at the sites include stone pebble tools, hand axes, a skull in the Narmada River Valley and several older rock paintings  at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gender Expectations

Gender expectations are learned and culturally imposed through a variety of social mechanisms, including socialization, situational constraints, and commercialization of gender ideals. 

Socialization theorists argue that an undetermined yet significant portion of male-female differences are products of the ways in which males and females are socialized. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Main Attributes of State

As food-producing economies spread and became more productive, chiefdoms and eventually states developed in many parts of the world.A state is a form of social and political organization that has a formal central government and a division of society into classes.

The first states developed in Mesopotamia by 5500 chiefdoms were precursors to states with privileged and effective leaders-chiefs but lacking the sharp class divisions that characterize states.By 7000 in the Middle East there is evidence for an elite level indicating a chiefdom or a state.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Culture is Symbolic

Symbolic thought is unique and crucial to humans and to cultural learning.Anthropologist Leslie White defined culture as

dependent upon symbolling----- culture consists of tools,implements,utensils,clothing,ornaments,customs,institutions,beliefs,rituals,games,works of art,language etc.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Indigenous People

The term indigenous people gained legitimacy within international law with the creation in 1982 of the United Nations Working group on Indigenous Populations.This group has representation from all six continents.

Social movements worldwide have adopted the term indigenous people as a self-identifying and political  label based on past oppression but now legitimizing a search for social,cultural and political rights.

Working to promote cultural survival is a growing international pan tribal movement.In June 1992 the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples met in Rio De Janeiro with 300 representatives of the tribal diversity that survives in the modern world.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gender Bias

Gender bias is behavior that shows favoritism towards one gender over another. The gender bias is often in favor of men and boys over girls and women. Women and girls are expected to demonstrate feminine behavior and boys and men are expected to act masculine.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Discovery of DNA

Once  chromosomes were recognized as the carriers of genes scientists sought to understand the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA the chemical that makes up chromosomes.

In 1953 the American geneticist James Watson and British biophysicit Francis Crick published their discovery that DNA molecules have a ladder like double helix structure.Also important was the work of the British X Ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin who used a special technique X- Ray diffraction to produce  hiqh quality images of DNA.

The combined efforts of Franklin,Watson and Crick opened up a whole new vista by helping explain how chromosomes are replicated.

Analysis of the DNA from a wide variety of organisms provided new perspectives on biological relationships and also shed light on the growing list of illnesses such as viral and bacterial infections ,cancer,heart disease and stroke

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Causes Evolutionary(genetic) Change

Deviation from the proportions of gene frequencies and genotype frequencies as defined by Hardy-Weinberg law of equilibrium is explained by one or more of the four forces of evolution,mutation,natural selection,genetic drift and gene flow.These forces result in genetic change over time.

Mutations are DNA coding errors that are biochemically manifested as permanent changes in the structure or amount of genetic material within cells.Mutations are the only source of new genetic material.

Although a mutation can occur in any cell only mutations in gametes have implications for offspring and therefore they have greater importance for evolution then do mutations in somatic cells.

Natural selection begins with variation among the individual members of a population.Members with advantageous characteristics survive and reproduce in greater number than do the members lacking the same characteristics.Allele frequencies can increase,decrease or remain the same owing to natural selection.

Advantageous characteristics can be visible physical attributes,invisible biochemical attributes or some combination of the physical and the biochemical.

Genetic drift is change in gene frequency due to chance.Within smaller populations chances are greater that gene frequencies  will change randomly.Drift was likely an important force in most human evolution since prior to 10,000 year.

Gene flow is the transfer of genes across population boundaries .In humans gene flow  became a major force of evolution mostly within the last 10,000 years when population size increased and created greater opportunities for contact and reproduction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The view of cultural diversity in a country as something good and desirable is called multiculturalism.The multicultural model is the opposite of assimilationist model in which the minorities are expected to abandon their cultural traditions and values,replacing them with those of the majority population.

The multiculturalist view encourages the practice of cultural-ethnic traditions.A multicultural society socializes individuals not only into the dominant culture but also into an ethnic culture.

Multiculturalism seeks ways for people to understand and interact that donot depend on sameness but rather on respect for differences.Multiculturalism stresses the interaction of ethnic groups and their contribution to the country.It assumes that each group has something to offer to and learn from the others.

The global scale of modern migration introduces unparalleled ethnic variety to host nations.Multiculturalism is related to globalization where people use modern means of transportation to migrate to nations whose lifestyles they learn about through the media and other sources.

In a world with growing rural-urban and transnational migration,ethnic identities  are used increasingly to form organiations focused on enhancing the group's economic competitiveness.People claim and express ethnic identities for political and economic reasons.

The United States and Canada are becoming increasingly multicultural focusing on their internal diversity.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Scope of Anthropology

According to American Anthropological Association, anthropology has two dimensions- Academic anthropology and practicing or applied anthropology. The latter refers to the application of anthropological data, perspectives, theory and methods to identify, assess and solve contemporary social problems.

Applied anthropology is the field of inquiry concerned with the relationships between anthropological knowledge and the uses of that knowledge in the world beyond anthropology.

Many anthropologists now are working in the areas such as public health, family planning, business, economic development and cultural resource management.

Applied medical anthropologists consider both the sociocultural and biological contexts and implication of diseases and illness. Perceptions of good and bad health along with actual health threats and problems differ among societies. Various ethnic groups recognize different illnesses, symptoms and causes and have developed health care systems and treatment strategies.

Public archaeology includes such activities as cultural resource management, contract archaeology, public educational programs and historic preservation. Applied cultural anthropologists sometimes work with the public archaeologists assessing the human problems generated  by the proposed changes in the sites and how they can be  reduced .

Within sociocultural anthropology ethnology is the comparative science that attempts to identify and explain cultural differences and similarities, test hypothesis and build theory to enhance our understanding of how social and cultural systems work. Ethnologists compare, contrast and make generalizations about societies and cultures.

Anthropology is the whole history of man as fired and pervaded by the idea of evolution. Anthropology studies man as he occurs at all known times. It studies him as he occurs in all known parts of the world.

Anthropology is science in the sense of specialized research that aims at truth for truth's sake. It specializes on the particular group of human beings, which itself is part of the larger particular group of living beings. Inasmuch as it takes over the evolutionary principle from the science dealing with the larger group, namely biology, anthropology may be regarded as a branch of biology. Of all the branches of biology, it is the one that is likely to bring us nearest to the true meaning of life; because the life of human beings must always be nearer to human students of life than, say, the life of plants.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Clifford Geertz- Interpretive Anthropology

Related to symbolic anthropology is interpretive anthropology advocated by Clifford Geertz. Geertz defined culture as ideas based on cultural learning and symbols. During enculturation, individuals internalize a previously established system of meanings and symbols. They use this cultural system to define their world, express their feelings, and make their judgments.
Interpretive anthropology approaches cultures as texts whose forms and, especially, meanings must be deciphered in particular cultural and historical contexts. Geertz’s approach recalls Malinowski’s belief that the ethnographer’s primary task is “to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world”. 
Since the 1970s, interpretive anthropology has considered the task of describing and interpreting which is meaningful to natives. Cultures are texts that natives constantly “read” and ethnographers must decipher. 
According to Geertz anthropologists may choose anything in a culture that interests or engages them fill in details, and elaborate to inform their readers about meanings in that culture. Meanings are carried by public symbolic forms, including words, rituals, and customs.

Leslie White- The Evolution of Culture ( 1959)

In his book The Evolution of Culture (1959), White claimed to be returning to the concept of cultural evolution used by Tylor and Morgan, but now informed by a century of archaeological discoveries and a much larger ethnographic record. White’s approach has been called general evolution, the idea that over time and through the archaeological, historical, and ethnographic records, we can see the evolution of culture as a whole. For example, human economies have evolved from Paleolithic foraging, through early farming and herding, to intensive forms of agriculture, and to industrialism. Socio- politically, too, there has been evolution, from bands and tribes to chiefdoms and states. There can be no doubt, White argued, that culture has evolved. But unlike the unilinear evolutionists of the 19th century, White realized that particular cultures might not evolve in the same direction. For White, energy capture was the main measure and cause of cultural advance: Cultures advanced in proportion to the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year.
Leslie White was, like Mead, a strong advocate of the importance of culture. White saw cultural anthropology as a science, and he named that science culturology. Cultural forces, which rested on the unique human capacity for symbolic thought, were so powerful that individuals made little difference. White disputed what was then called the “great man theory of history,” the idea that particular individuals were responsible for great discoveries and epochal changes. White looked instead to the constellation of cultural forces that produced great individuals. During certain historical periods, such as the Renaissance, conditions were right for the expression of creativity and greatness, and individual genius blossomed. At other times and places, there may have been just as many great minds, but the culture did not en- courage their expression. As proof of this theory, White pointed to the simultaneity of discovery. Several times in human history, when culture was ready, people working independently in different places have come up with the same revolutionary idea or achievement. Examples include the formulation of the theory of evolution through natural selection by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, the independent discovery of Mendelian genetics by three separate scientists in 1917.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Human Rights

The idea of human rights invokes a realm of justice and morality beyond and superior to particular countries, cultures, and religions. 

Human rights, usually seen as vested in individuals, include the right to speak freely, to hold religious beliefs without persecution, and not to be murdered, injured, enslaved, or imprisoned without charge. These rights are not ordinary laws that particular governments make and enforce. 

Human rights are seen as inalienable (nations cannot abridge or terminate them) and international (larger than and superior to individual nations and cultures). 

Four United Nations documents describe nearly all the human rights that have been internationally recognized. Those documents are the UN Charter; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


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