What Is Anthropology? How Is It Done?

2359 words - 9 pages

What Is Anthropology? How Is It Done?

People enter the field of anthropology for a variety of reasons. Some people enter the field by accident. This means that they did not intend on becoming an anthropologist. Some people were interested in the field from the start. One person married a social anthropologist; and, after living with a group of people for two years wrote an ethnography about the people.

The first story is about Adrienne Zihlman. She is a paleoanthropologist. She collects all kinds of bones; so, she can "contrive and test ideas about the origins of humans by studying the remains of living things" (Shell 1991:37). Zihlman went to Miami University of Ohio, where she decided to major in anthropology after reading Margaret Mead's book, "Coming of Age in Samoa" (Shell 1991:38). Since Miami University didn't have an anthropology department, she transferred to the University of Colorado (Shell 1991:38). After graduating in 1962, she went to do graduate work at Berkeley (Shell 1991:38). This is where she decided to focus herself on finding out how our ancestors began to walk (Shell 1991:38).

Zihlman has ideas about how we came to be that are contradictory to what most people believe (Shell 1991:37). Zihlman says that tasks completed by females, like food gathering and infant care, were as equally likely as hunting by males, to have been the cause for bipedalism and social relationships (Shell 1991:37­38). When she started her doctoral research, she had the belief that two­legged walking came to be to allow more efficient movement on long hunting trips (Shell 1991:38). Zihlman completed her thesis in 1967 and started thinking that there was something wrong with the male dominated theories about the past (Shell 1991:39). Although Zihlman has a hard time with criticism, dismissals in journals, and being made to look like a villain at international meetings she is still fighting for what she believes (Shell 1991:38,42).

The second story is about Barbara Smuts. She is a primatologist. Smuts decided to be a primatologist after seeing Jane Goodall's first article about chimpanzees in National Geographic (Rosenthal 1991:23). She graduated from Harvard in 1972; so, she started her graduate studies in biology at Stanford (Rosenthal 1991:24). While doing her graduate research, she flew to Goodall's Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania to study foraging patterns and social relationships in female chimps (Rosenthal 1991:24).

During her first few years of research, Smuts had a lot of problems (Rosenthal 1991:24). On her first expedition, she and three other students were kidnapped (Rosenthal 1991:24). They were returned safe, but no one was allowed to research in Gombe except for Jane Goodall (Rosenthal 1991:24). Smuts decided to change the focus of her study to olive baboons (Rosenthal 1991:24). Her first baboon project fell through because of problems in Masai Mara, Kenya (Rosenthal 1991:24). She found that baboons are the...

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