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Anthropology Exam

Beginning Thoughts on Anthropology, Culture & Cultural Diversity

  1. What ideas or images come to mind if someone says “Anthropology” or “anthropologist”? What has shaped your ideas about what Anthropology is or what Anthropologists do?
  2. What IS Anthropology? And what are the four sub-fields of Anthropology?
  3. Some contemporary archaeologists focus on studying modern human waste…. including e-waste. If someone were to study YOUR waste (trash) …and e-waste, what would they learn about you? Your diet? Your lifestyle?
  4. What are some cultural adaptations human beings have to better allow them to survive in their environment? Are there negative effects of these adaptations? If so, do the benefits outweigh those negative effects?
  5. American anthropologist Ralph Linton once said “The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water.” (Ralph Linton, 1936) How is this relevant and applicable to a discussion on “culture”?
  6. Polish anthropologist, Bronislaw Malinowski who is credited with inventing the anthropological method of intensive fieldwork, wrote in his journal about his fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands. In his diary, he wrote,” Imagine yourself suddenly set down surrounded by all your gear, alone on a tropical beach close to a native village, while the launch or dinghy which has brought you sails away out of sight.” What is Malinowski describing? Have you ever had an analogous experience in Philadelphia (or elsewhere)?
  7. Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential American anthropologists in the last 40 years, said “The locus of study is not the object of study. Anthropologists don’t study villages (tribes, neighborhoods…) they study invillages.” What do you think he meant? (And what happens if you substitute college for village?)
  8. If I were to ask you to provide a “socio-cultural analysis” of this classroom…where would you begin? Can you identify 10 ways that you might consider “diversity” within this classroom? (On campus, in the city, in the U.S., or in the world?)
  9. How do you think about diversity? i.e.as a problem? A challenge? An asset? Explain
  10. What do you think is bigger…a nation-state or a culture? Briefly explain.

#The Hunters: Scarce Resources in the Kalahari by Richard Borshay Lee

  1. How does Lee assess the day to day quality of life of the! Kung when they lived as foragers? How does this view compare with that held by many anthropologists in the early 1960s? What evidence does Lee give to support his view about the!Kung?
  2. According to Lee,!Kung children are not supposed to work until after they are married; old people are supported and respected. How does this compare to behaviors in our own (your) society? Explain?
  3. How do social and cultural notions of time change across cultures? For instance, did the! Kung have any concept of a “week-end”? Why or why not? How many hours per day or week did hunters and gatherers such as the! Kung work? How does this compare to working in industrialized societies? What were non-working hours like?
  4. What was key to successful subsistence for the! Kung and other hunter gatherers according to Lee? In what ways has life changed for the! Kung since 1964? What caused these changes?
  5. Overall, how did your group respond to this essay? What did students respond to most/ least in this essay? Does this essay offer any food for thought regarding the topic of this chapter, ecology, and subsistence?

#Illegal Logging and Frontier Conservation by Nathan Williamson

  1. According to Williamson, what plans and programs have been tried to promote sustainable logging in the Bolivian lowlands? How have they worked?
  2. What are the three main types of logging employed by people in the Chimanes and nearby forests? How destructive to the forest is each? What motivates the Chimanes Indians and cuarteneros to illegally cut timber in the Chimanes National Reserve? What role does the frontier nature of the area play in their ability to get away with these activities? Which is more destructive – illegal logging or commercial logging? Can you make any comparisons to other industries in this regard?
  3. According to Williamson why have the programs put forth by the Bolivian government and NGOs failed to work in the forests that surround San Borja? What does he suggest might be a better way to promote sustainable logging there? What factors do you think need to be considered to make the logging industry more sustainable? More regulations/ fewer? Geared more toward illegal logging or commercial logging? Why?
  4. How are logging activities in the Bolivian lowlands connected to the world economy? What role do consumer desires and behaviors
  5. Overall, how did your group respond to this essay? Like/ dislike? What did students respond to most/ least in this essay? Understand most/ least? Does the essay offer any food for thought in regard to the topic of the chapter, ecology, and subsistence?

#We are Going Underwater by Susan A. Crate

  1. Consider the opening words to the essay: “There are no longer any skylarks. They are gone and we don’t hear them. And now we also don’t hear the shaman’s drum.” What do you infer from this? What is the main idea of the essay?
  2. According to Crate, what are nine changes induced by climate change in this setting?
  3. How does Crate define “place-based peoples”?
  4. What are the attributes of a climate-sensitive region?
  5. What does a focused study of the Viliuti Sakha contribute to our understanding of climate change more broadly? Do you think that ecology and subsistence strategies for the 21st century are best when decided from the “top down”, from the “bottom up” ….or in “knowledge exchanges between those who make and implement policies and people who are most affected by them?
  6. Overall, how did your group respond to this essay? Like/ dislike? What did students respond to most/ least in this essay? Understand most/ least? What food for thought does the essay offer regarding the topic of the chapter, ecology, and subsistence?

#Forest Development the Indian Way by Richard K. Reed

  1. Anthropologists claim that subsistence strategies affect a society’s social organization and ideology. Evaluate this assertion with regard to the life-ways of Guarani peoples.
  2. Why is horticulture more environmentally sensitive than intensive agricultural and pastoral exploitation in the Amazonian rainforest?
  3. How does Guarani’s intervention increase the biodiversity of the forest ecosystem? Does this change our understanding of “nature” and the “natural world”?
  4. Guarani Indians are largely subsistence farmers and foragers., How do they use their forest environment without destroying it?
  5. How have colonos disrupted the lives of Guarani villagers? What does this tell us about the relationship between subsistence and social structure?
  6. How can the Guarani use their rainforest habitat to make money, and what does their experience suggest as a way to integrate forest exploitation into a market economy without environmental destruction?
  7. Overall, how did your group respond to this essay? What did students respond to most/ least in this essay? How does this essay illustrate the topic of the chapter, ecology, and subsistence?

#Using Anthropology by David W. McCurdy

What is the significance of the social interaction between McCurdy and a former student?

Anthropology…applicable to any social environment… any social group

Questions posed at end of the essay:

  1. What kinds of jobs do professional anthropologists do?

a) Professional jobs

  • ex-Anthro student turned engineer
  • Daily tasks, maintaining complex engines, building relationships with a diverse crew, and interacting with land-based management

b) Community organizer

Mediating disputes & facilitating decision-making in a multi-ethnic neighborhood

c) Advertising account exec

Helpful in discovering what products are useful to customers…which helps her design more effective ad campaigns

Other jobs:

  1. Executive editor magazine for home weavers
  2. Interviewer
  3. Founder of a fencing school
  4. Physician
  5. Lawyers
  6. Kitchen manager for a catering firm
  7. High school teacher
  8. Ph.D. graduates in Anthropology (in organizations)
  9. Researchers on nutrition infant formulas; how employees adapt to working overseas, formulate govt policies
  1. What is special about anthropology that makes fundamental knowledge of it valuable to some jobs?
  2. What is meant by qualitative research? Why is such research valuable to businesses and the government?
  3. How is ethnographic research different from other social science approaches to research?
  4. What can ethnographic research reveal that other forms of research cannot? What can the use of questionnaires and observational experiments reveal about people that ethnographic research might miss? In general, anthropologists take a qualitative approach.
  1. In contrast to quantitative approaches, they use the insider’s viewpoint to discover problems, advise circumstances, and generate policy.

Business Anthropology applies anthropological theories and practices to the needs of private sector organizations.

Anthropology teaches skills that are useful in the workplace.

From major corporations to program assessments for persons with HIV/AIDS on gov’t health projects to “user” or product friendliness

  1. According to McCurdy in “Using Anthropology,” How do new managers in many companies, tend to act in their new roles?

8. In many companies, newly installed managers tend to impose a new agenda on their employees. How might taking an anthropological approach help?

  1. What difficulties did the company manager described in this article face? What solutions did she invent to deal with them? How did her knowledge of Anthropology help her with this problem?


Given instructions:

Improve service

Get control of warehouse inventory

Ethnographic approach vs defensive stance

Ethnographic Management


customer outlets


Ethnographic training

Conduct interviews

Observe behaviors

Interpret & analyze behaviors

Problems & causes: misunderstanding & miscommunication between units (main office, customer outlets & warehouse)

Perceptions of workers

Lost inventory


Ethnography is an important skill that people who study anthropology can take into daily life.


The manager at UTC spent time learning the warehouse system as an insider view it discovered that inaccurate warehouse inventory numbers resulted from pressures on employees to work fast, preventing them from accurately counting and recording what was shipped.

Example 1 (UTC)

  1. Shows how ethnography can solve a business problem
  2. Describes how a new manager took an ethnographic approach before she introduced changes
  3. Describes the simple innovation of shrink-wrapping educational materials in lots of five and ten
  4. Shows how the improved service increased morale and job retention of employees

Example 2: Utility company

an anthropologist was hired to find out why customers of a utility company failed to reduce energy consumption, despite their claims that they were trying to conserve.

An ethnographic approach found

  1. Despite their claims and reports that they were trying to conserve energy,
  2. He discovered that while fathers turned down thermostats (then went off to work), other family members turned them up.

Last questions:

  1. Why is qualitative research valuable to businesses and the government?
  2. Why is ethnography useful in everyday life? Could you think of any situations where you could use ethnographic research?
  3. List some skills that are acquired by undergraduate anthropology majors that are useful to employers. How can this be translated into resume language that employers can understand?
  4. Overall, what was your personal response to these essays? Liked best/ least; understood most/ least? Why?

Next class: Culture and ethnography cont’d

#2. “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” (Lee)

#3. “Fieldwork on Prostitution in the Era of AIDS” ( Sterk)

#4. “Nice Girls Don’t Talk to Rastas” (Gmelch)

Works Cited:

Spradley, James P. (2016) Ethnography and Culture. In Conflict and Conformity: Readings in Cultural Anthropology (15th edition). David W. McCurdy, Dianna Shandy and James Spradley (Eds). New York, City, NY. Pearson, pp:6-12.

McCurdy, David W. (2016) Using Anthropology. In Conflict and Conformity: Readings in Cultural Anthropology (15th edition). David W. McCurdy, Dianna Shandy and James Spradley (Eds). New York, City, NY. Pearson, 373-384.

#American Tongues

  • Code= variety in language use; code-switching= concurrent use of more than one language or language variety;
  • Dialectical differences: regional and social accents
  • Basic perceptions and attitudes towards different ways of speaking
  • Migration, settlement, language contact, perception of others, expressions of self
  • Uses of standard and vernacular dialects
  • Language acquisition
  • Language, culture, and power
  • Stereotypes
  1. This film was produced in 1988, do you think that its main points are “outdated”? Why or why not?
  2. What were some reactions/ responses to the following scenes?
  • Different people reciting “Mary had a little lamb”?
  • The fellow who said that we “just speak plain American, here, no accent…straight out of the dictionary”?
  • One man in Kentucky says that he speaks “just plain old hillbilly”
  • One black woman says that she ‘corrects’ her speech when not around her friends…when she is with her friends she is “just a Southern girl.” Why retain both?
  • The woman discusses her fiancé, the “Yalie” and how his language changes the further south they drive.
  • Does Phillip the North End teenager use a vernacular “to his advantage”? Or of his brother who says he is sometimes embarrassed by his brother’s speech?
  • Are there other scenes in the film with which you resonated +/-?
  1. Were there any “new” words you learned in watching this film? What points would you make about these vocabulary differences?
  2. What is the difference between a “regional” dialect and a “social” dialect? Can you provide any examples to illustrate?
  3. What do you think are some positive reasons for using a local dialect (pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary)?
  4. Intra-culturally or inter-culturally… are their languages, dialects, accents, and ways of speaking to which you respond favorably i.e. really like the sound(s) of the language? Any to which you have a negative reaction? What do you think shapes these preferences or biases?
  5. Do you think that there are any repercussions when a social group’s language use is labeled positively or negatively? Can you think of any groups whose language habits are perceived in a positive light? Negative? What factors do you think to shape this?
  6. What if someone from an agricultural-based, nomadic or pre-industrial culture moved to the U.S. to go to school or get a job, or if their children were to attend a local public school after relocating, how much or how little do you think people would make assumptions about them based on language use (and vice versa)? Can you think of any contemporary examples to discuss?
  7. What role do you think that mainstream or alternative media plays in (re)presenting different social groups or peoples who speak other languages?

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