Anthropology- Unit 1

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There are similiarities and differences between humans and primates:

  • Both have opposbale thumbs
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Diet & internal organs
  • Competitiveness, hierachy & aggression
  • Gender inequlaity
  • Conflict
  • Socialisation of the young
  • Communication
  • Social relation: differ from species to species-
  1.  Bonobos: Female centred, resolve tension through sex, similar gestures when communicating without using language
  2. Chimpanzees: Male centred, care for the young mainly with mother, use expressive faces, postures & sounds to communicate, male agression important in establishing hierachy, male competition for females


  • Bipedalism
  • Very big brains
  • Small jaw
  • Narrow hips
  • Longer lips
  • Hairless skin


  • Cultural evolution- humans specific evolutionary pathway has enabled the development of a complex culture:
  1.  Cooking- larger brains due to increase in nutrition
  2. symbols- provided new ways to communicate , pass on info and help to survive
  3. Expressing identity
  4. Sharing resources
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The Body

The body is seen to convey a range of stauses, ranks & relationships between the body & society.

The body has continued to act as a symbol in various ways, showing that we give value to our bodys in various ways

We control the body by:

  • Genital mutilation/modification
  • Sexual selection (1 child policy, china- baby girls being aborted)
  • Foot binding in China for pleasure 

Universally humans have attempted to make & remake the body- varies according to age, status, geographical location

  • Lip plates
    - Worn among people of N. Africa and S & NW America
    - Mainly among the woman of certain African cultures who wear them
    - Purpose and meaning different in different cultures: protect against evil spirits (Lobi- Ivory Coast & Ghana), status symbol
  • Scarification
    - Permanatly marking the skin through cutting
    - Carried out as part of a ritual 
    - Africa & Australian Aborigines
    - Main point is to beautify
    - Often indicates group identity or stages in a persons life
    - S.Sudan Nuba girls recieve marks at the beginning of puberty, first menstruation in certain places
    - Determined by social status & maturity. Seen as a mark of beauty.

  •  Western body modifcation
    - Cosmetics
    - Spend the majorit of their time on their appereance & health
    - Ideal body is thin
    - Plastic surgery (breast enlargement popular)

  • Purity, pollution & taboo
    - Mary Douglas 'Purity and Danger'
    - Body is a synbol- rules & catogeries regarding what we do with our body and environment
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