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Glossary

  • Page ID
    179096
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    Glossary Entries

    Word(s)

    Definition

    Image Caption Link Source
    Acculturation loss of a minority group’s cultural distinctiveness in relation to the dominant culture.        
    Adaptive Traits that increase the capacity of individuals to survive and reproduce.        
    Affinal family relationships created through marriage.        
    Age grades groups of men who are close to one another in age and share similar duties or responsibilities.        
    Age sets named categories to which men of a certain age are assigned at birth.        
    Agency An individual’s ability to make independent choices and act upon his/her will.        
    Agriculture the cultivation of domesticated plants and animals using technologies that allow for intensive use of the land.        
    Amalgamation interactions between members of distinct ethnic and cultural groups that reduce barriers between the groups over time.        
    Androgyny cultural definitions of gender that recognize some gender differentiation, but also accept “gender bending” and role-crossing according to individual capacities and preferences.        
    Animatism a religious system organized around a belief in an impersonal supernatural force.        
    Animism a religious system organized around a belief that plants, animals, inanimate objects, or natural phenomena have a spiritual or supernatural element.        
    Anthropocene a term proposed to describe the current moment (or epoch) in geological time in which the effects of human activities have altered the fundamental geochemical cycles of the earth. There is some disagreement about when the Anthropocene period began—most likely, it began with industrialization.        
    Anthropogenic environments and pollutants produced by human activities.        
    Anthropomorphic an object or being that has human characteristics.        
    Arbitrariness the relationship between a symbol and its referent (meaning), in which there is no obvious connection between them.        
    Area studies a way of organizing research and academic programs around world regions such as Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, China, Latin America, and Europe.        
    Armchair anthropology an early and discredited method of anthropological research that did not involve direct contact with the people studied.        
    Assimilation pressure placed on minority groups to adopt the customs and traditions of the dominant culture.        
    Avunculocal married individuals live with or near an uncle.        
    Balanced reciprocity the exchange of something with the expectation that something of equal value will be returned within a specific time period.        
    Band the smallest unit of political organization, consisting of only a few families and no formal leadership positions.        
    Big man a form of temporary or situational leadership; influence results from acquiring followers.        
    Bilateral cross-cousin marriage a man marries a woman who is both his mother’s brother’s daughter and his father’s sister’s daughter.        
    Bilateral descent kinship (family) systems that recognize both the mother’s and the father’s “sides” of the family.        
    Binary model of gender cultural definitions of gender that include only two identities–male and female.        
    Biocultural evolution Describes the interactions between biology and culture that have influenced human evolution.        
    Biologic sex refers to male and female identity based on internal and external sex organs and chromosomes. While male and female are the most common biologic sexes, a percentage of the human population is intersex with ambiguous or mixed biological sex characteristics.        
    Biological determinism a theory that biological differences between males and females leads to fundamentally different capacities, preferences, and gendered behaviors. This scientifically unsupported view suggests that gender roles are rooted in biology, not culture.        
    Biomedical An approach to medicine that is based on the application of insights from science, particularly biology and chemistry.        
    Bound morpheme a unit of meaning that cannot stand alone; it must be attached to another morpheme.        
    Bridewealth payments made to the bride’s family by the groom’s family before marriage.        
    Broad spectrum diet a diet based on a wide range of food resources.        
    Built environment spaces that are human-made, including cultivated land as well as buildings.        
    Cargo cult a term sometimes used to describe rituals that seek to attract material prosperity. The term is generally not preferred by anthropologists.        
    Carrying capacity a measurement of the number of calories that can be extracted from a particular unit of land in order to support a human population.        
    Caste system the division of society into hierarchical levels; one’s position is determined by birth and remains fixed for life.        
    Chiefdom large political units in which the chief, who usually is determined by heredity, holds a formal position of power.        
    Circumscription the enclosure of an area by a geographic feature such as mountain ranges or desert or by the boundaries of a state.        
    Cisgender a term used to describe those who identify with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth        
    Clan a group of people who have a general notion of common descent that is not attached to a specific biological ancestor.        
    Cline differences in the traits that occur in populations across a geographical area. In a cline, a trait may be more common in one geographical area than another, but the variation is gradual and continuous, with no sharp breaks.        
    Closed system a form of communication that cannot create new meanings or messages; it can only convey pre-programmed (innate) messages.        
    Code-switching using two or more language varieties in a particular interaction.        
    Codified law formal legal systems in which damages, crimes, remedies, and punishments are specified.        
    Coercive harmony an approach to dispute resolution that emphasizes compromise and consensus rather than confrontation and results in the marginalization of dissent (harmony ideology) and the repression of demands for justice.        
    Collective effervescence the passion or energy that arises when groups of people share the same thoughts and emotions.        
    Commodity chain the series of steps a food takes from location where it is produced to the store where it is sold to consumers.        
    Communal healing An approach to healing that directs the combined efforts of the community toward treating illness.        
    Community of practice A group of people who engaged in a shared activity or vocation, such as dance or medicine.        
    Consumption the process of buying, eating, or using a resource, food, commodity, or service.        
    Contested identity a dispute within a group about the collective identity or identities of the group.        
    Cosmology an explanation for the origin or history of the world.        
    Creole a language that develops from a pidgin when the pidgin becomes so widely used that children acquire it as one of their first languages. Creoles are more fully complex than creoles.        
    Critical age range hypothesis research suggesting that a child will gradually lose the ability to acquire language naturally and without effort if he or she is not exposed to other people speaking a language until past the age of puberty. This applies to the acquisition of a second language as well.        
    Cultural appropriation the act of copying an idea from another culture and in the process distorting its meaning.        
    Cultural determinism the idea that behavioral differences are a result of cultural, not racial or genetic causes.        
    Cultural ecology a subfield of cultural anthropology that explores the relationship between human cultural beliefs and practice and the ecosystems in which those beliefs and practices occur.        
    Cultural evolutionism a discredited theory popular in nineteenth century anthropology suggesting that societies evolved through stages from simple to advanced.        
    Cultural infrastructure The values and beliefs of communities, states, and/or societies that make the imagining of a particular type of network possible.        
    Cultural Performance A performance such as a concert or a play.        
    Cultural relativism the idea that we should seek to understand another person’s beliefs and behaviors from the perspective of their own culture and not our own.        
    Cultural transmission the need for some aspects of the system to be learned; a feature of some species’ communication systems.        
    Culture a set of beliefs, practices, and symbols that are learned and shared. Together, they form an all-encompassing, integrated whole that binds people together and shapes their worldview and lifeways.        
    Culture-bound syndrome An illness recognized only within a specific culture.        
    Cultural imperialism Attempts to impose unequal and unfair relationships between members of different societies.        
    Deductive reasoning from the general to the specific; the inverse of inductive reasoning. Deductive research is more common in the natural sciences than in anthropology. In a deductive approach, the researcher creates a hypothesis and then designs a study to prove or disprove the hypothesis. The results of deductive research can be generalizable to other settings.        
    Delayed return system techniques for obtaining food that require an investment of work over a period of time before the food becomes available for consumption. Farming is a delayed return system due to the passage of time between planting and harvest. The opposite is an immediate return system in which the food acquired can be immediately consumed. Foraging is an immediate return system.        
    Descent groups relationships that provide members with a sense of identity and social support based on ties of shared ancestry.        
    Design features descriptive characteristics of the communication systems of all species, including that of humans, proposed by linguist Charles Hockett to serve as a definition of human language.        
    Dialect a variety of speech. The term is often applied to a subordinate variety of a language. Speakers of two dialects of the same language do not necessarily always understand each other.        
    Diaspora the scattering of a group of people who have left their original homeland and now live in various locations. Examples of people living in the diaspora are Salvadorian immigrants in the United States and Europe, Somalian refugees in various countries, and Jewish people living around the world.        
    Discourse Widely circulated knowledge within a community.        
    Discreteness a feature of human speech that they can be isolated from others.        
    Displacement the ability to communicate about things that are outside of the here and now.        
    Domestic economy the work associated with obtaining food for a family or household.        
    Domestic group a term that can be used to describe a group of people who live together even if members do not consider themselves to be family.        
    Dowry payments made to the groom’s family by the bride’s family before marriage.        
    Duality of patterning at the first level of patterning, meaningless discrete sounds of speech are combined to form words and parts of words that carry meaning. In the second level of patterning, those units of meaning are recombined to form an infinite possible number of longer messages such as phrases and sentences.        
    Dyads two people in a socially approved pairing. One example is a married couple.        
    Ecocide destruction of an environment, especially when done intentionally by humans.        
    Eco-justice a movement to recognize and remedy the adverse relationship between social inequality and the harms and risks that come from environmental destruction and pollutants.        
    Egalitarian societies in which there is no great difference in status or power between individuals and there are as many valued status positions in the societies as there are persons able to fill them.        
    Emic a description of the studied culture from the perspective of a member of the culture or insider.        
    Emotionalistic explanation Suggests that illnesses are caused by strong emotions such as fright, anger, or grief; this is an example of a naturalistic ethno-etiology.        
    Enculturation the process of learning the characteristics and expectations of a culture or group.        
    Endogamy a term describing expectations that individuals must marry within a particular group.        
    Epidemiological transition The sharp drop in mortality rates, particularly among children, that occurs in a society as a result of improved sanitation and access to healthcare.        
    Ethnic group people in a society who claim a distinct identity for themselves based on shared cultural characteristics and ancestry.        
    Ethnicity the degree to which a person identifies with and feels an attachment to a particular ethnic group.        
    Ethno-etiology Cultural explanations about the underlying causes of health problems.        
    Ethnocentrism the tendency to view one’s own culture as most important and correct and as the stick by which to measure all other cultures.        
    Ethnocide destruction of a culture, often intentionally, through destruction of or removal from their territory, forced assimilation, or acculturation.        
    Ethnoecology the relationships between cultural beliefs and practices and the local environment. Components include ethnobiology, ethnobotany, and ethnozoology.        
    Ethnogenesis gradual emergence of new ethnicities in response to changing social circumstances.        
    Ethnography the in-depth study of the everyday practices and lives of a people.        
    Ethnomedicine The comparative study of cultural ideas about wellness, illness, and healing.        
    Ethnoscape the flow of people across boundaries.        
    Etic a description of the studied culture from the perspective of an observer or outsider.        
    Exogamy a term describing expectations that individuals must marry outside a particular group.        
    Extended family a family of at least three-generations sharing a household.        
    Extractive reserves community-managed protected areas designed to allow for sustainable extraction of certain natural resources (such as fish, rubber, Brazil nuts, and rattan) while maintaining key ecosystems in place.        
    Exurban migration of generally affluent people from urban areas to rural areas for the amenities of nature, recreation, and scenic beauty associated with rural areas.        
    Fabrication A technique for reporting on research data that involves mixing information provided by various people into a narrative account that demonstrates the point of focus for researchers.        
    Family the smallest group of individuals who see themselves as connected to one another.        
    Family of orientation the family in which an individual is raised.        
    Family of procreation a new household formed for the purpose of conceiving and raising children.        
    Feuds disputes of long duration characterized by a state of recurring hostilities between families, lineages, or other kin groups.        
    Filial piety a tradition requiring that the young provide care for the elderly and in some cases ancestral spirits.        
    Financescape the flow of money across political borders.        
    Food taboos Cultural rules against the preparation and/or consumption of certain foods.        
    Foodways the cultural norms and attitudes surrounding food and eating.        
    Foraging a subsistence system that relies on wild plant and animal food resources. This system is sometimes called “hunting and gathering.”        
    Functionalism an approach to anthropology developed in British anthropology that emphasized the way that parts of a society work together to support the functioning of the whole.        
    Functionalist an approach developed in British anthropology that emphasized the ways that the parts of a society work together to support the functioning of the whole.        
    Gender the set of culturally and historically invented beliefs and expectations about gender that one learns and performs. Gender is an “identity” one can choose in some societies, but there is pressure in all societies to conform to expected gender roles and identities.        
    Gender ideology a complex set of beliefs about gender and gendered capacities, propensities, preferences, identities and socially expected behaviors and interactions that apply to males, females, and other gender categories. Gender ideology can differ among cultures and is acquired through enculturation. Also known as a cultural model of gender.        
    Generalized reciprocity giving without expecting a specific thing in return.        
    General purpose money a medium of exchange that can be used in all economic transactions.        
    Gesture-call system a system of non-verbal communication using varying combinations of sound, body language, scent, facial expression, and touch, typical of great apes and other primates, as well as humans.        
    Global North refers to the wealthier countries of the world. The definition includes countries that are sometimes called “First World” or “Highly Developed Economies.”        
    Global South refers to the poorest countries of the world. The definition includes countries that are sometimes called “Third World” or “Least Developed Economies.”        
    Glocalization the adaptation of global ideas into locally palatable forms.        
    Going native becoming fully integrated into a cultural group through acts such as taking a leadership position, assuming key roles in society, entering into marriage, or other behaviors that incorporate an anthropologist into the society he or she is studying.        
    Habitus the dispositions, attitudes, or preferences that are the learned basis for personal “taste” and lifestyles.        
    Harmful traditional practices Behaviors that are viewed as ordinary and acceptable by members of a local community, but appear to be destructive or even criminal to outsiders.        
    Hegemonic discourses Situations in which thoughts and actions are dictated by those in authority.        
    Hegemony Power so pervasive that it is rarely acknowledged or even recognized, yet informs everyday actions.        
    Heteronormativity a term coined by French philosopher Michel Foucault to refer to the often-unnoticed system of rights and privileges that accompany normative sexual choices and family formation.        
    Historical ecology the study of how human cultures have developed over time as a result of interactions with the environment.        
    Historical linguistics the study of how languages change.        
    Historical particularism the theory that every culture develops in a unique way due to its history, including the interaction of people with the natural environment.        
    Holism taking a broad view of the historical, environmental, and cultural foundations of behavior.        
    Homeostasis the movement of a particular system (a human body, an ecosystem) towards equilibrium. In ecology this is associated with the idea that ecosystems should remain at a climax ecosystem associated with an area.        
    Hominin Humans (Homo sapiens) and their close relatives and immediate ancestors.        
    Homo economicus a term used to describe a person who would make rational decisions in ways predicted by economic theories.        
    Horticulture a subsistence system based on the small-scale cultivation of crops intended primarily for the direct consumption of the household or immediate community.        
    Household family members who reside together.        
    Humoral healing An approach to healing that seeks to treat medical ailments by achieving a balance between the forces, or elements, of the body.        
    Hypodescent a racial classification system that assigns a person with mixed racial heritage to the racial category that is considered least privileged.        
    Ideologies ideas designed to reinforce the right of powerholders to rule.        
    Ideoscape the global flow of ideas.        
    Indigenous people who have continually lived in a particular location for a long period of time (prior to the arrival of others) or who have historical ties to a location and who are culturally distinct from the dominant population surrounding them. Other terms used to refer to indigenous people are aboriginal, native, original, first nation, and first people. Some examples of indigenous people are Native Americans of North America, Australian Aborigines, and the Berber (or Amazigh) of North Africa.        
    Indigenous media Media produced by and for indigenous communities often outside of the commercial mainstream.        
    Inductive a type of reasoning that uses specific information to draw general conclusions. In an inductive approach, the researcher seeks to collect evidence without trying to definitively prove or disprove a hypothesis. The researcher usually first spends time in the field to become familiar with the people before identifying a hypothesis or research question. Inductive research usually is not generalizable to other settings.        
    Interchangeability the ability of all individuals of the species to both send and receive messages; a feature of some species’ communication systems.        
    Jim Crow a term used to describe laws passed by state and local governments in the United States during the early twentieth century to enforce racial segregation of public and private places.        
    Joint family a very large extended family that includes multiple generations.        
    Key Informants individuals who are more knowledgeable about their culture than others and who are particularly helpful to the anthropologist.        
    Kinesics the study of all forms of human body language.        
    Kinship blood ties, common ancestry, and social relationships that form families within human groups.        
    Kinship diagrams charts used by anthropologists to visually represent relationships between members of a kinship group.        
    Kinship system the pattern of culturally recognized relationships between family members.        
    Kinship terminology the terms used in a language to describe relatives.        
    Land tenure how property rights to land are allocated within societies, including how permissions are granted to access, use, control, and transfer land.        
    Language an idealized form of speech, usually referred to as the standard variety.        
    Language death the total extinction of a language.        
    Language shift when a community stops using their old language and adopts a new one.        
    Language universals characteristics shared by all linguists.        
    Larynx the voice box, containing the vocal bands that produce the voice.        
    Legitimacy the perception that an individual has a valid right to leadership.        
    Legitimizing ideologies a set of complex belief systems, often developed by those in power, to rationalize, explain, and perpetuate systems of inequality.        
    Levirate the practice of a woman marrying one of her deceased husband’s brothers.        
    Lexicon the vocabulary of a language.        
    Lineage individuals who can trace or demonstrate their descent through a line of males or females back to a founding ancestor.        
    Linguistic relativity the idea that the structures and words of a language influence how its speakers think, how they behave, and ultimately the culture itself (also known as the Whorf Hypothesis).        
    Magic practices intended to bring supernatural forces under one’s personal control.        
    Maladaptive Traits that decrease the capacity of individuals to survive and reproduce.        
    Mass communication One-to-many communication that privileges the sender and/or owner of the technology that transmits the media.        
    Materialism a Marxist theory emphasizing the ways in which human social and cultural practices are influenced by basic subsistence (economic) needs.        
    Matriarchal a society in which women have authority to make decisions.        
    Matrifocal groups of related females (e.g. mother-her sisters-their offspring) form the core of the family and constitute the family’s most central and enduring social and emotional ties.        
    Matrilineal descent a kinship group created through the maternal line (mothers and their children).        
    Matrilateral cross-cousinmarriage a man marries a woman who is his mother’s brother’s daughter.        
    Matrilineal societies where descent or kinship group membership is transmitted through women, from mothers to their children (male and female), and then through daughters, to their children, and so forth.        
    Matrilocal a woman-centered kinship group where living arrangements after marriage often center around households containing related women.        
    Matrilocal residence married individuals live with or near the wife’s mother’s family.        
    Means of production the resources used to produce goods in a society such as land for farming or factories.        
    Mechanical infrastructure The apparatuses that bring networks of technology into existence.        
    Media A word that used to describe a set of technologies that connect multiple people at one time to shared content.        
    Media practices The habits or behaviors of the people who produce media, the audiences who interact with media, and everyone in between.        
    Mediascape the flow of media across borders.        
    Medical anthropology A distinct sub-specialty within the discipline of anthropology that investigates human health and health care systems in comparative perspective.        
    Middle English the form of the English language spoken from 1066 AD until about 1500 AD.        
    Millenarians people who believe that major transformations of the world are imminent.        
    Minimal response the vocal indications that one is listening to a speaker.        
    Mode of production the social relations through which human labor is used to transform energy from nature using tools, skills, organization, and knowledge.        
    Modes of subsistence the techniques used by the members of a society to obtain food. Anthropologists classify subsistence into four broad categories: foraging, pastoralism, horticulture, and agriculture.        
    Modern English the form of the English language spoken from about 1500 AD to the present.        
    Mono-cropping the reliance on a single plant species as a food source. Mono-cropping leads to decreased dietary diversity and carries the risk of malnutrition compared to a more diverse diet.        
    Monotheistic religious systems that recognize a single supreme God.        
    Morphemes the basic meaningful units in a language.        
    Morphology the study of the morphemes of language.        
    Multiculturalism maintenance of multiple cultural traditions in a single society.        
    Multispecies ethnographies an ethnographic approach in which anthropologists include non-human species as active participants in a society or culture and study their influence and actions.        
    Nation an ethnic population        
    Naturalistic ethno-etiology Views disease as the result of natural forces such as cold, heat, winds, or an upset in the balance of the basic body elements.        
    Negative reciprocity an attempt to get something for nothing; exchange in which both parties try to take advantage of the other.        
    Negative reinforcements punishments for noncompliance through fines, imprisonment, and death sentences.        
    Neoliberalism the ideology of free-market capitalism emphasizing privatization and unregulated markets.        
    Neolithic Revolution a period of rapid innovation in subsistence technologies that began 10,000 years ago and led to the emergence of agriculture. Neolithic means “new stone age,” a name referring to the stone tools produced during this time period.        
    Neolocal residence newly married individuals establish a household separate from other family members.        
    Noble savage an inaccurate way of portraying indigenous groups or minority cultures as innocent, childlike, or uncorrupted by the negative characteristics of “civilization.”        
    Nonconcordant genetic traits that are inherited independently rather than as a package.        
    Nuclear family a parent or parents who are in a culturally-recognized relationship, such as marriage, along with minor or dependent children.        
    Oaths the practice of calling on a deity to bear witness to the truth of what one says.        
    Old English English language from its beginnings to about 1066 AD.        
    One-drop rule the practice of excluding a person with any non-white ancestry from the white racial category        
    Open system a form of communication that can create an infinite number of new messages; a feature of human language only.        
    Oralist approach an approach to the education of deaf children that emphasizes lip reading and speaking orally while discouraging use of signed language.        
    Ordeal a test used to determine guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous, painful, or risky tests believed to be controlled by supernatural forces.        
    Palate the roof of the mouth.        
    Paleoanthropologist biological anthropologists who study ancient human relatives.        
    Paralanguage those characteristics of speech beyond the actual words spoken, such as pitch, loudness, tempo.        
    Participant-observation a type of observation in which the anthropologist observes while participating in the same activities in which her informants are engaged        
    Pastoralism a subsistence system in which people raise herds of domesticated livestock.        
    Patriarchy describes a society with a male-dominated political and authority structure and an ideology that privileges males over females in domestic and public spheres        
    Patrifocal groups of related males (e.g. a father-his brothers) and their male offspring form the core of the family and constitute the family’s most central and enduring social and emotional ties.        
    Patrilateral cousin marriage the practice of marrying a male or female cousin on the father’s side of the family.        
    Patrilineal societies where descent or kinship group membership is transmitted through men, from men to their children (male and female), and then through sons, to their children, and so forth.        
    Patrilineal descent a kinship group created through the paternal line (fathers and their children).        
    Patrilocal a male-centered kinship group where living arrangements after marriage often center around households containing related men.        
    Patrilocal residence married individuals live with or near the husband’s father’s family.        
    Peasants residents of a state who earn a living through farming.        
    Performativity Words or actions that cause something to happen.        
    Performing culture Everyday words and actions that reflect cultural ideas and can be studied by anthropologists as a means of understanding a culture.        
    Personal front Aspects of one’s clothing, physical characteristics, comportment, and facial expressions that communicate an impression to others.        
    Personalistic ethno-etiology Views disease as the result of the actions of human or supernatural beings.        
    Pharynx the throat cavity, located above the larynx.        
    Phonemes the basic meaningless sounds of a language.        
    Phonology the study of the sounds of language.        
    Photovoice A research method that puts cameras into people’s hands so they can make their own representations of their lives and the activities.        
    Pidgin a simplified language that springs up out of a situation in which people who do not share a language must spend extended amounts of time together.        
    Pigmentocracy a society characterized by strong correlation between a person’s skin color and his or her social class.        
    Placebo effect A response to treatment that occurs because the person receiving the treatment believes it will work, not because the treatment itself is effective.        
    Plasticity refers to the human capacity to learn any language or culture.        
    Political ecology an interdisciplinary field of research that emphasizes the political and economic dimensions of environmental concerns.        
    Political economy an approach in anthropology that investigates the historical evolution of economic relationships as well as the contemporary political processes and social structures that contribute to differences in income and wealth.        
    Polygamous families based on plural marriages in which there are multiple wives or, in rarer cases, multiple husbands.        
    Polyandry marriages with one wife and multiple husbands.        
    Polygyny marriages in which there is one husband and multiple wives.        
    Polysemy Settings, situations, and symbols that convey multiple meanings.        
    Polytheistic religious systems that recognize several gods.        
    Poro and sande secret societies for men and women, respectively, found in the Mande-speaking peoples of West Africa, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea.        
    Positive reinforcements rewards for compliance; examples include medals, financial incentives, and other forms of public recognition.        
    Pragmatic function the useful purpose of a communication. Usefulness is a feature of all species’ communication systems.        
    Pragmatics how social context contributes to meaning in an interaction.        
    Presentation of self The management of the impressions others have of us.        
    Priests full-time religious practitioners.        
    Processual archaeology a shift in archaeological studies toward scientific methods, testing of hypotheses, quantitative analysis, and theory-driven approaches and away from an earlier emphasis on typologies and descriptive analysis.        
    Productivity/creativity the ability to produce and understand messages that have never been expressed before.        
    Profane objects or ideas are ordinary and can be treated with disregard or contempt.        
    Proletarianization a process through which farmers are removed from the land and forced to take wage labor employment.        
    Prophet a person who claims to have direct communication with the supernatural realm and who can communicate divine messages to others.        
    Protected areas lands set aside for conservation of the environment for their scenic beauty, biodiversity, recreational value, and other reasons.        
    Proxemics the study of the social use of space, including the amount of space an individual tries to maintain around himself in his interactions with others.        
    Qualitative anthropological research designed to gain an in-depth, contextualized understanding of human behavior.        
    Quantitative anthropological research that uses statistical, mathematical, and/or numerical data to study human behavior.        
    Race an attempt to categorize humans based on observed physical differences.        
    Racial formation the process of defining and redefining racial categories in a society.        
    Raids short-term uses of physical force organized and planned to achieve a limited objective.        
    Ranked societies in which there are substantial differences in the wealth and social status of individuals; there are a limited number of positions of power or status, and only a few can occupy them.        
    Redistribution the accumulation of goods or labor by a particular person or institution for the purpose of dispersal at a later date.        
    Reflexivity Awareness of how one’s own position and perspective impact what is observed and how it is evaluated.        
    Register a style of speech that varies depending on who is speaking to whom and in what context.        
    Reified the process by which an inaccurate concept or idea is accepted as “truth.”        
    Reincarnation the idea that a living being can begin another life in a new body after death.        
    Religion the extension of human society and culture to include the supernatural.        
    Remittances money that migrants laboring outside of the region or country send back to their hometowns and families. In Mexico, remittances make up a substantial share of the total income of some towns’ populations.        
    Restricted exchange a marriage system in which only two extended families can engage in this exchange.        
    Reverse dominance societies in which people reject attempts by any individual to exercise power.        
    Revitalization rituals attempts to resolve serious problems, such as war, famine or poverty through a spiritual or supernatural intervention.        
    Rite of intensification actions designed to bring a community together, often following a period of crisis.        
    Rite of passage a ceremony designed to transition individuals between life stages.        
    Role the set of behaviors expected of an individual who occupies a particular status.        
    Sacred objects or ideas are set apart from the ordinary and treated with great respect or care.        
    Segmentary lineage a hierarchy of lineages that contains both close and relatively distant family members.        
    Semanticity the meaning of signs in a communication system; a feature of all species’ communication systems.        
    Semantics how meaning is conveyed at the word and phrase level.        
    Serial monogamy marriage to a succession of spouses one after the other        
    Shaman a part time religious practitioner who carries out religious rituals when needed, but also participates in the normal work of the community.        
    Social classes the division of society into groups based on wealth and status.        
    Socially constructed a concept developed by society that is maintained over time through social interactions that make the idea seem “real.”        
    Sodality a system used to encourage solidarity or feelings of connectedness between people who are not related by family ties.        
    Somatic Symptoms that are physical manifestations of emotional pain.        
    Sorcerer an individual who seeks to use magic for his or her own purposes.        
    Sororate marriage the practice of a man marrying the sister of his deceased wife.        
    Speech act the intention or goal of an utterance; the intention may be different from the dictionary definitions of the words involved.        
    Standard the variant of any language that has been given special prestige in the community.        
    Staple crops foods that form the backbone of the subsistence system by providing the majority of the calories a society consumes.        
    State the most complex form of political organization characterized by a central government that has a monopoly over legitimate uses of physical force, a sizeable bureaucracy, a system of formal laws, and a standing military force.        
    Status any culturally-designated position a person occupies in a particular setting.        
    Stem family a version of an extended family that includes an older couple and one of their adult children with a spouse (or spouses) and children.        
    Stratified societies in which there are large differences in the wealth, status, and power of individuals based on unequal access to resources and positions of power.        
    Structural-Functionalism an approach to anthropology that focuses on the ways in which the customs or social institutions in a culture contribute to the organization of society and the maintenance of social order.        
    Structural violence a form of violence in which a social structure or institution harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs.        
    Subsistence farmers people who raise plants and animals for their own consumption, but not for sale to others.        
    Subsistence system the set of skills, practices, and technologies used by members of a society to acquire and distribute food.        
    Succession changes in types of species in an area over time. For example, it would describe the different ecosystems that gradually replace one other after a forest fire.        
    Sumptuary rules norms that permit persons of higher rank to enjoy greater social status by wearing distinctive clothing, jewelry, and/or decorations denied those of lower rank.        
    Supernatural describes entities or forces not governed by natural laws.        
    Sustainable development development that can meet present needs without damaging the environment or limiting the potential for future generations.        
    Swidden an agricultural practice, also called shifting cultivation and slash-and-burn, in which fields are cleared, burned, and planted for several seasons before being returned to fallow for an extended period.        
    Symbol anything that serves to refer to something else.        
    Symbolic ethnicity limited or occasional displays of ethnic pride and identity that are primarily for public display.        
    Syncretism the combination of different beliefs, even those that are seemingly contradictory, into a new, harmonious whole.        
    Syntax the rules by which a language combines morphemes into larger units.        
    Taxonomy a system of classification.        
    Taxonomies a system of classification.        
    Technoscape the global flows of technology.        
    The Other is a term that has been used to describe people whose customs, beliefs, or behaviors are “different” from one’s own        
    Thick description a term coined by anthropologist Clifford Geertz in his 1973 book The Interpretation of Cultures to describe a detailed description of the studied group that not only explains the behavior or cultural event in question but also the context in which it occurs and anthropological interpretations of it.        
    Third gender a gender identity that exists in non-binary gender systems offering one or more gender roles separate from male or female.        
    Transgender a category for people who identify as a different gender than the one that was assigned to them at birth. This may entail a social transition or a physical one, using a number of methods        
    Tribe political units organized around family ties that have fluid or shifting systems of temporary leadership.        
    Undocumented the preferred term for immigrants who live in a country without formal authorization from the state. Undocumented refers to the fact that these people lack the official documents that would legally permit them to reside in the country. Other terms such as illegal immigrant and illegal alien are often used to refer to this population. Anthropologists consider those terms to be discriminatory and dehumanizing. The word undocumented acknowledges the human dignity and cultural and political ties immigrants have developed in their country of residence despite their inability to establish formal residence permissions.        
    Unilineal descent is recognized through only one line or side of the family.        
    Unilineal descent kinship (family) systems that recognize only one sex-based “side” of the family.        
    Universal grammar (UG) a theory developed by linguist Noam Chomsky suggesting that a basic template for all human languages is embedded in our genes.        
    Unbound morpheme a morpheme that can stand alone as a separate word.        
    Vernaculars non-standard varieties of a language, which are usually distinguished from the standard by their inclusion of stigmatized forms.        
    Wilderness a natural area that is untouched or unchanged by human activities and often seen as a cultural construct of the American West.        
    World system a complex economic system through which goods circulate around the globe. The world system for food is characterized by a separation of the producers of goods from the consumers.        
    World Systems Theory an approach to social science and history that involves examination of the development and functioning of the world economic system.        
    Zoomorphic an object or being that has animal characteristics.        
    Zoonotic Diseases that have origins in animals and are transmitted to humans.        
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