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u/anthrowill · 14 pointsr/AskAnthropology

I agree with /u/keyilan that its not too late to go back to school in your 30s. I started my PhD at 33. I have a friend who started her MA (and is now in a PhD program) in her 50s. That being said, if you have a stable job you're happy with and want to avoid going into debt, and if you're not completely and totally sure you want to pursue a degree in anthropology, then it's probably better to be an autodidact.

Anyway, here's some suggestions for some stuff on sociocultural anthropology methodology (and historical descriptions of such things) that may be of interest to you.

Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches by H. Russel Bernard (he is the methods guy in sociocultural anthro--and this book is rather dry but super detailed and will teach you all the basics of anthro methodology.)

Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Linda Tuhiwai Smith (a classic text in indigenous methods.)

Participant Observation and The Ethnographic Interview by James Spradley

Fieldwork Is Not What It Used To Be edited by James Faubion and George Marcus (I have not read this, but have heard good things about it.)

Before Boas: The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment by Han Vermeulen (this is a history of ethnographic methods rather than a book about methodology, but it's super interesting.)

u/Champtain · 29 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Nobody else has said much, so I'll help with what I can. For awhile this was one of my favorite mythemes and although I can't recall any specific info/theories about the significance of eating in the underworld, I may be able to at least point you in the right direction.

There is a chapter in Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces dedicated to these myths (there are dozens spread across the world), so you might want to check there first. I remember he detailed a number of these stories and recounted key similarities and differences, I just can't recall if he gave any specific info about the significance of food or drink.

I also recommend checking up the Mesopotamian myths of Inanna/Ishtar. Her stories feature all the templates for an underworld descent you mention here and it is possibly the oldest recorded work of literature (iirc some of the tablets that the story is recorded on are literally oldest narrative texts we've recovered). Her story is only slightly different in that she is a goddess and therefore the underworld she is visiting is her sister's realm. It's a great read and in particular I can recommend Diane Wolkstein's excellent translation/adaptation. This volume not only tells the story, but also provides a few great essays that might contain the answer you're looking for.

u/Ardonpitt · 26 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Well there are all sorts of tribes that are matrilineal and matrilocal and even to degrees matriarchal. But its kinda a false dichotomy to say that ANY group is fully patriarchal or fully matriarchal. In almost every culture there is a split of power along different lines.

In matrilineal cultures there tends to be a split that women control basically the family, but men act on the behalf outside the home. So women control the home, the tribal activities. But men do the trading (and have control over that), men do the fighting (and have control over that.

A good example would be of the Mosuo. There is a lot of hype in feminist circles about them being Matriarchal but they kinda are missing the nuance for political gain. They are probably the most matriarchal culture out there. This is a pretty good ethnography on them, but I would also suggest reading This. It shows as more economic contact is made the there has been the culture is changing, so they aren't exactly the same as the ethnography put them.

It comes down to how the power is allocated really. I mean if you are in a small tribe where basically home life is the only political life and the mother controls the home then yeah its going to seem matriarchal. But even if that were the same model except most of the activity is outside the home and the men controlled that it is going to seem more patriarchal.

Here is a list of what is typically seen as matrilineal and matrilocal societies. As you will see they are incredibly diverse and cross the world. But matriarchy/patriarchy is something a bit harder to put your fingers on.

u/Telepathetic · 2 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Why 37,000 years ago? That sounds like a rather specific age and suggests that you have a more specific question in mind. For example, are you interested in Homo sapiens/Neanderthal interactions? At that distant age, archaeologists find sites that give us snippets of behavior, rather than definitive knowledge of what everyday life was like, so your question would be hard to answer. I can say with some certainty though, that life would have been very different in different parts of the world during that time period. Modern humans were living throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia at that point, and each continent would require different adaptations.

My own research interests don't usually extend that far back in time, so I can't think of a good readable book detailing sites from 37,000 years ago. The best one I can recommend is After the Ice, which discusses how human life changes during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene around the world.

Yes, I still spell "Neanderthal" with the "th." I'm stubborn like that. Just because the German spelling changes doesn't mean the English usage needs to follow suit, in my opinion.

u/mildmanneredarmy · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Probably the most obvious person to look at is David Graeber as he's probably the best known self-identified anarchist anthropologist. Aside from him, however, you may also be interested in the work of James C. Scott - specifically his book The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia.

That being aid, I don't remember if Graeber or Scott actually lay out plans for what an anarchist society would look like.

It's also worth noting, I think, that's there's a big difference between a stateless society and an anarchist one, if by the latter we mean one explicitly organized according to anarchist ideas. A lot of anarchists nowadays point to the EZLN as a model for a contemporary stateless society, which is quite understandable. However I don't believe the EZLN actually considers itself to be anarchist, though I think they're sympathetic.

u/RandyMFromSP · 15 pointsr/AskAnthropology

After the Ice is a great resource. Interesting narrative style as well.

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language is also a great (although fairly technical) book about the origin and spread of the Indo-European language which had a large effect on the bronze age cultures in the area.

u/han_dies_01 · 1 pointr/AskAnthropology

The basics are pretty easy, and can usually be found at a standard Ace, or even easier, just on Amazon.

Metric tape, 5m.

Folding ruler, 2m.

Trowel. Most archaeologists in the US tend to use Marshalltown 45-5 pointer trowels. Some like the margin trowels as well.

Line level.

I'll add more later...


Honestly, those are the only things you really need. You could also throw in things like a file for your trowel or to touch up a shovel if needed, but usually that's not really necessary. You could buy a Munsell book, but they're quite expensive and someone running a project will have one available.

u/zoweee · 9 pointsr/AskAnthropology

This is well towards the end of and past the period you're asking about, but I really enjoyed After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 - 5,000BC. It's got this interesting narrative conceit where the author conjures the spirit of a 19th century paleoanthropologist and sends him around the world to various human habitations, so the viewer sees them through his eyes and what would otherwise be a dry survey of archeological digs becomes more like a story being told by a knowledgable person. The goal is to describe how the world changed during the last great phase of human pre-history and created the conditions necessary to propel humans into civilization. One part that sticks in my head is from very early on and its how he moves from a group that live in seemingly idyllic conditions in the levant (IIRC) to another group suffering through a harsh Ice Age winter, huddled together and all with their backs to a fierce wind. The difference in mobility and group-size really stuck with me.

u/zhgarfield · 16 pointsr/AskAnthropology

In general, the concept of communal property is pervasive among egalitarian societies. Most mobile foragers or hunter-gatherers are or were egalitarian, as are many horticultural societies. However, there's a lot of variation. Typically there are complex social leveling mechanisms in place that prevent any individual from collecting too much wealth (including material and social). For example, when a hunter gets a kill, depending on the tool and method used and present company, there may be different culturally proscribed methods for distribution. Egalitarianism, putatively characterized the majority of human evolution but is hardly representative of all human culture. Robert Kelly's new edition of The Foraging Spectrum provides a nice review. Also, Boehm's Hierarchy in the Forest is a good introduction to theories on egalitarianism.

u/EventListener · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

These two ethnographies are easy/pleasant reads, frequently used in undergraduate courses:

u/semichaels · 5 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Haven’t read it in awhile but Tell My Horse was one of my favorites back in undergrad.

u/SleeperWithDogs · 1 pointr/AskAnthropology

At least the aspect of total work hours has been debunked. Richard B. Lee eventually concluded that the !Kung work approx. 40 hours a week in a later publication (well, it's a book really).

Edit: though I don't know how relevant are the Kung since Sahlins was more focused on the Australian aborigines,

u/CaptainRallie · 5 pointsr/AskAnthropology

The Na people of China are the only group I've read about that don't practice marriage.

There are, however, places in which marriage practices bear little if any resemblance to what you might think of as marriage.

The Nandi for example have a really interesting tradition of female husbands.

u/DJWalnut · 1 pointr/AskAnthropology

In Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman anthropologist Marjorie Shostak describes that it is common for !Kung marred men and women to "take lovers" and have extramarital sex, albiet clandisnedly.

I read the book for a cultural anthropology class and was able to geturn the book afterwards for a full refund, so I no longer have it to cite page numbers, but I recall that there's an entire chapter on the subject.

u/JoeBakerBFC · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

This is kind of half correct. Or half wrong depending on how you look at it. The Classic example is Napoleon Chagnon's description of the Yanomamo

Hunter Gatherer societies generally do have considerably more leisure and social/gender equality. It is important to understand while there is significantly more gender equality, that doesn't mean that there are not strict gender roles. The !Kung Live together peacefully, and equally without formal hierarchy. Violence is generally hit or miss.

u/multinillionaire · 28 pointsr/AskAnthropology

James S Scott speculates that this is actually very common. His main case study is Southeast Asia, where there is a lot of evidence of people fleeing heavily agricultural civilizations for a horticultural life in the highlands both as a result of conflict and simply because the life of the latter is freer and (at least in many ways) richer as compared to the heavily-taxed life of an agricultural serf in a stratified society. Of course, horticulture might not be rice paddy cultivation but it's still agriculture. Nonetheless, he finds signs that this is a worldwide dynamic that shows up where ever you have a geographic or temporal transition between densely settled agriculture and a lower-density space that makes "less civilized" lifeways possible. One space he keeps coming back to is the Eastern/Midwestern US of the 1500s and 1600s, when the post Columbian contact plagues and their associated population collapses gave the survivors plenty of elbow room to make this transition.

u/Chrythes · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

I would suggest The Lifeways of Hunter-Gatherers: The Foraging Spectrum. It is very comprehensive, informative, and readable.

u/cmhamill · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

This is probably the best for getting an anthropological view on it:

You may want to look into the history of the Paris Commune and the Spanish Civil War.

u/ArghNoNo · 7 pointsr/AskAnthropology

I came late to this topic, but discovered this only last year and read it a few months ago:
Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior
by Christopher Boehm

Very thought-provoking topic.

u/Worsaae · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

When it comes to archaeological theory, Bruce Trigger is your man.

u/bix783 · 2 pointsr/AskAnthropology

This is the textbook that I read about that topic, and found very interesting. It describes different forms of grief in different cultures.

u/GreenStrong · 15 pointsr/AskAnthropology

A great source for this is [The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David Anthony.](

The book deal with historical, linguistic and archaeological evidence of horseback riding, the author made a major contribution as the principal investigator in the first studies of bit wear on ancient horse teeth.

When sierra1bravo mentions the horse domestication before riding, these cultures had domesticated cattle and sheep, and hunted wild horses, then began keeping horses over winter with their legs fettered. Horses don't need supplemental feed in the brutal steppe winters, as cattle and sheep do. Anthony cites a lack of diversity in the horse Y chromosome to suggest that the discovery of an unusually docile stallion may have been essential to true domestication, all horses may be descended from one stallion.

The wheel, and oxcart, were probably invented in Mesopotamia, there is evidence of trade with that culture shortly after the first signs of horse riding. Then, the steppe people learned to pack their tents and belongings into wagons and became mobile in a way no humans ever had before.

u/Radixx · 5 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Okay, a little controversial and not that sexually focused but Don't sleep, There are snakes provides quite a bit of insight about living with an isolated tribe.

u/FreyaAsikari · 33 pointsr/AskAnthropology

I actually attended a class last semester titled "The Anthropology of Death", and it was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. Let me provide you with a little insight from our discussions.

To understand modern burial practices, we must first look at our closest known ancestors: Neanderthals. They were the first group of hominids known to practice burial. It is still under debate whether this began as something pragmatic, or if they were a species that cared more closely for their living and sought to care for the body after death. My speculation is that it began out of necessity. Large mammals in northern Europe would pose a threat to hominids, even if they were simply scavenging for the remains of the deceased. Burying the dead was a way to eliminate the odor associated with decay, deterring scavengers and possible predators. However, a burial discovered in France in 1908 has shown that not only was the individual buried, but that they were cared for in life. The remains were intact and biologically progressed in age past the point of most average lifespans of Neanderthals. They had suffered some previous injuries that would have made it nearly impossible to survive without the aid of others, so anthropologists who have studied the site believe this person was well cared for in life, as well as death.

People historically have buried the dead for religious reasons. Ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, had specific and elaborate rituals that needed to take place in order for their "psyche" (soul) to pass to the Underworld. This was typically a three-step process that included viewing of the body, funeral procession, and burial or in some cases, cremation.

A coin or token was placed in the mouth of the deceased to allow the soul to pay the way of passage to the Underworld via ferry.'s_obol

Some historical evidence shows that burial was also necessary to prevent the spread of disease. The Black Death is a perfect example of this. Mass graves have been discovered that indicate the apparent disposal of human corpses for health reasons, as funerary practices were not being performed out of fear.

However, a dead body poses few health risks to the public, unless there is a known disease associated with the deceased. It is a common misconception that decay is a public health hazard, as our minds naturally associate the putrefaction of a corpse with disease (i.e. foul smells).

If you are interested in further research, I implore you to read the following books, as I have found them to be personally insightful on the topics of death, dying, and burial practices.