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Outline of anthropology

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to anthropology: Anthropology – study of humanity. Anthropology has origins in the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. The term was first used by François Peron when discussing his encounters with Tasmanian Aborigines.


Philosophical anthropology

Philosophical anthropology, sometimes called anthropological philosophy, is a discipline dealing with questions of metaphysics and phenomenology of the human person, and interpersonal relationships.



The Acali was a raft which was used in the Acali Expedition or Acali Experiment. The raft had a complement of eleven people: five men and six women. It left Las Palmas, Spain on 12 May 1973 and took 101 days to drift across the Atlantic Ocean and reach Cozumel, Mexico, with a single stopover in Barbados. The experiment was conceived by Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genoves to investigate interpersonal relationships in conditions of limited space and social isolation.


Action group (sociology)

In sociology and anthropology, an action group or task group is a group of people joined temporarily to accomplish some task or take part in some organized collective action. As the members of the action group are brought together on a single occasion and then disband, they cannot be regarded as constituting a full-fledged social group, for which they would need to interact recurrently in accordance with their social identities.


Actor–network theory

Actor–network theory is a theoretical and methodological approach to social theory where everything in the social and natural worlds exists in constantly shifting networks of relationships. It posits that nothing exists outside those relationships. All the factors involved in a social situation are on the same level, and thus there are no external social forces beyond what and how the network participants interact at present. Thus, objects, ideas, processes, and any other relevant factors are seen as just as important in creating social situations as humans. ANT holds that social forces do not exist in themselves, and therefore cannot be used to explain social phenomena. Instead, strictly empirical analysis should be undertaken to "describe" rather than "explain" social activity. Only after this can one introduce the concept of social forces, and only as an abstract theoretical concept, not something which genuinely exists in the world. Although it is best known for its controversial insistence on the capacity of nonhumans to act or participate in systems or networks or both, ANT is also associated with forceful critiques of conventional and critical sociology. Developed by science and technology studies scholars Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, the sociologist John Law, and others, it can more technically be described as a "material-semiotic" method. This means that it maps relations that are simultaneously material and semiotic. It assumes that many relations are both material and semiotic. Broadly speaking, ANT is a constructivist approach in that it avoids essentialist explanations of events or innovations i.e. ANT explains a successful theory by understanding the combinations and interactions of elements that make it successful, rather than saying it is true and the others are false. Likewise, it is not a cohesive theory in itself. Rather, ANT functions as a strategy that assists people in being sensitive to terms and the often unexplored assumptions underlying them. It is distinguished from many other STS and sociological network theories for its distinct material-semiotic approach.


Alliance theory

The alliance theory, also known as the general theory of exchanges, is a structuralist method of studying kinship relations. It finds its origins in Claude Levi-Strausss Elementary Structures of Kinship and is in opposition to the functionalist theory of Radcliffe-Brown. Alliance theory has oriented most anthropological French works until the 1980s; its influences were felt in various fields, including psychoanalysis, philosophy and political philosophy. The hypothesis of a "marriage-alliance" emerged in this frame, pointing out towards the necessary interdependence of various families and lineages. Marriages themselves are thus seen as a form of communication that anthropologists such as Levi-Strauss, Louis Dumont or Rodney Needham have described. Alliance theory hence tries to understand the basic questions about inter-individual relations, or what constitutes society. Alliance theory is based on the incest taboo: according to it, only this universal prohibition of incest pushes human groups towards exogamy. Thus, inside a given society, certain categories of kin are forbidden to inter-marry. The incest taboo is thus a negative prescription; without it, nothing would push men to go searching for women outside their inner kinship circle, or vice versa. This theory echoes with Freuds Totem and Taboo 1913. But the incest taboo of alliance theory, in which ones daughter or sister is offered to someone outside a family circle, starts a circle of exchange of women: in return, the giver is entitled to a woman from the others intimate kinship group. Thus the negative prescriptions of the prohibition have positive counterparts. The idea of the alliance theory is thus of a reciprocal or a generalized exchange which founds affinity. This global phenomenon takes the form of a "circulation of women" which links together the various social groups in one whole: society.



Americanidiot was the anthropological theory presented by the Russian Vladimir Jochelson, which grouped together the natives of the Northwest coast of America and the aborigines in the North-East of Siberia, in connection with their ethnographic and cultural similarities. Although there are really inexplicable cultural, linguistic, ethnological and similarities between these groups, the idea of "americanidiot" is now discounted by most scientists.