Our approach to cultural anthropology is holistic. We see the interconnectedness of cultural practice sand, in all of the chapters, we emphasize the comparison of cultures and the ways of life of different peoples. We start with Laura Nader's observation that cultural differences need not be seen as a problem. In our complicated world of increasing migration, nationalism, and climate challenges,cultural diversity might actually be the source of conflict resolution and new approaches to ensuring a healthier world. Indeed, as Katie Nelson reminds us, anthropology exposes the familiarity in the ideas and practices of others that seem bizarre. Robert Borofsky advocates for anthropology's ability to empower people and facilitate good. Borofsky calls on anthropologists to engage with a wide rpublic to bring our incredible stories and important insights to helping resolve the most critical issues we face in the world today. This book brings Nader, Nelson, Borofsky, and many others together to demonstrate that our anthropological understandings can help all of us to improve the lives of people the world over. We need you, as students, to see the possibilities. As instructors, we want to help you share anthropological knowledge and understanding easily. We want all readers to be inspired by the intensely personal writings of the anthropologists who contribute to this volume.
Anthropology is the study of all humans in all times in all places. But it is so much more than that. “Anthropology requires strength, valor, and courage,” Nancy Scheper-Hughes noted. “Pierre Bourdieu called anthropology a combat sport, an extreme sport as well as a tough and rigorous discipline. … It teaches students not to be afraid of getting one’s hands dirty, to get down in the dirt, and to commit yourself, body and mind. Susan Sontag called anthropology a “heroic” profession.” What is the payoff for this heroic journey? You will find ideas that can carry you across rivers of doubt and over mountains of fear to find the the light and life of places forgotten. Real anthropology cannot be contained in a book. You have to go out and feel the world’s jagged edges, wipe its dust from your brow, and at times, leave your blood in its soil. In this unique book, Dr. Michael Wesch shares many of his own adventures of being an anthropologist and what the science of human beings can tell us about the art of being human.
“Speaking of Culture” is a collection of instructor-authored background readings intended to accompany other activities, discussions, experiences, projects, and readings for IELI 2470 – Cross-Cultural Perspectives, a course offered by faculty in the Intensive English Language Institute at Utah State University. Its main purpose is to define culture and other concepts often associated with it.