FAQs for sci.anthropology


What are the four fields?

A North American conceit, in contrast to the European conceit which ... folklore, national studies, ethnography, ethnology, antiquity, culture studies, area studies, ...

Why is sci.anthropology so nasty?

To some extent, it doesn't matter. On the other hand, ... [give refs].

Is HRAF available on-line?

Yes. No. Partially.

In the early summer of 1997, Kirsten Jensen <jensen@yale.edu>, Collections Editor for HRAF, wrote me

HRAF is currently in a partnership with the University of Michigan's Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) to put HRAF on the web. Presently, the full-text (plus tables and graphics) of three annual installments, or 48 cultures, are available for searching on the web by members of HRAF.
Prior to this, the answer had always been, "No"; the Human Resources Area Files had only been available on paper or, in recent years, CD-ROM. The Cross-Cultural CD is not full-text, but the eHRAF Collections of Ethnography are.

HRAF Member Services, 800.520.HRAF (4273) or 203.764.9401, 203.764.9404 (fax), and hrafmem@minerva.cis.yale.edu, is quite responsive, in the compiler's experience.

The President of HRAF, Melvin Ember <embercm@minerva.cis.yale.edu> (FAX +1 203-393-1926), is also quite accessible.

Are there universals in human culture?

Yes. I recommend those interested start by reading
     Brown, Donald Edward, 1934-
     1991     Human universals.  McGraw-Hill, New York.
     Wierzbicka, Anna
     1988     "Emotions Across Culture: Similarities and
              Differences", American Anthropologist 90(4):


How do I protect myself while working in the field?

What follows is, of course, information, not endorsements. Most of it is designed for commercial types, not anthropologists.

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

Hugh W Jarvis <hjarvis@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU> reports that the IAMAT
provide[s] for free a booklet of medical contacts. For most countries there is at least one doctor who has agreed to provide a low-priced consultation, in English, and who can be reached by phone 24 hours a day. These practitioners are also familiar with the normal health of Westerners, particularly Caucasians (who are allergic to some regional medicines). . . .

In addition to the booklet of contacts, they will also send you very helpful pamphlets listing the various medical dangers to be expected in different countries and how to prepare for them (the usual malaria, yellowfever, plague...).

Very nice people. I recommend that anyone who is thinking of going travelling contact them. Tell them where you plan to go so they can immediately send the info.

Among the addresses we have for International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers are

Various stuff

Other stuff. Embassies--ha!


The International Legal Defense Council +1 215 977 9982.

Travel medical insurance

Typical costs: at least $3.50 per day.

USA agencies:

What's a good school in forensic anthropology?

Posters frequently ask sci.anthropology for advice on grad school. Out of all proportion to other specialties, though, are questions about forensic anthropology. [Summarize]


How many races of humans are there?



Is English a creole?

This question more properly belongs in the sci.lang FAQ. Until the maintainers of that estimable compilation incorporate it, though, we'll make space for it here. [Ref still in preparation.]


What is culture?

This has often been cited as the key theoretical question in anthropology (but where are the references?). Nicholas Gessler points to an answer. One of the first recognizable formulations of the anthropologic notion of culture was Tylor's 1871 [which article?] attention to that
complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man [sic] as a member of society.

How many pre-Columbian indigenes were there?

Dobyns says 90 million.

The Ik

What software is there for drawing kinship charts?

See the work of Brian E. Schwimmer.


Genealogy software ROOTS IV handles this type of work. 74774.522@compuserve.com

ABC SnapGraphics

ABC SnapGraphics. It is remarkably easy to use and makes beautifully clear graphics for you. It's a Windows program, and lets you use any True Type fonts you want in labeling the symbols. It comes from MicroGrafx, 1303 Arapaho Rd., Rickardson, TX 75081. Phone 214-234-1769. ABC SnapGraphics requires WIndows 3.1 or higher, 8mb hard disk space if you install the whole thing (including associated clipart), VGA or better, 4mg of RAM, and a mouse. And it works fine. [ML]

Brother's Keeper

There are several good shareware programs for doing genealogies. I find Brother's Keeper as good as any; it's on bulletin boards, and at least was on old editions of the PC-SIG CD. [ML]


Are there any newsgroups specifically for archaelogy?


Cameron Laird's sci.anthropology FAQ/claird@phaseit.net