- Digital Stories
- ethnographic analysis & cultural traditions
- ethnography, fieldwork, and participant observation
- cultural variation and similarity
- cultural change and continuity
- cultural systems
- holism: concepts of culture
- Service Learning
Anthropologists have studied humankind all over the world for hundreds of years. Even before the scientific studies of humankind began people were curious about other peoples around them. Travel is quite an educator. Anthropologists' fieldwork has been instrumental in helping us see ourselves from worldwide perspectives.
Dr. Linda Davis-Stephens, Instructor
Student Digital Storytelling
Your posted work here is a personal, virtual reflection on your sense of place in the world today and/or the past/future culture important to you. Your posted work will be public, indefinitely, on the internet.
There are guides to digital storytelling online at places like
If you need help using Windows Movie Maker this is a good tutorial:
Post your name(s) and video here, just above the previous student post.
Maja Jankovic, Clara Schwartz
Known as the ‘land between rivers’ this settlement sits between the Tigris River and Euphrates River. Today the modern Iran, Turkey and Syria rest in this area. But before these countries formed there were people occupying this land as far back as 10,000 BCE. The rivers that flooded each year made it hard to live off the land also provided rich, fertile soil to the land. Though this land had many languages and cultures, there was not prominent capital or geographic unity. Mesopotamia saw the development of the world’s first cities. This homed the Sumerians who live as far as back as 5000 BCE. Sumerian’s can be seen as responsible for forming the first city-states. They developed an early system of writing around 3500 BCE, which was carving into wet mud and leaving it to dry. This system lasted for around 2000 years. Mesopotamian building skills were improving among the years but still had trouble with materials. They used mud bricks, which weathered away quickly and were in constant need of repair. Many other milestone inventions can be creditied to this ancient civilization such as, but not limited to, the wheel, domestication of animals, agriculture, common tools, wine, beer, sailboats, the chariot, and the concept of time.
A unique aspect of this regions culture was that men and women were seen as equals. As a woman you could own land, file for divorce, own their own business and file contracts. Eventually this sense of equality was lost throughout history.
Around 3600 BCE the concept of a king was developed. This king acted as a ‘middle-man’ for their deities. He received omens and heard the gods talk directly to him. One of the most famous kings of this region is Hammurabi of Babylon. From him we received “Code Of Hammurabi” which was the law enscribed on clay tablets and displayed for all to see around 1780 BCE. But even these codes were drawn from previous examples dating back to 3000 BCE.
The Mesopotamian region was polytheistic. With over 2000 gods and goddesses being identified, the chief of the gods depended on the time and region. They believed the material world was deeply bound with the divine. The purpose of man at the time was to please and serve the gods in all ways.
Around the 13th century in Central America one of the greatest American Indians began. The Aztecs were the dominant force in Central Mexica from the 13th century to around the 15th century. The exact origins of the Aztec people are still unknown, but their greatest city Tenochtitlan was founded by Lake Texcoco. They saw an eagle perched on a cactus and decided it was a sign that they needed to build there city in that spot. Tenochtitlan became a magnificent capital it housed 140,000 people, which makes it the most densely populated city that ever existed in Mesoamerica. According to the Aztecs it took 5 gods to create the earth and they all eventually sacrificed themselves to get the sun into the air (except for Tezcatlipoca who turned into a jaguar and destroyed the world). Another god called Huitzilopochtli (the main god they worshipped) needed a blood sacrifice at least once a month. They thought he needed these sacrifices in order to fight and win against the darkness. For the sacrifice there was either bloodletting (cutting and bleeding on a surface that would later be burned), human sacrifice, or an animal sacrifice. At times the Aztecs would even cut out the beating heart of a person or animal to give to the gods. Then there were times were battles were fought just to get prisoners to sacrifice later on. The great Aztec empire eventually fell in 1521 when Cortez got tribes that were the enemy of the Aztecs and attacked Tenochtitlan.
Nature vs. Nurture
The Nature vs. Nurture controversy has been going on for quite some time now. This debate is all about which aspects of behavior are a product of genetic or learned characteristics. Nature is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. Whereas, “nurture” is taken as the influence of external factors after conception such as behavior and learning in an environment. For this controversy, I’d have to agree with the few people that believe behavior is a product of “nature” characteristics. The reason being that people are all born with their own unique temperament, which has to do with an individual’s behavior. This influences how people behave toward other individuals and objects around them and how the environment affects them. For example, a parent and a child have two completely different temperaments, so the child is going to react differently than the parent is. Each individual has their own genetically behavior, from when conceived. But, if we were to look at this from a point of view form people who believe behavior is a product of nurture, they’d disagree. Others might say that the only explanation the child would act a certain way is due to their environment and how they are raised by their parents. I’d like to say that this debate will continue to go on until scientifically proven that behaviorism is genetically encoded within the DNA.
Tribes before Columbus; 1492
As many too few knew that there were tons of tribes that existed in the 1400 century. The tribes in America before that was it called, had numbers of tribes known as Southeast, Mid Atlantic/ Northeast, Great Lakes, Great Plains, California/ Great Basin, Northwest/Plateau, Southwest. Specifically speaking on the area of the Great Plains, many people are unaware of the multiple that derived from the state of Kansas and even further. The Wichita Tribe; ranged for the Arkansas River, Kansas, and southward toward to the Brazos River. They called themselves Kitikiti'sh (Kirikirish), which is of uncertain meaning, but probably implies preeminent men. By the Sioux, they were known as the "Black Pawnee," to French traders, "Tattooed Pawnee," and to the Kiowa and Comanche by names meaning "Tattooed Faces." Living establishments showed them that they’re highly resourceful in the agricultural area as well as being efficient inactively. Their permanent living habitations were very cone shaped with a diameter from 30 to 50 feet, with the major structure were made out of stout poles overlaid with grass thatch (a roof covering of straw, reeds, palm leaves, or a similar material.), which had the appearance of a haystack. The Wichita were gradually forced westward and southward by the inroads of the Osage and the Chickasaw Indians to locations on the upper Red and Brazos Rivers where they were first known to American settlers.
When talking about culture variation, I began to wonder what to write about. I was honestly thinking way too hard, because the answer to my topic was right in front of me. The baseball team here at Colby is very culture diverse. We have guys from America obviously, Australia, and Canada. being so culturally diverse, I have learned about the other lingo that guys from Australia and Canada use; as well as guys from different parts of America. With saying that, for example, the word "pissed" in America means angry or mad while "pissed" in Australia means being very intoxicated. Another example I have is that the guys from Canada say "aye" as kind of a sentence ender, or something along those lines. The culture barrier doesn't end there with different uses of words. There is a lot of different kinds of music, food, and entertainment in different parts of the world. Australians wear incredibly colorful and short shorts, because that's the normal fashion in that part of the world. Canadians typically dress very similar if not the same as the way Americans dress. Something that sets all three cultures apart is the types of food. Canadians aren't used to the massive amounts of fast food restaurants in America and neither are the Australians. the Australians main diet consists of mainly sea food, and Canadians eat a lot of beef and chicken. Although there is a lot of cultural diversity on our team, we al came to Colby with the same goal; to win a national championship. I believe that the variety of culture we all come from is unique and cool because we all get to learn about where each other comes from, and make life long friends while doing so. I also believe that regardless where we're from we all have each others back and we all strive to push each other to be great and that's what I love about our team. Learning about all these different places my teammates are from, makes me more open minded about traveling the world to see how they live, since they've seen how us fellow Americans live.
Have you ever looked at yourself and said I wonder what gives us our humanity, we can talk but animals can to in a different way. Humanism is not just about us (humans) having all of our limbs like arms and legs and being able to stand on two legs. It goes much deeper into what humanity is. I am going to start off by defining humanity it is the human race, which includes everyone on Earth. It’s also a word for the qualities that make us human, such as the ability to love and have compassion, be creative, and not be a robot or alien. (Dictionary) Anthropologists have looked for cultural evidence to identify and describe human remains and help determine "what makes us human." Humans have been described as tool users, once thought to be a quality unique from all other animals. However, extensive studies over the years by many researchers has identified tool use by chimpanzees, and more recently gorillas, indicating that use of crude tools is not necessarily a unique human feature. Even a sea otter uses a crude tool, such as a rock, to crack open shell fish. The use of fire and burying the dead are also cited as evidence of "what makes us human." It certainly could be argued that using fire and evidence of burials are unique to humans, but these activities result from the spiritual nature within humans. (Institute creation research)
The questions about what separates us from other animals also carry some unfortunate baggage. The belief that there is something inherently special about humans and the way we arose is more suited to creation mythologies and religious doctrine than to a scientific, testable view of the world. The notion of special creation, and those perversions of evolutionary thinking that defend humans as exceptions, tend to come pre-fitted with taxonomic chauvinism. (Rob Brooks)
I will begin by defining social and cultural continuity and change. The term 'social change' is a term used within sociology and applies to modifications in social relationships or culture (the term 'cultural change' is the term used within anthropology). Since society and culture are interdependent, 'sociocultural change' is a more accepted term. The study of sociocultural change is the systematic study of variation in social and cultural 'systems'. There are inherent methodological problems of identification and measurement of change, and rarely does one cause produce one effect. All societies are involved in a process of social change, however, this change may be so incremental that the members of the society are hardly aware of it. People living in very traditional societies would be in this category. Societies are characterised by change: the rate of change, the processes of change, and the directions of change. The actions of individuals, organisations and social movements have an impact on society and may become the catalyst for social change. The actions of individuals, however, occur within the context of culture, institutions and power structures inherited from the past, and usually, for these individuals to effect dramatic social change, the society itself is tripe' for change. Social and cultural continuities can be likened to individuals' habits - comfortable patterns of behaviour that give individuals a sense of security and personal control - a haven or a respite in a sea of social and cultural change. There is a high correlation between the rate of social and cultural change and resistance to that change. In times when members of a society feel that change is 'out of control', it is likely that the desire for continuity becomes more extreme, resulting in backward-looking idealisations of the past.
The Big Move
I was born and raised in Topeka. In all honesty, it is not that impressive. Living there your whole life, it is easy to get bored of. Before I moved here for college, I constantly said things like “It’s so boring here” or “I can’t wait to graduate so I can get of Topeka”. Ironically, now all I want to do is go back. It has a lot to do with my family, but also some to do with my surroundings as well. Aside from the population, I believe the biggest difference is the diversity. Colby is a predominantly a “white” town, and so is Topeka but it is sometimes hard to tell. Although, my start in Colby was pretty rough, I have adjusted well since then and have grown appreciative of my experience here.
Hellenismos, or Greek Polytheist Reconstructonism is a living neo-pagan tradition formed from the practices and beliefs of the ancient Greeks. Though there are some issues with older practices (such as live animal sacrifice and sexism) that must be dealt with, the spirit remains the same.
The main beliefs involve worship of the ancient Greek god, such as the Olympians, nature spirits, and underworld deities, as well as hero and ancestor veneration. The religion is also sometimes referred to as dodekatheism, in reference to the 12 Olympian gods. Aside from the popular mythos that many learn in humanities courses, inspiration for ethics and practices comes from classics such as the Delphic Maxims, Aristotle's Ethics, the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, as well as what is referred to in the neo-pagan community as “unverified personal gnosis,” or UPG. UPG refers to information gleaned from personal connection with individual deities that is not reflected in established texts. It is important to keep in mind that although much inspiration comes from texts such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, it is not seen as dogma or the exclusive truth.
A large part of Hellenismos is seen not in large festivals and holidays, but instead in daily worship and ritual. It is these rituals that illustrate the spirit of the faith. It's is a hearth, or home, based practice, and it is orthopraxic instead of orthodoxic. It teaches that belief is not enough, that one must take the correct actions and practices for a whole and fulfilling relationship with the divine. This starts in the home with the worship of household spirits, usually offering parts of meals, praying, and setting up votives. Different days throughout the month focus on varying deities, cycling on a lunar calendar. Throughout the year however there are many celebrations, both ancient and modern. Hellenic beliefs encourage feasting, singing, dancing and games to honor the gods.
What gives us our humanity?
There really are a lot of things that gives us our humanity and there are a variety of things what separates humans from other animals, including our closest relatives? It's one of those big questions perennially posed by the evo-curious public. But until recently I seldom gave it much thought. Mostly because the answers tend to get hung up on one trait that differs from our closest great ape relatives: our upright stance, the shape of our toes, the size of our brains. Humans have been described as tool users, once thought to be a quality unique from all other animals. However, extensive studies over the years by many researchers has identified tool use by chimpanzees, and more recently gorillas, indicating that use of crude tools is not necessarily a unique human feature. Even a sea otter uses a crude tool, such as a rock, to crack open shell fish. The use of fire and burying the dead are also cited as evidence of "what makes us human today the value of a human is determined by the individual's prospects for a quality life and by how much one can contribute to society. Anthropologists have looked for cultural evidence to identify and describe human remains and help determine "what makes us human." This is evident by the treatment of the unwanted pre-born, the aged, and the infirmed. Mass slaughter of humans via legalized abortion, the push for legalization of doctor-assisted suicide, and the use of embryonic stem cells have defined what the worth of humans are by society. In addition to human value based on ethical ills, our culture is full of social ills that determine human value based on ethnic, social, or economic standing.
What gives us our humanity
Humanity is the human race, which includes everyone on earth but what makes as human? Anthropologists have looked for cultural evidence to identify and describe human
remains and help determine "what makes us human." Humans have been described as tool users, once thought to be a quality unique from all other animals. However, extensive studies over the years by many researchers has identified tool use by chimpanzees, and more recently gorillas, indicating that use of crude tools is not necessarily a unique human feature. Even a sea otter uses a crude tool, such as a rock, to crack open shell fish. The use of fire and burying the dead are also cited as evidence of "what makes us human." It certainly could be argued that using fire and evidence of burials are unique to humans, but these activities result from the spiritual nature within humans. According to Christianity it states that at one time in human history, slave traders would assess the value of a human based on the type and amount of work that an individual could perform for his "owner" just the same as if the person were an animal. Today the value of a human is determined by the individual's prospects for a quality life and by how much one can contribute to society. This is evident by the treatment of the unwanted pre-born, the aged, and the infirmed. Mass slaughter of humans via legalized abortion, the push for legalization of doctor-assisted suicide, and the use of embryonic stem cells have defined what the worth of humans are by society. In addition to human value based on ethical ills, our culture is full of social ills that determine human value based on ethnic, social, or economic standing. Racial profiling and discrimination may be easy to recognize, but are all humans treated equally, regardless of their profession or economic standing
Maja Jankovic and Clara Schwartz
The worst mistake of human race
The worst mistake of human history is probably thinking that the nature is our own source and we can use it however we want it. We use nature in the wrong way. We stopped living with it and started using it for our best no matter if it hurts the natural circle of life. For example, people utilize the nature by over hunting the animals and planting plants unnaturally. One of the worst examples could be the over fishing the Chinese people do. They don’t care if they take to many fishes out of the sea and use for their own business. Even worse is that most of the fish is not used for food most of the fish gets wasted or thrown back into the ocean. 10.000 years ago people even started to domesticate plants. They started to take the plants out of their natural environment and put them wherever they needed them to be. One way we destroy nature is when we over use the natural sediment in the ground so that the ground becomes infertile for crop production. To conclude our thoughts, we think the human race generally interrupts the circle of the nature.
Student Reflection Activity for Service Learning Projects
The Eller House-Service Learning Project