User:LBird BASc/sandbox/ATK/Seminar7/History

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Issue 1 - History

History of Anthropology[edit]


Origin of Anthropology[edit]

- The origin of anthropology dates back to the work of Herodotus, a Greek historian, whose work is regarded as central to anthropology.

- During his travels, Herodotus gave detailed accounts of the customs of the people he observed, which are now seen as the first example of ethnography. - He started describing the different cultures of the Persian Empire, defining it as the dominant culture of the East, while Greece was the dominant culture of the West. - It was the beginning of cultural division and distinction.

- In the 14th century, the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun studied the diverse cultures of the Mediterranean with an objective, analytical, and ethnographic point of view. He presented a new scientific approach to examining civilizations. - Similar to the work of Herodotus, other explorers were also seen as crucial to our early understandings of the world, such as the works of Marco Polo.

Modern Anthropology

- Modern anthropology is argued to have developed during the Age of Enlightenment, during which scholars concerned themselves with understanding both human behaviour and society.

- During this period, however, anthropology was used largely to document the newly colonised lands and their people. The resulting studies, which are now viewed as racist, were used as a means of justifying colonisation by concluding that these societies were inferior to those of Europe. There is thus a dark history of anthropology, seeing as it grew and became recognised as a discipline greatly due to imperialism.

- Western countries turned to its colonies for labour, and even developed a slavery market. Thus, humiliating and dehumanizing people from different ethnicities.

- It was at this time that physicians started acting as physical anthropologists, and measured skulls of people from all around the world and provided detailed physical descriptions.

- Darwin's Evolutionary Theory played a big role in dispelling preconceptions.

- The 20th century anthropologists hugely criticised the theories from the previous century. They aimed to understand cultures in their own cultural context and not solely compared to the Western world.

- Instead, the 20th century anthropologists used participant-observation and ethnography to gain a greater grasp of societies at a given place or time. A further change has even been made within this discipline; ethnography is no longer only focused on the developing world but on the everyday life in the developed world as well.

Anthropology Today

- Technology has also played a large role in the emergence of new fields of study within anthropology. For example, the use of CT scanners to produce accurate images of the bones inside human remains in archaeology and biological anthropology.

- Genetics is another study that has greatly helped us understand our origins.

- An example of a contemporary anthropologist is Michael Wesch, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, who is now exploring how we understand and interact with our new digital environment.

- Today, Anthropology has branched into four (even more) subcategories. The traditional anthopological research method is rarely used, as researches have shifted to culture studies.

Physical Anthropology

- Specialises in human biology, with a specific focus on evolution, primate behaviour, diversity and the relationship between biology and behaviour.

- Concerned with understanding the human condition through a variety of physical and biological factors.

- Interested not only in how evolution progressed but also the processes that underlie it.

- Study of diversity of people involves working with both fossils of hominins, the taxonomic tribe to which Homo sapiens belong, as well as nonhuman primates.

- Methodology includes measuring the frequency of particular traits within a group in order to understand how human populations are made up and to make predictions concerning their futures.

- Another technique commonly used by physical anthropologists is anthropometry, the gathering of precise measurements of the human body. It is through use of such data that physical anthropologists are able to understand the human population not only on a global scale but also an individual one.

- Just like the discipline to which it belongs, physical anthropology has a troubling history. Anthropometry, for example, was used in the late 19th century as a means of suggesting the differing levels of intellectual and cultural development of different ‘races’. Furthermore, the study of physical anthropology has previously been associated with eugenics, its research potentially being used to assist in the “possible regulation or improvement”[1] of the human race.

Cultural Anthropology

- Arguable as to whether cultural and social anthropology are subsets of each other.

- Focuses on how culture varies between humans.

- Tylor is credited with defining a standard definition of cultural anthropology in his book “Primitive Culture”.

- Considered historically contentious as it was often used to justify colonialism and oppression of groups of people. Popularised the notion of the “self and other”.

- Has evolved considerably in post-colonial times, however racialised roots still exist in the theories and ideas propagated by cultural anthropologists.

- Attempts to define culture, and this definition has changed drastically over time. Also attempts to explore how culture develops in civilizations.

- Revolutionaries such as Boas started to shift the status quo away from making assumptions based on race.

- The discipline has expanded significantly during the latter half of the 20th century and has started focusing on how environmental factors affect and shape culture.

Anthropological Linguistics

- Traditionally focuses on languages of non-Western peoples, although this is no longer the sole interest.

- Interested in testing theories of language (usually developed from examination of European languages) as well as examining language use in social and cultural settings, including the effect language has in crafting these.

- One of the most important, ongoing debates within the field concerns the extent to which the structure of a language impacts its associated culture and vice versa.

- Unlike other forms of linguistics, anthropological linguistics looks for the cultural meaning behind language use.

- The field is divided into three distinct paradigms, each of which are still in use today:

- The first paradigm was established by the founding father of American anthropology Franz Boas and is solely concerned with documenting and classifying languages.

- The second paradigm arose in the 1960s and is concerned with analysing language in context.

- The third paradigm was developed in the 1980s and is focused on understanding culture from a linguistic perspective. As such, it is more closely related to anthropology as a broader discipline than the previous two paradigms.


- Analyses material and objects to provide an insight into culture and development of humans.

- Originated in Europe in the 15th and 16th century.

- Became a means for the social elite to showcase their wealth/status through finding and displaying rare objects and artefacts.

- Shifted to a national pursuit during colonialism when new cultures and lands were being captured.

- The first standard for the “archaeological method” was developed at the end of the 18th century.

- Even into the mid 19th century, archaeology was not considered to be a serious or academic discipline (still viewed mainly as a hobby or side-hustle).

- The exploration and evaluation of world wonders such as the pyramids helped to legitimise archaeology as an academic discipline in its own right.

- Considered to fall under both the humanities and social sciences, although due to technological innovation more and more scientific techniques are being used by archaeologists. Appears to be an interdisciplinary profession and domain.

- Archaeologists are required to use both descriptive and qualitative techniques to describe and define objects and artefacts as well as scientific methods to date and establish what they are made of / where they came from etc.

- The research undertaken by archaeologists has traditionally been collaborative, incorporating zoologists, geologists and researchers from other disciplines.

- It’s history (a pass time for scholars interested in the development of humankind) makes archaeology conducive to being an interdisciplinary profession / area. Scholars of different disciplines would work collaboratively and this means archaeology has grown as a field for people of a wide range of backgrounds and it encourages the use of interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding.

Climate Change[edit]

The issue of climate change first gained awareness in the academic realm from the potential warming effects of CO2 in the atmosphere, but has evolved into a contentious field where skeptics and politicians have battled activists and academics on how this unprecedented global challenge on the future of humanity can be tackled.


  • In the lead up to the 20th century, Sweedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first recognised that the industrial-age coal burning will enhance the natural greenhouse gas effect, and fellow Swede Knut Angstrom found that minute changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration could significantly absorb a portion of the infrared spectrum
  • In 1938, Guy Callendar noticed that average temperature was rising from the previous century, and pointed to CO2 as a potential cause, but Guy’s finding was dismissed by meteorologists at the time
  • Roger Revelle showed that the ocean will not absorb all the CO2 emitted in 1957, and Charles David Keeling showed that atmospheric CO2 levels are rising in the following year

Political Developments[2]

  • DiscoveryWhile modern scientists are generally encouraged to be apolitical, the issue has found its way into the political realm and dragged the academics who are trying to warn the world about the issue into it
  • DiscoveryA US President’s advisory committee warned that the matter was of "real concern" in 1965
  • DiscoveryThe issue made it into the UN’s first environment conference in 1972
  • DiscoveryThe Montreal agreement to limit CFCs was signed in 1987
  • DiscoveryPM Margaret Thatcher called for a global climate change treaty in 1987
  • DiscoveryThe Kyoto protocol and Paris accord was signed to limit greenhouses emissions in 1997 and 2016 respectively

Environmental History[3]

  • DiscoveryGained momentum as a new field of study in the 1960s-70s
  • DiscoveryAgainst the backdrop of mounting evidence suggesting serious concerns about the environment and climate
  • DiscoveryFormed as an interdisciplinary subject that takes from a range of specialist fields in the natural sciences and humanities, including anthropology, geological history, and chemistry.


  • The study of the subject continues to evolve today with the advent and evolution of satellite and remote sensing technology
  • Indicators such as sea ice volume can now be measured on a scale that is far more accurately than what was possible half a century ago

Conclusion: the issue of History in relation to climate change

Throughout history the issue of climate change has never been as important as it is today because we are now in a state of environmental emergency. However, environmental science does not suffice in the explanation of climate change because, as this article shows, climate change is an interdisciplinary topic. Economics are involved because the mass-consuming, globalised and capitalist economic system in which we live is responsible for the progressive destruction of the environment and global warming. Social sciences are involved because understanding how society consume and relate to our environment is key to comprehending the climate crisis at hand and finding solutions. Finally, geology and climate sciences are pivotal in the scientific understanding of the topic.

Interdisciplinarity also makes the topic of climate change difficult because historically, knowledge is categorized, and disciplines have been separated. However, social developments and globalization make issues such as climate change impossible to tackle from the perspective of only one discipline. Global and social changes require approaches to knowledge to change in order to address interdisciplinary topics, therefore history becomes an issue and an obstacle because previous methods can become obstacles in modern day research and academia.

Philosophy and its evolution into separate disciplines[edit]

Philosophy can be translated from Greek as the 'love of wisdom', and its original purpose was to educate people on many different academic concepts as it dealt with all forms of knowledge. In the 19th century, the study of philosophy grew popular in new research universities, and as the disciplines became increasingly separate, philosophy also specialised. This meant that subjects such as psychology, sociology, linguistics and economics that were once studied exclusively by philosophers became subjects in their own right.

Philosophy and Science Nowadays, many scientists view philosophy as a totally unrelated discipline, with little to offer to the scientific method. Philosophy is thought to have an abstract, theoretical approach whereas science is based on empirical evidence. 'If the scientists were consulted, the majority of them would regard philosophy as one of the least important departments' (Frank 1957:xii).

  • However, many of the original philosophical theories were grounded in scientific thought, and many philosophers have contributed to important scientific discoveries.
  • The branch of philosophy which was especially concerned with science was known as natural philosophy.
  • Aristotle was one of the founding figures of natural philosophy, and his influence on biology and physical science was apparent for many centuries.
  • There were also scientific discoveries by famous philosophers which remain accurate and relevant in the present day. For example, Descartes created the Cartesian coordinate system which is still used in Maths. Additionally, Sir Isaac Newton, who came up with the laws of motion, had strong links to philosophy and during his life was viewed as a natural philosopher.
  • Galileo is another figure whose impact on the development of science as a discipline as well as natural philosophy is immense. Galileo's work introduced a new, alternative way of thinking about our world compared to Aristotelian classifications (including four terrestrial elements and one celestial element). Galileo instead proposed only one element: corporeal matter. [4]This dramatic alternation did not only impact the development of science as a discipline but also our understanding of natural philosophy and how we conceptualize the world.
  • The distinction between science and philosophy as two different disciplines is a 'fairly modern phenomenon;'[5] prior to this way of thinking, philosophy was key to comprehending and explaining the world. In fact, philosophy for hundreds of year was considered the 'science of sciences, their supreme ruler'[6].
  • Although science has clearly developed into its own discipline, and most scientists and philosophers now research independently of each other, there is an argument that the links between science and philosophy remain strong. Firstly, the theoretical approach favoured in philosophy is often useful in science. There are also areas of study where the two are more directly linked such as metaphysics and the philosophy of science.

Philosophy and Psychology

  • Psychology evolved out of Philosophy as its own discipline around the 1870s. Before this, it was viewed as a branch of philosophy, therefore, highlighting how interconnected their histories are.
  • Ancient Greek philosophers developed the 'psyche' theory, from which 'psychology' is derived. Some philosophers' theories still remain a crucial part of the modern psychological discipline such as Freud's id, ego and super-ego.
  • This interconnection is further demonstrated through how 'philosophy has brought various topics of study to the field of psychology, like sensation, perception, intelligence and memory'[7]
  • Some argue that although these subjects are now viewed as two separate disciplines they are still interconnected. This is advocated by Quine who says 'I see philosophy not as a priori […] groundwork for science, but as continuous with science.'[8]
  • This is shown through how they both still explore some of the same questions on the human mind and human behaviour.
  • However, the methodologies used by philosophers and psychologists differ owing to the more scientific nature of psychology. Psychologists rely on empirical and statistical approaches such as experiments and quantitative and qualitative research. Philosophers typically work in a non-empirical way, focusing more on conceptual theories and speculation.

Philosophy and art

Philosophy never gave a proper definition of art but is interested on the function of art. During Antiquity, the aim of art was to express beauty. Platon was reticent about it because he considered that it imitates the reality and was thus an illusion and a lie. Aesthetic reflection was thought, at first, by Platon in his thesis about what is esthetic and pleasant. [9]The term esthetic comes from the grec aisthètikos, which signifies the perception by the senses. However, the notion of art as a proper branch thought by philosophy is recent. It was often assimiled to the notion of aesthetic, being the science of what is pleasant.

Aesthetic can be group in two ways : Creation and Aesthetic perception

If metaphysics is mainly interested in the phenomenon of creation, the aesthetics itself is mainly, especially since Kant, the judgment of taste or the feeling of pleasure.

Kant tried to develop the objectivity of art, by saying that what is beautiful is what please universally. [10]Art function was thus to idealize reality. However, modern philosophers, especially Hegel separated art from the beauty saying that art does not have to be pleasant by authentic.

History of Biophysics[edit]

What is Biophysics[edit]

Biophysics is a modern, interdisciplinary field of science leading to new approaches for our understanding of biological functions. It is centred at the intersection of mathematics, physics, biology, engineering, pharmacology, physiology and chemistry. For example, a biological membrane, when the biological system is not simply the sum of its molecular components but rather their functional integration. Other examples include, how the brain processes and stores information, how plants use light for photosynthesis, how genes are switched on and off, how muscles contract, and how the heart pumps blood. [11]

Overall, this new and exciting field uses and applies the theories and methods that have been traditionally 'belonged' to the field of physics in order to better understand how biological systems work. Molecules, cells organisms, and ecosystems are most often part of very complex systems. In short, biophysicists wish to dissect how these work to provide gain further understanding into the workings of the universe. [12]

Origin of Biophysics[edit]

Although the term ‘biophysics’  has only relatively recently been utilised, some of the historic discoveries that lie within the boundaries of this field include: first law of thermodynamics, optical aspects of the human eye, theory of hearing, Brown’s motion, osmotic processes, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, and the discovery of X-rays (linked to the emergence of radiation biophysics).

Biophysics is only a relatively young branch of science. Even if the foundations for the study of this field were laid down in the early 19th century by a group of physiologists in Berlin, it only arose as a definite subfield in the 20th century. In 1856, one of the members of this group and Carl Ludwig’s student, Adolf Eugen Fick published the first biophysics textbook and developed the acclaimed and eponymous 'Fick's Law of diffusion'. However, in that time technology in physics and understanding of anatomy at the molecular level were not sufficiently advanced to be able to explain such theories. It was only in 1944, when the popularity and charisma of biophysics increased. This is the year when the Austrian Physicists Erwin Schrödinger published the book What is life?. After WW2, some physicists such as Schrödinger wanted to move away from ‘pure’ physics and into biology so it quickly gained impetus. [13].

The relatively recent increase in popularity and emergence of biophysics can be attributed, particularly, to the use of biophysical tools to unwind the molecular structure of DNA. [11]

Early Biophysicists[edit]

Heraclitus 5th century B.C. – he worked on the earliest mechanistic theories of life processes and expanded the world’s insights into dynamic processes.

Epicurus 3rd century B.C. – he alluded to the idea that living organisms follow the same laws as non-living organisms. These ideas alluded to what discovered much later on: atoms.

Galen 2nd century A.D. – He is recognised as the most accomplished medical researcher and physician of the Roman period. His theories dominated western medicine for over a millennium.

Leonardo Da Vinci 16th century  – Some of his many conjectures and discoveries include mechanical principles of bird flight, known as bionics, which were later used in engineering design.

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli 17th century – Some of his most famous work related animals to machines and he began to use mathematics to prove his theories. He is considered to be the father of biomechanics. ‘De Motu Animalium’. This included comprehensive biomechanical description of limb’s mobility, bird’s flight, swimming movement, and heart function.

Current work in Biophysics[edit]

Some of the work that is currently being carried out by biophysicist includes: working to find methods that aid in the eradication global hunger and treatments of disease, develop renewable energy sources, and design pioneering and cutting-edge technology, to name a few. [12]

History of Law[14][edit]

The evolution of law is not marked in time, it begins with the discovering of writing in 3000 before Christ et know many changes through time. The history of law is thigh to the history of civilization. Ever since humans created societies characterised by a social hierarchy, symbolic communication forms and separation from the natural environment, an established set of rules used to govern behaviour has existed.

The existence of first laws

First Mediterranean civilisations were born in Egypte and Mesopotamia. The first known marks of laws dated back to the 30th century before Christ when ancient Egyptians established a set of civil codes based on social equality and impartiality and to the 18th century before Christ when King Hammurabi developed Babybolian law to unify its population. During this era, law was very inspired by religion as it was considered as revealed by the gods.

The base of nowadays laws

Roman Antiquity is really an essential starting point of nowadays laws as it funded the structure of our law. Roman law was a reflect of the dynamic nature of society. In the 5th century, the law of the Twelve Tables were written as a Constitution of the Roman Republic to frame the population and informed public legislation. During the 8th century before Christ, Ancient Greece was the first civilization to instaure democracy. By the inclusion of its citizens, the process of laicization of law occurred. Solon’s reform opened the assembly to every grec citizen and created the first tribunal. Law began to be a proper object, isolated of religion, moral and philosophy and to be more and more spread. Many scholars appeared, next to a proper specialist of law : the Jurisconsults.

The decomposition of law

During the 9th century, the notion of State disappeared attracting law with it. In fact, law knew a big step back, as it lost its autonomy especially its autonomy facing religion. Moreover, written laws and codes disappeared to let place to case law and tradition during the Dark Ages.

The renewal of law

During the 11th century, the legal profession reappeared. Law gained back its autonomy from religion. First law schools appeared as the University of Bologna which served as a model for other law schools of the medieval age.

The establishment of nowadays laws

During the 19th century, Constitution and codes began to be written and established a formal law to regulate society. As a matter of fact, fermanic and Napoleonic codes, who was written in 1894, became the most influential and make up the majority of European law today. Moreover, The US legal system is largely based on the English common law system. Finally, The Law Society in London was formed to raise the law profession’s reputation and set standards to ensure good practice initially across London, later the whole of the UK, and eventually throughout Europe.


  1. Hrdlička, A. (1918). Physical anthropology: Its scope and aims; its history and present status in America. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1, 21.
  2. a b
  7. , (date accessed: 10/10/19)
  8. Quine W. V. O. (1969). “Natural kinds,” in Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York, NY: Columbia University Press; ), 114–138
  11. a b
  12. a b   

History of Art: philosophical influences

What is art? According to some, it is what distinguishes humans from other animals. It is therefore no coincidence that art found its roots in philosophy, the most human subject: Descartes’ “Cogito Ergo Sum”. Let´s start by defining some of the main pillars of art: debate and conflict, truth (does art have to be truthful), distracting the spectator. In fact, philosophic studies greatly influenced these three pillars. Art´s relationship to truth is very important. It has always known some guidelines, explaining censorship under many monarchies during the 17th century and even before for example. Philosophers first introduced these guidelines around 400 BC, like Plato and Aristotle. Plato thought that art had to be truthful; it had to reflect the reality of things. This was because he found that art was a copy of life and its most ordinary events. This motivated him to criticize Homer´s works L´ Iliad and the Odyssey. In his work, Homer describes the battle of troy, with Achilles as its main character who is supposed to be a demi-god. However, during the battle, Patrocles, Achilles´ cousin dies, infuriating him and causing him to be perceived as weak emotionally. According to Plato, this is not the attitude expected of a demi-god. He therefore believed that this work couldn´t and shouldn´t be seen as art. This led to some guidelines that art introduced and followed over the ages. Some arts wouldn´t follow these, leading to their undermining. Debate is a vital part of philosophy, and it led to being a vital aspect of art. According to Descartes, debate through doubting everything, the cogito is the key to being familiar with the truth in various topics. Debate, especially the one over whether an art is beautiful or not, is important in art as it leads to the creation of new arts. During the 19th century, there were two distinct salons for artists (painters) to expose their creations. One was for the art that was considered beautiful (the “beaux arts salon”) and respectful of the guidelines set for art back then. The other salon was reserved for the works of artists who failed this examination: it was called the salon of the rejected. This didn´t stop the artists of continuing exploiting what they found beautiful through their art. In an ironic turn, these rejected artists became the most well known in the future – they were seen as revolutionary both in their technique and in the subject they exploited. One of the most well known French painters was a “rejected”, Edouard Manet. One of the main reasons art came to exist was its capacity to distract the spectator from his ordinary life. Philosophy led to main uses for art: art to educate and art to distract. Aristotle is one of the most important influencers of art to instruct. He thought that art could be a way to show the spectator some of his own repressed feelings or inner desire and see the outcome of it. This led to his famous catharsis role of theatre: theatre must show what the spectator wants the most and remove this desire at the same time by showing the tragic outcome it would lead to. This idea of taking pleasure and being terrified at the same time was used centuries later, with Moliere for example. This famous comedy-play writer followed the philosophy of placere e docere: enjoy and learn. In fact, he distracted many of their ordinary lives through his comedies, and showed strong criticism about human behaviour and society at his time. For example, he showed how greed was a human flaw through a comic play.

History of Levi's jeans - a clothing adopted by all classes and genders[edit]

Levi's logo.svg
  • 1873 : The first users were workers, miners, cowboys and gold diggers. The trousers were known to be hard-wearing, comfortable and sold to an affordable price. Seems perfect right? Except that this clothing item was only worn by men who belonged to the working class. When Levi Strauss first introduced his signature trousers, he definitely didn't have women in mind.
  • During World War 1 : many women engaged in physical labor for the first time to fulfil the duties of men who had been shipped off to combat. Levi's jeans became an essential piece in their wardrobe. In 1918, Levi's introduced a line of women's garments called "Freedom-Alls", which were one piece garments that consisted of cotton tunics connected to balloon pants.
  • In the 1920s and 1930s, Hollywood presented a romantic vision of blue jeans, worn by handsome dark cowboys, including John Wayne and Gary Cooper.
  • 1934 : Levi's introduce the first line of women's jeans. Known as Lady Levi's, the jeans altered men's cuts to better fit the female form. Most importantly, as Paneck points out, Levi's introduced these at a "time when women's pants were still largely unaccepted," making this a relatively bold move in the clothing industry.
  • After WW2 : denim clothing became more and more accepted by the American society and were considered a leisure clothing attire. Jeans became a symbol of the "American way of life" trend, it became more and more popular all around the world. Due to societal changes in the Western world women wearing pants became a norm they were associated to suburban moms.
  • During the 50's, jeans became a symbol of rebellion. "Hollywood costume designers put all the bad boys in denim". Brought to the cinema by actors like James Dean in the movie Rebel without a cause (1955) or Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953). Lynn Downey a historian of Levi Strauss and Co said : "if you were a 15-year-old boy in 1953 you wanted to be Marlon Brando". Who doesn't want to look like their icon ? Jeans became the uniform of all teenagers boys and girls. Banned from school because they represented "bad boys", teenagers are drawn to them for their rebellious side.
  • During the 60's, young people looking for change in society demonstrate their solidarity to the working class by wearing jeans. They would draw on them, sew patches, and customised them to get their messages across. They become the favourite clothing of the protest with the hippie movement (Woodstock concert) and of all of those who identify themselves as part of the "counter-culture" movement.
  • Today, it is official literally everyone wears jeans whatever it social background is. It becomes a standard of casual and relax clothing. Jeans became a clothing item worn by all, men and women, older and younger making it a sartorial symbol of gender equality and class.