Anthropology

Anthropology:

The word anthropology itself tells the fundamental story. From the logia (“study”) and Greek anthropos (“human”), it is the learning of humankind, from its starting millions of years ago to the current day. It is the humanity study. Anthropology's major concerns are the ancestors of the modern human. American anthropology is divided in following four fields: cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archaeology & biological anthropology. The reason of anthropology is to better understand the modern person through education of the past.

In a sense, we all “do” anthropology since it is rooted into a universal human trait: curiosity. We are curious regarding ourselves & other people, the living & dead, here and around the globe. We ask anthropological questions like as:

  • Do all of the societies have marriage customs?
  • As a species, are human beings violent or peaceful innately?
  • Did the earliest humans have light skins or dark skins?
  • When did people first start speaking any language?
  • How humans, monkeys and chimpanzees are associated?
  • Is Homo sapiens’s brain still evolving?

Anthropology seeks to expose principles of behavior that apply to all of the human communities. To any anthropologist, diversity itself seen in body sizes & shapes, customs, speech, clothing, religion, and worldview—provides a frame of reference for understanding any single phase of life in any given community.

Importance of Anthropology:

The significance of anthropology is that it teaches us how to look outside of ourselves and realize that what we think and what we believe are not the only ways to think & believe. Anthropology is the only social science that really emphasizes the comparative approach or comparing things across distinct cultures. This illustrates us that many of our perceptions of the world are controlled through our experiences with the world. Since no one individual or culture can experience everything, our perceptions and understandings are restricted. While we look at other people’s perceptions, experiences and understandings our knowledge becomes greater and our understanding of how we work, how things work, becomes much vaster. Whereas this is the most important thing about anthropology, it is also why things in make so several people uncomfortable in anthropology.

Subfields of Anthropology:

Cultural anthropology: 

Cultural anthropology, applies the evolutionary perspective and comparative method to human culture. Culture shows the entire database of values, knowledge & traditional ways of viewing the world, which have been transmitted through one generation ahead to the next—no genetically, in spite of DNA—through concepts, words and symbols.

Linguistic anthropologists:

Linguistic anthropologists, representing one of the discipline’s traditional branches, look at the evolution, history and internal structure of human languages. They study prehistoric links among different societies, and discover the use and meaning of verbal concepts along with which humans communicate and reason. Linguistic anthropologists seek to describe the very nature of language itself, by including hidden connections among brain, language and behavior.

Archaeologists:

Archaeologists interpret ancient societies frequently fragmentary since fascinating record to reassemble long-ago cultures and forgotten ways of life. Archaeologists have extended their studies in two of the  directions—backward some 3 million years to the stone and bones tools of our protohuman ancestors, and forward to the reconstruction of life ways and communities of 19th-century. Several archaeologists work in the raising field of cultural resource management, to help state, federal and local governments preserve our nation’s historical, architectural and cultural heritage.

Biological anthropology:

Biological (or physical) anthropology looks at Homo sapiens as a species and genus, evolutionary development, tracing their biological origins, and genetic diversity. Biological anthropologists learn the biocultural prehistory of Homo to understand human nature and, finally, the evolution of the nervous system and brain itself.

Early Anthropological Theory:

Evolutionist – it is exemplified by Edward Tylor (1832 - 1917). Tylor was a Quaker, without formal university training, who traveled Mexico from the year of 1855-56, begun publishing his theories in the year of 1871. In the year of 1896 became the first professor of new field of anthropology at Oxford University. He asked two fundamental questions: What were the earliest forms of religion, that means the origins religion and why are there other forms of religion present that means why is there diversity.

Diffusionist – it is as exemplified by Wilhelm Schmidt (1868 – 1954). However he did not conduct field work himself, Schmidt was answerable for the field work training of a high number of Catholic missionaries. The culmination of research was the 12 volume (each volume some 800-900 pages) Origins of the Idea of God, 1908-1930s. Similar to Tylor, Schmidt asked two fundamental questions: why are other forms of religion present - diversity? and what was the earliest form of religion - origins?

Psychoanalytical - it is as exemplified by Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) (not an anthropologist per se, but highly influenced them). "A brilliant Jewish atheist" whose main source of field works was his well-to-do neurotics of a puritan, repressed sexually, urban middle-class Vienna patients. Freud refocused the conversation and level of analysis away from society to the individual and innate psychological struggles that become manifested in turn in society. He asked how do we control and mediate our basic psychological instincts, which can be destructive and selfish?

Historical-Particularism – it is as exemplified by Franz Boas (1858 - 1942) German-born and educated in physics, his doctorate was on the color of Arctic Ocean water, which brought him to Central Eskimo and later on the northwest coastal Indians. Boas' scientific training would help focus his research on the empirical details of ethnography.

Functionalist (societal focus - sometimes termed as "structural functionalist") – it is as exemplified by Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown (1881 - 1955) No single individual has had greater effect on the anthropology and social sciences than Durkheim. Durkheim's basic questions revolved around: What maintains social solidarity? What keeps society together?  How does the individual support society? He refocused the discussion through the psychology and "superego"- the interior - to the exterior - social solidarity.

Some famous Anthropologists:

Ruth Benedict:

Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) is the one of the first women to earn international recognition for her work in folklore and anthropology. She made enormous strides in her research regarding culture and personality. In the American Southwest Benedict studied tribes, this served as the basis for her vastly popular book, “Patterns of Culture?" She emphasize that understanding primeval cultures could help us understand modern man, and she also explored the association between individual and culture

Eric Wolf:

Eric Wolf (1923-1999) is born in Vienna, Austria. She moved along with his Jewish family to the United States to escape Europe's violent anti-Semitism. Eventually he took up the study of anthropology, where he preferred to involved history as a main component of his cultural research. His work, affected by Marxist ideals, earned him the interest of certain faculty members, and eventually he was sent to collect data in rural sections of Puerto Rico. His research later on took him to Europe and Mexico, where he observed current societies in those regions

Lewis Henry Morgan:

His controversial book and its somewhat divisive conclusions helped in making Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) a very popular anthropologist. Although he began his professional life as a lawyer, his interest & research in the Iroquois and other Native American peoples overtook mostly time. He developed a specific interest in the way that associated people (specifically indigenous groups) interact and refer to each other and how that influences relationships and whole society (also known as kinship systems).

Morgan's travels & field work brought him to theorize that social evolution could be classified in three stages, "barbarism", "savagery," and "civilization," laid out in his year of  book of 1877, "Ancient Society".

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