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What is Anthropology with Examples ? Anthropology Demystified

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What is Anthropology with Examples ? Anthropology Demystified

“Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder at that which one would not have been able to guess” 

Anthropologist Margaret Mead

What is Anthropology?

 Anthropology deals with the scientific study of humanity, which is connected with human behavior, societies, and cultures. 

In simple words, we can say that.

Anthropology is the study of human behaviors.

If we look at the word, ‘Anthropology’, it consists of ‘Anthrop’ & ‘Ology’. ‘Anthrop’ comes from the Greek word ‘Anthropos’, which means ‘man’.

The ‘Ology’ means ‘The study of’. So, ‘Anthropology’ means, ‘The study of man’.

It’s an interdisciplinary field that includes the study of people from all around the world and throughout history.

Anthropology (Anthropology Demystified) combines the social and cultural sciences and is often taught in conjunction with other disciplines.

“The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences” 

Anthropologist Ruth Benedict 

Types of Anthropology

As we know that, Anthropology (Demystify Anthropology) is the study of humans and human culture.

There are five main branches of anthropology: biological & physical, archaeology, socio-cultural, linguistic & ethnology.

  1. Biological anthropology is concerned with primates, human anatomy, and physiology. Physical Anthropology and biological Anthropology are synonymous terms to describe research that is focused upon humans and non-humans’ primates in the revolutionary, biological, and demographic dimensions.
  2. Biological and social factors that affect the evolution of humans are examined; this helps to change or maintain physiological variations.
  3. Archaeology is the study of human cultures by examining what things are available/remaining as of now. Archaeology can be studied with the help of material remains of the human past.

The existence of past societies can be made with the help of evidence, such as artifacts, human-altered landscapes, and faunal (catalog of the animals of a specific region or period).

  1. The diversity of human societies is studied in social-cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology is the study of the cultural practices of groups of people and how they are passed down from one generation to the next.

A holistic strategy is used in linking local and global, past and present. The usual focus of this research is on social and political organizations, kinship systems, marriage patterns, and economic patterns.

Cultural anthropologists study contemporary societies rather than ancient ones.

  1. Linguistic: Linguistic anthropology is the study of language.

Human Communications, verbal and nonverbal variation in language are studied in linguistic anthropology. This includes semiotics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, discourse analysis, and narrative analysis.

  1. Ethnography: Projects on cultural and anthropological research are designed to learn about the culture of the society through fieldwork first and observations. This is known as ethnography. When the work of many ethnographers is compared to discover the common features, this is known as ethnology.

 

Within each of these 5 categories, there exists, many other sub-categories.

Some examples (anthropology examples) are

Anthropology of art

It is a subfield in social anthropology that studies art in different cultures. It focuses on historical, economic, and aesthetic dimensions that are also known as tribal art.

Biocultural

 It is the scientific exploration of relations between human biology and culture. Earlier biocultural anthropology was viewed from a racial perspective.

Evolutionary

 It is an interdisciplinary study regarding the evolution of human psychology and human behavior. It gives an idea about hominins and nonhominin primates.

Evolutionary anthropology is based on social science and natural science. It is concerned with both the cultural evolution and biological evolution of humans.

Paleoanthropology

 It is a combination of physical Anthropology and paleontology (the branch of science concerned with fossil animals & plants)  It studies ancient humans, as found in fossil hominid evidence.

Medical, psychological, transpersonal, and cognitive.

Medical

Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary field that studies human health and disease, bicultural adaptation, and Healthcare systems.

It focuses on six basic fields they are:

  1. Patient-physician relationship
  2. Development of systems of medical care and medical knowledge.
  3. Interaction of biological, social, and environmental factors.
  4. Critical analysis of the interaction between migrant populations and psychiatric services
  5. The impact of Biomedical and biomedicine technologies.
  6. Integration of alternative Medical Systems in a culturally diverse environment.

Psychological

It is an interdisciplinary field that studies the interaction of mental and cultural processes.

It examines how the understanding of emotions, cognition, motivation & other psychological processes impacts, all models of cultural and social processes.

Cognitive

It explains the patterns of shared knowledge, Translation, and cultural innovations.

It is concerned with the study of how people perceive knowledge and relate it to the world around them.

Transpersonal

 It studies the relationship between culture and altered states of consciousness.

This field is much concerned with altered states of consciousness & personal experience.

However, it differs from mainstream Transpersonal psychology and turns towards cognizance of cross-cultural issues like ritual, myth, diet, and interpreting of extraordinary experiences.

Anthropology of Religion

It takes place in various sacred places like temples, churches, mosques, etc.

 Anthropologists study these religions by examining the religious texts. This can include, the idea of a single GOD, superpower, karma & heaven, etc.

Anthropologists are not concerned with discovering the falsehood or truth of religion. They are rather interested in how religious ideas are expressed.

Technology Anthropology

It consists of two things — understanding human needs and converting them into a technological product and studying the macro of how these technological interventions change our everyday life.

It involves the study of the interaction between people and technological solutions, the changing nature of technology and its impacts on society

“Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities” – Alfred L. Kroeber

Here it is interesting to note that, many times, it’s not the technology that matters. What matters is how people react to it, and what new social norms they form.

For example, People thought that Airbnb and Uber were doomed to failure.

Why someone, would want to stay in a stranger’s home. On similar note, why someone will ride in a stranger’s car, especially given that driver in that car, may not even know the various roads or map of the town.

People thought the iPhone would flop because users would not like the touch screen interface. ‘It will become a dirty screen, very soon’.

Of-course, all these had been proved wrong & now we have successful businesses like UBER, Lyft, Ola, Airbnb, Homestay, Housetrip…

But I want to highlight one important part. In all these cases, people weren’t wrong about the technology. (I mean, no one really argued about the technology.)

Instead, they were wrong about other people, and how their own society and culture would respond to this new stimulus.

They were anthropologically incorrect.

Over centuries, human race has evolved, with various technological discoveries.

Before printing press was discovered, it was hard to circulate or share knowledge with the masses.

The printing press helped disseminate knowledge wider and faster than ever before.

 Various industrial revolutions were also shaped like that. After each industrial revolution, human evolution had happened.

Human evolution can be summed up as the stage, in which we started doing things (without even thinking), which were earlier thought of as improbable. 

The First Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century through the use of steam power and mechanization of production

That time, various manufacturing plants were built near river/water body. The reason being, plants used to run with steam power & it was easy to get steam power, near water body.

Also, workers in that plant used to be natives of the town/city, where plants were located.

The Second Industrial Revolution began in the 19th century through the discovery of electricity and assembly line production

By that time, we started using cars & phones. All this had helped in movement (of human beings & work).

So, no need to build the manufacturing plants, near water body.

Also, now, people from other cities/faraway places also started working in those plants.

The Third Industrial Revolution began in the ’70s in the 20th century through partial automation using computers.

Since the introduction of these technologies, we are now able to automate an entire production process – without human assistance. 

So, this had helped in scaling the various operations. Quality became a hallmark as now, automation with scale was possible.

In same way, banks started reaching out to far flung places & it became ‘comparatively easy’ to open a bank account.

Now we are witnessing, forth industrial revolution, which is getting shaped by ‘Digital.

How work is done in Anthropology: Fieldwork

The term fieldwork is used to describe research in areas of anthropology ranging from social and cultural anthropology to biological or medical anthropology.

The practice of fieldwork can be carried at a variety of places like the cultural institution, library, small tribal community, virtual environment, or an urban environment.

The study of human life in society is very important in the field of anthropology. Through fieldwork, an anthropologist seeks detail and intimate understandings of social action and relations.

Types of fieldwork

There are various factors to Undertake fieldwork such as questions regarding the research, age factor, political or Economic factor, technological facilities available, etc.

The data collected by an anthropologist is used in reports, articles, or journals.

Conclusion:

What is anthropology

Anthropology is the study of the behavior and cultural practices of different cultures, as well as the relationships that exist between cultures.

In his essay “What is Anthropology?” (1998), American anthropologist James Boon, writes, “Anthropology is a science of communication” and “is a product of human communication.”

It is a broad field of study that encompasses numerous subfields such as archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistics, human ecology, and medical anthropology.

Social science as a whole looks at how humans behave and interact with one another – from political structures around the world to the small things we do every day.

Anthropology expands that view to look at not only how humans interact but how these interactions have an impact on the overall society & evolution of human race.

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