Anthropology and Its Branches

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 481
  • Published : September 20, 2010
Open Document
Text Preview
Anthropology is the study of human beings, in particular the study of their physical character, evolutionary history, racial classification, historical and present-day geographic distribution, group relationships, and cultural history. Anthropology can be characterized as the naturalistic description and interpretation of the diverse peoples of the world. Modern-day anthropology consists of two major divisions: cultural anthropology, which deals with the study of human culture in all its aspects; and physical anthropology, which is the study of human physical character, in both the past and present. Anthropology emerged as an independent science in the late 18th century, it developed two divisions: physical anthropology, which focuses on human Evolution and variation, using methods of Physiology, Anthropometry, Genetics, and Ecology; and cultural anthropology , which includes Archaeology, Ethnology, Social Anthropology, and Linguistics. Anthropology is a holistic subject that covers all facets of human life including biological, cultural as well as economic. There are various branches of anthropology like cultural, linguistic, forensic, medical, etc. To get further insight on the major branches of anthropology, read on... The term anthropology has been coined from two Greek words anthropos which means 'man' and logywhich stands for ' the science of'. It involves the study of the human species at any place on earth, at any given time; be it in the busy neighborhood of Los Angeles or the dense forests of the Amazon. There are anthropologists who study fossils to solve the riddles of human evolution, whereas there are others who try to understand the effect of modernization on contemporary societies. While subjects like economics and biology focus on specific aspects of human life, anthropology is the only discipline that addresses all facets of human existence.

Branches of Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology
Culture is an important tool for human survival. It is a complex whole of knowledge, morals, traditions, arts and customs, that we have learned as being part of a society. It is transferred over generations non-biologically, through words and symbols. Cultural anthropologists try to understand the logic behind cultural norms. They believe that no tradition or cultural practice is wrong. For example, scarring of the body might seem bizarre to us. However, a study of the culture of the African tribes that follow this ritual has shown that this is a highly relevant practice. During their research, cultural anthropologists live within a community, observe their customs, and try to understand them in comparison to the practices of other societies. Cultural anthropologists may study a society living on the far end of the globe, or may concentrate on certain segments of our own society, like the corporate sector, laborers, or slum dwellers.

Linguistic Anthropology
Language is an important agent of transmission of culture. It is an accomplishment of the human species that has given it an edge over the rest of the animals in the living world. In their endeavor to understand the origin and evolution of a language and oral traditions, linguistic anthropologists gain valuable insights into the culture of a community. They understand prehistoric links between various societies and explore the meaning of verbal concepts to learn about the conditions that existed in the past, and how humans adjusted to those. Besides studying language in a cultural aspect, linguistic anthropologists also try to understand the biological implications of language. This involves studying changes in the human brain and body, that enabled us to organize sounds in a meaningful way, to evolve language.

Archeology deals with studying the tangible remains of a culture. Fortunately, human beings leave clues about their ways of life, not only in words and alphabets, but also in the form of material remains like pot sherds, foundation...
tracking img