The word Anthropology defines the scientific study of humanity, the behaviour of humans in society. In other words, it is the science of humanity, where anthropologists study humans in aspects ranging from biology and evolution of humans from the Stone Age.
The subject matter of anthropology can be commonplace and completely unfamiliar to us. Expert anthropologists may even study ancient Mayan culture, the music of African Pygmies, and the corporate culture of any country. There are different branches of anthropology. From culture anthropology to linguistic anthropology, an expert can get into different areas to study human evolution. Physical anthology concentrates on the evolution of humanity. Cultural anthropology includes the social and cultural construction of human groups.
An Overview of Anthropology
Over the centuries, it is being witnessed that the biological evolution of Homo sapiens and the evolution of the capacity for culture are indistinguishable from one another. The evolution of the human species is completely a biological development. Moreover, the historical pattern and processes associated with the culture as the medium for growth give a route to the study of anthropology.
In early 1950, the study of anthropology was limited to historical and economic. Later, when the field research was instituted, it became the hallmark of the anthropology study.
Branches of Anthropology
There are different branches of anthropology. Anthropologists have different options to choose and practice.
1. Cultural Anthropology
Cultural anthropology is the major division of anthropology where the professional studies and explains culture in many aspects. It is defined in the form of collection, analysis, and explanation. In America and Europe, this branch has huge scope. It has produced collateral approaches as culture-and-personality studies, culture history, cultural materialism, and historical anthropology. Over the years, cultural anthropology has become the family of approaches representing the concept.
2. Social Anthropology
The term social anthropology was coined in Britain during the 20th century and was considered a quite different branch of anthropology. It was known for comparative, fieldwork-based, and with strong intellectual links. Social anthropology answers questions like-
How societies are organized?
The relationship between values and behaviour
Why do people do what they do?
Top tech companies like Google and Intel also use social anthropology to understand how people interact using technology.
3. Linguistic Anthropologists:
This anthropology is the study of the human communication process. Linguistic anthropology focuses on research and understanding of phenomena as the physiology of speech, structure, and function of languages, social and cultural influences on speech and writing. Much linguistic anthropology is focused on unwritten, non-European languages and other such areas. Linguists also learn about regional and social dialects.
Contemporary scholars in this discipline have been exploring the creation of language in different methods. One of the reasons this anthropology is preferred because there have been differences in different communities to understand the meaning of speech acts
4. Physical Anthropology
Physical anthropology is concerned with the origin and evolution and diversity of the people. These anthropologists work on three major sets of problems- human and non-human primate evolution, human variation, and significance. Physical anthropology is also called biological anthropology. Under physical anthropology, there are different areas including paleoanthropologists, skeletal biology, forensic anthropologists, human biologists, and others.
It is quite fortunate that human record isn't limited to written material but in alphabets and books, but in the form of cave paintings, pictographs, discarded stone tools, earthware, etc. Many archaeologists today work in the growing field of cultural and resource management. Archaeologists who are interested in learning about classical societies like Greece, Rome and Egypt extend their learning in this region. Many professional archaeologists even work in different fields like cultural resource management, helping state and local governments to understand history.
6. Biological Anthropology
According to some records, the evolution of human history dates back to 8 million years ago, when the population of apelike creatures from eastern Africa turned onto a unique evolutionary road. Biological anthropology is the study of Homo sapiens, tracing their origin, evolutionary development. Anthropologists studying this area understand human nature and, ultimately, the evolution of the human brain and nervous system.
Forensics also falls under these anthropologists, where the expert studies about the human skeleton, fingerprints, blood genetics, and other areas. Professionals working in this area are known as physical anthropologists specializing in different subareas. Many types of research require cooperation not only from physical anthropologists but also from natural and social scientists.
Applications of Anthropology and Methods
There is a standard process under which anthropologists work. Most of the process involves carrying out the research work. These professionals are hired by universities and museums. Moreover, some of the cultural anthropologists work as researchers, administrators, and mediators. They even work with big companies helping to understand diverse cultures and subcultures. Some professional cultural anthropologists are being hired by Native Americans to help them to understand methods of community development and interaction with the outside world.