Essay on Anthropology
What Is Anthropology?
Anthropology is the study of the human race from past to present. Anthropologists seek to understand the full spectrum of knowledge pertaining to the human race by drawing upon different disciplines like biology and history. Anthropology seeks to understand human nature and the history of the species from pre-historic times to the present using the tools and techniques that have been developed by earlier generations of Anthropologists. There are different branches of Anthropology and each of them enhances our understanding of us by recourse to theory and practical application of the theory to the questions concerning our human existence.
The answer to the question, what is Anthropology is understood by integrating the different perspectives that Anthropologists bring to the table. There is no single definition that encompasses the wide range of knowledge and the gamut of human experience that Anthropologists seek to uncover in their quest to understand the human condition. Understanding of humanity by drawing upon the several branches of knowledge is an answer that comes close to answering this question.
Anthropology seeks to make us understand about ancient trade routes, spread of infectious diseases and the current trend towards globalization and how this differs from earlier attempts to integrate the world by commerce and military might. All these and much more is the stuff that Anthropologists attempt to answer in the quest for a comprehensive theory about how we are, the way we are, why we are etc. Anthropologists can be said to be scientists of a different kind whose canvas is much broader than those in the other disciplines.
Branches of Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of evolution of culture and societal origins of humankind. The subject of Anthropology concerns itself with the study of all aspects of human existence.
Compared to other subjects like Economics and the Social Sciences, Anthropology covers a wide gamut of fields and sub-topics that range from cultural studies to evolution to organization of societies. Hence, there are different branches of Anthropology within the main grouping and we discuss some of them here. Among the branches of Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology refers to that field of study that concerns itself with studying the logic behind cultural norms. During the course of studying cultures, cultural anthropologists live with the cultures that they are studying and observe the norms and rituals that these cultures follow and research the underlying reasons for them. For instance, we in the US might find scarring of the bodies to be bizarre. However, there are tribes in Africa where this is the accepted norm and hence this branch of Anthropology brings us insights into different cultures around the world.
Linguistic Anthropology is another branch of Anthropology that concerns itself with studying the evolution of languages and the pre-historic links between the different languages that are spoken around the world. It is commonly accepted that Latin is the precursor to many of the languages that are spoken around the world. What is not known is that there are several other dialects and languages that are spoken around the world that have some commonalities between them. It is the task of Linguistic Anthropologists to bring these to the fore.
Importance of Anthropology
If you ask people about the importance of Anthropology, you would different answers depending on whom you ask.
The fact that Anthropology is important as a discipline is universally recognized and acknowledged by experts in the field. As humans, we are inquisitive and curious by nature. We want to know where we came from, why we are the way we are. We turn to different explanations offered by different subjects like economics, biology and history. And, Anthropology is the one field that can provide comprehensive answers that tie in the different strands of thought from all these fields. Hence, Anthropology and its study are indeed important from the perspective of knowing more about us.
Anthropology has different branches and each of the branches provides for a certain aspect of the inquiry into our origins and evolution as a species. For instance, the study of language is the domain of linguistic anthropology. We all know that there are different languages spoken around the world and dialects among these languages as well. To know more about the linkages between these different languages and the differences that exist in the use of words is something that Anthropologists explain.