What is Anthropology?
Anthropologists are known for making long expeditions and penetrating deeply into history in order to understand and describe the lives of peoples of the past. They realize the simple truth about ourselves, that we as people are no different from past peoples, and cultural diversity has been ever present and ever changing.
Prior to the beginning of the 20th century, anthropology was a science pursued by only high status men. A typical anthropologist was a rich man, often of noble birth who could afford to fund and organize expeditions to exotic destinations, able to fly to study hieroglyphic inscriptions and create their own anthropological collections. Therefore, throughout the 19th century there were few professional anthropologists.
Gradually, along with the expansion of the interests of anthropology as a science, a new type of anthropologist emerged, – the humanitarian-intellectual. Anthropologists of the first half of the 20th century, were renaissance men, scholars who learned to earn money doing their favorite things. During this period, the rich history of teaching anthropological sciences began in the most prestigious universities in the world.
Starting in the 1950s, the real anthropological boom began. Institutions and departments of anthropology opened in every American state. Today, there is Anthropology in hundreds of British and American institutions, with museums, offices, departments and faculties of anthropology.
Geographical spread of the anthropological faculties has gone far beyond the English-speaking cultural world. Although more than 75% of all faculties and departments are located in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, there are departments and faculties of Anthropology scattered from Hong Kong to St. Petersburg, from Chile to Kuala Lumpur.
Today the sphere of interest of the anthropologist is enormous. This can be seen from the list of disciplines that combine to form “cultural anthropology”, which include: psychological anthropology, political anthropology, economic anthropology, applied anthropology, etc.
Why anthropology is relevant in the modern world.
The world has so many different racial, ethnic, religious and cultural groups, with different lifestyles and different perceptions of the world. Now they interact and have interdependence more than ever before. From the natives of the Amazon, to Iraqis; everyone is affected by the global price of commodities, such as wood and oil.
Globalization of the economics of the world is a fact. We interact with people of different social worlds and cultural attitudes. At work, travel and shopping, we are constantly exposed to cultural differences. In this modern world, there is a lot of misunderstanding, racism, violence and intolerance. Many other cultures and peoples are perceived as foreign, and the need to develop an understanding and tolerance of other cultures has become very important. Anthropology shows and reveals the essence of other cultures, and reveals hidden sides of our own cultural world and sometimes generates critical thinking about our own lives.
Anthropology explores the full range of social groups and cultural meanings through which we discover the outside world. And because of this we do not just become smarter and wiser. We become freer.
Thus, anthropology is an organized effort to understand the nature of the amazing variety of human rights and ways of peoples existence, hoping to improve how we can live together in harmony, without destroying each other.
To do this, anthropologists have widened the scope of their focus – from the reconstruction of ancient history and exotic forms of human organization, to now include the study of practical problems faced by the modern, industrialized world.
Biological anthropology has demonstrated the fundamental similarity of all human races. Archaeologists have revealed the ability of humans to change and adapt to the environment and change society. Sociocultural anthropologists have described and analyzed a variety of cultural systems, values and social institutions. Anthropologists explore the possibilities and limitations caused by the environment, power, hierarchy and discrimination, problems and prospects of coexistence in an increasingly connected world.
What is anthropology different from other human sciences?
It is interesting that while anthropology actively affirmed in the West, parallel to the USSR researchers working within science, the study of the subjects about the respective anthropology ethnography, archeology, linguistics, sociology, history, social psychology, physical anthropology and cultural studies. What, then, anthropology differs from these sciences?
While the majority of Soviet scientists describe all manifestations of culture as secondary to the economy, to the west created a theory of culture, which recognizes common foundation for many of the sciences that study man. The current situation shows great vitality western vision.
According to this theory, a person has two natures – the cultural and the natural, biological. Economy as one of the aspects of human existence is part of the culture and it is governed by laws, and not the primary in relation to it. The culture as a dominant force governing all relationships between humans and complex social systems, it became the basis for the fundamental human sciences.
While a lot of Russian researchers in humanities, feel inferior in relation to the natural sciences and complex experience of uselessness in England proclaimed the paramount necessity and usefulness of anthropology, because the theory of culture allows them to see their place in cooperation Sciences. Anthropology became effective humanitarian technology of the XXI century.
What are the benefits of Anthropology?
Anthropology is unique among the disciplines that study people, because of its interdisciplinary structure, which builds intellectual dialogue between the whole range of human and natural sciences. This unique approach provides a level of awareness of the realities of human existence that can not be found within other disciplines.
Opening and dispassionately considering specific forms of infinitely varied human experience, anthropology challenges our preconceived notions of what is “normal”. It allows us to understand that different systems of values, morals, ethics, rituals, ceremonies and sexual attitudes, which may at first seem irrational, quixotic or immoral in one culture, have deep meaning in others.
Anthropologists show evidence that biological race and culture are not the same. Anthropologists are fighting for recognition of intellectual and physical equality and rights of all people. Thus, anthropology teaches us to live fully in socially heterogeneous environments.
Anthropology not only gives us the knowledge of diverse cultures and social groups, but more importantly, it broadens our view of the developing world and allows us to see the world from different perspectives. Anthropologists always provide deeper analyzes, than most superficial stereotypes, standard media comments or political rhetoric.
The future of anthropology
In the face of rapid changes and sudden crises, managers at all levels, more and more are turning to holistic anthropological interpretations. Educators, health professionals, business people, managers, dealing with people, are using anthropological knowledge daily, in this era of increasing diversity.
In other words, anthropology had been limited to museums and remote corners of the Earth. But now, as previously isolated peoples are increasingly dependent on each other – including our own culture – anthropology is at the center of the search for solutions to global problems.
It is time for anthropology!