Note on Introduction to Anthropology

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In general, anthropology studies about the man and his works. It is concerned with human races since their origin and development is the process of evolution along with physical, social, racial, cultural, psychological and all the other aspects of mankind. Anthropology is a diverse discipline and human beings are too diverse species. Hence, anthropology is the study of all aspects of human life and culture, such as how people live, what they think, what they produce, and how, they interact with their environment. Anthropologists then try to understand the full range of human diversity as well as what all people share in common. Most of the work of anthropologists is based on three key concepts Society, Culture, and Evolution. These concepts constitute the primary ways in which anthropologists describe, explain and understand human life.

Nature of anthropology

  • Study of mankind as a whole: The holistic study of mankind is the chief trade of anthropology. It is different aspects of human beings. There is no other social science that studies human beings in totality expect anthropology.

  • Concepts of culture: The development of a concept of culture in anthropology is another fundamental character of anthropology. It focuses on culture. Culture is the reflection of daily life and other aspects of humankind.

  • Use of comparative method: Comparative perspective of the holistic study of mankind is another main feature of anthropology. Anthropology does not generalize the cultural trait by studying only one or two cultural groups but studies about many groups. There are cultural differences in different society.

  • Field study method: Fieldwork method is the key approach to study anthropology. To learn about the culture or a society anthropologist goes to the field and uses questionnaire and interview methods. It studies the cultural phenomena through observation and the comparative method.

Scope of anthropology

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  • Physical Anthropology: Physical anthropology studies the human body, genetics and the status of human being among living creatures. It also deals the nature of different human races, origin, development, heredity and so on.

  • Human genetics: It is the study of how the characteristics of parents are transmitted to its generation.

  • Human paleontology: It studies human fossils by which the evolution of human beings could be explained.

  • Anthology: It is the comparative study of races and culture of humankind in their different aspects.

  • Anthropometry: It deals the measurement of human on the basis of physical structure, both living, and fossils.

  • Biometry: It is the comparative analysis of biological aspects such as structure, diseases, birth, growth, etc.

  • Cultural Anthropology: Cultural anthropology is the study of cultural aspects of mankind. It is related to the origin and history of human culture, its evolution and development.

  • Archaeology: It is the study of ancient objects, tools, and cultural materials. It tries to reconstruct the cultural forms of the past.

  • Social anthropology: It studies social process in a comparative manner. It does not study only culture but also common social life as well. It is more concerned with social structure and religion.

  • Applied anthropology: It is concerned with the use of anthropological knowledge in practice which helps to remove the human problem and making social change.

  • Linguistic anthropology: It studies the particular aspect of the human culture of language. Human languages are the major concern of linguistic anthropology.

Branches of Anthropology

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  • Physical Anthropology: Physical anthropology studies the human body, genetics and the status of human being among living creatures. It also deals the nature of different human races, origin, development, heredity and so on.

  • Cultural Anthropology: Cultural anthropology is the study of cultural aspects of mankind. It is related to the origin and history of human culture, its evolution and development.

Sub-division of Anthropology

  • Economic anthropology: It is related to production, distribution, and exchange of small scale to the large scale industrial economy. The classical and neo-classical economic studies focus on the system of distribution and exchange.

  • Ecological anthropology: It is the area of anthropology that focuses on the relationship between human population and their environment. The major concern is to study the relationship between environment and human culture. It is also related to adaptive strategies and decision making in order to raise the consciousness for their adaptation.

  • Medical anthropology: It is the branch of knowledge that is applied in medical anthropology. It is related to health anthropology. It focuses on the non-western medical system.

  • Political anthropology: It is an area of the origin of power, private property, and land ownership. It is also related to the norms and roles employed in society to maintain internal order allocated power and decision making over group action.

  • Development anthropology: It is the study of socio-economic and structural change of human society. It is the process of transition from one type of economic system to another. Development is related to the development of all aspects of society.

Relationship of anthropology with other social sciences

Anthropology and History

Similarities:

  • It is a belief that history is the past anthropology because history is the account of human beings in the past.
  • Without anthropological knowledge, history fails to explain the history of any society.
  • Anthropologists borrow historical facts, cultural events from history.
  • Both history and anthropology stand for investigating past event and action of human life.

Dissimilarities:

  • Anthropology studies human being and their activity whereas history studies major events of past.
  • Anthropology uses anthropological concept whereas history uses the historical concept to describe human activities.
  • Anthropology is very younger than history.
  • Anthropology deals with physical and cultural aspects of humankind whereas history is concerned with socio-political events.

Anthropology and Psychology

Similarities:

  • Anthropology and psychology both study and analyze human attitude from the own respective method.
  • There are some similarities in the content matter of both subjects.
  • Both of these subjects use research methods of genealogy, case study, interview, and participation.
  • It is developed as a branch of anthropology for dealing with culture and personality of individual and groups.

Dissimilarities:

  • Anthropology is the holistic human behavior whereas psychology is the study of the individual and mental process.
  • Anthropology studies man and activities in totality but psychology studies individual behavior and personality.
  • Anthropology deals with the socio-cultural process of human beings whereas psychology with mental process.
  • Anthropology uses participatory observation whereas practical observation is used by psychology as social tools.

Anthropology and Sociology

Similarities:

  • Sociology concerns with family, its structure and origin; which are also the concern of anthropology.
  • Anthropology and Sociology both depends on past and present information about the society.
  • Both are concerned with functions and structure of the society group and community.

Differences:

  • Sociology studies small as well as large society whereas anthropology prefers small society.
  • Sociology uses observation, interviews and social survey as research methods whereas anthropology prefers observation and direct interview.
  • Sociology is related to practical and present whereas anthropology is related to pure and past.

Reference:

Khatri, Prem Kumar et.al., Elementary Sociology and Anthropology XI, Bhundipuran Prakashan, Kathmandu

Sharma, Kamal Raj, Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology inNepal-XI, Sunrise Prakashan Pvt. Ltd., Kathmandu

Sitaula, Mohan Kumar, Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology-XI, Ekta Books and Distributors, Kathmandu

  1. Anthropology is the study of mankind and culture.
  2. It is the study of origin, development and nature of human species.
  3. It studies the development of man from the physical, cultural and social point of view.
  4. It also studies individual, their groups and production.
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