WHAT IS ANTHROPOLOGY?
The term originates from two
words in Greek:
• (1) anthropos meaning “man” as
in “human being”
• (2) logos meaning “study”.
Consequently we can determine
that anthropology can be defined
as: “the study of human beings”.
Yet many other humanities,
sciences and social sciences could
also be defined as “the study of
human beings” since the definition
itself is so broad.
WHAT THEN IS UNIQUE OR
CHARACTERISTIC OF
ANTHROPOLOGY?
(a). anthropology is transcultural;
looks all human groups, large and small;
distant and near.
(b). anthropology spans all of human
history, the ancient and the modern.
We must know past to understand
present.
(c). anthropology is holistic;
seeks to demonstrate how
aspects of cultures are linked,
how they affect one another;
seeks to understand all aspects of
human behavior. It is a multifaceted approach to the study of
human behavior.
Anthropology seeks to find the
generalities about human life while also
explaining the differences. To do this
the examples must include a
transcultural and historical perspective.
Anthropology seeks to understand
and explain why people do the things
they do and say the things they say.
A goal is create better understanding
among people.
In sum, we as anthropologists often
say that “anthropology is the most
humane of the sciences and the most
scientific of the humanities”. Thus we
draw data from all kinds of sources.
WHAT ARE the SUBFIELDS of
ANTHROPOLOGY as a
SOCIAL SCIENCE?
THE TWO MAIN SUB-FIELD DIVISIONS
WITHIN ANTHROPOLOGY ARE:
• (1) biological anthropology
• (2) cultural anthropology.
In this course we will be focusing on
cultural anthropology.
Biological anthropology seeks to
understand human behavior from a
biological base especially focusing upon
human evolutionary history and
biological variation among human
populations.
Some examples of biological
anthropology are paleontology;
primatology; the study of human
variation…
Cultural anthropology seeks to
understand universals and variations
in human cultures both past and
present.
Archaeology seeks to understand
human history through the study
(primarily) of materials remains.
Sometimes the work of archaeologists
overlaps with the work of historians in
a specialization, historical archaeology.
Linguistics seeks to understand
human language, written and nonwritten, spoken and non-verbal. The
study of how languages change over
time is termed historical linguistics.
The study of how language is used in
social contexts is termed sociolinguistics.
Ethnology seeks to understand the
patterns of human thought and
behavior over time. A holistic, detailed
description of a culture is termed an
ethnography.
Underscoring all of the sub-fields in
both biological and cultural
anthropology is Practicing or Applied
anthropology, which seek to apply
anthropological knowledge to the
solution of human problems. All of the
sub-fields in anthropology have an
applied, practicing component.
FURTHER COMMON DIVISIONS
WITHIN ANTHROPOLOGY INCLUDE:
• (1) area specializations (SE Asia,
Europe, Latin American, etc.; areas
which share some cultural-historical
characteristics )
• (2) topic specializations (medical,
ecological, gender, etc.; themes upon
which to focus within a holistic and
deeply contextual framework of a
culture)
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WHAT IS ANTHROPOLOGY? - Florida International …