One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Defining Anthropology

I have had some people ask what anthropology is and the ever more popular “what can you do with anthropology?” So today’s post I decided to define anthropology and all its aspects for those who are not familiar.

Anthropology is the study to understand the meaning of humankind, past and present, broken down into four subdisciplines: Cultural anthropology, Biological (physical) anthropology, Archaeology, and Linguistics. 

  • Cultural Anthropology – is the study of the relationship of culture and humans. Usually present day cultures are studied, but it isn’t just limited to that. Cultural anthropology covers studies of, but not limited to:  kinship, exchange, material culture, technology, infrastructure, gender, sex, ethnicity, religion, myth, symbols, music, nutrition, recreation, food, etc.
  • Biological Anthropology – the study of humans past and present exploring the biological and evolution of the humans and research of non-human primates. This includes forensics, primatology, etc.
  • Archaeology –  the study of the human past through its material remains that are evidence of the cultural and material lives of past societies. Archaeologists examine these material remains in order to deduce patterns of past human behavior and cultural practices.
  • Linguistics – is the study of the construction and use of human languages. (If anyone has seen My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins is a linguist)

An anthropologist doesn’t need to be an expert in all the fields, but even within each field anthropologists have different interests. What I have found out with anthropology is that it can be applied to almost everything and anything, and there are so many avenues that can be taken through an anthropological lens.

As far as jobs – it all depends. Personally I have enjoyed writing paper and going to conferences, essentially teaching other’s a different perspective at look at culture. I have also dabbled in archaeology working on an excavation, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as what I am doing now. But others have gone into biological anthropology and into forensics  others in applied anthropology focusing on medical anthropology. But it is the skills that have been taught to anthropologists like interviewing, public speaking, etc. So anthropology can be used in almost any career field.

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