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Anthropology: defining how humans are studied - Essay Example

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Within the study of anthropology there are four specific areas of study through which the overall study of human beings is accomplished. The discipline of anthropology is divided into areas of physical, linguistic, archeological, and cultural study…
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Anthropology: defining how humans are studied
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Anthropology: defining how humans are studied

Download file to see previous pages... According to Nanda and Warms,the study of anthropology is “the scientific and humanistic study of human beings”.They go on to further qualify this definition by stating that anthropology “encompasses the evolutionary history of humanity,physical variation among humans,the study of past societies,and the comparative study of current-day human societies and cultures. Within the study of anthropology there are four specific areas of study through which the overall study of human beings is accomplished. The discipline of anthropology is divided into areas of physical, linguistic, archeological, and cultural study. These different disciplines all have their own unique perspective from which to define what is human. While each studies culture, language, history, and physical differences, the approach that is taken through each individual defined discipline is unique to its sub-category. The study of physical anthropology is defined by “the study of human biology within the framework of evolution and with an emphasis on the interaction between biology and culture” (Jurmain, Kilgore, & Trevathan, 2009, p. 7). Physical anthropology has become the center of one of the 21st centuries greatest debates - the need to appreciate the validity of evolution over the assertion that creationism should be considered as specifically valid in contrast. In studying the human animal, the anthropologist has discovered that a shift from physical anthropology, which used to focus upon physical differences, has been reformulated to emphasize biology, thus it can also be termed as biological anthropology. This subtle shift is in recognition that there is only one species of human beings, thus looking for differences on a superficial level has little true benefit, other than to promote the causes of discrimination. The American Anthropological Association has determined that the concept of ’race’ is invalid as a scientific way of categorizing human beings and that it is solely a construct of culture, definitions between people created by social structure (Fluehr-Lobban, 2005, p. 9). Therefore, the biological study of human beings has become focused on biology as it has changed over the course of evolution is the primary thrust of the discipline. Linguistic anthropology is concerned with studying human beings through the ways in which they communicate, the methods that are used to define their existence through language, and the way in which communication serves to define society. Linguistic anthropology can be defined as both a sub-discipline of linguistics and of anthropology (Duranti, 2009, p. 3). Creating a discipline of discovery about the history and contemporary ways in which communication defines culture allows for an understanding of the human animal for the way in which the story is told, for the defining framework in which different aspects of life are affected (such as gender, work, or leisure), and for how the histories are communicated in order to inform the current society. Archeology is often thought of as its own separate discipline, but it is, in fact, a sub-discipline of anthropology. The adventure that is ascribed to the concept of archeology, exploited and exaggerated by the film industry through characters such as Indiana Jones, does not near describe the painstaking, and often tedious work, that goes into archeological discovery. Archeology analyzes the remains of civilizations past, the material culture from which assumptions can be made about the way in which society formed its social structures (Gosdon, 1999, p. 2). Archeology most often requires the archeologist to post a grid of string over an area from which a corresponding record of the grid is made. The archeologist will then carefully, with delicate tools, reveal pieces of material that has been left behind by the indigenous or nomadic people ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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