Major Subfields of Anthropology - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Major Subfields of Anthropology Introduction Anthropology is the holistic study of humankind. The discipline observes the human conditions both in cultural and biological aspects. Anthropologists study human beings and human societies from all possible angles to provide a well- rounded perspective of the human condition…
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Major Subfields of Anthropology
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"Major Subfields of Anthropology"

Linguistic anthropology delves further than studying languages to explore how humans have developed different languages. It also explores how culture influences people’s language and vice versa. Examples of problems linguistic anthropologists deal with include: how humans developed language since we are the only animals to have evolved such a rich, intricate and complex system of communication, and how languages evolved into the diverse multitude of languages that humans speak in different regions. They also study whether the language spoken shapes worldview. For example, if speakers of a particular language have only six words for colors, and speakers of a different language have over twenty, will people from the second language see more colors than the first? Cultural anthropology is the study of human cultures. Culture refers to a peoples’ way of life. It consists of a peoples’ social organization, economics, political systems, art, language, religion, food and dressing. Humans are the only animals to develop and transmit complex cultures. This is a matter of interest to cultural anthropologists. Cultural anthropology observes the diversity in humans’ cultural practices and hypothesizes on why this is so. Cultural anthropology is further subdivided into Economic anthropology, Medical anthropology and Urban anthropology. Economic anthropology is the study of peoples’ means of production. It studies the modes of economic production, consumption and exchange in different societies. The modes of production that people choose are influenced by the conditions in which they live. Pastoralists adapt to cattle herding because the arid areas they live in are unsuitable for farming, while people in fertile areas practice agriculture as a means of sustaining their livelihood. The effect of globalization on world economy is also studied. The impact of global trade and how it has stratified countries into developed and developing countries is also studied. Medical anthropology is the study of the interrelation between culture and health. Medical anthropologists seek to understand how culture affects perception of health, disease and illness, the way we handle illness and our response to falling ill. The impact of culture on health has been found to be so strong that culture-bound illnesses exist. This is whereby a medical condition is found to exist in one culture only, such as Amok in Malaysia and Koro in South-East Asia. Such cases offer fascinating study for medical anthropologists. The impact of healthcare interventions for diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS in Third World areas where they are prevalent may be affected by the cultural divide. These cultural differences call for the cultural expertise of medical anthropologists. Urban anthropology is a relatively new field of anthropology that deals with issues of urbanization. It developed to counter the perception that anthropologists only studied “native” and exotic societies but was unconcerned with the rapidly developing urban areas. It deals with issues such as population growth and explosions in cities due to rural-urban migration and the overall impact of city life on dwellers. Physical or Biological anthropology is the study of biological characteristics of human beings. It traces the evolutionary history of humans, their Read More
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