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Anthropology is a science of humankind. It studies all facets of society and culture. It studies tools, techniques, traditions, language, beliefs, kinships, values, social institutions, economic mechanisms, cravings for beauty and art, struggles for prestige. It describes the impact of humans on other humans. With the exception of the Physicial Anthropology discipline, Anthropology focuses on human characteristics generated and propogated by humans themselves (Adorno, 1944).


Anthropology, from the Greek anthropos, "human", is the study of human beings, everywhere and throughout time. Anthropology has its intellectual origins in both the natural sciences, and the humanities. The term "anthropology" refers in common parlance most often to Cultural Anthropology, the study of the culture, beliefs, and practices of living people. In American universities, however, the department of Anthropology often includes three or four subfields, including cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistic anthropology. However, in universities in the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, these fields are frequently housed in separate departments (Adorno, 1944).

Overview of anthropology

One traditional approach to simplifying such a vast enterprise has been to divide anthropology into four fields, each with its own further branches: biological or physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology and anthropological linguistics (Barth, 2005).

Briefly put, biological or physical anthropology includes the study of human evolution, human evolutionary biology, population genetics, our nearest biological relatives, classification of ancient hominids, paleontology of humans, distribution human alleles, blood types and the human genome project. Primatology studies our nearest non-human relatives (human beings are primates), and some primatologists use field observation methods, written up in a manner quite similar to ethnography (Barth, 2005).

Biological anthropology is used by other fields to shed light on how a particular folk got to where they are, how frequently they've encountered and married outsiders, whether a particular group is protein-deprived, and to understand the brain processes involved in the production of language. Other related fields or subfields include paleoanthropology, anthropometrics, nutritional anthropology, and forensic anthropology (Bohm ,2002).

Cultural anthropology is often based on ethnography, a kind of writing used throughout anthropology to present data on a particular people or folk, often based on participant observation research. Ethnology involves the systematic comparison of different cultures. Cultural anthropology is also called socio-cultural anthropology or social anthropology (especially in Great Britain). In some European countries, cultural anthropology is known as ethnology .The study of kinship and social organization is a central focus of cultural anthropology, as kinship is a human universal. Cultural anthropology also covers: economic and political organization, law and conflict resolution, patterns of consumption and exchange, material culture, technology, infrastructure, gender relations, ethnicity, childrearing and socialization, religion, myth, symbols, worldview, sports, music, nutrition, recreation, games, food, festivals, and language, which is also the object of study in linguistics. Note the way in which some of these topics overlap with topics in the other subfields (Bohm ,2002).

Archaeology is the study of human material culture, including both artifacts (older pieces of human culture) carefully gathered in situ, museum pieces and modern ...
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