During the last three decades of the 19th century, a proliferation of anthropological societies and associations occurred, most independent, most publishing their own journals, and all international in membership and association. The major theorists belonged to these organizations.
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They supported the gradual osmosis of anthropology curricula into the major institutions of higher learning. By the American Association for the Advancement of Science was able to report that 48 educational institutions in 13 countries had some curriculum in anthropology.
None of the 75 faculty members were under a department named anthropology.
This meager statistic expanded in the 20th century to comprise anthropology departments in the majority of the world's higher educational institutions, many thousands in number. Anthropology has diversified from a few major subdivisions to dozens more. Practical anthropology, the use of anthropological knowledge and technique to solve specific problems, has arrived; for example, the presence of buried victims might stimulate the use of a forensic archaeologist to recreate the final scene.
The organization has reached global level. For example, the World Council of Anthropological Associations WCAA , "a network of national, regional and international associations that aims to promote worldwide communication and cooperation in anthropology", currently contains members from about three dozen nations.
Cultural anthropology, in particular, has emphasized cultural relativism , holism , and the use of findings to frame cultural critiques.
Ethnography is one of its primary research designs as well as the text that is generated from anthropological fieldwork. In Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, the British tradition of social anthropology tends to dominate. In the United States, anthropology has traditionally been divided into the four field approach developed by Franz Boas in the early 20th century: biological or physical anthropology ; social , cultural , or sociocultural anthropology ; and archaeology ; plus anthropological linguistics. These fields frequently overlap but tend to use different methodologies and techniques.
European countries with overseas colonies tended to practice more ethnology a term coined and defined by Adam F. It is sometimes referred to as sociocultural anthropology in the parts of the world that were influenced by the European tradition.
Anthropology is a global discipline involving humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Anthropology builds upon knowledge from natural sciences , including the discoveries about the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens , human physical traits, human behavior , the variations among different groups of humans, how the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens has influenced its social organization and culture, and from social sciences , including the organization of human social and cultural relations, institutions, social conflicts, etc.
Long after natural history, moral philosophy, philology, and political economy have dissolved into their specialized successors, it has remained a diffuse assemblage of ethnology, human biology, comparative linguistics, and prehistory, held together mainly by the vested interests, sunk costs, and administrative habits of academia, and by a romantic image of comprehensive scholarship. Sociocultural anthropology has been heavily influenced by structuralist and postmodern theories, as well as a shift toward the analysis of modern societies.
During the s and s, there was an epistemological shift away from the positivist traditions that had largely informed the discipline. In contrast, archaeology and biological anthropology remained largely positivist. Due to this difference in epistemology, the four sub-fields of anthropology have lacked cohesion over the last several decades. Sociocultural anthropology draws together the principle axes of cultural anthropology and social anthropology.
Cultural anthropology is the comparative study of the manifold ways in which people make sense of the world around them, while social anthropology is the study of the relationships among individuals and groups.
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There is no hard-and-fast distinction between them, and these categories overlap to a considerable degree. Inquiry in sociocultural anthropology is guided in part by cultural relativism , the attempt to understand other societies in terms of their own cultural symbols and values. Ethnography can refer to both a methodology and the product of ethnographic research, i. As a methodology, ethnography is based upon long-term fieldwork within a community or other research site. Participant observation is one of the foundational methods of social and cultural anthropology.
The process of participant-observation can be especially helpful to understanding a culture from an emic conceptual, vs. The study of kinship and social organization is a central focus of sociocultural anthropology, as kinship is a human universal. Sociocultural 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, values, etiquette, worldview, sports, music, nutrition, recreation, games, food, festivals, and language which is also the object of study in linguistic anthropology.
Comparison across cultures is a key element of method in sociocultural anthropology, including the industrialized and de-industrialized West. Biological anthropology and physical anthropology are synonymous terms to describe anthropological research focused on the study of humans and non-human primates in their biological, evolutionary, and demographic dimensions. It examines the biological and social factors that have affected the evolution of humans and other primates, and that generate, maintain or change contemporary genetic and physiological variation.
Archaeology is the study of the human past through its material remains.
Artifacts, faunal remains, and human altered landscapes are evidence of the cultural and material lives of past societies. Archaeologists examine this material remains in order to deduce patterns of past human behavior and cultural practices. Ethnoarchaeology is a type of archaeology that studies the practices and material remain of living human groups in order to gain a better understanding of the evidence left behind by past human groups, who are presumed to have lived in similar ways. Linguistic anthropology not to be confused with anthropological linguistics seeks to understand the processes of human communications, verbal and non-verbal, variation in language across time and space, the social uses of language, and the relationship between language and culture.
Linguistic anthropologists often draw on related fields including sociolinguistics , pragmatics , cognitive linguistics , semiotics , discourse analysis , and narrative analysis. One of the central problems in the anthropology of art concerns the universality of 'art' as a cultural phenomenon. Several anthropologists have noted that the Western categories of 'painting', 'sculpture', or 'literature', conceived as independent artistic activities, do not exist, or exist in a significantly different form, in most non-Western contexts.
Media anthropology also known as the anthropology of media or mass media emphasizes ethnographic studies as a means of understanding producers, audiences, and other cultural and social aspects of mass media. The types of ethnographic contexts explored range from contexts of media production e. Other types include cyber anthropology , a relatively new area of internet research , as well as ethnographies of other areas of research which happen to involve media, such as development work, social movements , or health education.
This is in addition to many classic ethnographic contexts, where media such as radio, the press , new media , and television have started to make their presences felt since the early s. Ethnomusicology is an academic field encompassing various approaches to the study of music broadly defined , that emphasize its cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts instead of or in addition to its isolated sound component or any particular repertoire. Visual anthropology is concerned, in part, with the study and production of ethnographic photography, film and, since the mids, new media.
While the term is sometimes used interchangeably with ethnographic film , visual anthropology also encompasses the anthropological study of visual representation, including areas such as performance, museums, art, and the production and reception of mass media. Visual representations from all cultures, such as sandpaintings, tattoos, sculptures and reliefs, cave paintings, scrimshaw, jewelry, hieroglyphics, paintings, and photographs are included in the focus of visual anthropology.
Economic anthropology attempts to explain human economic behavior in its widest historic, geographic and cultural scope. It has a complex relationship with the discipline of economics, of which it is highly critical. Economic Anthropology remains, for the most part, focused upon exchange. The school of thought derived from Marx and known as Political Economy focuses on production, in contrast. Political economy in anthropology is the application of the theories and methods of Historical Materialism to the traditional concerns of anthropology, including, but not limited to, non-capitalist societies.
Political economy introduced questions of history and colonialism to ahistorical anthropological theories of social structure and culture.
Three main areas of interest rapidly developed. The first of these areas was concerned with the "pre-capitalist" societies that were subject to evolutionary "tribal" stereotypes. Sahlin's work on hunter-gatherers as the "original affluent society" did much to dissipate that image. The second area was concerned with the vast majority of the world's population at the time, the peasantry, many of whom were involved in complex revolutionary wars such as in Vietnam. The third area was on colonialism, imperialism, and the creation of the capitalist world-system.
Applied anthropology refers to the application of the method and theory of anthropology to the analysis and solution of practical problems. It is closely related to development anthropology distinct from the more critical anthropology of development. Anthropology of development tends to view development from a critical perspective.
The kind of issues addressed and implications for the approach simply involve pondering why, if a key development goal is to alleviate poverty, is poverty increasing? Why is there such a gap between plans and outcomes? Why are those working in development so willing to disregard history and the lessons it might offer? Why is development so externally driven rather than having an internal basis?
In short, why does so much planned development fail? Kinship can refer both to the study of the patterns of social relationships in one or more human cultures, or it can refer to the patterns of social relationships themselves. Over its history, anthropology has developed a number of related concepts and terms, such as " descent ", " descent groups ", " lineages ", " affines ", " cognates ", and even " fictive kinship ". Broadly, kinship patterns may be considered to include people related both by descent one's social relations during development , and also relatives by marriage.
Feminist anthropology is a four field approach to anthropology archeological , biological , cultural , linguistic that seeks to reduce male bias in research findings, anthropological hiring practices, and the scholarly production of knowledge. Anthropology engages often with feminists from non-Western traditions, whose perspectives and experiences can differ from those of white European and American feminists. Historically, such 'peripheral' perspectives have sometimes been marginalized and regarded as less valid or important than knowledge from the western world. Feminist anthropologists have claimed that their research helps to correct this systematic bias in mainstream feminist theory.
Feminist anthropologists are centrally concerned with the construction of gender across societies. Feminist anthropology is inclusive of birth anthropology  as a specialization. The first African-American female anthropologist and Caribbeanist is said to be Vera Mae Green who studied ethnic and family relations in the Caribbean as well as the United States, and thereby tried to improve the way black life, experiences, and culture were studied.
Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary field which studies "human health and disease, health care systems, and biocultural adaptation". Currently, research in medical anthropology is one of the main growth areas in the field of anthropology as a whole. It focuses on the following six basic fields: . Other subjects that have become central to medical anthropology worldwide are violence and social suffering Farmer, , ; Beneduce, as well as other issues that involve physical and psychological harm and suffering that are not a result of illness.
On the other hand, there are fields that intersect with medical anthropology in terms of research methodology and theoretical production, such as cultural psychiatry and transcultural psychiatry or ethnopsychiatry.