|IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CULTURE
Dr. David Eller, Ph.D., Anthropology
E-mail Dr. Eller
P.O. Box 22174
Denver CO 80222
|Anthropology (literally, "humankind-study") is the scientific investigation of diversity in humans--diversity in their bodies and diversity in their behavior. Another way to think about anthropology is as the study of what is necessary and possible for humans. By studying the range of human bodies and behaviors, we can see what is common to all humanity as well as what is unique to each group and what the "limits" of humanity are.
Anthropology is commonly divided into four subfields:
Cultural or social anthropology--studies the diversity of human behavior in the present.
Physical anthropology--studies the diversity of human bodies in the past and present
Archaeology--studies the diversity of human behavior in the past
Linguistic anthropology--studies the diversity of human language in the past and present
Textbook author William Haviland calls anthropology "the most liberating of sciences." Anthropology does have the potential to liberate people from the assumptions and authorities of their own cultures--it tells us that there are other possible (and even quite successful) ways of being human. Therefore, what we have always done or felt or believed is not what all humans do or feel or believe.
Anthropology can be liberating, it is clear, but it can also be corrosive--it can dissolve the certainty that our culture, our ways of being in the world and all the things we thought were real and true, are just man-made belief systems. If they are different in other societies and in other times in history, then there may appear to be no reason why should not be different in our society.
Anthropology in the News
American Anthropological Assocation
International Affairs Resources
CIA World Factbook
U of Texas Map Library
Refdesk--the ultimate reference
Google--the ultimate search engine
|Learn more about one of the key ideas in the anthropological perspective--cultural relativism.|
|See Dr. Eller's new book on violence|
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