Paper Example on Defining Anthropology: What Is Anthropology?

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University of Richmond
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Broadly, anthropology refers to the discipline studying human societies and their cultures as well as incorporating their aspects of development (Wilding, 2008). To a deeper meaning, it entails the physiological and the biological characteristics of humanity including peoples evolution.

Discuss how the field is the sum of all its parts as you consider people and their complexities.

The field as a total of its entire parts entails the broader approach used in understanding the various or different elements or parts of human experience. From this, anthropology takes holism approach because when studying human societies, anthropologists look at the past, studies through archeology, and uses the information to understand human behavior, life, culture, biology, health and diet (Fedorak, 2017).

How do all the subfields work together to form the field of anthropology?

Subfields in anthropology interlink and ensure comprehensive understanding of human behavior, actions, and cultures. Since the areas are interlinked or have similarities, the embedded theories, are developed by looking at the information across different fields of which the study of a particular aspect of the human society is considered through interdependent subfields to provide extensive sets of data (Fedorak, 2017). One of the practical examples is how archeologists study populations by analyzing bones and teeth of humans to understand their diet from remains of animals, soils, plants and as such, use the information in understanding how people changed the surrounding environment. However, to understand the diet of individuals, the archeological anthropologist will rely on biological anthropologist in understanding how humans have adapted to the environment

Anthropological Perspective: Why do people need an anthropological perspective?

Anthropological perspective in needed because it provides people with critical thinking about why they do what they are doing and why others are behaving in a certain way (Fedorak, 2017). Equally anthropological perspective influence peoples understanding of what factors cause certain behaviors and actions within the society especially gender, ethnicity, family structure, biology, economy, religion, history, politics among others.

What is the importance of the anthropological perspective in each of the situations listed below?

Global cultural crises: For global cultural crises, anthropological crises helps in understanding the origin of different cultures, their meanings, the role they place within a community (Carrier, 2016). Hence, through anthropological perspective, it provides an understanding of why cultural crises occur, especially when new cultures defy the old norms.

Biological crises: Anthropological crises, especially in the field of evolution and genetics provide a clear understanding of the physiological changes (Carrier, 2016). In this sense, they help to understand how, maybe, changes in genetic composition over time have resulted in biological crisis.

Environmental crises: Anthropological perspective indicates how humanity interacts with the environment and how they influence or modify the environment (Carrier, 2016). In this sense, culture, social and economic practices are included in the way humans impact their environment and as such result in the main crises.

Historical Perspective

Provide an example of a historical, anthropological contribution that has helped legitimize the field in the present day.

One significant historical contribution of anthropology is the holism approach, currently applied in different fields like medicine (Campbell, 2011). Through this, everything including culture exists in different and various contexts, by looking at how past influences the present.

Provide an example of a way that cultural groups and individuals use their past to inform their everyday life. How are people the products of their past (or how are they not)? Make connections between cultural groups and individuals past and their current everyday lives.

Cultural groups and individuals are products of their past because practices get transferred from one generation to the other and from this, learned behavior and practices become embedded into the cultural norms (Carrier, 2016). In this sense, past practices reflect in the present. Group contexts equally get transferred to the following generations, and individual behaviors also reflect past practices.

Explain how people are (or are not) products of their familial past. Make connections between peoples family history and their present identity.

Family as the unit of a community or society is where behaviors are learned (Fedorak, 2017). Hence, the home or family environment, as the first context of social interaction, is where most behaviors are learned. On the other hand, family's biological composition, especially genetics has a long connection or history that influences people's behavior.

Explain how people are (or are not) products of their community or regional past. Make connections between peoples' community or local past and their present identity.

Equally, a community is defined by the upheld norms and values, practices in politics, dietary habits, diseases, and as such, they get passed from one generation to another (Fedorak, 2017). Hence, through this, the present generation is a representation of the local or communal past of which identities form from the past practices.


Title Author Page Number Publication Date

Reference 1 Anthropologys Contribution to Public Health Policy Development Dave Campbell 76 2011

Reference 2 After the crisis: Anthropological thought, neoliberalism and the aftermath James. G. Carrier 39 2016

Reference 3 Introducing Anthropology: A review article Raelene Williams 75 2008

Reference 4 Anthropology matters: Third edition Shirley. A. Fedorak 34 2017


Campbell, D. (2011). Anthropologys contribution to public health policy development. McGill Journal of Medicine : MJM, 13(1), 76.

Carrier, J.G. (2016). After the crisis: Anthropological thought, neoliberalism, and the aftermath. London: Routledge.

Fedorak, F. A. (2017). Anthropology matters: Third edition. University of Toronto Press.

Wilding, R. (2008). Introducing Anthropology: A review article. Anthropological Forum, 18(1), 71-78. doi:10.1080/00664670701859016


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