Anthropology is a science dedicated to the study of the human being in its entirety. The human being is understood by anthropology in its biological, cultural and social dimension, simultaneously. Anthropology definition
The term of Greek origin, formed by “ anthropos ” (man, human being) and “ logos ” (knowledge). The reflection of human beings in their social behavior has been known since Classical Antiquity through the thought of different philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
There is still a great emphasis on the Greek Herodotus, considered the father of History and Anthropology.
However, the modern conception of anthropology and its establishment as a social science has its origins in the Enlightenment Movement in the 18th century.
The Enlightenment sought to base knowledge on reason and build secure knowledge, identified as science. We sought to understand the different “races of human beings” through the improvement of methods and classifications. Anthropology definition
Positivism also has a strong relationship to the establishment of anthropology as a science. From the positivist perspective, we sought to find methods for the construction of a social science similar to the already established exact and natural sciences.
Thus, anthropology is born from reports on the way of life of peoples from the colonies, natives of the new discovered lands. Debates about the human condition and different ways of life in relation to metropolises.
Anthropological studies were based on the comparison between “primitive” and “civilized” peoples.
This perspective was being abandoned, recognized as ethnocentric, based on the idea that there was an evolved human way of life that could operate as a standard for reading in other societies.
Anthropology changes from an idea of relativization, which understands that there is no linear evolutionary process of societies and their individuals. Anthropology definition
Studies on human beings and their cultural diversity become multidisciplinary and seek to reflect on all dimensions of human life.
Historically, these dimensions occur in the division of anthropology into two broad areas:
1. Physical or Biological Anthropology
Studies the genetic and biological aspects of man. It is also called bioanthropology, dedicated to understanding the mechanisms of adaptation and human evolution.
This division of anthropology is greatly influenced by the work of Charles Darwin, above all, The Origin of Species (1859).
Among its objects of study are the genetic characteristics that differentiate people and enable them to survive in certain environments. As an example, when studying the physiological characteristics of different human groups, among other genetic issues. Anthropology definition
In addition to genetics, paleoanthropology (study of human evolution) is more strictly dedicated to this area. Forensic anthropology also uses knowledge from biological anthropology to prepare its reports on the identification of corpses and studies on crimes, used by criminal law.
2. Social and Cultural Anthropology
It analyzes the behavior of human beings in society (social groups), social and political organization, social relations and their institutions.
Social anthropology differs from sociology in the object of investigation. Sociology is dedicated to understanding social movements and structures in a macro way, while social anthropology is focused on the relationship that human beings establish with these phenomena in a search that is more centered on being.
The North American division of anthropology does not use the concept of social anthropology, but the so-called Cultural Anthropology . Anthropology definition
Cultural Anthropology investigates cultural issues involving human beings, such as:
- other fundamental aspects in the formation of culture.
Concepts worked by social anthropology are the notions of culture and otherness .
Within the scope of cultural anthropology there are studies of linguistics and ethnography as fields of specialization.
Linguistics seeks to analyze the formation of a culture reflected or constructed by the use of language. In other words, it starts from the understanding that the way a social group organizes itself is closely related to its language. Anthropology definition
The ethnography is the very research method of anthropology and has been appropriated by other areas of the social sciences. The anthropologist, who in this role can also be called an ethnographer, closely follows the group he is studying, living like them , within the community.
Based on the observation of the social group, the anthropologist produces a field diary, where he collects as much information as possible, which will be analyzed later. Ethnography aims to observe the organization of a social group with minimal intervention from the researcher.