Anthropologists like myself try to figure out
why present day humans are the way they are.
Meredith F. Small Female Choices
Who are we? How old is the human species? Where did we come from? What do we believe and why? Is our own culture the epitome of civilization? What is reality? How have we arrived at a position where destroying the earth doesn't bother us very much? These, and many, many more are the questions that drive anthropologists to study human beings and our interactions. In fact, the presence of a driving question is the seed that creates anthropologists, as we will soon see.
Anthropology is the study of humanity. As one might suspect, given the scope of the questions in the previous paragraph, anthropology is a broad field with many subfields (or methods) of gathering information. Let's look at some of these areas of study, the methodology for each discipline, and a few of the specialists and their research.
According to James Spradley (1979) in The Ethnographic Interview, ethnology is "the study of culture" (pg. iii). On the surface, this would seem the simplest of tasks. However most of us are unaware that we are wearing Kant's irremovable glasses' when it comes to viewing other cultures&SHY;our own personal biases and beliefs are fully intact. This ethnocentric viewpoint (defined by John Bodley as "the tendency to evaluate other cultures in reference to one's own presumably superior culture"2) is the biggest stumbling block to understanding other cultures and recognizing their own inherent value. The aim of the good ethnographer is to take off the glasses of ethnocentrism as often as possible and learn from other people what their world is like.
In order to ...
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RuppelShell,E. (1991, December). Flesh & bone. Discover 37&SHY;42.
Small, M. F. (1993). Female choices: Sexual behavior of female primates. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Spradley, J.P. (1979). The ethnographic interview. Orlando: Hartcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Struever, S. & Holton, F. A. (1979). Koster: Americans in search of their prehistoric past. Garden City: Anchor Press/ Doubleday.
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