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What Is Anthropology?

From the Greek anthropos (human) and logia (study), the word anthropology itself tells us it is the field that seeks to  understand humankind, from its begin-nings millions of years ago up to the present day. Anthropology considers how people’s behavior changes over time, and how people and seemingly dissimilar cultures are different and the same.

There are many areas of anthropological study...

 

Forensic Anthropology

Seeks to identify skeletal, or otherwise decomposed, human remains

Business Anthropology

Helps businesses gain a better understanding of their activities and customers

Visual Anthropology

Documents everyday life through filmmaking

Environmental Anthropology

Believes that the well-being of the environment goes hand in hand with the well-being of people

Museum Anthropology

Interprets ethnographic and archaeological collections to the general public

Sociocultural Anthropology

Seeks to understand the internal logic of societies through ethnography

Archaeology

Retrieves artifacts from the past and places them in context to understand our history and its relevance for today

Physical Anthropology

Traces our biological origins, evolutionary development, and genetic diversity

Linguistic Anthropology

Seeks to explain the very nature of language and its use by humans

Medical Anthropology

Seeks to better understand factors that influence peoples’ health and well-being

 

Careers in Anthropology

Today’s anthropologists do not just work in exotic locations. They can be found in corporations, all levels of government, educational institutions and nonprofit associations. Anthropologists even work in disaster areas, including, Ground Zero in New York and the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There are not many limits on career choices for anthropologists. AAA doctoral fellows’ research projects have focused on virtually everything from then spread of mariachi music across the globe to reducing the exposure of farm workers’ children to pesticides.

To determine if a career as an anthropologist is for you, think about the following questions:

 

What do you want to know?

Anthropologists want to know why things happen. For example, we know how AIDS is spreading, but do we know why? Anthropologists tackle big human problems, such as overpopulation, warfare, and poverty.

What do you want to do?

Anthropological study and training provide the knowledge, skills and tools to work with people, study the past, and shape the future.

Where do you want to work?

Anthropologists work in practically every environment and setting imaginable. They can be found working in large corporations such as Intel and GM or studying primates in Africa. Anthropologists work in deserts, cities, schools even in underwater archaeological sites.

 

-American Anthropological Association

 

 Last Published 3/7/11