What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the comprehensive study of humanity and its many cultures in all their manifestations through all times and places. Anthropology is holistic. It examines many aspects of human activity -- psychological, biological, social, and cultural -- -including technological, economic, religious, political, and artistic. An anthropologist explores the vast diversity of human cultures, striving to understand and appreciate the myriad ways of living that constitute alternative solutions to the universal problems of human existence and survival.

Anthropology combines the perspectives of the sciences and the humanities. It has a tradition of four subfields: archaeology, linguistics, cultural, and biological anthropology. Anthropologists often specialize in a particular subfield, geographical area or culture. Despite this specialization, knowledge from the other subfields is very important to their research. For example, an archaeologist needs to be well trained in biological anthropology in order to understand population information found in skeletal materials associated with cultural materials. These cultural materials are studied by cultural anthropologists and their ethnographic writings provide the archaeologist with some understanding of what existing cultures might be connected to the archaeological materials they find. Likewise, a cultural anthropologist looks to research from archaeologists and biological anthropologists to understand the unrecorded history of a particular group and their related and distinct physical and cultural features in relation to other populations in a geographic area, as well as how a culture has changed over time.

More information on the anthropological subfields:

Archaeology Biological Anthropology Cultural Anthropology Linguistics