An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and philosophical anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life, while economic anthropology studies human economic behavior. Biological (physical), forensic, and medical anthropology study the biological development of humans, the application of biological anthropology in a legal setting, and the study of diseases and their impacts on humans over time, respectively.
Anthropologists usually cover a breadth of topics within anthropology in their undergraduate education, and then proceed to specialize in topics of their own choice at the graduate level. In some universities, a qualifying exam serves to test both the breadth and depth of a student's understanding of anthropology; the students who pass are permitted to work on a doctoral dissertation.
Anthropologists typically hold graduate degrees, either doctorates or master's degrees. Not holding an advanced degree is rare in the field. Some anthropologists hold undergraduate degrees in other fields than anthropology and graduate degrees in anthropology.
Research topics of anthropologists include the discovery of human remains and artifacts as well as the exploration of social and cultural issues such as population growth, structural inequality, and globalization by making use of a variety of technologies including statistical software and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Anthropological field work requires a faithful representation of observations and a strict adherence to social and ethical responsibilities, such as the acquisition of consent, transparency in research and methodologies, and the right to anonymity.
Historically, anthropologists primarily worked in academic settings; however, by 2014, U.S. anthropologists and archaeologists were largely employed in research positions (28%), management and consulting (23%), and government positions (27%). U.S. employment of anthropologists and archaeologists is projected to increase from 7,600 to 7,900 between 2016 and 2026, a growth rate just under half the national median.
Anthropologists without doctorates tend to work more in other fields than academia, while the majority of those with doctorates are primarily employed in academia. Many of those without doctorates in academia tend to work exclusively as researchers and do not teach. Those in research-only positions are often not considered faculty. The median salary for anthropologists in 2015 was $62,220. Many anthropologists report an above average level of job satisfaction.
Although closely related and often grouped with archaeology, anthropologists and archaeologists perform differing roles, though archeology is considered a sub-discipline of anthropology. While both professions focus on the study of human culture from past to present, archaeologists focus specifically on analyzing material remains such as artifacts and architectural remains. Anthropology encompasses a wider range of professions including the rising fields of forensic anthropology, digital anthropology, and cyber anthropology. The role of an anthropologist differs as well from that of a historian. While anthropologists focus their studies on humans and human behavior, historians look at events from a broader perspective. Historians also tend to focus less on culture than anthropologists in their studies. A far greater percentage of historians are employed in academic settings than anthropologists, who have more diverse places of employment.
Anthropologists are experiencing a shift in the twenty-first century United States with the rise of forensic anthropology. In the United States, as opposed to many other countries forensic anthropology falls under the domain of the anthropologist and not the Forensic pathologist. In this role, forensic anthropologists help in the identification of skeletal remains by deducing biological characteristics such as sex, age, stature, and ancestry from the skeleton. However, forensic anthropologists tend to gravitate more toward working in academic and laboratory settings, while forensic pathologists perform more applied field work. Forensic anthropologists typically hold academic doctorates, while forensic pathologists are medical doctors. The field of forensic anthropology is rapidly evolving with increasingly capable technology and more extensive databases. Forensic anthrology is one of the most specialized and competitive job areas within the field of anthropology and currently has more qualified graduates than positions.
The profession of Anthropology has also received an additional sub-field with the rise of Digital anthropology. This new branch of the profession has an increased usage of computers as well as interdisciplinary work with medicine, computer visualization, industrial design, biology, and journalism. Anthropologists in this field primarily study the evolution of human reciprocal relations with the computer-generated world. Cyber anthropologists also study digital and cyber ethics along with the global implications of increasing connectivity. With cyber ethical issues such as net neutrality increasingly coming to light, this sub-field is rapidly gaining more recognition. One rapidly emerging branch of interest for cyber anthropologists is artificial intelligence. Cyber anthropologists study the co-evolutionary relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. This includes the examination of computer-generated (CG) environments and how people interact with them through media such as movies, television, and video.
Some notable anthropologists include: Edward Burnett Tylor, James George Frazer, Franz Boas, Bronisław Malinowski, Elsie Clews Parsons, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston, Ruth Benedict, Ella Deloria, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Clifford Geertz, Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Paul Rabinow.
American Anthropologist is the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), published quarterly by Wiley. The "New Series" began in 1899 under an editorial board that included Franz Boas, Daniel G. Brinton, and John Wesley Powell. The current editor-in-chief is Deborah A. Thomas (University of Pennsylvania).The journal publishes research articles from all four subfields of anthropology as well as book reviews and obituaries, and includes sections on Public Anthropologies, Multimodal Anthropologies, and World Anthropologies. The journal also maintains a website with essays, virtual issues, teaching resources, and supplementary material for print articles.Anthropology of religion
Anthropology of religion is the study of religion in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures.Biological anthropology
Biological anthropology, also known as physical anthropology, is a scientific discipline concerned with the biological and behavioral aspects of human beings, their extinct hominin ancestors, and related non-human primates, particularly from an evolutionary perspective. It is a subfield of anthropology that provides a biological perspective to the systematic study of human beings.Bipedalism
Bipedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where an organism moves by means of its two rear limbs or legs. An animal or machine that usually moves in a bipedal manner is known as a biped , meaning "two feet" (from the Latin bis for "double" and pes for "foot"). Types of bipedal movement include walking, running, or hopping.
Few modern species are habitual bipeds whose normal method of locomotion is two-legged. Within mammals, habitual bipedalism has evolved multiple times, with the macropods, kangaroo rats and mice, springhare, hopping mice, pangolins and hominin apes (australopithecines and humans) as well as various other extinct groups evolving the trait independently. In the Triassic period some groups of archosaurs (a group that includes crocodiles and dinosaurs) developed bipedalism; among them the dinosaurs, all the early forms and many later groups were habitual or exclusive bipeds; the birds are members of a clade of exclusively bipedal dinosaurs, the Theropods.
A larger number of modern species intermittently or briefly use a bipedal gait. Several lizard species move bipedally when running, usually to escape from threats. Many primate and bear species will adopt a bipedal gait in order to reach food or explore their environment, though there are a few cases where they walk on their hindlimbs only. Several arboreal primate species, such as gibbons and indriids, exclusively walk on two legs during the brief periods they spend on the ground. Many animals rear up on their hind legs whilst fighting or copulating. Some animals commonly stand on their hind legs, in order to reach food, to keep watch, to threaten a competitor or predator, or to pose in courtship, but do not move bipedally.Colin Groves
Colin Peter Groves (24 June 1942 – 30 November 2017) was Professor of Biological Anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.Born in England, Groves completed a Bachelor of Science at University College London in 1963, and a Doctor of Philosophy at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in 1966. From 1966 to 1973, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher and Teaching Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, Queen Elizabeth College and the University of Cambridge. He emigrated to Australia in 1973 and joined the Australian National University, where he was promoted to full Professor in 2000 and remained Emeritus Professor until his death.Professor Groves' research interests included human evolution, primates, mammalian taxonomy, skeletal analysis, biological anthropology, ethnobiology, cryptozoology, and biogeography. He conducted extensive fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, India, Iran, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Along with the Czech biologist Professor Vratislav Mazák, Groves was the describer of Homo ergaster. Groves also wrote Primate Taxonomy published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 2001, and Ungulate Taxonomy, co-authored by Peter Grubb (2011, Johns Hopkins Press).
He was an active member of the Australian Skeptics and had many published skeptical papers, as well as research papers covering his other research interests. He also conducted regular debates with creationists and anti-evolutionists.Cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans. It is in contrast to social anthropology, which perceives cultural variation as a subset of the anthropological constant.
Cultural anthropology has a rich methodology, including participant observation (often called fieldwork because it requires the anthropologist spending an extended period of time at the research location), interviews, and surveys.
One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term "culture" came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1871 book: "Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." The term "civilization" later gave way to definitions given by V. Gordon Childe, with culture forming an umbrella term and civilization becoming a particular kind of culture.The anthropological concept of "culture" reflects in part a reaction against earlier Western discourses based on an opposition between "culture" and "nature", according to which some human beings lived in a "state of nature". Anthropologists have argued that culture is "human nature", and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically (i.e. in language), and teach such abstractions to others.
Since humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, people living in different places or different circumstances develop different cultures. Anthropologists have also pointed out that through culture people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will often have different cultures. Much of anthropological theory has originated in an appreciation of and interest in the tension between the local (particular cultures) and the global (a universal human nature, or the web of connections between people in distinct places/circumstances).The rise of cultural anthropology took place within the context of the late 19th century, when questions regarding which cultures were "primitive" and which were "civilized" occupied the minds of not only Marx and Freud, but many others. Colonialism and its processes increasingly brought European thinkers into direct or indirect contact with "primitive others." The relative status of various humans, some of whom had modern advanced technologies that included engines and telegraphs, while others lacked anything but face-to-face communication techniques and still lived a Paleolithic lifestyle, was of interest to the first generation of cultural anthropologists.
Parallel with the rise of cultural anthropology in the United States, social anthropology, in which sociality is the central concept and which focuses on the study of social statuses and roles, groups, institutions, and the relations among them—developed as an academic discipline in Britain and in France. The umbrella term socio-cultural anthropology draws upon both cultural and social anthropology traditions.Evolutionary anthropology
Evolutionary anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of the evolution of human physiology and human behaviour and the relation between hominids and non-hominid primates. Evolutionary anthropology is based in natural science and social science. Various fields and disciplines of evolutionary anthropology are:
Human evolution and anthropogeny.
Paleoanthropology and paleontology of both human and non-human primates.
Primatology and primate ethology.
The sociocultural evolution of human behavior, including phylogenetic approaches to historical linguistics.
The evolutionary psychology and evolutionary linguistics of humans.
The archaeological study of human technology and change over time and space.
Human evolutionary genetics and changes in the human genome over time.
The neuroscience, endocrinology, and neuroanthropology of human and primate cognition, culture and actions and abilities.
Human behavioural ecology and the interaction of humans and the environment.
Studies of human anatomy, physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and differences and changes between species, variation between human groups, and relationships to cultural factors.Evolutionary anthropology is concerned with both biological and cultural evolution of humans, past and present. It is based on a scientific approach, and brings together fields such as archaeology, behavioral ecology, psychology, primatology, and genetics. It is a dynamic and interdisciplinary field, drawing on many lines of evidence to understand the human experience, past and present.
Studies of biological evolution generally concern the evolution of the human form. Cultural evolution involves the study of cultural change over time and space and frequently incorporate cultural transmission models. Note that cultural evolution is not the same as biological evolution, and that human culture involves the transmission of cultural information, which behaves in ways quite distinct from human biology and genetics. The study of cultural change is increasingly performed through cladistics and genetic models.Forensic anthropology
Forensic anthropology is the application of the anatomical science of anthropology and its various subfields, including forensic archaeology and forensic taphonomy, in a legal setting. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable, as might happen in a plane crash. Forensic anthropologists are also instrumental to the investigation and documentation of genocide and mass graves. Along with forensic pathologists, forensic dentists, and homicide investigators, forensic anthropologists commonly testify in court as expert witnesses. Using physical markers present on a skeleton, a forensic anthropologist can potentially determine a victim's age, sex, stature, and ancestry. In addition to identifying physical characteristics of the individual, forensic anthropologists can use skeletal abnormalities to potentially determine cause of death, past trauma such as broken bones or medical procedures, as well as diseases such as bone cancer.
The methods used to identify a person from a skeleton relies on the past contributions of various anthropologists and the study of human skeletal differences. Through the collection of thousands of specimens and the analysis of differences within a population, estimations can be made based on physical characteristics. Through these, a set of remains can potentially be identified. The field of forensic anthropology grew during the twentieth century into a fully recognized forensic specialty involving trained anthropologists as well as numerous research institutions gathering data on decomposition and the effects it can have on the skeleton.L. A. Krishna Iyer
Lakshminarayanapuram Ananthakrishna Krishna Iyer was an Indian Anthropologist and a writer of several books on the subject. He was the head of the department of Anthropology at the University of Madras and was credited with studies on the tribal and scheduled caste people of Kerala, a work initiated by his father, L. K. Ananthakrishna Iyer, himself a noted anthropologist. Anthropology in India, Social History of Kerala, a two-volume historical study and The Travancore Tribes and Castes, a three-volume account of the tribal people of southern Kerala are some of his notable works. The Government of India awarded him the third highest civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan, in 1972, for his contributions to science. His son, L. K. Balaratnam, is also a known anthropologist. His daughter, L.K. Ganga Bhagirathy married K.A.Seetharaman, Chief Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. Seetharaman was recently awarded IET CLN Life Time Achievement Award in IET CLN & YP Awards 2016 - 2017 for his outstanding contributions to The Institution of Engineering and Technology.Linguistic anthropology
Linguistic anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of how language influences social life. It is a branch of anthropology that originated from the endeavor to document endangered languages, and has grown over the past century to encompass most aspects of language structure and use.Linguistic anthropology explores how language shapes communication, forms social identity and group membership, organizes large-scale cultural beliefs and ideologies, and develops a common cultural representation of natural and social worlds.MacArthur Fellows Program
The MacArthur Fellows Program, MacArthur Fellowship, commonly but unofficially known as a "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation typically to between 20 and 30 individuals, working in any field, who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction" and are citizens or residents of the United States.According to the Foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential". The current prize is $625,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review of the MacArthur Fellows Program. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows, ranging in age from 18 to 82. The award has been called "one of the most significant awards that is truly 'no strings attached'".The program allows no applications. Anonymous and confidential nominations are invited by the Foundation and reviewed by an anonymous and confidential selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee reviews all nominees and recommends recipients to the president and board of directors. Most new Fellows first learn of their nomination and award upon receiving a congratulatory phone call. MacArthur Fellow Jim Collins described this experience in an editorial column of The New York Times.Cecilia Conrad is the managing director leading the MacArthur Fellows Program.Martian scientist
A Martian scientist or Martian researcher is a hypothetical Martian frequently used in thought experiments as an outside observer of conditions on Earth. The most common variety is the Martian anthropologist, but Martians researching subjects such as philosophy, linguistics and biology have also been invoked.
The following extract from an essay by Richard Dawkins is more or less typical.
A Martian taxonomist who didn't know that all human races happily interbreed with one another, and didn't know that most of the underlying genetic variance in our species is shared by all races might be tempted by our regional differences in skin colour, facial features, hair, body size and proportions to split us into more than one species.In American structuralist linguistics, the Martian approach is recommended for language description:
The descriptive analyst must be guided by certain very fixed principles if he is to be objective in describing accurately any language or part of any language. It would be excellent if he could adopt a completely man-from-Mars attitude toward any language he analyzes and describes.The hypothetical Martian anthropologist is described in the writings of Noam Chomsky as one who, upon studying the world's languages, would conclude that they are all dialects of a single language embodying a "universal grammar" reflecting a hardwired, genetically determined linguistic module inherent in the human brain.
In philosophy, especially philosophy of language and philosophy of mind, the Martian is often invoked as an example of an intelligent being with a cognitive apparatus that differs from that of humans, e.g. the following example given by Saul Kripke:
I will not here argue that simplicity is relative, or that it is hard to define, or that a Martian might find the quus function simpler than the plus function.In a common rhetorical turn, invoking the Martian scientist forces the reader to observe an obvious state of affairs that is ordinarily overlooked:
If a Martian graced our planet, it would be struck by one remarkable similarity among Earth's living creatures and a key difference.(NB: The similarity Chomsky et al. mean is the universal hereditary language of DNA, while the difference is the lack of a universal language of communication.)Robert Boyd (anthropologist)
Robert Turner Boyd (born February 11, 1948) is an American anthropologist. He is Professor of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University (ASU). His research interests include evolutionary psychology and in particular the evolutionary roots of culture. Together with his primatologist wife, Joan B. Silk (who is also a Professor in SHESC at ASU), he wrote the textbook How Humans Evolved.Roberto DaMatta
Roberto DaMatta (born July 29, 1936) is a Brazilian anthropologist. He is an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. DaMatta graduated in history at the Fluminense Federal University and received his PhD from Harvard University.
DaMatta is the author of many books, including Carnivals, Rogues and Heroes: An Interpretation of the Brazilian Dilemma.Salvage ethnography
Salvage ethnography is the recording of the practices and folklore of cultures threatened with extinction, including as a result of modernization. It is generally associated with the American anthropologist Franz Boas; he and his students aimed to record vanishing Native American cultures. Since the 1960s, anthropologists have used the term as part of a critique of 19th-century ethnography and early modern anthropology.Social anthropology
Social anthropology is the dominant constituent of anthropology throughout the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and much of Europe (France in particular), where it is distinguished from cultural anthropology. In the United States, social anthropology is commonly subsumed within cultural anthropology (or under the relatively new designation of sociocultural anthropology).In contrast to cultural anthropology, culture and its continuity (including narratives, rituals, and symbolic behavior associated with them) have been traditionally seen more as the dependent "variable" (cf. explanandum) by social anthropology, embedded in its historical and social context, including its diversity of positions and perspectives, ambiguities, conflicts, and contradictions of social life, rather than the independent (explanatory) one (cf. explanans).
Topics of interest for social anthropologists have included customs, economic and political organization, law and conflict resolution, patterns of consumption and exchange, kinship and family structure, gender relations, childbearing and socialization, religion, while present-day social anthropologists are also concerned with issues of globalism, ethnic violence, gender studies, transnationalism and local experience, and the emerging cultures of cyberspace, and can also help with bringing opponents together when environmental concerns come into conflict with economic developments.
British and American anthropologists including Gillian Tett and Karen Ho who studied Wall Street provided an alternative explanation for the financial crisis of 2007–2010 to the technical explanations rooted in economic and political theory.Differences among British, French, and American sociocultural anthropologies have diminished with increasing dialogue and borrowing of both theory and methods. Social and cultural anthropologists, and some who integrate the two, are found in most institutes of anthropology. Thus the formal names of institutional units no longer necessarily reflect fully the content of the disciplines these cover. Some, such as the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Oxford) changed their name to reflect the change in composition, others, such as Social Anthropology at the University of Kent became simply Anthropology. Most retain the name under which they were founded.
Long-term qualitative research, including intensive field studies (emphasizing participant observation methods) has been traditionally encouraged in social anthropology rather than quantitative analysis of surveys, questionnaires and brief field visits typically used by economists, political scientists, and (most) sociologists.Tabloid journalism
Tabloid journalism, also known as rag newspaper, is a style of journalism that emphasizes sensational crime stories, gossip columns about celebrities and sports stars, extreme political views and opinions from one perspective, junk food news, and astrology. Although it is associated with tabloid-size newspapers, not all newspapers associated with tabloid journalism are tabloid size, and not all tabloid-size newspapers engage in tabloid journalism; in particular, since about 2000 many broadsheet newspapers converted to the more compact tabloid format. Tabloid journalism often concerns itself with rumors about the private lives of celebrities. In some cases, celebrities have successfully sued for libel, demonstrating that tabloid stories have defamed them.
Notable publications engaging in tabloid journalism include the National Enquirer, and Globe in North America; and the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, The Sun, and the former News of the World in the United Kingdom.Tesgüino
Tesgüino is a corn beer made by the Tarahumara Indians of Sierra Madre in Mexico. The Tarahumaras regard the beer as sacred, and it forms a significant part of their society. Anthropologist John Kennedy reports that "the average Tarahumaras spends at least 100 days per year directly concerned with tesgüino and much of this time under its influence or aftereffects."Visual anthropology
Visual anthropology is a subfield of social anthropology that is concerned, in part, with the study and production of ethnographic photography, film and, since the mid-1990s, new media. More recently it has been used by historians of science and visual culture. Although sometimes wrongly conflated with ethnographic film, Visual Anthropology encompasses much more, including the anthropological study of all visual representations such as dance and other kinds of performance, museums and archiving, all visual arts, and the production and reception of mass media. Histories and analyses of representations from many cultures are part of Visual Anthropology: research topics include sandpaintings, tattoos, sculptures and reliefs, cave paintings, scrimshaw, jewelry, hieroglyphics, paintings and photographs. Also within the province of the subfield are studies of human vision, properties of media, the relationship of visual form and function, and applied, collaborative uses of visual representations. Multimodal anthropology describes the latest turn in the subfield, which considers how emerging technologies like immersive virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile apps, social networking, gaming along with film, photography and art is reshaping anthropological research, practice and teaching.