When heard, some people think of archaeologists excavating the soil surrounding the pyramids of Egypt. But this is a limited point of view. Anthropology studies people from all times and places while keeping themselves culturally modest. The branch of social science is concerned with being as unbiased as possible. Since Ethnocentricity almost always bears bias, cultural modesty is crucial in getting a holistic view, a view that takes into account all aspects of the cultures studied. Anthropology also looks to humanize other human beings such as drug dealers, terrorists, hacktivists and even cannibals. An example of an anthropologist’s work on humanization is a book called In Search of Respect by Phillippe Burgois. In this book, Burgois talks to drug dealers and uncovers a discovery that enables him to have sympathy for them. Drug dealers do their job for income and for respect, hence, the book title.
Anthropology is divided into four disciplines, and cultural will be discussed in further detail in this article.
Cultural Anthropology is about studying culture, specifically; patterns of thought, behavior, and feelings exposed in a society while taking into account all aspects of culture. The focus is on viewing humans as cultural producers and cultural reproducers. But what is culture from an anthropological perspective? It is a society’s shared beliefs and transmitted ideas, values, and perceptions that are used to make sense of experience and generate ideas reflected in behavior. This behavior is almost always unconscious and societies use standard behavior –behavior that’s common among a group of people– to operate.
Linguistic Anthropology studies human language by integrating the structured history, and relation to social and cultural contexts. This sub-discipline’s research is guided by questions such as how language reflects culture, and how language use differ with different society members.
Written By: Sara Rebeca Palacios