Anthropology can be utilized to explain the present, such as pop-culture anthropology, where experts study how humans relate to each other. For example, anthropologists study how teens use social media and what data can be extrapolated to study how teens behave toward one another using that specific framework. Forensic anthropology seeks to answer questions about the dead within the current population. This discipline seeks to answer questions that pertain to human interaction and how humans interpret the world around them. Anthropology is consistently applied to all things past and present. This field is important to understand because if we know what we were doing in the past, it can help shape our future.
Anthropology is the study of culture. The entire point of the study is to explain that culture to someone who doesn't understand it.
We break the study into four parts. It is entirely based on how we study things.
Cultural anthropologists go into a culture and try to live with the people as closely as possible. They make sure to ask questions when confused or needing help.
Archaeologists study culture by looking at the remains of that culture. Things like buildings, pots, eating utensils, and art are things they look for. The culture can often still be around, just not using the ruins anymore. I have studied buildings like malls, and looked at them as an archaeologist would.
Linguists look at the culture of language and how words are used. They can see the history of people by how the word the is spelled differently depending on where you are. This includes things like non verbal communication. I did a study based on how several cultures pointed with their face or lips instead of their hand.
Biological or Skeletal Anthropology is done by looking at the bones and environment of the culture to see what they needed to do to survive. My ancestors can see better in the dark than others, and gave us an amazing skill with staying warm in cold weather. I was told about this when I lived in Phoenix Arizona.
Being able to explain a culture to others can often help people know how to deal with each other. For example, I was chatting with friends all over the world today, and helped them understand each other because I knew about their cultures and ideas. They all spoke English, but the cultural differences had to be explained.
We often look at our lives and don't see how different and weird our own habits can be. Having someone explain helps us understand our own culture and how others use theirs.
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For example, as an environmental anthropologist, I am most passionate about understanding human-environment interactions in all its myriad forms (ecological, economic, sociocultural, and evolutionary) and using this insight to help solve environmental challenges such as conservation and climate change. Particularly in the era of the Anthropocene – our current geological period where human activity is a dominating force on climate and environment – environmental anthropology can help us explore, understand, and problem-solve for questions including; What is the relationship between nature and culture? How is the concept of wilderness used and for what purpose? How can we use political ecology to understand forms of environmental degradation like deforestation? What are the characteristics, motivations, and actions, of different forms of environmentalism? How is group X being impacted by climate change? How do locals in area X practice sustainability? What are the dynamics of environmental governance in area X and what is the relationship between local knowledge, social institutions, and conservationists? What is the importance of preserving traditional ecological knowledge? How can anthropology help us to rethink the human-environment nexus? How is fishery X being co-managed?
Another reason why anthropology should be applied to society is that anthropologists largely take a qualitative approach to data collection, including interviewing and participant observation. Anthropological methodologies value individual perspectives, search for the fine details, provide holistic understandings, and allow us to learn and be guided by what participants/informants think, say, and do. This complements the quantitative data collection other disciplines rely on for problem-solving (think algorithms and big data sets analyzed by data scientists).
Finally, anthropology just has a way of giving you "a-ha" moments all the time!
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