DSST Anthropology as a Discipline 2

DSST Anthropology as a Discipline 2 - Physical anthropology...

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Anthropology as a Discipline - Branches and Methodologies Physical anthropology, sometimes called "biological anthropology," studies the mechanisms of biological evolution, genetic inheritance, human adaptability and variation, primatology, and the fossil record of human evolution. It includes the study of human genetics, paleontology, ethnic characteristics, anthropomorphic and biometric measurements etc. The subject matter of physical anthropology is the nature of distinction between the human races . It also studies the process of transfer of physical characteristics from one generation to the other. The study of races requires the study of human genetics . Genetics studies the genesis of man, heredity of generations and variations between them. Anthropometry has been classified into two branches – the study of physical structures of living human beings and that of fossils. For example, anthropologists have dealt with traits like length and breadth of the head, color and skin texture . Cultural anthropology, also called socio -cultural anthropology, is one of four commonly recognized fields of anthropology, the holistic study of humanity. It 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 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 been motivated by 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 distant places). Modern socio-cultural anthropology has its origins in 19th century Ethnology . It involves the systematic comparison of human societies. A description of a culture's common attitudes beliefs and behaviors is called ethnography . An ethnographer spends time living among the people of a society in order to observe, document, and interview them and learn of their customs. Scholars like E.B. Tylor and J.G. Frazer in England worked mostly with materials collected by others – usually missionaries , explorers, or colonial officials – and are today called "arm-chair anthropologists." Ethnologists were especially interested in why people living in different parts of the world sometimes had similar beliefs and practices. In his influential work The Golden Bough , Sir James George Frazer argues that religion begins as an attempt to control nature through magic. Frazer's magic theory identifies a belief in magic as a step in the evolution of the human mind. The highly evolved person, Frazer argues, will turn away from magic and religion, and embrace science.
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