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anthropology

DEFINITION

Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος, "human" or "person") consists of the study of humanity (see genus Homo). It is holistic in two senses: it is concerned with all humans at all times and with all dimensions of humanity. A primary trait that traditionally distinguished anthropology from other humanistic disciplines is an emphasis on cultural relativity, in-depth examination of context, and cross-cultural comparisons.


SUBDIVISIONS

In North America, "anthropology" is traditionally divided into four sub-disciplines:

Physical anthropology, or biological anthropology, which studies primate behavior, human evolution, osteology, forensics and population genetics;

Cultural anthropology, (called social anthropology in the United Kingdom and now often known as socio-cultural anthropology). Areas studied by cultural anthropologists include social networks, diffusion, social behavior, kinship patterns, law, politics, ideology, religion, beliefs, patterns in production and consumption, exchange, socialization, gender, and other expressions of culture, with strong emphasis on the importance of fieldwork or participant-observation (i.e living among the social group being studied for an extended period of time);

Linguistic anthropology, which studies variation in language across time and space, the social uses of language, and the relationship between language and culture, and

Archaeology, which studies the material remains of human societies. Archaeology itself is normally treated as a separate (but related) field in the rest of the world, although closely related to the anthropological field of material culture, which deals with physical objects created or used within a living or past group as mediums of understanding its cultural values.

More recently, some anthropology programs began dividing the field into two, one emphasizing the humanities and critical theory, the other emphasizing the natural sciences and empirical observation.



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