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An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present societies. [1] [2] [3] 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.

Anthropology is the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.

Human Species of hominid

Humans are the only extant members of the subtribe Hominina. Together with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, they are part of the family Hominidae. A terrestrial animal, humans are characterized by their erect posture and bipedal locomotion; high manual dexterity and heavy tool use compared to other animals; open-ended and complex language use compared to other animal communications; larger, more complex brains than other animals; and highly advanced and organized societies.

Society group of people related to each other through persistent relations

A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.



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.

Undergraduate education is education conducted after secondary education and prior to post-graduate education. It typically includes all the academic programs up to the level of a bachelor's degree. For example, in the United States, an entry level university student is known as an undergraduate, while students of higher degrees are known as graduates. In some other educational systems, undergraduate education is post-secondary education up to the level of a master's degree; this is the case for some science courses in Britain and some medicine courses in Europe.

Postgraduate education, or graduate education in North America, involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications for which a first or bachelor's degree generally is required, and it is normally considered to be part of higher education. In North America, this level is typically referred to as graduate school.

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. [4]


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). [5] 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. [6] [7]

A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data. GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries, analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of all these operations. GIS sometimes refers to geographic information science (GIScience), the science underlying geographic concepts, applications, and systems.

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%). [8] [9] 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. [10] [11]

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

The ten-year occupational employment projection is a projection produced by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections. The occupational employment projections, along with other information about occupations, are published in the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the National Employment Matrix.

Anthropologists without doctorates tend to work more in other fields than academia, while the majority of those with doctorates are primarily employed in academia. [12] 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. [13] Many anthropologists report an above average level of job satisfaction.

An academy is an institution of secondary education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Academia is the worldwide group composed of professors and researchers at institutes of higher learning.

Although closely related and often grouped with archaeology, anthropologists and archaeologists perform differing roles, though archeology is considered a sub-discipline of anthropology. [14] 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. [14] 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. [15] 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. [16]

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. [17] 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. [18] However, forensic anthropologists tend to gravitate more toward working in academic and laboratory settings, while forensic pathologists perform more applied field work. [19] Forensic anthropologists typically hold academic doctorates, while forensic pathologists are medical doctors. [20] The field of forensic anthropology is rapidly evolving with increasingly capable technology and more extensive databases. [21] 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. [22]

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. [23] Anthropologists in this field primarily study the evolution of human reciprocal relations with the computer-generated world. [24] Cyber anthropologists also study digital and cyber ethics along with the global implications of increasing connectivity. [25] 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. [26] Cyber anthropologists study the co-evolutionary relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. [27] This includes the examination of computer-generated (CG) environments and how people interact with them through media such as movies, television, and video.

Further reading

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.

See also

Related Research Articles

Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group. The word can thus be said to have a double meaning, which partly depends on whether it is used as a count noun or uncountable. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group.

American Anthropological Association learned society

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is an organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 10,000 members, the association, based in Arlington, Virginia, includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, linguistic anthropologists, linguists, medical anthropologists and applied anthropologists in universities and colleges, research institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations and non-profits throughout the world. The AAA publishes more than 20 peer-reviewed scholarly journals, available in print and online through AnthroSource. The AAA was founded in 1902.

Forensic anthropology Application of the science of anthropology in a legal setting

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.

Applied anthropology refers to the application of the method and theory of anthropology to the analysis and solution of practical problems. In Applied Anthropology: Domains of Application, Kedia and Van Willigen define the process as a "complex of related, research-based, instrumental methods which produce change or stability in specific cultural systems through the provision of data, initiation of direct action, and/or the formulation of policy". More simply, applied anthropology is the praxis-based side of anthropological research; it includes researcher involvement and activism within the participating community.

Osteology is the scientific study of bones, practiced by osteologists. A subdiscipline of anatomy, anthropology, and archaeology, osteology is a detailed study of the structure of bones, skeletal elements, teeth, microbone morphology, function, disease, pathology, the process of ossification, the resistance and hardness of bones (biophysics), etc. often used by scientists with identification of vertebrate remains with regard to age, death, sex, growth, and development and can be used in a biocultural context. Osteologists frequently work in the public and private sector as consultants for museums, scientists for research laboratories, scientists for medical investigations and/or for companies producing osteological reproductions in an academic context.

A body farm is a research facility where decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings. They were invented by anthropologist Dr. William Bass in 1987 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee where Dr. Bass was interested in studying the decomposition of a human corpse from the time of death to the time of decay. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the decomposition process, permitting the development of techniques for extracting information such as the timing and circumstances of death from human remains. Body farm research is of particular interest in forensic anthropology and related disciplines, and has applications in the fields of law enforcement and forensic science. By placing the bodies outside to face the elements, researchers are able to get a better understanding of the decomposition process.

Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff Austrian anthropologist

Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff was an anthropologist and archaeologist known for his research and also in-depth fieldwork among many different Amerindian cultures such as in the Amazonian tropical rainforests, and also among dozens of other indigenous groups in Colombia in the Caribbean Coast, as well as other living in the Pacific Coast, Llanos Orientales, and in the Andean and inter-Andean regions (Muisca) as well as in other areas of Colombia, and he also did research on campesino societies. For nearly six decades he advanced ethnographic and anthropological studies, as well as archeological research, and as a scholar was a prolific writer and public figure renowned as a staunch defender of indigenous peoples. Reichel-Dolmatoff has worked with other archaeologists and anthropologists such as Marianne Cardale de Schrimpff, Ana María Groot, Gonzalo Correal Urrego and others. He died in 1994 in Colombia.

William Ross Maples, Ph.D. (1937–1997) was a noted forensic anthropologist working at the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the Florida Museum of Natural History. His specialty was the study of bones. He worked on many high-profile criminal investigations, many of them concerning historical figures such as Francisco Pizarro, the Romanov family, Joseph Merrick, President Zachary Taylor and Medgar Evers. His insights often proved beneficial in closing cases that otherwise may have remained unsolved.

Digital anthropology is the anthropological study of the relationship between humans and digital-era technology. The field is new, and thus has a variety of names with a variety of emphases. These include techno-anthropology, digital ethnography, cyberanthropology, and virtual anthropology.

Feminist anthropology is a four-field approach to anthropology that seeks to transform research findings, anthropological hiring practices, and the scholarly production of knowledge, using insights from feminist theory. Simultaneously, feminist anthropology challenges essentialist feminist theories developed in Europe and America. While feminists practiced cultural anthropology since its inception, it was not until the 1970s that feminist anthropology was formally recognized as a subdiscipline of anthropology. Since then, it has developed its own subsection of the American Anthropological Association – the Association for Feminist Anthropology – and its own publication, Voices.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to anthropology:

Urban anthropology is a subset of anthropology concerned with issues of urbanization, poverty, urban space, social relations, and neoliberalism. The field has become consolidated in the 1960s and 1970s.

Tim Ingold British anthropologist

Timothy Ingold, FBA, FRSE is a British anthropologist, and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen.

John Lawrence Angel British-American biological anthropologist

John Lawrence Angel (1915–1986) was a British-American biological anthropologist born on 21 March 1915 in London. His writings have had the biggest impact on paleodemography.

Mercedes Doretti is an Argentine forensic anthropologist based in New York City. She is known for finding evidence of crimes against humanity. She was awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" prize in 2007.

Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban American archaeologist and anthropologist

Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban is an anthropologist and Sudanist and a co-founder and past president of the Sudan Studies Association. Fluehr-Lobban is a specialist in Islamic law, anthropology and ethics, human rights, cultural relativism and universal rights, and has authored texts books on Islamic societies and on race and racism. She is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island; also a lecturer at the Naval War College. She is also a beekeeper and lectures on bees and beekeeping.

María Constanza Ceruti is an Argentinian high-altitude archaeologist and anthropologist who has done more than 80 field surveys, most of them with National Geographic teams in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. She specializes in excavating Inca Empire ceremonial centers on the summits of Andean mountains. Her most important finding are the Llullaillaco Mummies, the best preserved mummies in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. She's the only archaeologist specialized in the field of High Mountains. She's also a researcher in the CONICET, director of the Institute of High Mountain Research at the Catholic University of Salta and teacher of a class that bears her name: Sacred Mountains - Constanza Ceruti.

Hester A. Davis American archaeologist

Hester A. Davis (1930-2014) was an American archaeologist. Arkansas' first State Archaeologist, she was instrumental in creating national public policy and conservancy standards for cultural preservation as well as developing professional and ethical standards for archaeologists. She was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including two distinguished service awards and induction into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame.

Herbert Spinden

Herbert Joseph Spinden (1879–1967) was an American anthropologist, archeologist and art historian who specialized in the study of Native American cultures of the US and Mesoamerica. In 1936 he was president of the American Anthropological Association. He was born in Huron, South Dakota. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1909 at Harvard where he specialized in Maya art under the direction of Alfred Tozzer, he then worked American Museum of Natural History where he undertook archeological studies in Mexico and Central America. While working as an archeologist in Central America he and Sylvanus G. Morley were among the American scientists gathering intelligence for the US Army. He then curated the collection of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, before taking museum positions in Brooklyn and Buffalo. He also did ethnographic studies among the Nez Percé. In 1919 he published a study of Maya calendrics giving a correlation between the Maya calendar and the gregorian calendar - a correlation which was nonetheless not widely accepted.


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