Anthropology is a science that arises from the need to understand, on the one hand, the diversity of the physical characteristics of human beings, and on the other, to compare descriptively different human groups.
However, as its development and scientific recognition has progressed, Anthropology has extended and systematized its practices in different branches. Next we will explain what is and what are the four main branches of Anthropology.
What is Anthropology?
Anthropology is the scientific discipline that is responsible for understanding what makes us human. For this, it analyzes both the physical aspects and the sociocultural manifestations of different groups and in different periods.
Specifically, anthropologists are interested in studying how and why people behave and interact in a certain way; question that can be analyzed from very different perspectives.
Many anthropologists work, for example, analyzing the area of economics or politics, others health, education or law. But there can be many more. For Anthropology, the fields of study are as varied as human diversity.
Likewise, the forms that Anthropology has created to study this, vary according to the place and the specific context where they have arisen. For example, there are traditions of anthropology that do not apply equally in the United States than in Latin America.
This is because the needs and lifestyles of are different depending on the context, and that is precisely what Anthropology seeks to understand.
Main branches of Anthropology
In the beginning, Anthropology was dedicated to studying non-Western practices and cosmovisions of different groups, such as ceremonies, rituals, divination, among others.
However, their fields of study have become much more diverse as the same discipline has progressed.
Thus, the object of study of Anthropology covers a wide range of possibilities. That is why it is usually divided into different fields.
According to the American Anthropological Association, there are four main branches of this discipline. In turn, each of these branches of Anthropology can be subdivided into different topics and according to specific interests.
1. Biological anthropology
Biological anthropology (in some places it is known as Physical Anthropology) is responsible for understanding how human beings have adapted to different environments. More specifically, it is responsible, for example, to study what are the causes of diseases or how we have evolved differently from other species.
They are also interested in understanding how biology and culture shape lifestyles and human behavior in general.
2. Cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology, which in some places is also known as sociocultural anthropology or ethnology, explores how people from different places live and understand the world.
They ask themselves how the rules that establish the forms of interaction are generated in a great diversity of contexts.
To do this, they analyze the points of view of the people. These points of view allow them to understand the perspective, practices, values and social organization of human groups.
3. Linguistic anthropology
Those who study Linguistic Anthropology are interested in analyzing the different ways of establishing communication that exist between human beings. That is, understand how language is linked to the ways of understanding the world and relate to it.
More specifically, it is about looking at how language manifests itself in different ways and how its uses change over time, creating meanings and even changing identities and relationships. These two concepts, language and communication, are the keys to understanding society and culture.
Archeology is responsible for studying human culture by analyzing the objects, materials, tools and constructions that people have made throughout history and in different places.
To do this, the most common practice is to remove these objects from the earth, and to map the location of the constructions, in order to better understand how people’s daily lives were, as well as to understand the differences and similarities between human societies. through time.
How do these branches of study apply?
The different branches of Anthropology can be applied in very diverse contexts. For example, at the local level, in communities, trying to understand their problems related to health, or education.
Or, they can be applied in museums or in archaeological sites, that help to reconstruct the past. In this same sense it can be applied in the big cities, that is, in the analysis of the practices and spaces of the present.
They can also be applied in the business or technological field, since the latter can give many clues about how we have evolved and how our needs and lifestyles are constantly changing.