Fields and subfields of Anthropology:
Anthropology is the study of us, humans, both past and present. The word itself derived from the Greek “anthropos” (humans) and “logia” (study). Anthropologists study both our human species and our closest related species, the primates which include lemurs, monkeys and apes. Some of the fields and subfields of specialization within anthropology include:
- Social and cultural anthropology: the study of culture and societies from around the world;
- Ethnography and ethnology: the study and analysis of peoples from around the world, through fieldwork and participant-observation;
- Archaeology: the study of human societies through their material remains;
- Physical or biological anthropology: the study of human evolution and human biology;
- Paleoanthropology: the study of human and primate evolution, through the study of fossilized remains;
- Primatology: the study of primates including gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys and lemurs;
- Forensic anthropology: applying anthropological expertise to the study of human remains in a legal setting (ranging from the study of local criminal cases to international cases of war crimes through the excavation of the graves of victims);
- Linguistic: the study of human language with specialized methods developed to record and analyze languages worldwide and language use in everyday life;
- Applied: the use of anthropology applied to a variety of tasks in the public and private sector. Though recognized as a separate sub-discipline, all of anthropology can be applied, and Canadian anthropologists have a long tradition of working in partnership with communities.
Though CASCA is comprised primarily of social and cultural anthropologists, our association welcomes all anthropologists, both academic and practicing.
Some of the features of anthropology:
- Holism: anthropologists study any component of humanity in relation to the larger cultural and social whole. This means that humans are seen as living in a web of culture and social relations whereby any belief or activity is tied inextricably to all others;
- Comparative study: at the outset, anthropology distinguished itself from the other social sciences (sociology, political science, philosophy, etc…) in that it studied the “Other” or cultures and societies far from Europe or indigenous societies in North America. However, disciplinary boundaries have blurred with many anthropologists studying at home in their own societies and cultures. Nonetheless, even those anthropologists studying locally will call upon expertise acquired by the discipline globally to better understand their own culture.
Anthropology as a Career:
Anthropologists work in federal, provincial and local governments, international agencies, healthcare centers, nonprofit associations, research institutes and the private sector. Many anthropologists work as consultants applying their expertise to conduct archaeological excavations and cultural resource management, to conduct impact or needs studies or to help develop policy for governmental or non-governmental organizations. One of the goals that CASCA has set for itself in coming years is to play a greater role in helping anthropologists both academics and those practicing their discipline outside of academia to network and to share expertise gained both in terms of methods and theory.