Unlike Sociologists or Political Scientists or Psychologists or any other Social Scientists, Anthropologists are called ‘The Mild Breed’.
All social science disciplines study the individuals and societies in different norms with different approaches, and different research methodologies. But Anthropology as a discipline has been accused for many years for not being active as others.
Let us take example of Sociology, the discipline known for giving fierce social warriors out who constantly struggle against the problems and atrocities in society and demand for reforms and restructure. Many renowned social activists have sociological approach to social problems. And they are branded standing vanguard against any social issue.
And it’s same with Political Science, Economics, and Psychology etc. They are known. They are known very sound in public domain.
Try to conduct questionnaire in public sampling people representing various sets of society with a simple and singular question ‘What is Anthropology?’. It is assured that you will have amusement while evaluating out the responses.
Many will struggle even to pronounce the word ‘Anthropology’. Some may suggest it to be the study of stars, cockroaches or any word that raids their memory at that instance. Close social discipline colleagues will suggest Anthropology to be study of stone tools, tribal, skulls and so on. And naive Anthropologists will confidently say Anthropology is scientific study of human beings in whole which includes analysing their physical and cultural being in present and past. Don’t ask them further since that’s all they have been made to get.
Okay. Let it be. Do same research with questions like this ‘What is Archaeology’, ‘What is Psychology?’, ‘What is Sociology?’, ‘What is Economics?’
Its assured that you will receive prompt replies perfectly explaining the fields and their ideas. The answers will be clear cut in comparison with prior responses to Anthropology. Anthropology is not so popular. It’s true. And there remains a great confusion in understanding it.
And further from time to time in US, politicians had deliberately demanded to stop National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Funding for Anthropology questioning ‘Where the Science is in Anthropology?’, And recently federal government had considered this proposal so seriously leading president of American Anthropological Association (AAA) to draft mail to its members requesting coordination.
Anthropology has been accused for ‘objectiveless’ in nature surviving by scavenging or parasiting on other social disciplines. It’s also blamed that Anthropology deludes by stating objectiveless or unattainable objective that it has holistic approach on scientifically studying human beings.
Established institutions and organizations had tried their best to open up an applied rank for Anthropology ranging from Biological to Social extents. But still a biological Anthropologist working on genetics turn out to be geneticist. An Anthropologist working on Languages becomes Linguist. An Anthropologist employed on society changes to be Sociologist. An Anthropologist working on primates converts to be primatologist. An Anthropologist detailing a tribe becomes ethnographer. An anthropologist working on past fossils and artefacts befits into Archaeologist. An Anthropologist working on something becomes that thing and not labelled as ‘Anything Anthropology’.
Is Anthropology not a discipline? Does it really bugs on other disciplines? Is there any prerequisite for Anthropology when every other fields exist independently even without Anthropology? Does it certainly has an application? Where it’s serious registering its existence? Does it really exists?
I’ll say in a sentence, the answer for these questions before further explaining the stuff.
‘Anthropology has ever been and ever will be an Approach and never a Discipline’
In both the sense Anthropology is a bit unruly in nature which can never be tamed into discipline just like its subject Human. It cannot be restricted with mock borders which divide other disciplines. The attempt of many institutes and organizations to jar it exclusively as a structured discipline even after trying to ‘apply’ it commercially, has ended up vain.
Since creation of its base by amateur travellers, merchants and mercenaries it has been an attempt to bridge lucid artistic accounts with rigid scientific recording on Human Beings. It walks peacefully like a cat on the wall with Science on one side and Arts on the other. Though this cat may look unsteady, by nature it is fully steady to handle its unsteadiness. It has both tendency to be as wild as animal and as gentle as mystic. The prudent lies with those who like to walk on its path.
Anthropology attempts to study the utmost complex, utmost chaotic, utmost mysterious, utmost enigmatic, utmost daring and utmost fluctuating existence in the known dimensions, The Homo Sapiens. The objective of Anthropology looks deceiving and unhopeful because of its most complex, most chaotic, most enigmatic, most daring, and most fluctuating objective. Which can never be wholly understandable. That why Anthropology is called ‘Holistic’ not ‘Wholistic’. When you declare you had understood, it will change its form and nature. Anthropology in reality can never learn Human in complete, but can approach to learn him in complete.
Anthropology is not alone. It still has a great and world renowned companion with its nature in Natural Sciences. ‘The New Physics’ which has successfully emerged in recent decades has the same peculiar qualities of the Anthropology with its weird Standard Model, Multi Verse, Super Symmetry and all once called Mystic views. The new era of science has begun. The strict disciplinary boundaries will disappear in near future for the intelligent leaving the old trail of boundaries for applied professionals to be trained. We need to advance further to appreciate the dimension of knowledge and its nature. And permanently the matured are known for their Gentleness and are called ‘Mild Breed’. They know the ultimate truth. That nothing can be deduced with firmness. Nature is Inquisitive.
Anthropology though named some hundred years aback, has been in approach from the very beginning of humankind by the name of Legends, by the name of Prophecies, by the name of Religion, by the name of Art, by the name of Science. So, attempt to remove Anthropology noting it’s peculiarity will merely remove only its label yet will be existing in some other label retaining its form and nature, until there will be mankind.