USA Anthropology



printer friendly version

What's Anthropology, Anyway?

Anthropology is the study of humankind, past and present, around the world. Anthropologists usually work in one of four subfields: archaeology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, or physical anthropology.

What does an Archaeologist do?

Archaeologists seek to understand the workings and evolution of past societies by studying their material culture (usually things left behind, like artifacts). Most professional archaeologists work in cultural resource management (CRM) - they mitigate the effects of federal undertakings on archaeological sites. Other archaeologists are employed by museums, universities, and government agencies.

What's Cultural Anthropology?

Cultural anthropologists study contemporary peoples using the method of participant observation. They study economics, political ideologies, religions, child-rearing practices, kinship, food preparation practices, as well as other aspects of social life. They seek to understand how each of these social and cultural institutions evolve and affect each other. Cultural anthropologists are increasingly being employed by corporations, non-profit and advocacy groups, and government agencies.

What's Physical Anthropology all about?

Physical anthropologists study human biology in relation to the natural and cultural environment. While some physical anthropologists may work in an academic setting, others work in private genetics labs, pharmaceutical firms, and law enforcement. They may give assistance to law enforcement in cases of unsolved deaths, study the evolution of the human species, or trace genetic abnormalities in populations.

What does a Linguistic Anthropologist study?

Language is a hallmark of all human societies. Linguistic anthropologists study forms of communication in relation to culture and society. They are also interested in the historical evolution of languages and work with native societies to revitalize and preserve their traditional languages. In addition to working in academic settings, linguistic anthropologists are often employed by government agencies and corporations.