A lot of people I’ve come across don’t understand what I say when I explain I study anthropology. They often say “oh that’s where you look at really old human bones, right?” No. Or they ask “is that the field where you excavate for old artifacts?” No.
Anthropology is essentially the study of human beings and how humans interact with their environment, each other and themselves.
For me, anthropology provides a bridge between human differences and similarities. It’s a way of going outside yourself and gaining a new perspective. A perspective you never would have had if you hadn’t sought it out.
For me, this is not just a possible career path, but a very important and useful tool for life.
Some anthropologists believe that our culture is what creates us. That how we were raised and what we are taught and the environment we live in determines who we are. Other anthropologists argue that this disregards individuality and human agency.
I am on the fence about this.
I believe I am a product of my environment. But I also believe that I have the ability to break out of this environment and adapt to something new. Isn’t that what makes us human? The ability to deal with and adapt to change. The ability to survey situations and adjust and self regulate our behaviour accordingly. The ability to empathise, rationalise and view ourselves as individuals.
This is something we all have in common.
Anthropology creates the ability to view oneself as an individual, yet be able to consciously put ones personal opinions and judgements aside in order to understand a new idea, perspective, way of viewing the world.
We aren’t all wrong. We aren’t all right either.