Anthropology Rock paintings with magnifier on paper close up

Anthropology (the Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Anthropologist)


Anthropology studies the roots and behaviors of humankind that make our species unique. From our evolutionary pasts to our modern present; from the individual to the society. Although it doesn't focus so much on society—sociology takes charge of that area. Anthropology focuses more on other aspects of humans like our physical traits, environmental and social relations, and general culture. It is particularly interested in how these things have changed over time, making archaeology and other historical record analysis an important part of the field. In this category of Direct Knowledge, you'll find various anthropology articles exploring the history of the field, the main topics within it, and new developments on the horizon.

Anthropology Articles on History and Background

The term anthropology originally appeared in Renaissance Germany, but first started being used in English in the early 18th century. At first it was only sporadically in use, but increasingly gained popularity. By the mid-1800s, multiple organizations of anthropologists formed in the US and Europe. Some of the main goals of these organizations were defending human rights, such as opposing slavery.

Throughout the 19th century, studies in linguistics, anatomy, history, and ethnic studies began contributing more to anthropology. Theorists in these fields saw many similarities between diverse groups of people often thought to be entirely different from one another. And not just similarities between people; they saw that animals and humans might not be so different from one another either. They started to explore the pathways through which these similarities appeared in people, languages, cultures, and species.

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was a culmination and affirmation of many of the suspicions that had arose concerning the similarities between species. Much of the focus of theorists at this point became the goal of determining what specifically distinguishes humans from other animals. Aspects such as speech, civilization, psychology, and anatomy were considered the keys in this distinction. Throughout the latter half of the 19th century the number of official anthropological societies and organizations increased dramatically.

Now, anthropology has reached a global level of proliferation with many subdivisions. Anthropology articles exist on many topics and platforms for everyone to learn about it. Some of the newer fields of research include gender equality and multiculturalism, but in general there are four main fields. Below you'll find brief descriptions of the four fields as well as links to articles with further details.

Main Subdivisions of Anthropology Articles


This field of anthropology focuses on the physical aspects of humans. It especially looks at the physical differences and similarities between humans and other species of animals. This includes the species that humans originate from, making evolution an important part of the discipline. You can find biological anthropology articles here, in which the following are the main branches: paleoanthropology, human biology, primatology, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, paleopathology, and bioarchaeology.


Archaeology is the study of specifically human remains and activities from the past. This usually involves the recovery of items or analysis of landscapes affected by humans. Through looking at these things from the past, we can determine how people lived and events that happened to them or that they directly caused. Archaeology is particularly critical when written records don't exist either from destructive events or from the lack of record keeping altogether. This field is sometimes considered its own distinct discipline from anthropology, depending on region, but the close relation between the two is undeniable.


This area of anthropology looks at the sociological and cultural aspects of the field. This means looking at how humans interact with one another and their surroundings. The sociocultural anthropology articles here involve psychology, philosophy, literature, and history. Studying these areas helps us understand the differences between societies so that we can better accept them. This is increasingly important in today's age of globalization where so much mixing of cultures is taking place the world over. Some of the main areas of study are kinship, law and conflict resolution, consumption and exchange patters, material culture, technology, gender, ethnicity, religion, and social, economic, and political organization.


Because the human ability to speak is generally quite unique, we focus greatly on understanding its origins and characteristics. Although, the ability to speak verbally isn't the only important characteristic in this field. Non-verbal communication through signs, gestures, and writing are also critical both today and in the evolution of language and communication. Related fields that often found in linguistic anthropology articles are cognitive linguistics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and pragmatics. This field also looks at modern language and communication between cultures. This makes anthropology an important part of international relations and peacekeeping.

Careers in Anthropology and Related Articles

A job in this field might be a good fit if you're interested in different cultures throughout place and time. It's also best if you are open to new ideas and ways of thinking. After all, the job will likely involve interaction with foreign cultures and methods of living.

The tasks of the job itself can range far and wide and include a range of positions. Anthropologists generally work for the government, consulting firms, or research organizations. They might perform hands-on work in laboratories or in the field, especially if specializing in archaeology. Some potential positions might include attorney, professor, human resource representative, media planner, or international relations positions.

Before starting a career in the field, one would need a master's degree in anthropology, and potentially a PhD as well. Working after only obtaining a bachelor's could be possible, but limits opportunities to lower positions such as assistant positions and field work. The median pay for master's degree holders is over 60,000 dollars according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a small amount of growth in the field.

All of these factors really depend on the specific areas of education and work. You can get a better idea of what anthropologists are capable of by checking out the articles in this category. Use them to supplement classes for students who are getting into the field, or keep the curious mind up to date.

Anthropology Books

What truly makes us human is somewhat up for debate, and always has been. Some say it’s our ability to create and use language. Some say our interconnected societies and ability to work together. Others see it as a purely biological feature resulting from evolution. These anthropology books delve into the details of these areas, looking at how they relate to people and society and how that relationship has changed over time.

Anthropology Books Archaeology Researcher Reconstructing Ancient Tool

A Look at People Through Time and Space

To study anthropology means studying the meaning of culture, behavior, and societies through time. Big and small, ancient and modern; all societies can teach us a great deal. And learning about people from the past can shed light on our own way of life today. We might rediscover methods of living and doing things that were lost over time. Or, maybe we can learn from the mistakes that others made and be able to avoid the same blunders.

Culture and Relationships Between People

One very important part of this field is the cultural aspect. After all, lot of what happens to people and societies has to do with their culture. Entire civilizations have fallen because they had cultures and ways of life that clashed with their environment. Alternatively, different cultures have violently clashed with one another to cause problems. You can read interesting stories about such events in anthropology books such as An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. There you'll not only learn the history, but also learn the why behind it and how we can alter our behavior today to avoid the same fates.

Similarly, The Art of Being Human gives beginners an inspiring but basic view into the discipline. It even has an accompanying online course by the same author to cover the material as thoroughly as possible. In addition to learning interesting facts about the past of humans, readers also learn applicable skills. They'll participate in challenges at the end of each of ten lessons to solidify their knowledge as well as get the tools for doing their own research after they're done reading the book.

Getting Technical

Although anthropology focuses mostly on culture, it still has many scientific points. Through the books in this category, you can explore these various topics and discover how they relate to one another. For example, some of the main topics in the field are biology and archaeology, which sit alongside linguistics and sociocultural studies. They can get into the details of skeletal structure, diet, psychology, and physical evolution of our ancestors, but always relate these factors back to how they affect society. It's an interesting mix of humanities and sciences, sitting somewhere in the middle.

What You Can Gain From Anthropology Books

Scientific or not, reading books on the topic of anthropology can increase your knowledge about subjects such as history, law, culture, linguistics, and the methods used in the field. But it's about more than just learning facts and information. In a modern sense, anthropology strikes a balance between studying the differences between people as well as the things we all have in common. That is, using critical thinking and analysis to understand people and society at a deeper level; understanding how we interact with each other, and why.

Some issues in anthropology today include the treatment of indigenous groups experiencing either isolation or forced integration. Globalization as a whole presents many problems in need of understanding. An ever an increasing “us” vs “them” mentality poses threats to the peaceful integration of the world.

However, many describe anthropology as “the art of making the familiar exotic, and the exotic familiar.” Keep this in mind as you're looking through potential reading material. Consider that topics which look familiar are likely to hold many new ideas to expand your mind. Similarly, topics that might sound like they're not your speed give the perfect chance to become familiar with something new.

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