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Examining Evolution From The Perspective Of Biological And Cultural Anthropology

988 words - 4 pages

Alfred L. Kroeber once said: “Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.” For centuries, anthropologists have studied various cultures in search of answers about humanity. What are other cultures like? How are other cultures different from ours? Why are they different? Anthropology originated from the Greek words Anthropos (human being), and -logia (study). In the field of Anthropology, there are four sub-fields: Biological, Cultural, Linguistic, and Archaeological. Each of these sub-fields can be beneficial to study the theory of evolution, and all of the sub-fields are important in their own respect. However, the biological and cultural ...view middle of the document...

Unlike biological anthropology (which uses tangible items to study evolution), cultural anthropology is the sub-field of anthropology that focuses on human cultural behavior and cultural systems and the variation in cultural expression among human groups (Park, 2008). Using these methods in order to study the theory of evolution is helpful to anthropologists for the reason that evolution is not only limited to physical changes. Facets of a society’s culture, such as language and customs, can change just as much as the physical aspects. In an April 2013 issue of PLoS One, there is an article about the endangered Ainu language that is spoken by the natives of northern Japan. The article suggests that although it was once believed that the Ainu people were direct descendants of the Jomon people. However, recent anthropological evidence suggests that their modern culture is the result of genetic and cultural influences from a Siberian tribe known as the Okhotsk, who migrated into Hokkaido around 900-1600 years ago (Lee & Hasegawa, 2013). This new evidence proves that variations in any society (whether it be a new language or new customs) can lead to cultural evolution, and have an everlasting impact on any culture’s way of life.
Although there are numerous variances in the methods that each sub-field of anthropology would use to study the theory of evolution, there are also a couple of similarities. As previously stated, biological anthropology studies humans as a biological species (Park, 2008). The main differences betwixt that and cultural anthropology is: While research of biological anthropologists provides a better understanding of physical evolution over time (by studying genetics, fossil records, etc.), cultural anthropology produces understanding of behavioral patterns of human societies and helps understand how different cultures might approach certain issues such as education, health, power, and justice (Hall, 2009). Even though these two sub-fields of anthropology have different methods of studying evolution, they have a common goal. That goal is, simply, the study of humans and cultural progress. An effort to unlock the mysteries of...

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