Intro Post: A Broad Field

Anthropology is a field that spans across many disciplines and includes an unending number of topics. Among the branches of anthropology is the study of biological anthropology, which is the study of human evolution and variation through history. This branch breaks down into numerous subfields or studies that both support each other and expand the field in an unfathomable amount of directions that are not all completely encompassed under the greater field of anthropology (but which sometimes touch on other fields like psychology or sociology). In effect, anthropology is a difficult field to define, but one that is essential to the understanding of humans as a species.

This understanding comes from the field as a whole in addition to more specific points in the branches, or more specifically, the studies that make up each branch. These studies help to broaden the understand of the human race from more specific details of its history. For example, the American Association of physical Anthropologists has dedicated much time and effort to various studies, including the Biological Aspects of Race (published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 101, pp 569-570, 1996). This study focuses on the view of race and how it has been constructed throughout time and how it manifests today. It shows that race was previously defined in the 19th and 20th centuries through a group of several physical features, most importantly a person’s skin color, and was based on social constructions as well. The study emphasizes the importance of these views as having potentially contributed to a lessened material well-being and definitely contributed to the mistreatment of people. This is known to cause psychological distress as well as damage from a social perspective. The race drawn out by Biological Aspects of Race is one that is important to study, being that it shows the paths that the way race is viewed can take in the future, as well as how to combat the negative effects of the way race is viewed today.

This study, among others, are necessary for the branch of biological anthropology and its practical applications. Without studies like this one, the concept of race as it has changed throughout history would be a topic of little importance in society with few sources to support any claims made about the topic. In the branch of biological anthropology, there would be a gaping hole in the history of the human race where there should be understanding of how people come to be grouped and the positive or negative connotations of such groupings. These studies allow other branches of anthropology to lengthen their studies to encompass the importance of racial grouping and create a fuller picture of the way in which biological features are given social connotations that help or hurt different groups. So, while anthropology is a never-ending field of study with millions and billions of potential and actual topics, each topic is important to reach the goal of understanding the human race and having a complete picture of what is means to be human from all sides.

One thought on “Intro Post: A Broad Field

  1. Hi Julie! I found your blog that included information about “The Biological Aspects of Race” very interesting and informative. You are correct about the area of Biological Anthropology having so many subfields that reach in so many different directions. I am very interested in learning more about the biological aspects of race. I read the same article that you did from the “American Association of Physical Anthropologists the Biological Aspects of Race”. I want to know more about the statement made in the article- “Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogeneous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past!” I am of African- American decent and I know I am of mixed race because when I see people of color who are from Africa, I do not look like them. I assumed people of color who were born in Africa was considered a “pure race”, that is, all African from the continent of Africa. The article suggest no evidence and no proof that pure races ever existed? I’m going to try to research this some more. Thanks again Julie for sharing your blog.

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