Anthropology is the study of human life and their social universe. It is a comprehensive, scientific, and interdisciplinary field of human culture and society that seeks to comprehend the totality of human social life and its diversity through the study of material culture, biology, and linguistics.
In this article, we will study a few topics that fall under the purview of Anthropology and Life Sciences. These are as follows; the historical background and the nature of different disciplines of the subject. In addition, we will study the different ways in which human beings have been studied over time. Finally, we will cover the different types of research methods, with special emphasis on their ethical and methodological significance.
Relationship between Anthropology and Life sciences
Anthropologists of science have been involved in the study of science and technology since its origins. Science is a natural partner to anthropology, and the two disciplines have continued to find relevance in each other over the years. Several anthropologists have contributed to the study of science and technology in a variety of ways. These are difficult disciplines to work in, however, and require a high level of expertise in both anthropology and science. The field of anthropology focuses on the study and interpretation of humans and their cultures, while the field of life sciences focuses on natural sciences that study and interpret life. A person who studies humans and human society is studying the “natural” processes and patterns of human life. One who studies and interprets natural processes and the ecosystem is studying the “human’’.
History of Anthropology in Life Sciences
The history of anthropology in life sciences is a relatively new development that began in the late nineteenth century. The discipline was introduced by the discovery of Mendelian genetics and the emergence of the germ theory of disease in the early 20th century. A new class of anthropologists has emerged in the past century, in the field of life sciences to study human biology. These anthropologists study the interaction between humans and their physical and cultural environments.
Disciplines of Anthropology in Life Sciences
The discipline of anthropology encompasses the study of human beings and their cultural and natural environments, which range from ancient cultures to modern society. It is closely related to the study of biology, social sciences, the development of technology, as well as humanities, and law. It emphasises the comparative study of all human societies, the historical aspects of human culture and the analysis of cultural patterns that link all human societies. Different ways in which human beings have been studied by anthropologists over time:Anthropologists have adopted multiple methods and techniques to study humans. This includes the use of scientific methods, for example, in physiological studies of humans within laboratory settings as well as behavioural studies in natural settings. Anthropologists also use ethnographic methods to observe and document human activities and social practices. While these methods are widely used, their validity and reliability in different contexts continue to be questioned.
Types of Research Methods Used by Anthropologists
Anthropologists use a range of methods such as fieldwork, participant observation, textual analysis of written records, experimental and modelling studies, historical studies and surveys. Physical anthropologists measure bodies, bones, skulls, muscles, and other physical properties. Linguistic anthropologists, on the other hand, analyse languages, scripts, dialects, customs, and other cultural properties.
Research methods used by anthropologists vary and are determined by the type of data needed. In the past, the most common method used was participant observation followed by interviews, and finally, fieldwork. The growth and widespread use of the Internet has meant that the time and cost of collecting data has been reduced to a great extent. Through the Internet, anthropologists can easily access a variety of data sources, including articles, videos, and news.
In this article, we have covered the anthropological approach used in life sciences. This approach is reflected in two important theoretical positions in the field of anthropology, namely an emphasis on understanding and knowledge production, and the idea that anthropology can be used in other professions. From the beginning of the chapter, we have noted that anthropology has been defined in many ways. Although there is no clear definition, the focus of the field seems to be the understanding of human beings, their culture, and their society.