UPSC » UPSC CSE Study Materials » Anthropology » Anthropology Rise

Anthropology Rise

Introduction to Anthropology – Rise and fall of civilizations, human evolution, origins of human society, migration and expansion of human societies, past and present cultures, and more.

Anthropology is a science that emerged from western colonialism and focused on the “Other”: the exotic, primitive and the dead. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, explorers, missionaries, and colonial officials collected human remains and artifacts from around the world, creating the first ethnographic museums. The “Rise of Anthropology” examines the ways in which these collections and studies shaped anthropology and the discipline as a whole, and the ways that anthropology has evolved and expanded to study a broader range of human lives and experiences. In exploring these themes, the article will highlight key figures, theories, and debates in the history of anthropology and will also highlight the ways in which the discipline continues to evolve.

Rise of anthropology

The study of human culture and behavior is called anthropology. It emerged from the scientific study of man in the past. The primary tool of anthropologists has been the study of artifacts (things left behind by people), such as tools, buildings, and grave goods. But in the 20th century, anthropologists began to focus more on the people who left these artifacts and less on the lives of the people themselves.

Anthropology is the study of human beings, their cultures and the relationships between the two. Anthropologists seek to understand human beings and the world around them by examining the societies and cultures of human beings from all walks of life. They do this by using a variety of methods, including participant observation, historical research, and artistic expression. Anthropology is a broad and dynamic discipline, and it continues to grow and develop as new areas of research are explored, new methods are developed, and old questions are re-examined.

Development of anthropology

The development of anthropology in the United States has been shaped by a long and rich history. The discipline developed from the work of natural historians and antiquarians, who studied the American Indian, the ancient civilizations of the New World, and the ancient civilizations of Europe. These early anthropologists were inspired by the works of Georges Cuvier, a French naturalist, and Sir William Jones, a British scholar, who both argued that human beings had evolved from other species of animals. They were also influenced by the work of the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued that humans were born in a state of natural goodness and that civilization corrupted our natural state. 

History development of anthropology

The term “Anthropology” comes from the Greek words “Anthropos” meaning man and “Ology” meaning the study of. Over time, the branch of study that involves the scientific study of humans was known as “ethnology”. The first person to use the term “Anthropology” was a German philosopher and theologian named Friedrich Nietzsche.

The field of anthropology is a relatively young one, emerging in the late 18th century within the context of European imperialism and the Enlightenment. Prior to that time, many people believed that human beings were innately good, or at least that it was impossible for them to be otherwise. The evidence of the time, however, showed that people were often cruel to each other, and even committed acts of cannibalism. The most influential subfield of anthropology is the anthropological study of human cultures.The subfields of anthropological study include physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and social and cultural anthropology. The discovery of the Americas and the campaigns of exploration they inspired fundamentally changed people’s ideas of the natural world, and the human beings who lived in it.

Ancient Vs Modern Anthropology

The study of human beings has a long history, but the modern scientific study of humans—anthropology—is a relatively new endeavor. The first modern anthropology museums were not founded until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the first modern anthropological societies were founded even later. Even today, anthropology is a young science. The discipline only emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as various scientists and intellectuals rediscovered the ancient study of human beings, which had been lost to Western civilization for centuries.


As we approach the end of this course in Anthropology, we have encountered many different perspectives and theories about how and why the discipline of anthropology came to be, to begin with. Much of the research that we have read has shown that anthropologists were the first academics to recognize the need to study humans as a part of nature. Today, there are several reasons to believe that anthropology is rising again. These reasons include the fact that anthropology is the most historically important of the social sciences, and its concepts are still relevant in our time (Braudel, 1992). Anthropologists are also the best qualified to deal with all the different cultures of the world, and even more importantly, the most important one (Meltzer, 2007).


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the UPSC Examination Preparation.

What is anthropology?

Ans. Anthropology is the science of human nature, in all its manifestations, and of human cultures, in all their forms, historical...Read full

How do anthropologists study human beings?

Ans. Anthropologists study human beings by observing and participating in their cultures, and by developing theoretical frameworks...Read full

What is the Discipline of Anthropology?

Ans. The discipline of anthropology was born in the early twentieth century as a reaction to the perceived limitations of other so...Read full

Explain the phrase "men with yellow hats".

Ans. The first anthropologists were cast as the “men with the yellow hats,” the outsiders who ventured into the sacred spaces ...Read full