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The 'central Problem Of Anthropology Is The Diversity Of Human Life' Explain

930 words - 4 pages

The ‘central problem of anthropology is the diversity of human life’ (Carrithers 1992:2; see also, Erikson 2001:5)?The major problem of anthropology is the diversity if human life. The wide range of cultures and societies, all with different values, make it almost impossible to define exactly what humanity is. However, despite these differences, there are inherent similarities. Due to the diversity of human life many anthropologists have problems comprehending different cultures and steps have been made to amend this so anthropologists can study cultures as objectively as possible.Anthropologists are set the task of trying to comprehend the thousands of different cultures and ...view middle of the document...

Humans are the only species, which has culture, which could be argued as another similarity of humanity. Despite these apparent similarities the differences between societies is immense which causes a major problem in understanding a society that is so different.When studying societies, anthropologists discover the difficulties in objectively observing and reporting the lifestyle of the people in this society. Due to the diversity of humanity, some societies vary greatly from what anthropologists are used to. It has become necessary that, in order to fully comprehend the ways of these societies, you must fully immerse yourself in them. This is possible through fieldwork, with Erikson (2001:10) claiming, “its [anthropologies] most important method is fieldwork”. Through fieldwork anthropologists can fully begin to understand the complexities of the society they have decided to study. In order for an anthropologist to gain this insight they must immerse themselves in the society for a number of years and have the ability to speak the language of their chosen society fluently. Fieldwork is a very important part in understanding different societies and overcoming the diverse nature of humanity. However, even while doing fieldwork anthropologists may unintentionally inject their own prejudices into their findings.Throughout history anthropologists have attempted to understand society and culture on a variety of terms, many of which have led to societies being judged negatively because of their differences. This is referred to as ethnocentrism, that is, “evaluating other people from one’s own vantage-point and describing them in one’s own terms” (Erikson 2001:11). With this view...

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