What is Anthropology ?

Many studies have shown that women express politeness in speech more often and more explicitly than men, using more compliments and apologies and interrupting less often. Past research has suggested that children’s speech is modeled on parental speech and therefore children use gender-specific language at an early age. These findings and many more, are based on research done by anthropologists.

Anthropology is derived from the words “Anthropos;’ meaning man and “Logos”, meaning science. It is the study of humankind everywhere, throughout time involving the study of people, their origins, biological variations and characteristics, their languages and cultural patterns, their social structures and institutions, and their adaptation to their environment.


As Kluck Hohn pointed out, that out of all the sciences that study various aspects of man, Anthropology is the one which comes nearest to being a total study of man. Unlike the Physical and Social Sciences, and Philosophy, Anthropology has no fixed boundaries. The approach of Anthropology to the study of man is holistic; it studies man, society and culture as a dynamic interactive whole.

Its major sub-fields are archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and anthropological linguistics.


What do I have to do ?

Anthropologists strive to create useful generalizations about people and their behavior with the objective of bringing about the fullest possible understanding of human diversity. Anthropology is unique among the social sciences because of its comprehensive scope, and unique methods.

Anthropologists study the pre-literate, pr-urban primitive or rural societies in order to understand human society. Facts are collected, classified and compared to yield generalisations; they are not fitted into a pre-conceived set of notions. As its method of approach is micro cosmic and inductive, you will study the smaller unit of a class or category to throw light on the bigger unit.

Anthropological fieldwork involves identifying a community, establishing rapport, and living among them in order to understand their culture.

There are various branches of anthropology studying different dimensions of man’s existence and behaviour.

Archaeological Anthropologists investigate and analyse the various remains of early human activity, which consist either of bones or of material objects developed by people. Prehistoric archaeologists dig up, identify and classify these relics. They compare them with material from other areas and determine the chronological sequences in which they occurred. This is the historical construction based on non literary evidences.

Physical Anthropologists are concerned with man as a physical organism, and his place in the scheme of biological evolution. They deal with the classification of early forms of man and studies the physical difference between races, human genetics, modes of physiological adaptation and reaction to different physical environments.

Socio-cultural anthropologists deal with the associations, bands, tribes, communities or the manner in which people collect themselves and form groups. They study people and their ways of life.

Linguistic anthropologists study both unwritten and written languages.

Applied anthropologists deal with governmental agencies in the areas of birth control, malnutrition, growth, medicine, juvenile delinquency, agricultural methods and practices, tribal welfare and rehabilitation and above all, in solving industrial problems of labour unrest.

What should I study ?

For the graduate programme, you should have passed your 10 + 2 or equivalent exam in any subject stream. For the post graduate programme, you should have a Bachelor’s degree with the requisite percentage of marks.

What are the prospects ?

Anthropologists find employment in universities, archaeological research organisations, Anthropological Survey of India, archives, museums, libraries and conservation organizations, for undertaking research, excavations, or exploration of prehistoric sites. Medical organisations like ICMR, WHO, have specialized jobs for Physical Anthropologists. Police departments offer employment to anthropologists for the purpose of crime detection. Various non-governmental organisations and government organsisations like the Tribal and Social Welfare Departments too provide jobs to socio-cultural anthropologists, because of their expertise in understanding relations between industry and society.

Anthropology is also included in Civil Services examination as one of the optional subjects. A large number of candidates sitting for Civil Services and other competitive examinations offer Anthropology as one of the optional subjects.

Anthropology is associated with archeology, writing, sociology, history, and even geology. Many anthropologists choose to specialize in one of these scientific fields. Linguistics and ethnology (reviewing methods of communication and cultural histories) are major fields of choice.


Where should I study ?

Some of the colleges / universities offering a course in Anthropology are –


University of Calcutta, 35, Ballygunge Circular Road, Kolkata – 700 019.
Courses:  M.Sc in Anthropology

Dept. of Anthropology, University of Delhi, Delhi-110007.
Courses:  B.Sc.(Hons.), M.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D.

University of Lucknow, Lucknow 226007.
Courses:  B.A and M.A.

University of Pune, Ganeshkhind, Pune 411 007.
Courses: M.A. Ph.D

Bangalore University, Bangalore – 560 056.
Course:  B.A.

University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.
Courses:  M.A. M.Phil, Ph.D

Punjab University, Chandigarh. Website:
Courses: B.Sc and M.Sc.

University of Allahabad, Allahabad – 211 002.
Courses:  MA and M.Sc

University of Mumbai, Mumbai – 400 001.
Course:  B.A.

Visva-Bharati, PO Santiniketan-731 235.
Courses:  MA and M.Sc

Anthropology and Human Genetics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, 203, B T Road, Calcutta 700 035,
It conducts theoretical and empirical research in population genetics esp. use of molecular data for assessing genetic divergence among populations, human population genetics and evolution.

There are many anthropology colleges abroad. Some of these are:

Harvard University, Department of Anthropology, William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

Courses: B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

American University, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Anthropology, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016. USA.

Courses: B.A., M.A., Ph D. Minor Anthropology, Minor Public Anthropology, Undergraduate Public Anthropology, Graduate Certificate Public Anthropology.

Oxford University, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD, United Kingdom.

Course: BA Archaeology and Anthropology

The University of Chicago, The Department of Anthropology, 1126 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. USA.

Course: B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Box 208323, 10 Sachem Street, New Haven, CT 06511. USA.

Courses: M.A., M. Phil, Ph. D

University of California, Berkley, Anthropology Department, 232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3710. USA.

Courses: Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Undergraduate minor in Anthropology.

University of Michigan, Department of Anthropology, 01 West Hall, 1085 S. University Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1107. USA.

Course:  B.A.

Harvard University, Department of Anthropology, William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

Courses: B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

John Hopkins University, Department of Anthropology, 404 Macaulay Hall, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. USA.

Courses: B.A., Ph. D

University of Virginia, Department of Anthropology, P.O. Box 400120 Charlottesville, VA 22904. USA.

Courses: B.A., M.A., Ph. D

Stanford University, Department of Anthropology, Main Quad, Building 50, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, CA  94305-2034. USA.

Courses: B.A., M.A., M. Phil., Ph. D.

Cornell University, Department of Anthropology, 261 McGraw Hall . Ithaca, NY 14853 USA.

Course: Major, Honors, Doctoral, Masters