Humankind has always strived for knowledge in all things, but one of the most difficult topics has been humankind itself. From psychology to biology, the search for greater understanding of humans and their various ways of life have been unceasing. The start of anthropological research as we know it today, began with the search for answers about groups of people and entire societies.
Anthropology started out with predominantly Americans and Europeans studying the habits and behaviours of non-westerners. These scientists soon realised that their methods for gathering information about various people and societies were ineffective. This was due to the fact that several social groups refused to willingly participate in studies. Moreover, the social groups encountered were being judged or studied from a set of preconceived assumptions, resulting in biased studies. Thus, a new approach was needed. This approach would have to, not only, take into account but, also respect different societies and how they live in their respective environments. This is where anthropology was reborn.
As scientists came to respect what they were studying, different research methods emerged. These include the method of 3rd party participation, where one does not involve oneself with the people being studied. Another method requires full immersion into the world of the subject. Yet another approach includes examining the remnants of the past in order to uncover the story of ancient civilisations, including their expansion, downfall and the trivialities of their everyday life.
To put it simply, anthropology is the search for meaning in the actions of others, both past and present. Finding this meaning in the present day can be done through surveys, focus groups and even test screenings. Finding meaning in the actions of those in the past, however, is more difficult. Nevertheless, it is rather exciting as it requires us to discover and extrapolate from what was left behind by our predecessors.
Anthropological research takes many forms, but in the end it helps us better understand the human condition. Have your own anthropological adventure and see what you can discover about the past and yourself at one of Sacred Sites many destinations. Alternatively, help preserve our culture with a donation.