Anthropology as a discipline

Board Examinations across the country are over and the new fever has caught up with the students and that is Admission Flu. Anxiety has set in as now is the time to exercise the choice and decide where one wants to be and what one should opt for.

This generation is spoiled by choice as there are so many options available but there aren’t enough qualified people to advice and guide as parents and teachers you might have looked up to for helping you take decision had fewer options, limited connectivity and narrow horizons.

Country has changed, times have changed and so is the perspective in education. You need to come out of the closed shells and look for everything available and then pick up the best and most suited subject and a career option for you. Informed decision making will help you in this aspect.

Here is an option for those who had biology and biotechnology in senior school besides other science subjects but love social sciences and humanities as well. Yes, B.Sc. (Hons.) Anthropology is the subject of choice for you as it has been described as the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences.

Anthropology is the study of man/humans, the past and present of him. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. Anthropology is uniquely the holistic study of humanity and culture at all times.

The discipline offers a bouquet of courses such as Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology and Archaeological Anthropology. However, course contents will often vary between universities according to the biological or social focus of your degree. Anyone having the desire to study the biological and cultural aspects of human development and behaviour, with an appreciation of existing cultural differences should go for anthropology.

It tells us who we are, where we come from, and helps us understand and appreciate the diversities as well as similarities and seeks to understand the dimensions of the human experience. It provides students at any level with the critical awareness for key issues of our times, which are not just religion and ethnicity, but also global sustainability, biocultural diversity and environmental governance.

The plunge in the field helps students acquire research experience, strengthen their writing skills, and help them learn to think about the differences between quantitative and qualitative ways of organizing information, solve problems, and work both independently, and in collaboration with faculty and fellow students.

It also gives an excellent preparation for the study of other, more established disciplines such as history, English literature, gender studies and geography and therefore qualifies as an interdisciplinary field.  Anthropologists are well known for documenting traditional livelihoods, which are often sustainable adaptations to environments which would be difficult to live in without rich bodies of traditional knowledge and practice to draw upon.

Once trained in the subject, one can start their career in different sectors, like colleges, universities, government agencies, NGOs, business, health and human services. The graduates can also get jobs at private businesses, community organisations, museums, independent research institutes, service organisations, and media.

Reputed organisations like, Centres for Disease Control, UNSECO, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Bank also offers senior positions to Anthropologists. Students can also become Scientists, Medical Researchers, Consultants and Field Investigators. With new insights into the subject and open economy, there is need of Education Anthropologists, Economic Anthropologists and Business Anthropologists in industries.

The course is being offered by best of the Universities that are publicly funded such as University of Delhi, Delhi, Visva Bharati University Shantiniketan, West Bengal, University of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, University of Rajasthan,Pt.Ravishankar Shukla University, Chhattisgarh, Vinoba Bhave University, Berhampur University, Orissa and Guwahati University Assam.

Besides these Amity University, SRM University, Ashoka University, Manav Bharti and other privately funded State Universities have admissions open in the subject. So what are you waiting for? The gates are open for you to explore and there is so much available. Make the right choice and unravel the fantasies of the subject!

Dr Monika Koul, Hansraj College, University of Delhi.