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Anthropology: Bridge between biology and social sciences

Anthropology is one of the most challenging and sought-after subjects because of its biocultural character.

delhi Updated: Jun 15, 2010 00:20 IST

Anthropology is one of the most challenging and sought-after subjects because of its biocultural character.

Today, Anthropology studies the enormous diversity of human living in a comparative perspective.

One of the oft-quoted definitions of Anthropology is that it studies human beings in time and space.

It studies Homo Sapiens as a biological and genetic entity, in relationship with other primates and apes.

Anthropology also helps build a bridge between biological and social sciences.

The subject has various specialisations, but its four branches are more universally recognised. The one dealing with a study of the biological traits of human beings is known as Physical Anthropology.

The specialisation dedicated to the understanding of human society and culture is Social or Cultural Anthropology. The study of the imperishable remains of the past is pre-history or Archaeological Anthropology. Lastly, Linguistic Anthropology is a comparative study of languages of pre-literate and literate communities.

In Delhi University, Anthropology is placed along with natural and biological sciences at the Faculty of Science. Only those students who have studied Biology at the senior secondary level along with other Science subjects are admitted to Anthropology.

Although undergraduate students are admitted to Hansraj College, their theory and practical classes have been conducted at the Department of Anthropology, since the inception of the BSc (Honours) course in Anthropology in 1962.

As Anthropology is essentially a field in Science, students are expected to participate in the department-sponsored spells of fieldwork.

In the first year of their graduation, they visit a zoological garden to carry out a study in primate behaviour. In the second year, they visit an archaeological site.

In the final year, they conduct a two-week first-hand study of a village (in a tribal or peasant area), covering both the biological and socio-cultural parameters, and write up a dissertation.

After graduation, Anthropology students generally pursue a masters course.

They may take up jobs in research organisations and museums after finishing studies.