Cultural Anthropology FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions
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- Could you please tell me the major difference between anthropology and ethnology?
- Anthropology has been defined as the science of the origin,
culture and development of human beings. It has several
branches, including cultural anthropology. Ethnology is a branch
within cultural anthropology. Ethnology deals with the
origins and characteristics of particular ethnic groups with a
focus on factors influencing cultural growth and change.
So, an anthropologist who decides to spend an entire career on an
in-depth study of a tribal group in the Amazon rain
forest is, in effect, narrowing himself/herself to being an
ethnologist. A Bible translator who spends two decades learning
a language, developing or inventing a writing system for it and the eventually producing a New Testament in that language is a type of ethnologist. On the other hand, a cultural anthropologist hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs would not be considered an ethnologist since that person is dealing with a wide range of tribal groups.
If we were dealing with automobiles, anthropology would be the study of everything about them (history, mechanics, styling, sales, repair, effect on human beings, etc.). Ethnology
would be the study of Jeeps.
- What tools do anthropologists use in their work?
- Their eyes and ears are their main tools. Anthropologists do a lot of field work. If they are physical anthropologists they probably spend a lot of time digging up old bones. If they are archaeological anthropologists they are intent on unearthing treasures from villages and towns of the past. If they are cultural anthropologists they spend a lot of time in observing and interviewing people. If they are linguistic anthropologists, they spend time working with languages.
- Are there particular resources helpful for thinking about things in the field of anthropology?
- National Geographic magazine and the films they have produced through the years are some of the most user-friendly resources. Museums that focus on cultures are also excellent. Here in Oklahoma, for instance, we have some good Native American museums as well as the Cowboy Hall of Fame that details the life of cattle raisers. There are two small, but good anthropological museums in Haiti that missionaries have put together.
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