The Nature of Anthropology

  • Uncategorized

TheNature of Anthropology

TheNature of Anthropology

Anthropologyis unique and Its Five Unique Questions

Anthropologyis unique among the sciences because of the five major questions itasks in a bid to understand culture. When the interviewer asked theTurkana people of Kenya what to film as part of culture, the womentold him to capture everything they valued like houses, livestock,language dialect, and mode of dressing. Anthropology reveals thevariations of cultural artifacts like traditions of the past andpresent among the Turkana, Tasmanian Aborigines, and Amazonianpeople. A study of biological and behavioral diversity of theresilient Turkana people in contrast to the extinction of Tasmaniansand Amazonians shows that human nature varies according to physicalenvironment and reality of experience.

Thestudy of human behavior is aimed at showing the reason behindcultural diversity that creates differences as seen in the Amazonian,the Aborigines, and the Turkana people. Archaeology studies on thediverse human behavior use cultural artifacts, ecofacts, andfeatures. The video, “” highlightsdifferent lifestyle caused by cultural diversity and human nature ofdifferent ethnic groups living in different physical environments. Inthe video, the Turkana people assert their culture of polygamy andpastoralism while Tasmanians only hunt and gather food from land as asure way of securing their existence.

Tasmanianpeople died as soon as the British colonial settlers started livingoff their land. High imports of sheep into the Tasmanian Islandreduced hunting and gathering grounds for the Tasmanian people, whodied due to lack of enough food or water resources. On the otherhand, the video highlight how the Turkana people stopped a nomad lifeand settled down to rear cattle and raise their families. Assessmentof ecological facts shows that Tasmanians were unable to adapt andovercome the encroaching colonizers by becoming farmers or keepers ofsheep. Equally, the Amazonian exhibit a cultural behavior that isdeviant to creating a patriarchal controlled society as studied undercultural anthropology. All the three ethnic groups exhibit differentlinguistic diversities that emphasize their past and present lives.The video features a cross-cultural study that identified bothvariations and common aspects among 3 different cultures. Amazonianwomen controlled their society as warriors and used male prisoners toprocreate. However, the tribe disappeared into oblivion upon contactwith colonizers who started mining plants in their island. Theextinction of Amazonian and Tasmanian ethnic groups asserts culturalvariations that are relative according to cultural diversity andsupport reality.

HowLearning Different Cultures Makes Them Less Exotic

Studyingthe Turkana people provides an Anthropological window to understandtheir authentic environmental induced adaptations that ensured theirsurvival. Most men in Turkana rejected joining the British army, butsome enlisted for the money to purchase livestock and support theirhouseholds. Marrying many wives remains a survival trend among theTurkana to ensure the future of their children. Turkana womenemphasize the fact that many women ensured the success of familychores such as herding cattle, constructing houses to live, andfetching firewood and water from far. Therefore, the Turkana societyadapted in a distinct way to their life in a manner that so distinctand less exotic. Studying variations between the Turkana and otherethnic groups prove their authentic culture, which makes them lessexotic.

HowColonialism Caused Re-Consideration of Cultural Anthropology

Colonialismremains the largest political experiment that brought together manyunrelated ethnic groups with cultural diversities under a singlegovernment. Unlike before when people had no direct contact withdifferent cultures, colonialism achieved the end of transforming thedistinct cultural boundaries into a uniform whole. However, in thecontext of the Tasmanian Aborigines, colonialism caused theextinction of a huge community within a few years of contact with theBritish colonial government and white settlers. Lack of understandingthe cultural variations between the British settlers and Tasmanianscreated a defiant behavior among the Aborigines. The British treatedthe defiant Tasmanian behavior as rogue attitude and passed a policyto exterminate the host ethnic group. Tasmanians were exposed to acolonialism culture that required them to surrender their hunting andgathering grounds. A cultural clash resulted in the extermination ofthe host ethnic group. Eventually, the remaining Tasmanians werekilled by diseases and lack of natural land resource to hunt.


Cultureadaptation is the conscious capacity of people to learn to live withnew changes that take place in their physical environment. TheTurkana people as discussed in the video live in a harsh physicalenvironment that requires male members of the society to practicepolygyny and settle down after introduction of colonial government.The practice of polygyny, which consists of marrying many wives, wasadopted fast since the behavior ensured a larger and secure society.Marrying many women made work easier as they collectively buildhouses, herded cattle, and took care of their children to guaranteethe success of their posterity. Therefore, the Turkana adopted aculture behavior that enhanced their livelihood and capacity tocontinue existing within their physical environment.


Cultureis symbolic means that people identify with explicit symbols andartifacts that construct their social and personal reality. TheAmazonian women experienced a rare form of betrayal since theirhusbands left them. The adverse experience of leaving husbandsprompted the Amazonian women to acquire skills as warriors to protecttheir territory. The women took men as prisoners of war to becometheir husbands for a short time. Therefore, the husband betrayalexperience forced the Amazonian women to adopt a culture thatconstructed their reality as a matriarchal territory. The experienceof the Amazonian women shaped their reality and the symbol of womenmarrying men remains consistent with their culture.

Survivalof The Fittest

Darwin’sidea of the ‘Survival of the fittest’ attests in full in the faceof the Tasmanian inability to survive through the Britishcolonization. Tasmanians died soon after being seized and dragged toconcentration camps since the action separated them from theirphysical environmental reality. Besides, the Tasmanians failed toadapt to a high-salty diet from their lenient hunter-gatherer diet.The change in diet contributed to their decline and subsequentextinction of over 6,000 people. Similarly, Tasmanians rejectedadopting sheep rearing that would have provided them with ready foodand probably prevented a direct confrontation with white settlers.Hence, the inability of the Tasmanians to survive on high-salt dietor adopt sheep rearing led to their decline and eventual extinction,but those who survived changed their lifestyle completely.


Otte,P. (2013, 30 December). The nature of Anthropology. YouTube.Retrieved from

Close Menu