What Anthropologists Do

What Anthropologists Do

What Anthropologists Do

What Anthropologists Do

Excerpt

'What anthropologists do' seems to be a bit of a mystery to many people, and there are several reasons for this. One is that anthropologists are involved in such a wide variety of things that the most accurate answer to the question 'what do they do?' is 'just about anything that involves understanding human social behaviour'. Another is that people's ideas about anthropology are often gleaned from portrayals in literature, film and television, which tend to favour rather dramatic stereotypes: pith-helmet-wearing colonial adventurers living with (equally stereotypical) 'hidden tribes' in the jungle; crime-busting forensic anthropologists (who always find the murderer); or bearded, sandals-with-socks obsessives going bonkers somewhere in the outback.

My personal view is that we need to challenge these stereotypes for several reasons: because the facts are more interesting than the fiction; because, in an ever more complex world,

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