Anthropology is a social science that studies the human being in a holistic manner. To cover the subject of his study, Anthropology uses tools and knowledge produced by the natural sciences and social sciences. The aspiration of the discipline of anthropology is to produce knowledge about human beings in various areas, but always as part of a society . Thus, attempts to cover both the biological evolution of our species , development and livelihoods of people who have disappeared, the social structures of today and the diversity of expressions, cultural and language that characterize humanity .
Different facets of being human is a specialization of the fields of anthropology. Each of the fields of human study involved the development of disciplines that are currently considered as independent sciences, although they maintain constant dialogue between them. It is the physical anthropology , the archeology , the linguistic and social anthropology . Very often, the Anthropology term applies only to the latter, which in turn has diversified into many branches, depending on theoretical orientation, the matter their study or as a result of the interaction between social anthropology and other disciplines.
Anthropology was established as an independent discipline during the second half of the nineteenth century . One factor that favored its emergence was the spread of the theory of evolution , which in the field of studies of society gave rise to social evolution , whose main author is Herbert Spencer . Early anthropologists thought that as species evolved from organisms simple to more complex, societies and cultures of humans should follow the same process of evolution to produce complex structures such as their own society. Several of the pioneering anthropologists were lawyers by profession, so that legal issues frequently appeared as a central theme of his works. At this time corresponds to the discovery of kinship systems by Lewis Henry Morgan .
Since the end of the nineteenth century the approach taken by the anthropologists was put into question by subsequent generations. After criticism of Franz Boas to the evolutionary anthropology of the nineteenth century, most of the theories produced by the anthropologists of the first generation were considered obsolete. Since then, anthropology saw the emergence of several trends in the nineteenth century, including the school culture- the United States to begin the century, the Ethnology French, the structural functionalism , the anthropological structuralism the processualism or Marxist anthropology .
Anthropology is, above all, a comprehensive science that studies the man in the context of society and culture to which it belongs, and at the same time, as a result of them. It can be defined as the science that deals with studying the origin and development of the full range of human variability and modes of behavior through the social time and space, ie biosocial process of the existence of the species human.
It attaches to the explorer François Péron who have been using for the first time the term anthropology. Péron collected in this work a set of data on the Tasmanian Aborigines , who were almost exterminated in the years following the passage of Péron island. However, Péron was not the first nor the oldest of whom were interested in the issue of human diversity and its manifestations.
Some authors consider the Fray Bernardino de Sahagún as one of the most remarkable history ethnography . In the same way as other missionaries of the sixteenth century, Sahagun was concerned about the various ways in which the religion of the Indians could be confused with newly introduced Christianity. In an effort to better understand peoples Nahua of central New Spain , Sahagún investigated in great detail the history, customs and beliefs of the Nahua before the Spanish arrived. To do so he had to learn Nahuatl . Then, with the support of some of his informants , organized the information obtained in a work intended for an audience more or less comprehensive. The result was the Florentine Codex , of vital importance in the knowledge of civilization Mesoamerican pre-Columbian.
Georges-Louis Leclerc , Comte de Buffon, who wrote Histoire Naturelle ( 1749 ) which link the natural and physical diversity of the human species ( comparative anatomy ) with a concern for understanding the diversity of cultural expressions of peoples. Similarly, some thinkers of the Enlightenment such as Montesquieu , Rousseau and even the mathematician D'Alembert addressed the matter, and proposed some hypotheses on the origin of social relations, forms of government and the temperaments of nations.
During the nineteenth century , the so-called general anthropology included a wide spectrum of interests, from the paleontology of Quaternary to European folklore, through the comparative study of aboriginal peoples. It was therefore a branch of Natural History and the German cultural historicism that proposed the scientific study of the history of human diversity. After the appearance of the models evolutionists and development of scientific method in natural science, many authors thought the guidelines would also historical phenomena by observation deductible. The initial development of anthropology as a discipline more or less independently of all the natural sciences coincides with the rise of Enlightenment thought and then the positivist who raised the right as a distinctive capacity of human beings. Its development could soon link the interests of colonialism derived from the European Industrial Revolution .
For reasons having to do with the project of the New American Republic, and especially with the problem of management of Indian Affairs, field anthropology began to have professional backgrounds in the United States in the last third of s. XIX, from the Bureau of American Ethnology and the Smithsonian Institution. The German anthropologist Franz Boas , initially linked to this type of task, academically and professionally institutionalized anthropology in the United States. In the United Kingdom Victorian, Edward Burnett Tylor and later writers such as Rivers and later Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown developed a professionalized model of academic anthropology. The same happened in Germany before 1918 .
In all colonial powers beginning of the century (except in Spain) there are sketches of professionalization of anthropology that we do not materialize until after World War II. In all Western countries joined the professional model of Anglo-Saxon anthropology. For this reason, most of the production of social or cultural anthropology before 1960-what is known as classical anthropological model - based on ethnographies produced in America , Asia , Oceania and Africa , but with a much lower weight Europe. The reason is that on the European continent prevailed positivist ethnography, intended to underpin a discourse on national identity, both in Germanic countries like the Scandinavians and Slavs.
Historically speaking, the general anthropology project consisted of four branches: the language , the archeology , the biological anthropology and social anthropology , the latter referred to as cultural anthropology and ethnology in some countries. The latter put special emphasis on comparative analysis of the culture -term on which no consensus among the current anthropological-, which is done primarily by a three-stage process that includes in the first instance a desk research, second , cultural immersion is called ethnography or fieldwork , and finally, analysis of data obtained through fieldwork.
The classic anthropological model of social anthropology was left in the second half of the twentieth century . Anthropologists now work almost all areas of culture and society.