It’s curious, the study of the human race. We call it by a scientific name, anthropology, literally the study of man. Having studied anthropology for several years, it was fascinating to see the thoughts and scientific connections that could be made through anthropological research. However, taking a break from it I began to realize something quite profound – anthropology isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. At least, not in its scientific sense. Indeed, any social science is really the mad ravings of bored individuals who look at their fellow members of society and wonder, “Why on Earth do I have to deal with you? Perhaps if I come up with a really valid, possibly measurable excuse for you, I can make it bearable, even subtlety make fun of it if I write a book.” Dare you to prove me wrong!
What I am getting at here is the idea that anthropologists aren’t scientists because of some insanely high IQ and an ability to figure out the mathematical make-up of a human being in 5.2789 minutes (now forensic anthropologists, they’re the scientifically productive ones;). They’re just people. Observing. People. Now I propose to you, what other professions in which do we see that practiced, hmm? What do you do every time you pick up a pen or tap at a keyboard? Ho! Look at that, you can now call yourself anthropologists! Indeed, I’ve been pondering for awhile the similarities of this and I love it. I bask in it! Anthropology, the study of man, writing – it’s as simple as it gets. When we write, we express our thoughts, feelings, experiences, beliefs, behaviors, and on and on and on. We do this for the basic reason that we observe others and ourselves. Thus, we are studying our fellow human beings.
Now I am not deriding the meticulous studies of many anthropologists that have unselfishly (or perhaps “selfishly” might be a better word) devoted their lives to studying cultures we might not even understand or know about today. Anthropology, the study of culture, is near and dear to me for the reason that I find beauty in the differences mankind brings to every society. Nonetheless, anthropology wasn’t around since the dawn of man (come on, admit, Neanderthals didn’t walk around observing Homo Erectus, pondering how they came to be, right?). The practice developed over time as humans took note of each other, differences between hunting groups, weird religious beliefs that conflicted with their own, bizarre hairdos, senseless traditions…the list goes on. Heck, the Bible (dare I say) is an anthropological work in of itself (I would argue the Torah is more accurate on that account as that’s where it was derived). I mean talk about a preachy book, going on about who married who and whose son was whose and who owned this farm and this cattle. God must have been having a real hay-day taking down those observations and notes!
Books are mere reflections of us, no matter what genre or what year they were written or what divinity they supposedly hold. Someone has observed something at some point that made them think, “Now why on Earth would you do that?” or “Gee, this will make for a holler!” Indeed, you’re probably thinking to yourself as you read this why I’m writing about observing other people writing about observing other people while your observing through the writing what sort of person I am. Still with me?
So Anthropological Writers unite! And take pride in the fact that no matter how you express it, you’re contributing to history and mankind’s culture:)