Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The great divide in anthropology

There is a rather simplistic, but nonetheless interesting, article in the Times Higher Education Supplement on the great divide in anthropology between evolutionary and socio-cultural anthropologists. An excerpt:

On one side are the evolutionary anthropologists. "(They believe) our behaviour is based on things that we did to find mates in our years of evolution," says Alex Bentley, a lecturer in anthropology at Durham University. "Then we have the social anthropologists. Some of them really strongly reject this kind of thinking. They consider it reductionist. They are focused on the specifics of culture."

Put crudely, social anthropologists describe and compare the development of human cultures and societies, while evolutionary anthropologists seek to explain it by reference to our biological evolution. The two sides of the one discipline are struggling to unite.

Do also have a look at the comments, there are some real corkers...

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