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More Books by John Wesley Powell
  1. ‎On Limitations To The Use Of Some Anthropologic Data on Apple Books
  2. Descrição da editora
  3. What is Anthropology?
  4. On Limitations to the Use of Some Anthropologic Data by John Wesley Powell

Through fieldwork, the social anthropologist seeks a detailed and intimate understanding of the context of social action and relations. Conducted in a more familiar setting, it can lead the anthropologist — and those for whom he or she writes — to look at everyday reality in new and unexpected ways.

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Where fieldwork is conducted within museums, archives, or cultural institutions, the process can be similar in that the social anthropologist seeks to understand the underlying symbolic and cultural meanings of a text, or a collection of objects. Equally, biological anthropologists frequently base research projects on human remains or artefacts held in museum collections. What types of fieldwork do anthropologists undertake? Fieldwork can take many different forms, shaped by factors such as: the topic of investigation, questions guiding the research, where the research will be carried out, who is funding it, external political or economic factors, the age, sex or ethnicity of the anthropologist, the technological facilities available.

‎On Limitations To The Use Of Some Anthropologic Data on Apple Books

Newer formats for research, such as use of multiple sites and the study of large-scale centres of power such as intergovernmental organisations, are becoming increasingly common; as is the use of visual technologies and methods of presentation such as film, photography and digital media. What are some of the fieldwork methods anthropologists adopt? Anthropologists may assemble data in numerous ways.

They may gather quantitative information by conducting surveys or analysing records such as historical archives, government reports and censuses. Quantitative data is often useful for biological anthropologists in mapping physical traits within a population, or making cross-population comparisons. Quantitative information is also useful and often necessary when anthropologists work on interdisciplinary projects with other specialists.

Descrição da editora

However, for the most part social anthropologists concentrate on gathering qualitative data. Participant observation enables the social anthropologist to undertake detailed, lengthy and often complex observations of social life in fine detail. It may be directed to such disparate groups as a virtual network, a tribal village, or an activist group in an urban environment.

Many fieldworkers find this a personally transforming experience. A variant of participant observation also exists within biological anthropology, where primatologists may analyse the social dynamics of a monkey or ape society by spending long periods observing the group and being to some extent accepted by it.

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However, the crucial difference is that only human beings can talk to the anthropologist and reflect on their society through language. What do anthropologists do with the material they have collected? Anthropologists may write up their data in reports, articles, or journal contributions.

If we accept the conclusion that there is but one species of man, as species are now defined by biologists, we may reasonably conclude that the species has been dispersed from some common center, as the ability to successfully carry on the battle of life in all climes belongs only to a highly developed being; but this original home has not yet been ascertained with certainty, and when discovered, lines of migration therefrom cannot be mapped until the changes in the physical geography of the earth from that early time to the present have been discovered, and these must be settled upon purely geologic and paleontologic evidence.

The migrations of mankind from that original home cannot be intelligently discussed until that home has been discovered, and, further, until the geology of the globe is so thoroughly known that the different phases of its geography can be presented.

What is Anthropology?

The dispersion of man must have been anterior to the development of any but the rudest arts. Since that time the surface of the earth has undergone many and important changes. All known camp and village sites, graves, mounds, and ruins belong to that portion of geologic time known as the present epoch, and are entirely subsequent to the period of the original dispersion as shown by geologic evidence. In the study of these antiquities, there has been much unnecessary speculation in respect to the relation existing between the people to whose existence they attest, and the tribes of Indians inhabiting the country during the historic period.

It may be said that in the Pueblos discovered in the southwestern portion of the United States and farther south through Mexico and perhaps into Central America tribes are known having a culture quite as far advanced as any exhibited in the discovered ruins. In this respect, then, there is no need to search for an extra-limital origin through lost tribes for any art there exhibited. With regard to the mounds so widely scattered between the two oceans, it may also be said that mound-building tribes were known in the early history of discovery of this continent, and that the vestiges of art discovered do not excel in any respect the arts of the Indian tribes known to history.

There is, therefore, no reason for us to search for an extra-limital origin through lost tribes for the arts discovered in the mounds of North America. The tracing of the origin of these arts to the ancestors of known tribes or stocks of tribes is more legitimate, but it has limitations which are widely disregarded. The tribes which had attained to the highest culture in the southern portion of North America are now well known to belong to several different stocks, and, if, for example, an attempt is made to connect the mound-builders with the Pueblo Indians, no result beyond confusion can be reached until the particular stock of these village peoples is designated.

On Limitations to the Use of Some Anthropologic Data by John Wesley Powell

Again, it is contained in the recorded history of the country that several distinct stocks of the present Indians were mound-builders and the wide extent and vast number of mounds discovered in the United States should lead us to suspect, at least, that the mound-builders of pre-historic times belonged to many and diverse stocks. The pictographs of North America were made on divers substances. The bark of trees, tablets of wood, the skins of animals, and the surfaces of rocks were all used for this purpose; but the great body of picture-writing as preserved to us is found on rock surfaces, as these are the most enduring.

So widely distributed and so vast in number, it is well to know what purposes they may serve in anthropologic science.