We could hardly do a better job than the American Anthropological Association (AAA) at defining anthropology:
Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to the solution of human problems.
Historically, anthropologists in the United States have been trained in one of four areas: sociocultural anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. Anthropologists often integrate the perspectives of several of these areas into their research, teaching, and professional lives. (…) An engaged anthropology is committed to supporting social change efforts that arise from the interaction between community goals and anthropological research. Because the study of people, past and present, requires respect for the diversity of individuals, cultures, societies, and knowledge systems, anthropologists are expected to adhere to a strong code of professional ethics.
It’s no coincidence that we chose the AAA’s definition. TGA’s editors were trained in the north american tradition of sociocultural anthropology, rather than in the French or British traditions. Although these traditions each answered, and contributed to, each other, important differences remain between them. One of the major contributions of north american anthropology, mainly through the work of one of it’s pioneers, Franz Boas, was the deconstruction of the notions of race and evolutionism. See the AAA statement on the notion of race here.
Anthropology of popular culture
The main project of this blog is to explore geek culture through the perspective of sociocultural anthropology. We consider geek culture to be a part, or subculture as some prefer to call it, of popular culture. The anthropological study of pop culture is a recent initiative, and the litterature, as well as the methods and orientations for this field, are still in the process of being improved and clarified. Ian Condry‘s work on hip-hop culture in Japan is an interesting example of such undertaking.
You can find interesting perspectives on the anthropology of pop culture here.
Learn more about anthropology
To learn more about anthropology, have a look at the Readings and Ethnographic Material page. You can also check out the AAA’s new anthropology wiki here. If you are lucky enough to speak French, you can check out this wonderful video series by Anthropologie et Sociétés .
Should you have any questions about concepts we refer to or the anthropological discipline in general, feel free to comment. It will help us improve this page and the overall content of this blog.