Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

Modern Afghanistan Needs to Modern Anthropology


Modern Afghanistan Needs to Modern Anthropology

One of the most important topics which vitally required to be promoted in Afghanistan is anthropology especially in school and university levels. The anthropology not only enriches human understanding in national level but also in global level as familiarizing people with different cultures and diverse ways of lives. According to modern anthropology, there is no genuine pattern of human culture that can be imposed on all. Anthropology tries to listen to all voices and viewpoints in order to understand how societies vary and what they have in common. For example, Socio-cultural anthropology aims to understand the perspectives, practices, and social organization of other groups whose values and life-ways may be very different from their own. Based on anthropology, although there are some superficial differences among human races and human community but all human beings have originated the same extended family. According to Saadi, a famous Islamic scholar and poet, all human beings are like members of same body which created from the same gem and so when there is pain in one part other parts cannot rest comfortably.
As human is one of the most complicated beings, the subject of anthropology is also very complicated subject with multiple definitions and typologies. Religious and philosophical approaches emphasize on both spiritual and earthly understanding of human being while scientific approach merely focus on earthly definition of human being. As a result, there is no unanimous definition about human at all; for this reason Alexis Carl called human as unknown creature. In general, anthropology is divided to four main types which consist of philosophical anthropology, religious anthropology, mystical and intuitive anthropology, and scientific anthropology. In order to have a deep and comprehensive understanding about human being, we need to study human from various dimensions but due to the practical nature of scientific anthropology, this article aims to introduce the modern or scientific anthropology.
According to a very simple definition, modern anthropology is the study of people, past and present, with a focus on understanding the human condition both culturally and biologically. In the other word, modern anthropology is the science of the origin and evolution of human beings, of the formation of human races, and of the normal variations in the physical structures of human beings. Anthropology also tries to disclose how people interact in social relationships such as with families and friends. They look at the different ways people dress and communicate in different societies. The modern anthropology is also divided into four distinct subdisciplines: biological/physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology which will be explained in the following paragraphs.
As abovementioned, the first branch of scientific anthropology is biological/physical anthropology which focuses to understand how humans adapt to different environments, what causes disease and early death, and how humans evolved from other animals. To do this, it explores humans living and dead and other primates such as monkeys and apes, and human ancestors’ fossils. Anthropologists also try to know how biology and culture work together to shape our lives. They are interested in explaining the similarities and differences that are found among humans across the world. Through this work, biological anthropologists have shown that, while humans do vary in their biology and behavior, they are more similar to one another than different.
The second branch of anthropology is socio-cultural anthropology. Socio-cultural anthropologists explore how people in different places live and understand the world around them. According to anthropologists, it is important to know what people think and what rules they make about interaction with one another. Even within one country or society, people may disagree about how they should speak, dress, eat, or treat others. Anthropologists want to listen to all voices and viewpoints in order to understand how societies vary and what they have in common. Sociocultural anthropologists often find that the best way to learn about diverse peoples and cultures is to spend time living among them. They try to understand the perspectives, practices, and social organization of other groups whose values and lifeways may be very different from their own. The knowledge they gain can enrich human understanding on a broader level.
The third branch of modern anthropology is linguistic anthropology which study ways how people communicate across the globe. The today’s anthropologists are interested in how language is linked and how we see the world and how we relate to each other. This can mean looking at how language works in all its different forms, and how it changes over time. It also means looking at what we believe about language and communication, and how we use language in our lives. This includes the ways we use language to build and share meaning, to form or change identities, and to make or change relations of power. For linguistic anthropologists, language and communication are keys to how we make society and culture.
The last branch of scientific anthropology is archaeology. Archaeologist tries to learn about ancient people through studying and analyzing human bones and teeth to gain information on a people’s diet and the diseases they suffered. Archaeologists also collect the remains of plants, animals, soils and other objects from the places where people have lived in order to understand how people used and changed their natural environments. The time range for archaeological research begins with the earliest human ancestors millions of years ago and extends all the way up to the present day. Like other areas of anthropology, archaeologists are concerned with explaining differences and similarities in human societies across space and time.
According to anthropologists, the number of hunger on the earth is not a problem of production but because of unfair distribution. For example, Amartya Sen won a Nobel Prize for showing distribution issue was true for the case of all the 20th century’s famines. As a part of this unbalanced world, Afghanistan as one of the unbalanced society, extremely needs to enhancement of freedom, brotherhood and equality through promotion of modern anthropology.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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