Earth is over 4.543-billion-years-old and since our childhood, we have been made aware of the fact that humans have evolved from apes, and used symbols to communicate with each other. Currently, there are over 196 countries across the globe and more than 7.5 billion people reside in it and follow different cultures and customs.
Now the question is, what led people to follow different cultures, customs, & religions? At what point did human communication undergo a revolution, and how did biological variation take place?
Do questions like these baffle you?
Worry not! That’s a typical day in the life of an Anthropologist. Anthropologists are intrigued by our past, and study human cultures, religions, customs, beliefs, genetics, etc. and have an answer to all these questions. If you too aspire to be an Anthropologist, then you have landed at the right place. In this blog, I will guide you through the journey of an Anthropology career in India, including its colleges, scope and specialisations.
What is Anthropology?
Anthropology as a discipline studies the evolution of human beings, and how they interact with the world. They believe in a holistic approach as they focus and study the problems of human affairs stretched across various disciplines – economic, political, biological, social, and cultural. As they focus on a number of factors when studying human beings, therefore, they are considered to be holistic.
The subject material of anthropology is very broad; hence it is divided into various branches. These branches are- Archaeology, Linguistic Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology and Biological Anthropology. Each of these fields makes use of distinct skills. So, let’s look at each one of them, a little more closely.
Specialisations in Anthropology
1. Archaeology: This discipline deals with earlier human civilizations & societies, based on their physical remains. They study how humans lived in the past and the objects left behind by them. Learn more about Archaeology as a career in India
2. Linguistic Anthropology: This discipline focuses on how language reflects and influences our social life. Professionals in this field study the origin of language and how words were developed. Their focus is on the development of speech over the period of time which shapes communication. For example, how words were adopted from a language, how dialects came into being, the methodology of word adoption, etc.
3. Cultural Anthropology: The domain deals with cultural variation among humans by focusing on the human culture, societies and their development. This includes the study of race, class, gender, kinship and a variety of other cultural elements.
4. Biological Anthropology: This is concerned with the biological and behavioural aspects of humans. They look at the evolution of humans, how they deal with the environmental stresses over the period of years such as disease, disasters, war, population, etc and overcome them.
How to Become an Anthropologist in India
Here is the educational path to a career in Anthropology.
Step 1: Take either the Science or Arts Stream in Class XII
To make a strong base for your higher studies, the most common route is to opt for the science stream (PCB) in class 12th. There are mainly two reasons for this; first, most of the top colleges in India provide B.Sc. in Anthropology. Second, while studying Anthropology you will encounter a lot of scientific techniques such as genetics, bone chemistry, carbon dating, etc. So, taking up science subjects (especially biology) helps in developing a better understanding of this field at a later stage.
However, if you are not from the science background, you can still make a career in Anthropology by opting for the Humanities stream. Subjects like History, Sociology, Psychology, in your higher secondary will provide you an insight into human behaviour, culture, evolution, etc., which form the core of this field and thus help you build a solid foundation for a career in Anthropology. Many Liberal Arts colleges allow you the flexibility to tailor your course and provide freedom to explore the subject academically, right at the undergraduate level.
Step 2: Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology
To kickstart your career in Anthropology, a degree in Anthropology is a recommended field to pursue at your undergraduate level. At the bachelor’s level, the curriculum usually includes topics such as Social Anthropology, Human Genetics, Human Ecology, etc. However, you can also pursue this career after studying Biology, History, etc. at your graduation level.
Some of the leading colleges that provide B. Sc. / B.A. in Anthropology are as follows:
- Hansraj College, University of Delhi
- Hindu College, University of Delhi
- Panjab University, Chandigarh
- Ashoka University, Sonipat
- Symbiosis School of Liberal Art, Pune
- Vidyasagar University, West Bengal
Note: Most Colleges/Institutes provide admission to candidates on the basis of their Class 12th Percentage. Some institutes also conduct entrance exam. So, it is advisable to check their course structure and eligibility prior to taking the admission.
Step 3: Pursue a Master’s Degree in Anthropology
In order to open up better job opportunities in the professional workplace, you can go for further academic options pursuing Master’s, M.Phil. or Ph.D. in this field. A strong academic background opens up avenues to work with organisations such as the Archaeological Survey of India, the Planning Commission as well as international organisations like the United Nation’s UNESCO or UNICEF, etc.
A few institutes providing Master’s in Anthropology in India:
- Visva Bharati University, West Bengal
- Berhampur University, Odisha
- University of Allahabad
- Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Chhattisgarh
- University of Hyderabad
- University of Rajasthan
Scope of Anthropology in India
Here are the career options available after a degree in Anthropology.
- Education Sector: After completing your master’s degree, you can teach in the Department of Anthropology, at various colleges & universities. To do so, you will be required to qualify the UGC-NET examination. The option of research is always there. Anthropological Survey of India conducts fellowship programs for carrying out research for the young and promising scholars.
- Advertising and Market Research: Now that businesses are going global, it becomes imperative to be up-to date with the changing marketplace and consumer behaviour. Socio-cultural anthropologists are extensively involved in research and field work. They study the market place – how people live and what products do they use etc. For example, In Iran, the blue color is generally disapproved as it’s associated with death. Similarly, in some countries tipping after a good meal is considered as a gratitude, however, in countries like China and Japan is considered insulting. Research like these and much more plays a crucial role in the business settings by casting light on the likes and dislikes of the consumer preferences and help an organization create better product and service experiences.
- Art Galleries, Publishing Houses, and Museums: With their understanding of ethnography (people, their culture, custom, habits, etc) and multicultural study, anthropologists provide educational content to museums, publishing house, and art galleries. They also act as a critic with regard to histories, biographies, and another related form of content being displayed.
- Non-Profit Organizations: Anthropologists in the social sector/ NGOs help in many ways. They design and implement a wide variety of programs for tribes and other backward communities. They help in designing programs that focus on social issues such as public health, education, social welfare, urban planning, etc., and thus help in providing better service delivery. Many anthropologists work in local, community-based settings for non-profit agencies and also work for established organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, etc.
- Criminal Investigation Department: Forensic Anthropologist works closely with the police department for investigating a crime. They use their knowledge of human osteology (understanding of structure and function of human skeleton and bone) ability to identify a physical characteristic of the victim (gender, age, stature, etc) and anatomy, to help medical examiners reconstruct the crime scene and identify the cause of death of the victim.
- Entertainment Industry: Entertainment industry is always looking for unique access to new stories, characters, aesthetically stimulating locations to create a narrative and impact their audience. Anthropologist, use their knowledge of different cultures, custom, habits, etc and help scriptwriter, film- maker create a powerful narrative that informs, inspire a large number of audience. Can introduce some examples.
Pros and Cons of a Career in Anthropology
Every career path has its set of advantages and disadvantages, and the same is true for Anthropology as well. So, let’s look at a couple of pros and cons of the field.
- A career in Anthropology lets one contribute to culture and history, and make a real difference to the present trends of tradition.
- It lets one deep dive into the social infrastructure of our ancestors and the implications it has on us today. By studying such trends, one can work with organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, etc., and apply such knowledge to help the people around.
- The pay scales in this field are not as high as compared to other career fields.
- Anthropology also does not offer students with professional courses that guarantee placements, and with the present trend of students opting for professional courses, it lags behind.
Having said that, if you are fascinated by various cultures and customs of communities, and possess good language skills and research ability, and ready to travel in far-flung areas, then you can surely look forward to making a career in this field.
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