Anthropology teaches us about the complex structure of human beings. How do we have inner thoughts and can communicate those thoughts with others through language and culture? Why do we have a lot in common and equally a lot of diverse differences? These are the questions we try to answer in anthropology, and it takes us to look at the individual, the family unit, the society, the nation, and the global community in which we live, making comparisons in looking for similarities, differences and what we produce from our endeavor.
Anthropological investigation and theory are defined by their adherence to two broad questions underlying human complexity: What is it that binds people and groups together? What is it that separates them, or underwrites their diversity? As a result, a comparative approach serves the entire range of anthropology. Social anthropology on the other hand is more concerned with social anthropology which is the study of the social lives of humans. It is wide and touches on every social aspect or endeavor of people.
For example, why do members of the same family or clan help each other more than they would to others? What constitutes a clan or family anyway or why don’t they detach after birth and go their separate ways as some animals do? And why do we distinguish between people because of race, tribe, or ethnicity? Are men more deserving than women; where do these beliefs come from? Are they biological determined or are they socially constructed? Why is it that we put our fate in a God, while some alternatively pit theirs in science or witches and witchcraft? Is one system of belief necessarily superior to the other? One of the key aims of social anthropology is to understand the social and cultural practices of other people and in so doing, to better understand the cultural meanings of social organization in our social world.
We are inclined to be familiar with our own culture and may find other cultures strange or more exciting than ours. By doing this course, we might end up finding out that what we thought was strange is more interesting than what we are familiar with. At the end of this course, we will understand what makes us different from others, and what we have in common and, be able to determine looking through an anthropological lens, if we can challenge our preconceptions in the way we might discriminate against race, sexuality, religion, tribe, age, or anything socially connected to the way we live or even forgive others who do not see things the way we now do.
It is a fascinating journey as we go through topics like primitive society, witchcraft, rituals, and rite of passage, kinship, and family life, gift exchange, reciprocity, culture, feminism, ethnicity, globalization, war and conflict, our interactions with the environment with particular relation to African society. You will be able to see why things are the way they are and share in that rich diversity of human life on this amazing planet.
Anthropology up to the late 20th century was a crucial element in understanding societies, analyzing the difference between them, and explaining their economic and political development. In this course, we will be looking at culture as an explanatory variable that impacts the economic, social, and political evolution of any group, society, or nation and if it is an obstacle to development.
It will help us explore ways of being more productive, analyze why some societies are more productive than others by looking at the ways we interact which others with a focus on the impact our behaviors put together becomes our culture.