Re: Anthropology: unity through diversity?

Patricia Clay (pclay@WHSUN1.WH.WHOI.EDU)
Fri, 14 Oct 1994 12:10:12 -0400

Ken Jacobs writes:
> I've often thought that anthropologists frequently treat of the same
> data as do epidemiologists, historians, geologists, biologists, or
> whatever, but do so with a peculiar slant or spin. (Or, to agree
> with MRK, they do *when* they in fact are DOING anthropology). I know
> faculty in other departments to whom I send my Master's students for
> cognate course work feel the same and often end up scratching their
> heads in wonder at the *intriguing* questions these non-historians (to
> take only one example) are able to raise, when the historically trained
> grad students sit there baffled.

I have always felt that anthropology was not so much a topic of
study as a worldview and a set of methodologies. After all, as an
anthropologist I can study any aspect of human behavior, or any other topic
that I feel can shed light on human behavior (primate studies, for example).
This is part of what drew me to anthropology; I didn't have to narrow my
interests. What distinguishes me as an anthropologist is then -- at a
minimum -- a holistic perspective, comparison and relativism, and the use of

Trish Clay

Dr. Patricia M. Clay, Anthropologist voice: 508-548-5123
National Marine Fisheries Service fax: 508-548-5124
Northeast Fisheries Science Center email:
166 Water St.
Woods Hole, MA 02536 Favorite quote: "So what do you
U.S.A. study? The social behavior of fish?