Anthropology: A Holistic Study of Humanity in India

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Anthropology, often hailed as the comprehensive study of humanity, offers a captivating journey into the intricate dynamics of human societies, cultures, and behaviours. In a country as diverse and culturally rich as India, where traditions, languages, religions, and social structures intermingle, anthropology becomes an exciting avenue for those eager to decipher the complexities of human existence. In this article, we will delve into the world of anthropology in India, exploring career prospects, specialized branches, and the educational journey to becoming an anthropologist.

Anthropology in India: A Holistic Approach

人类学整体understa方法nding the evolution of human beings and their interactions with the world. Anthropologists investigate human affairs by drawing insights from various disciplines such as economics, politics, biology, sociology, and culture. This multifaceted perspective makes anthropology a holistic discipline.

The subject matter of anthropology is incredibly broad, leading to its division into distinct branches, each with its unique focus. These branches include Archaeology, Linguistic Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Biological Anthropology. Each of these fields utilizes specific skills to unravel the complexities of human existence.

Specializations in Anthropology

Archaeology: This discipline revolves around studying past human civilizations and societies through their physical remnants. Archaeologists examine how humans lived in bygone eras, unravelling the stories concealed within the objects left behind. Archaeology in India has a profound relevance, given the nation’s rich archaeological heritage.

Linguistic Anthropology: Linguistic anthropologists focus on how language both reflects and influences our social lives. They delve into the origins of language, the development of speech, and the evolution of dialects. Their work sheds light on how words are adopted from one language to another and the cultural nuances that underlie linguistic shifts.

Cultural Anthropology: This branch is dedicated to understanding cultural variations among human societies. Cultural anthropologists study the development of human culture, societies, and their intricate elements. This includes an exploration of topics such as race, class, gender, kinship, and a variety of other cultural dimensions.

Biological Anthropology: Biological anthropologists focus on the biological and behavioural aspects of humans. They examine human evolution, adaptation to environmental stresses, and the ability to overcome challenges such as disease, disasters, wars, and changes in population dynamics over time.

Becoming an Anthropologist in India

If you’re intrigued by the diverse dimensions of anthropology and wish to pursue a career in this field, here’s the educational path to becoming an anthropologist in India:

Step 1: Choosing Your Educational Stream To build a strong foundation for higher studies in anthropology, it’s common to select either the Science or Arts stream in Class XII. Opting for the Science stream, particularly with a focus on biology, is advantageous as it aligns well with the scientific aspects of anthropology. However, students from the Humanities stream can also embark on an anthropology career by studying subjects like History, Sociology, and Psychology in their higher secondary education, as these subjects offer insights into human behaviour, culture, and evolution.

Step 2: Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology To initiate your career in anthropology, consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the field. The curriculum at the undergraduate level often covers topics like Social Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Human Ecology. While a bachelor’s in anthropology is recommended, you can also enter the field after completing degrees in related fields such as Biology or History.

Notable institutions offering B.Sc. / B.A. in Anthropology include:

  • Hansraj College, University of Delhi
  • Hindu College, University of Delhi
  • Panjab University, Chandigarh
  • Ashoka University, Sonipat
  • Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, Pune
  • Vidyasagar University, West Bengal

Admission criteria may vary, with some institutions relying on the Class 12th percentage while others conduct entrance exams. Therefore, it’s advisable to review the specific requirements of each program before applying.

Step 3: Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Anthropology To unlock advanced career opportunities in anthropology, consider pursuing a Master’s, M.Phil., or Ph.D. in the field. A strong academic background can open doors to employment with organizations like the Archaeological Survey of India, the Planning Commission, or international entities such as UNESCO or UNICEF.

Institutes providing Master’s programs in Anthropology in India include:

  • 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

After obtaining a degree in anthropology, several career options open up, including:

1. Education Sector: Anthropologists with master’s degrees can teach in the Department of Anthropology at various colleges and universities. Qualifying for the UGC-NET examination may be required for teaching roles. Opportunities for research are also abundant, with the Anthropological Survey of India offering fellowship programs for promising scholars.

2. Advertising and Market Research: Anthropologists in this field are instrumental in researching and understanding consumer behaviour and market trends. They explore cultural nuances that influence purchasing decisions, aiding businesses in creating products and services that resonate with diverse audiences.

3. Art Galleries, Publishing Houses, and Museums: Anthropologists provide educational content to these institutions, using their expertise in ethnography and multicultural studies to curate exhibits, write histories, and offer critical perspectives on displayed content.

4.非营利组织:Anthropologists work with NGOs, designing and implementing programs that focus on social issues like public health, education, social welfare, and urban planning. They also collaborate with renowned organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO.

5.刑事调查部门:法医anthropologists play a crucial role in crime investigations, using their knowledge of human osteology to identify the physical characteristics of victims and reconstruct crime scenes.

6. Entertainment Industry: Anthropologists contribute to the entertainment industry by lending their understanding of diverse cultures and customs to scriptwriters and filmmakers, enhancing the narrative and audience impact.

Pros and Cons of a Career in Anthropology

Every career path has its advantages and disadvantages, and anthropology is no exception.

Words from an Anthropologist

To offer an insider’s perspective, we reached out to Dr. Nisha Sharma, an anthropologist and professor at JNU. Here’s what she had to say, “Anthropology in India is an exhilarating journey of exploring the diverse cultural tapestry that makes up our country. It’s a dynamic field that encourages us to question our preconceived notions about society and human behaviour. The demand for anthropologists is on the rise, not only in academia but also in various government and non-government organizations. The skills you acquire as an anthropologist, such as conducting ethnographic research and understanding cultural nuances, are invaluable in a globalized world. India, with its myriad cultures and traditions, provides an ideal setting to embark on this intellectual adventure.”

Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Contribution to culture and history, making a real impact on traditional trends.
  • In-depth exploration of the social infrastructure of ancestors and its implications on contemporary society.
  • The opportunity to work with global organizations to improve the lives of people.


  • Relatively lower pay compared to other professions.
  • Limited professional courses and placement guarantees.

In a rapidly changing world where global interactions increase and diverse cultures collide, anthropologists play a crucial role in bridging gaps and fostering understanding. With a degree in anthropology, you’re not just studying society; you’re actively shaping the way we understand and navigate our complex, interconnected world. So, if you have a passion for uncovering the layers of human existence, consider a journey into the world of anthropology in India, where opportunities are as diverse as the cultures themselves.


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