Today anthropology has become a broad-based study much more than any other scientific discipline as it has to deal with a wider variety of problems. Anthropology includes a broad range of approaches derived from both natural and social sciences. The place of social anthropology in relation to other social sciences is discussed here. Social anthropology has close relationship to these social sciences. It shares its subject-matter with many other disciplines, but it does not restrict itself to the problems of other disciplines.
A distinction is that it studies mainly in small-sale societies and cross-culturally whereas the other specialized social sciences study mostly in advanced and complex societies. Social anthropologists, more than the social sciences need to have acquaintance with some of the concepts and methods of a number of other subjects. Because they have to study unfamiliar societies in a holistic way and investigate the several dimensions of their social and cultural life. A mark difference is that they study mainly simple and small-scale societies and confront the problems of society differently from the related specialist-subjects in confronting the same kind of problem in complex societies.
Relationship between Social Anthropology and Sociology
Sociology is a science of society that studies human behavior in groups. Anthropology is a science of man and studies human behavior in social surroundings. Thus it is clear that the subject matter of sociology and social anthropology is common to a great extent. Sociology and anthropology have highly influenced each other. Hoebel states that sociology and social anthropology in their broadest senses are one and the same. Evans Pritchard takes social anthropology as a branch of sociological studies that devotes to primitive societies. Radcliffe-Brown suggests that anthropology be renamed Comparative Sociology. Concerning the tendency in the United States, Levi-Strauss wants to regard sociology as a special form of anthropology.
Even though social anthropology and sociology share an interest in social relations, organization and behavior, there are important differences between these two disciplines. John Beattie (1964: 29) points out the difference in the area of study. He writes, ” …sociology is by definition concerned with the investigation and understanding of social relations, and with other data only in so far as they further this understanding, social anthropologists, although as we have seen they share this concern with sociologists, are interested also in other matters, such as people’s beliefs and values, even where these cannot be shown to be directly connected with social behavior. In brief, social anthropologists are cultural anthropologists as well For example, people’s religious and cosmological ideas do not necessarily reflect their social system, though it has sometimes been assumed that they do. And even where such relationships can be established, the anthropologist’s interest in people’s ideas is by no means exhausted when these connections have been pointed out. He is interested in their ideas and beliefs as well as in their social relationships, and in recent years many social anthropologists have studied other people’s belief systems not simply from a sociological point of view, but also as being worthy of investigation in their own right.”
Initially sociologists focus on industrial West; anthropologists, on non-industrial societies. Social systems studied by anthropologists are usually face-to-face in relation. It is true that a great deal of sociological research has been done in small groups, but these have usually been small groups in larger societies and not groups which are more or less coterminous with the whole society. This concern with social systems that are small in scale has led to a particular concern by social anthropologists with the idea of totality, the notion that societies are wholes, or at least can be studied as if they were.
Different methods of data collection and analysis emerged to deal with those different kinds of societies. To study large scale complex societies, sociologists use questionnaires and other means of gathering masses of quantifiable data. Sampling and statistical techniques have been basic to sociology. Traditional ethnographers studied small-scale societies without written records. One of their key methods is participant observation – taking part in events one is observing, describing and analyzing. In addition, social anthropologists have mostly worked in unfamiliar cultures. That is why in anthropological field work, a sound knowledge of the language of the community being studied is indispensible for a people’s categories of thought and the forms of their language are inextricably bound together. Sociologists usually suggest means for improvement along with its study. In comparison, the study of anthropology is more neutral and the anthropologists do not offer suggestion.
Interdisciplinary collaboration is a hallmark of academic life today with ready borrowing of ideas and methods between disciplines. Among contemporary societies which are neither primitive or industrially advanced, of which India may be taken as an example, distinction between the two disciplines has little meaning. Both carried out studies on caste system, village communities, industrialization, globalization, inter-city life, etc. Again, anthropologists and sociologists share an interest in issues of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and power relations in modern nations including the United States and Canada.
Relationship between Social Anthropology and History
The historians are more interested in particular sequences of past events. Anthropologists are centrally interested in understanding the present conditions of culture or community which they are studying. But the two disciplines have a close relationship. Both history and ethnography (the empirical description of a people on which the cross-cultural comparison technique is applied for the extraction of anthropological theories) are concerned with societies other than the one in which the researcher live. Whether this otherness is due to remoteness in time, or to remoteness in space, or even to cultural heterogeneity, is of secondary importance compared to the basic similarity of prospective. The historian or ethnographer enlarges a specific experience to the dimensions of a more general one, which thereby becomes accessible as experience to men of another country or another epoch. And in order to succeed, both historian and ethnographer must have the same qualities: skill, precision, a sympathetic approach and objectivity (Levi-Strauss 1963: 17).
John Beattie (1964) mentions that history may be important to social anthropologists; not only as an account of past events leading up to and explaining the present, but also as a body of contemporary ideas which people have about these events, what the English philosopher Collingwood aptly called ‘encapsulated history’. People’s ideas about the past are an intrinsic part of the contemporary situation which is of immediate concern to the anthropologists, and often they have important implications for existing social relationships.
About the fundamental difference between the two disciplines, Levi-Strauss also writes that it is not on the subject of study or goal or method because, they share the same subject, which is social life; the same goal, which is a better understanding of man; and, in fact, the same method, in which only the proportion of research techniques varies. They differ, principally, in their choice of complementary perspectives: history organizes its data in relation to conscious expressions of social life, while anthropology proceeds by examining its unconscious foundations.
Although historians use documentary evidence infrequently available to anthropologists, and anthropologists employ first-hand observation rarely possible for historians, both are concerned with the description and understanding of rear human situations, and they use whatever methods are available and appropriate to this purpose. Like historians, a social anthropologists brings out a general interpretation. Both anthropologist and historians attempt to represent unfamiliar social situations in terms not just of their own cultural categories but in terms of the categories of the actors themselves.
In this regard we can see the writing of John Beattie again. He suggests that the main difference between anthropology and history lie not so much in their subject matter, as in the degree of generality with which they deal with it. He writes, “Historians are interested in the history of particular institutions in particular places, parliament in England, for example, or the Hapsburg monarchy. But they are also concerned, implicitly if not explicitly, with the nature of these institutions themselves. Equally, a social anthropologist who is concerned with, say, the role of chiefs in a particular society must play the historian to the extent of telling us something about the careers and activities of individual chiefs. Unless he does this, we shall find his account empty, formal and unconvincing. So, although in a general sense it is true that historians are concerned with what is individual and unique, social anthropologists, like sociologists, with what is general and typical, this dichotomy is altogether too simple. As so often in the social sciences, the difference is largely one of emphasis.” (John Beattie op. cit. 25)
Relationship between Social Anthropology and Political Science
Political science developed to investigate particular domain of human behavior. It also works mainly in modern nations. In small-scale societies where social anthropology grew up, politics generally do not stand out as distinct activities to separate analysis, as they do in modern society. Rather they are submerged or embedded in the general social order. There is no formal authority figure. People generally follow orders of their kin rather than formal leaders. Studying political organizations cross-culturally, anthropologists find out a wide range of various political and legal systems. It is found that legal codes along with ideas of crime and punishment, means of resolving conflicts vary substantially from culture to culture.
In this way, political anthropology, a late specialization of anthropological research, attempts to transcend particular political experiences and doctrines. It studies man as homo politicus and seeks properties common to all political organizations in all historical and geographical diversity (George Balandier 1967: 1). It studies various institutions and practices that constitute the government of men and the systems of thought and the symbols on which they are based. Thus, political anthropology is seen as a discipline concerned with ‘archaic’ societies in which the state is not clearly constituted and societies in which the state exists and takes on a wide variety of forms. It confronts the problem of the state’s origin and earliest forms. It also confronts the problem of segmentary societies without a centralized political power. In this way, political science, the discipline which is mainly concerned with the political sphere of modern nation differs from social anthropology.
Relationship between Social Anthropology and Psychology
Like sociologists and economists, most psychologists do research in their own society. Anthropology again contributes by providing cross-cultural data. Statements about human psychology can not be based solely on observations made in one society or a single type of society. The area of social anthropology known as psychological anthropology studies cross-cultural variation in psychological traits. Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and others attempted to find out different patterns and psychological traits among different cultures.
Both social anthropology and psychology deal with the same basic subject matter, people in relation with other people. Psychology is mainly concerned with the nature and functioning of individual human minds. Social anthropology is more keenly interested in the study of various forms and structure of groups and organizations. Its unit of study is society. It tries to find out types of society, their function, structure, origin and development. But psychology is not basically interested in the society and their forms. It is interested in the study of individual’s behavior. Broadly speaking social anthropology studies the culture and social system in which the individuals live rather than the individuals themselves. But the individual and society can not exist separately of each other. Thus the subject matter is almost the same but with the difference in emphasis.
Regarding the importance of psychology in social anthropology, John Beattie states, “In fact every field anthropologist must be, to a considerable extent a practicing psychologist, for a main part of his job is to discover the thinking of those people whom he studies, and this is never a simple task. Ideas and values are not given as data; they must be inferred, and there are many difficulties and dangers in such inferences, especially when they are made in the context of an unfamiliar culture. It may well be that there is much to be learned about the less explicit values of other cultures (as well as about those of our own), especially about the kinds of symbolism involved in ritual and ceremonial, through techniques of depth psychology. But a word of warning is necessary. The incautious application in unfamiliar cultures of concepts and assumptions derived from psychological researchers in western society may lead – and indeed has led – to gross distortions. The Oedipus complex, for example, is something to be proved, not assumed, in other cultures. Nevertheless it is likely that as psychologists increasingly work in cultures other than their own (and they are doing this) profitable collaboration between them and social anthropologists will take place”
Relationship between Social Anthropology and Economy
Economics is one of the oldest and theoretically most sophisticated disciplines in comparison to anthropology. But, like other social sciences, economics developed to investigate particular domains of human behavior and work mainly in advanced societies. In small-scale societies wherein the anthropologists mainly study, there may not be distinct economic transaction as found in the advanced societies.
The subject matter of economics has been defined as economizing – the rational allocation of scarce means (resources) among alternative ends (uses). In the west, the goal of maximizing profit – the profit motive – is assumed to guide economic decision making. Studying cross-culturally, the anthropologists find variation in the motivations. Anthropologists know motives other than the desire for personal gain for making economic decisions in different cultures. And, in recent decades, fewer social-cultural anthropologists have tried to borrow some general ideas from economics; others strongly feel that it would be irrelevant to explain economic behavior of small-scale (pre-industrial) societies in terms of formal economics which were developed for the industrial societies.
Economic anthropology classifies the diversity of economic systems into different types at different technological levels. Anthropologists find such categories as hunter-gatherer or band economics, pictorial economies, hoe and forest cultivators, sedentary cultivators and so.
Some of the economic systems of small-scale societies may be found strange and without formal economic value to an economist. If the people happen to be hunters and gatherers, the notion of hard work is likely to be misinterpreted. In western culture, hunting is a sport; hence, the men in food-foraging societies are often misperceived as spending virtually all of their time in recreational pursuits, while the women are seen as working themselves to bone. To understand how the schedule of work or demands of a given society is balanced against the supply of goods and services available, it is necessary to introduce a non-economic variable – the anthropological variable of culture (Haviland, W.A. 1994:417). From this perspective social anthropologists differ from economists, for the economists study the economic behavior and institution in purely economic terms whereas the social anthropologists analyze this sphere of human society in relation to non- economic considerations such as social, religion and polity.
Anthropology and Earth Sciences
Anthropology and Earth Sciences have intimate relationship. The earth sciences include geology and human geography. Archaeology is closely linked to geology in analyzing the archaeological sites and in dating the past and finding out the chronological sequence. Anthropology, cutting across the barriers of time and space, naturally takes interest in men past especially prehistoric past. Thus archaeologists may be seen serving as the ‘historians’ among anthropologists involved in the cultural reconstruction of man’s past. Till sometimes back the term prehistory or prehistoric archaeology has been popular. Unlike a socio-cultural anthropologist, an archaeological anthropologist cannot observe human behavior and culture directly but reconstructs them from material remains like pottery, tools, cave/rock paintings, ruins of shelter, ornaments and so many other material remains that survive the wear and tear of climatic factors. To recreate man’s past without any written record is not an easy task. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. Interpretation of what went on in the past requires a lot of imagination and common sense.
To discover, analyze and interpret their finds archaeological anthropologists have to take the help of geologists, human geography and a host of other specialists. When one digs deep into the earth one cannot do without geology. When you date the past you require the help of human geography and others. But despite all this inter-disciplinary collaboration, the archaeological anthropologist shall always remain handicapped at least on one count. He will never be able to know as to what speech or language the prehistoric man was using. Still, reconstructing the past shall remain an anthropological preoccupation. Before launching a proper and planned investigation of the prehistoric anthropology of a selected area or region, it is quite important to study the past geography and climate besides geology. We have a fairly good account of the present day climate and geography of the world. But both these phenomena underwent drastic changes since the time when “man the tool-maker” first appeared in the beginning of Pleistocene epoch till to date the entire world over.
Hence a thorough knowledge of these changes is a matter of concern to pinpoint sites and settlements which formed the above of human groups, and their movements in search of animal and plant food. Such meaningful and objective assessment of the climatic conditions of the past mainly through geological deposits of different types and their impact on the life activities of prehistoric communities particularly with regard to their psycho-social development can be achieved with the assistance and association of a competent professional climatologist. Geology, the science of earth’s crust, provides the law of stratigraphy which as the foundation of our knowledge of chronological order of facts with the position and nature of each stratum containing prehistoric remains furnishes information as to the relative antiquity of the finds as well as the strata. Further, the interpretation of the finds can be objectively done only when one explains the manner of the deposition of different layers. The archaeological strata formed by the effects of geological processes and mechanisms can help us in understanding the environment existed in the past.
As stone is the most imperishable material, it has been extensively used in the manufacturing of tools and weapons by prehistoric communities of different times. The knowledge of different rock types in relation to different prehistoric cultures is very essential in all prehistoric investigations. For all these things it is necessary to depend on the geologist apart from the prehistoric archaeologist who possesses a fairly good idea of these aspects. Pedology, the science of soils, is another potential field with which prehistory is related. The analysis of the soil is not only used in dating but also in understanding the manner of the formation of deposits as well as about the environment at the time of their formation. With the help of the pedologist it is possible to know whether the deposits were natural or man-made because it is these deposits, if at all artificial, which contain remains of ancient people.
Anthropology and Medical Sciences
Much of the development of medical anthropology has occurred since World War II. The beginning of major anthropological involvement in medical problems was cogently reviewed by Caudil (1953, ‘Applied anthropology’, in Anthroplogy Today, Edited by A.L. Kroeber, Chicago; University of Chicago Press, PP 771-806) in his land mark paper on applied anthropology in medicine. But, even at that time, involvement of anthropologists and other social scientists in health programme and medical research has changed considerably and there has been a marked increase in the input of social scientists in medicine and medically related areas (e.g. Polgar, Steven, 1962, ‘Read the human behaviors: Areas of interest common to the Social and Medical sciences’, – Current Anthropology, vol. 3 ; PP 159-205 ; Scotch, Norman, 1963, ‘Medical anthropology’, in Biennial Review of Anthropology; Edited by S.J. Siegel, Stanford, Stanford University Press , PP 30-38).
In recent times, there was a spurt in ethno-medical studies particularly among rural and tribal communities (e.g. ,Choudhury 1986, 1990). Medical anthropology, in fact, is one of the main areas where a holistic bio-cultural approach is called for. Basically, quite a few things are common in anthropology and medicine. In the proper study of mankind, anthropology aims at discovering man as a human being, so it should be the case with a physician. He should make a human approach to the patient, if he is to remain useful to them.
As a student of anthropology, we put more emphasis on the groups. We are particularly concerned about the study of human beings within the framework of a culture. Culture, in the simplest words may be defined as a set of beliefs and behaviours shared by a group of people. It is the culture that provides people with a way of perceiving the world at large and with the ways of coming into terms with the problems they face. This includes their attitudes about the body and ways in which a person should be treated when ill.
Obviously, people with different culture orientations and experiences have different notions with regard to the concepts of disease cure, treatment, and have different expectations from the physician. If this communication is impeded, the purpose of the physician is defeated.
Thus, e.g. in simple societies seven main types of disease concepts may be recognized. There are:
- Sorcery or Magic: Accidents, stumbling etc., among the Australian aborigines as among many other simple people. Death is never regarded as due to natural causes, but is always ascribed to sorcery. Diagnosis, treatment and prognosis are done by traditional medicine men as counter magic.
- Breach of taboo: The “Voodoo death” where the victim dies of a shock is scarcely distinguishable from true wound shock. Expiation of offence can be done by a traditional medicine man using some magical acts.
- Disease – object – intrusion: Entrance of foreign object may be caused by human/ super-human agency. It carries some spiritual essence which is the real cause of the illness. Object may be a pebble, splinter of wood or bone, a hair, an insect, a lizard or a worm. Extraction is the only curative measure.
- Spirit intrusion: Disease, caused by a spirit, ghost or a demon intrusion. There are 3- curative measures.
- exorcism – ejection by conjuration,
- mechanical extraction, and
- Exorcism is nearly always practiced together with one or both of the other methods.
Soul or Body (organ) loss: Among the Australian aborigines the abstraction of the kidney fat is held to be a common cause of disease. It may be removed by sorcery which may lead to death. Diagnosis and prognosis are done by divination and curative measures are suggested accordingly.
- Dreaming: In the pacific and in the South Western areas of North America, one may dream that one has eaten poisoned foods or that an animal has entered one’s body and fallen ill shortly afterwards.
- Independent occurrence: These kinds of diseases can be treated with domestic remedies.
This knowledge about the various concepts of disease and healing in various communities is very essential for a medical practitioner. Anthropological studies provide such information to us. With regard to the direct relationship between anthropology and health, it may be specifically noted that cultural anthropology has exercised a remarkable influence upon the fields of psychiatry and psychosomatics, and many other forms of diseases.
Malinowski (1948) developed the theory of culture in terms of the operating basic and derived needs of the organism.
It appears that the structure of the ego is largely determined by the manner in which these basic needs are satisfied. The function of the ego is to secure adequate satisfaction of basic and secondary needs to maintain the organism in equilibrium. When needs are not adequately satisfied, there is a failure of ego-integration, and psychic-dis-equilibrium of one sort or another results. Similarly, anthropologists had known since long that feelings and somatic functions are closely related.
Accordingly, they had been advocating for psychosomatic Medicine that has been recognized as a branch of Medicine only recently. Psychosomatic functions are culturally organized. Thus, the problems of “Adolescent Sterility” came to the attention of physiologists after the publication of the Sexual Life of the Savages (1929). Thus, the average adolescent sterility period for the white is 3-years, for Dap (New Guinea) 5 years and for the Lepchas 9 years. Further, Margaret Mead’s Coming of age in Samoa (1928) demonstrates that stresses and strums during ‘adolescing’ are largely the consequences of cultural factors peculiar to particular societies. Even otherwise, health cannot be given to the people, nor can it be bought or sold as a commodity. It invariably calls for people’s active participation (e.g. life style, food, attitude towards various medical systems). Thus, anthropology can assist more clearly and satisfactorily in identifying the health needs, and in clarifying factors influencing acceptability and utilization of health services, and can also assist in showing how these health needs can be most appropriately solved.
Anthropology and Life Sciences
Anthropology is closely related to several of the natural sciences for example:
Zoology – in terms of the relationship to other animals and the overall places of the human species in the process of evolutions;
Biology- in terms of the evolution of humans from early pre-human forms;
Anatomy and Physiology- in its concerned with the structure of the human body, the relationship of the various parts and the operation or function of these different parts
Genetics – concern with variation in the world to-day Anthropology studies the physical characteristics of man.
It uses the general principles of biology and utilizes the findings of anatomy, physiology, embryology, zoology, palaeontology and so on. Paul Broca (1871), the famous biologist defined physical anthropology as the “Science whose objective is the study of humanity considered as a whole, in its parts and in relationship to the rest of nature”. Although it is related to the biological sciences like anatomy, physiology etc., it does not restrict itself to the study of “contemporary average man”. Rather it is interested in the comparative study of man considering the past, present and even future. Actually, physical anthropology is more elaborate and detailed than biology. For instance, when a zoologist tries to understand the biology of an animal, he never goes into the details of the length and breadth of the skull. Physical anthropology examines the skull in all its details. Thus, anthropology has a sort of specialization or sharpening of certain aspects of general biology. Still another special feature of anthropology is that it is concerned only with limited and restricted study of the human species. It never moves beyond the study of humans. Anthropology considers the human species as a biological entity. Some anthropologists are concerned primarily with the past forms of Pre-human and early human species, an area of study known as fossil man. Others concentrate on the similarities and differences between the various primate species, which include not only human, but apes and monkeys as well. This area of study is called primatology. A third area, known as the study of human variation, or anthropological genetics, deals with contemporary as well as historical variations among populations of humans. It is concerned with questions such as the adaptation of a group of people to a specific climate, the natural immunity of some peoples to certain disease.
Anthropology and Environmental Sciences
Scientists of different disciplines have increasingly become interested in the study of different aspects of environment. Anthropologists are no exception to this. As a matter of fact anthropologists always attach great importance to environment, because man is regarded as product of interaction between heredity and environment. Man as an organism is grown and developed in conformity with both physical and social environment. If he cannot meet the challenge or adapt to his environments, especially physically, man will die and would have been extinct since prehistoric times. Many creatures have been found to have become extinct being unable to bear the rigours of the environment. Being equipped with cultural means in coping with nature, human beings have been able to adjust to variety of environments including even the polar areas. As they had to depend upon their biological qualities only without having any cultural equipment, the other creatures could not live in the adverse environment and so their living is not so widespread in the world. Man, on the other hand, could alter the environmental conditions by means of his culture and making it favourable to serve his needs. If there is dearth of water, man can dig well or pond and get water. If the habitat is full of jungles and forests, man clean the jungles and forests by his tools and implements and make it suitable for agriculture. By domestication of plants he can have variety of fruits and others. With the materials available in the surroundings man can build house to have a settled life. But, however, man has to depend partly on physical environment and natural resources as he cannot make him absolutely free from influences of environment. That is why different cultures have taken shape in accordance with different environments. Thus environment and culture have close relationship .Friedrich Ratzel, a German anthropo-geogapher had opined that natural setting plays a great role in shaping the ways of life of the people but his followers emphasized that environment determines man’s way of life and sponsored the theory of geographical determinism. According to the environmentalists man is subservient to environment and culture. The contribution of environment which determines the ways of man’s living natural resources, climate, geographical situation not only control the material cultural activities but also determines the development of industry, commerce, religion, social systems and civilizations also.
The students of cultural anthropology maintain that the way in which a human group adapts to a particular environment is not determined by its geographical features alone but is also influenced by various other forces like technological, biological, psychological, historical which play on culture. To illustrate this point the following may be referred to. The American South-West was first occupied by the sparse nomadic hunting or food gathering bands. Later the Ropi and Zuni of the pueblo Indians developed agriculture and lived a permanent, closely packed community life. Still later, the Spaniards appeared there with horses, guns and metal tools and each group of them had its own particular equipment for coping with the environment and catering to the needs for living. The present day population lead a still different way of life with modern amenities including electricity, air-conditioning automobiles, television, and so forth. Again, in the small state of Swat in North -Western Pakistan among the three ethnic groups, one was found to have recourse to both agriculture and pastoralism combined. So, it is found that each human society exploits equipment to serve their different needs. Further, it has been observed that although the Eskimos of northernmost North America and the Chukchi of Siberia face rigors of arctic climate. Their cultures are different. Again, culture may be the same in different environments. In the West cultivation is generally undertaken in the plain areas and the same is found on the hills also. The Assamese people in the Brahmaputra valley do rice cultivation. The Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh, the Nagas of Nagaland and the Ifugao of Phillipines do rice cultivation on the slopes of the hills by terracing and irrigation.
From the above example, it can be concluded that no single factor can determine the ways of life of a people. So, no one of the forces that influence life should be over emphasized.
Anthropology: Its relationship with humanities-Literature, Folklore, Cinema, Performance and Performing Arts Introduction:
The subjects under Humanities are concerned with human culture. It can studies studied in many ways. As a subject, it is divided into various sub-divisions. In short, the subject studies human race; human nature; humanness and benevolence etc. The various divisions and sub-divisions indicate a wide area of enquiry for which the subject Humanities has got the honour of an interdisciplinary social science. The study of man in relation with literature, folklore, cinema and performance and performing arts went under the fold of humanities. It is clear that anthropologists get important help from this social science in different ways.
Anthropology and literature
‘Literature’ is an umbrella term for poetry, fiction, drama and criticism. All these emanate from and get sustenance from the imagination. It appeals to the imagination too. Human emotions are mostly their subject matter and they mix pleasure with instruction or knowledge giving. Such writings have an artistic aspect to them.
Literature is a wonderful domain which functions in a wonderful area and works in the imaginative field. It gives us joy, laughter, sadness, wisdom, thought etc.
Literature helps us to relax giving us a perspective on life. It also gives us a picture of life. Written literature is not available among the primitive societies. Rather they existed in the form of folklores. These folklores show that they possess a good knowledge about the subject matter, characters and style of a story. In dormitories, young boys and girls listen to various kinds of folklores which contain important information about the origin of their tribe; about the origin of creation; about the mutual relations among men and women; about the origin of various social institutions and about many other things. It is through the medium of these folklores that the folk literature of the primitive societies is verbally communicated from one generation to another.
Anthropology and Folklore
Folklore has an important place in every primitive culture. It is through the medium of folklores that the culture of a primitive society is transmitted from one generation to the next generation. folklores contain the philosophy of the primitive people. How the world was evolved is a theme of many folklores of existing tribes. In most of the folklores, a reference to the mutual relation of the people and their gods is given. Various folklores aim at socialization and point out how different offences are punished by the supernatural powers in different ways. Descriptions about birds, animals and the trees, besides human beings are given in these folklores. In various primitive folklores of India it has been shown how man depends on plants and animals. Very interesting folklores about the origin of different tribes are available at present. One of the interesting folklores of this kind is found in the Ho tribe. There are various versions of this myth in different tribes.
The folk-lore relating to the origin of creation is prevalent in a different manner in Kamar tribe. God Mahadeo was once so annoyed by a mad jackal that he ordered the destruction of the world. An old woman overheard the curse, told her husband about it and the two together went to forest and hastily improvised a house boat and loaded it with all necessities of life to last for twelve years. Then they placed their young son and daughter in the boat soon after a deluge overtook the world drowning the whole of mankind and also the earth. After twelve years, Mahadeo’s anger subsided and he sent out his attendants to recreate the world. The young boy and girl were discovered and Mahadeo adopted them as his children. Some earth was procured from the teeth of an earth-worm and the earth was created again. The boy and the girl lived on this earth. Several children were born out of the union. Mahadeo divided these children into various pairs and each pair became the progenitor of a caste or tribe. It becomes clear from the folklore described above and prevalent in various Indian tribes, that the folklores are more imaginative and entertaining than awe-inspiring. Their main function appears to entertain their listeners. A good number of similarities are found in most of the folklores of the world and their subject matter is very much alike. Many hundred events are described in different ways in different folklores. Much folklore like the story of Oedipus and Cinderella found in western tribes are also found in primitive societies of India. In this way, folklores are important means to understand human culture.
Anthropology and Cinema
Cinema is an expression of stories, plays or drama on screen. Indian cinema has become a full-fledged industry with actors, producers, writers, technical persons becoming profession for livelihood. However, there has been an evolution of a parallel cinema which explores themes of discrimination, social injustice and gender issues in a powerful way.
Little attention was paid to a scientific study of the cinema of the Indian tribes. Cinema depicting tribal arts are on the decline everywhere in India because of confused judgments. Open condemnation of tribal cultures, or an implicit disapproval conveyed through ‘uplift’ movements have been induced to the minds of the Indian tribal folk distrust in and in some cases even distaste for their cultural traditions. The repository folk-music and the folk-dances of India could be for enrichment and inspiration for India’s modern film artists. It is encouraging to note that dance and music performances by invited representatives of various Indian tribes now became a regular item of the official programme for the annual Republic Day celebration at New Delhi. There are various aspects uplift standard of the everyday life of the Indian tribals. There are poverty, disease and ignorance among the tribals of India. Yet a lot has to be preserved and nourished for the good of the country as a whole such as tribal ‘art’ films. The concepts and methods of anthropology should be designed to secure an understanding of the tribal culture, the function of which is to secure human survival. But, the problem is, ‘How exactly and in what form was anthropology to make its contributions?
Anthropology and Art
The search of beauty is an eternal craving of mankind. This urge does not always satisfy the material needs; rather it brings satisfaction to the mind and the eye. The impulse arises out of an aesthetic sense. Every individual respond to it in some way or the other. Art is, therefore, a product of a deep- rooted human urge and has been integrated with the life of the people as an instinct since the early days of human existence.
The nature and style of art vary from culture to culture. As culture regulates the patterns of behavior in a society, it revolves round the specific beliefs and feelings. Therefore, cultural variations in artistic expression are quite natural. As per our modern outlook, we generally want an artist to be original and innovative. In general, artists are swayed by the creativity in their own style of creation. Often they are more appreciated by the show of their originality. Commonly two distinct lines of art are differentiated-pure art and applied art. Applied art aims at some utility rather than searching pure beauty and pleasure. On the other hand, pure art does not bother about utility; they express impulse and rhythm which manifest the beauty and pleasure of life. Here the sense of beauty comes from an abstract thought or images1 as conceived by the respective society. Culture exerts its influence by introducing the specific social values, metaphysical concepts, particulars tradition, style, and techniques depending upon the material apparatus available therein.
Art is, therefore, nurtured in the society and ends in it. The values and the ideals of society guide an artist. The social genesis of art can never be ignored. Various Different other factors like geographical condition, climatic set up, economic atmosphere, mood of the artist, medium of working etc. may also influence the creativity of an artist. A person who lives on a high mountain and confined there for the whole life will not be able to visualize the waves of the sea. Similarly, a desert dweller is unable to present the view of a snowfall on a landslide in his pictures. Because artists always externalizes their ideas and perceptions through the art in an objective way.
Anthropologists consider the artistic activities as one of the four basic social activities of human life. But it is a matter of surprise that how art appeared in the dim past, hundreds of thousands years back. What inspiration acted behind those aesthetic activities? The anthropologists, art historians, art critics, philosophers all seek this answer. However, the various pursuits of creativity have been classified in a number of groups like visual art, oral literature, music, dance etc. Among these, the visual art is the oldest as well as a tangible expression of thought. It includes drawing, painting, carving, engraving, sculpture etc. Although, much of the evidences have persistence only a few have survived in the graves on implements and on the walks of the caves.
Primitive art cannot be termed as crude art as some primitive forms of artistic expression are highly complex. They show mature techniques and sophisticated ideologies ranging from naturalism and realism to conventionalized abstraction. For example, Bushmen’s art is naturalistic and at the same time full of vitality; Australians’ art is abstract and symbolic; Eskimos’ art is naturalistic as well as technically sophisticated. What primitive art lacks is the knowledge of perspective. Therefore in no way they can be defined as ‘an art for art’s sake’. Rather here the creativity was plunged in usefulness. Thus, ancient art was very close to the life of the primitives; an artist served the demand of the social life.