Anthropology Department hosts third annual Anthropology Day

The Anthropology Department is celebrating the third annual Anthropology Day today. Anthropology Day is a global event hosted by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) as a way for “anthropologists to celebrate our discipline while sharing it with the world around us,” according to the AAA’s website, www.americananthro.org. The AAA notes that it will be celebrated by over 150 colleges and universities this year, in addition to K-12 schools and other organizations. One of the original planners of the AAA’s inaugural Anthropology Day in 2015 was MNSU alumnus Joshua Anderson.

Today’s celebration at MNSU will be held at the Anthropology Department office, Trafton North 359 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature prizes, a trivia contest, cake, snacks, and tours of the department at 10, 11, and noon. Community service is an important part of Anthropology Day and this year the department’s goal is to collect $150 in donations and 150 pounds of food for the ECHO Food Shelf. Food donations can still be dropped off today and tomorrow outside Trafton North 359. This year’s Anthropology Day is being celebrated as part of MNSU’s sesquicentennial celebrations.

Last year’s event featured a talk entitled “Women and Power in African Communities: The Case of Tanzania” by Dr. Rosemarie Mwaipopo.

Anthropology Day is aimed at creating awareness for the study of anthropology. Dr. Chelsea Mead says that “a lot of times students [and] people in the general community have never heard of anthropology before. The point of the day is to share what anthropology is, get people to have an awareness of what the discipline is about, have some fun, share what we do, and celebrate our discipline.”

Dr. Kathleen Blue explains that anthropology “is the study of all humans in all times and places.”

“Almost anything has a human component,” she says.

She notes that anthropology is divided into four subdisciplines: archaeological, cultural, biological, and linguistic. Archaeological anthropologists try to understand how humans lived in the past by analyzing the physical clues they left behind. Cultural anthropologists study contemporary human culture. Biological anthropologists, says Blue, study the “biological aspects of the human.” Linguistic anthropologists are concerned with how humans use language.

Dr. J. Heath Anderson puts anthropology this way: “[It is] the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the social sciences.”

Dr. Anderson, who has a focus in archaeology, is working on a site in central Mexico to understand the ancient Toltecs, a civilization that predated the Aztecs. His research focuses on how complex societies reorganize following collapse. He says that “one of [his] favorite things [he] gets to do” is speak at high schools about his research and the study of anthropology in general.

“What distinguishes anthropology from other social sciences is that it is holistic,” he says. “We’re not just interested in economic behavior like economists, we’re not just interested in what’s going on in people’s heads like psychologists, we’re not just interested in things that are written down and things about the past like historians. We are interested in all aspects of human behavior, all aspects of humanity, and, crucially, we don’t think you can understand human beings unless you take all of that into account.”

More information on MNSU’s celebration of Anthropology Day can be found at the Anthropology Department’s webpage, www.sbs.mnsu.edu/anthropology.

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