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Anthropology and Disability

  • Synopsis: Last Revised/Updated: 2018-05-14 - Information including recent discoveries, related anthropological news, and scholarly articles pertaining to anthropology and disability studies.

Main Document

A Broad Definition of Anthropology

Anthropology is defined as the study of various aspects of humans within past and present societies.

  • Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life.
  • Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
  • Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies.

In Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, the British tradition of social anthropology tends to dominate. In the United States, anthropology has traditionally been divided into the four field approach: biological or physical anthropology; social, cultural, or sociocultural anthropology; and archaeology; plus anthropological linguistics. These fields frequently overlap, but tend to use different methodologies and techniques.

Sociocultural anthropology draws together the principle axes of cultural anthropology and social anthropology. Cultural anthropology is the comparative study of the manifold ways in which people make sense of the world around them, while social anthropology is the study of the relationships among persons and groups.

Cultural anthropology is more related to philosophy, literature and the arts, while social anthropology is more related to sociology and history in that it helps develop understanding of social structures, (such as minorities, subgroups, dissidents, etc.). These categories also overlap to a considerable degree.

Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary field which studies "human health and disease, health care systems, and biocultural adaptation". Currently, research in medical anthropology is one of the main growth areas in the field of anthropology as a whole. It focuses on the following basic fields:

Other subjects that have become central to medical anthropology worldwide are violence and social suffering, as well as other issues that involve physical and psychological harm and suffering that are not a result of illness.

Anthropology and Disability

Any review of written or oral history, or archaeological skeletal population, large or small, allows us to identify many individuals for whom a physical or mental impairment played a significant role in daily life. People with disabilities make up a significant part of the human family. One estimate places the number of significantly disabled individuals with serious hearing, vision, mobility, or cognitive impairments, as high as one in every ten persons.

Scholarly Articles

Introduction: Anthropology in Disability Studies - - Devva Kasnitz, Ph.D., Mary Switzer Fellow, Russell P. Shuttleworth, Ph.D.; San Francisco State University.

Disability Worlds; Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp; Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, NY. Historically, anthropological studies of disability were often intellectually segregated, considered the province of those in medical and applied anthropology. We show the growing incorporation of disability in the discipline on its own terms by bringing in the social, activist, reflexive, experiential, narrative, and phenomenological dimensions of living with particular impairments. We imagine a broad future for critical anthropological studies of disability and argue that as a universal aspect of human life this topic should be foundational to the field -

Anthropological Theories of Disability - - Allison Ruby Reid-Cunningham; School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley, California. The field of anthropology has contributed to knowledge about cultural relevance, cultural relativity, and defined the meanings of culture (Klotz, 2003). The concept of culture is important to anthropological study of disability because the lens of culture may be applied to disability in a variety of ways: Disability may be considered a culture, culture may be considered a disability, and cultural norms and values influence conceptions of disability (McDermott & Herve, 1995).

Latest Anthropology Publications
1 : How Our Ancestors with Autistic Traits Led a Revolution in Ice Age Art : University of York.
2 : Fish Provide Insight Into the Evolution of the Immune System : University of East Anglia.
3 : How Neanderthals Influenced Human Genetics at the Crossroads of Asia and Europe : University at Buffalo.
4 : Sungir Homo Sapiens Visualized in 3D Virtual Reality : Visual Science.
5 : The Hominin Species That Gave Us Genital Herpes : University of Cambridge.
Click Here for Full List - (29 Items)

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

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