My View of Anthropology: Five Fields!

I see Anthropology as the study of human potential. By the term “human potential,” I mean the vicarious expressions of life as experienced by real human beings in their physical, linguistic, cultural and historical environments. These vicarious expressions are based in cognition, which provides the backdrop for the entire field of Anthropology.

Anthropology is classically defined as an integrated social science based in four fields: Biological Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology. Anthropology is a meta-social science precisely because it studies all things human. But Anthropology, the study of human potential, has the much more potential than that.

I say that there is much more potential in Anthropology because I believe that the four field model is somewhat of a dated paradigm: Arguably there is a 5th field of Anthropology: Ecological Anthropology, which is defined as cultural adaptations to the environment. Ecological Anthropology is growing in importance and is a reflection of the increased interest in the Anthropocene. And if you want to study human potential in the context of climate change, you need to be in Anthropology but you should ground yourself in Ecological Anthropology.

At the nexus of Ecological Anthropology and Environmental Social Science are a broad range of disciplines, sub-disciplines and in-disciplines including Human Ecology, Cultural Ecology, Environmental Sociology, Environmental History and Environmental Psychology, just to name a few of the salient tangential approaches to human-environment interactions.

I am in the Socio-Cultural Track in the UA Anthropology Department but the reality is that I am an Ecological Anthropologist with a Cognitive Turn. I believe that the Ecology shapes Cognition which then turns around and shapes Ecology. And I am all about Hybrid Ecologies that are simultaneously symbolic (Emotional Ecology) and non-representational (Affective Ecology). In fact I would argue that hockey is surrounded in Canada by both an Emotional Ecology and an Affective Ecology.

You haven’t studied the phenomena of “Hockey Night In Canada,” (CBC) have you?

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