Why should you study anthropology?

Anjila Jerin Tanjum | Update:

A collected illustrationStudents face difficulty over choosing a subject while getting into the universities. It is hard to decide which one would suit one.

Syed Arman Hossain, an associate professor at Dhaka University’s anthropology department, talked to Prothom Alo over the prospects of studying anthropology:

What are the students of anthropology taught?
We try to focus on the whole of human life. Many think that only the theory of evolution is taught in anthropology, but that is a wrong concept. Anthropology does not only observe the human evolution or the physical outlook, but the cultural characteristics, interaction, assimilation, progress, cultural practice, religion, politics of human beings—everything is in the agenda. This means this is a complete sense of life. This is a subject of social science faculty. Sociology, political science, world religions and culture, development studies, tourism and hospitality management—such subjects are related to this. There is a multidisciplinary relationship among these.

How is the future?

We not only clinch to only science and technology now-a-days, but practice the social issues, too. Civilisational crises are emerging in our culture and society. We must learn about our society and people. Being alienated from culture and depending on solely technology will not help accomplishing humanity. The research method we are adopting to reach people can reveal people’s outlook. Anthropology can explain the nature of the phenomena happening around us. In anthropology we ask ‘Why? How?’ and try to search the answers. Anthropologists are required to succeed in any development programme. The subject is therefore crucial across the world.

How is the career prospect?

Big organisations, including the UNDP are recruiting anthropologists. In several countries, they are being recruited by the government, too. They have scopes at the development organisations in our country as well. They are recruited to make sure that the projects turn successful. Many former students of Dhaka University are working in BRAC, Save the Children and so on.

Who should study anthropology?

It is unfortunate that the method we go through for admission test never allows us to choose our favourite subjects. One cannot be judged by a 120-mark test. If there were separate written tests for various departments the students could choose their subjects. Those who love anthropology and possess a curious mind and are interested to understand people and their outlook should study this subject. One should not study at a university only for getting into the civil service (after qualifying the BCS exam) or land a job. The love should be sought delving deep into the subject.

*This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.

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