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BANC-131: Anthropology and Research Methods

BANC-131: Anthropology and Research Methods

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BANC 131/ASST/TMA/2022-2023

Course Code: BANC-131

Assignment Name: Anthropology and Research Methods

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Total Marks: 100

There are three Assignments. All questions are compulsory.


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1) Define anthropology and discuss its objectives briefly. 20

Ans) Anthropology is described by the American Anthropological Association as "the study of mankind, past and present. Anthropology draws on information from the social and biological sciences, as well as the humanities and physical sciences, to fully comprehend the breadth and complexity of civilizations across all of human history. The application of knowledge to the resolution of human issues is a major concern of anthropologists.


Objectives of Anthropology

Cultural Relativism: The goal of anthropology as a field was to investigate the development of people and cultures. It was once believed that cultural evolution, like human evolution, had progressed gradually from simple to sophisticated cultural and societal qualities. The majority of tribal communities around the world are seen to reflect an earlier stage of cultural evolution and will eventually evolve to the level of western cultures and civilization as a result, according to this theory. As a result, there was some ethnocentric bias. The idea of colonialism was stimulated by this bias toward the superiority of the white western "race," as it was thought that "white men" had a responsibility to civilise the "primitive" societies.


Nature-Nurture Debate: Innovators in the field have employed anthropological methods to achieve the goal of refuting particular preconceptions and presumptions. This goal has allowed anthropologists to positively impact certain fundamental discussions in the social and natural sciences. Despite the fact that race is a social construction, many people think that specific physical traits correspond to particular behavioural tendencies. In other words, it is believed that human behaviour is determined organically. As a result, some racial stereotypes were created. For example, this gave rise to the notion that some races are superior to others.


Applying Anthropology to Solve Life Problems: The study and use of anthropology affects people's lives for the better. This is the practical side of anthropology, where anthropological understanding is put to use to improve people's quality of life. The current global context seems to be all about development. It necessitates the use and use of natural resources such as coal, minerals, and other forest products, which in turn may need the cutting down of trees for their wood and the mining of minerals. People that have lived in these locations for millennia are displaced on a huge scale as a result of such actions, primarily tribes. The understanding and expertise of anthropology is useful in this situation. People who can speak up for such a disenfranchised group of the community are anthropologists. Understanding tribal needs and desires can aid in defending their rights. Anthropology is relevant to the promotion of civil rights in this context.


Universal vs. Specific Knowledge: To contrast the local and the global has been the subject's fundamental goal. In other words, anthropology's understanding has expanded as a result of its ability to place the particular inside a larger, more universal framework. This means that an anthropologist's goal remains universal even when they focus on the specific. The study of tribal groups' indigenous knowledge systems is a crucial component of the specific knowledge. Such indigenous knowledge is the result of particular socioeconomic and ecological circumstances that over time develop into crucial survival strategies.


Q2) What is the importance of fieldwork? Describe the contributions of Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski. 20

Ans) Fieldwork is the most effective technique to understand people and their reality, which has become essential to social anthropological research. In addition, the methodology of fieldwork is one of the primary contributions of social anthropology to other domains of knowledge, not just in the social sciences but also in the natural and biological sciences. Other academic fields also provide fieldwork courses as part of their curricula, and anthropologists are teaching them the science, art, and folklore of fieldwork.


Henri Bergson once said: "There are two ways to know a phenomenon: one by walking around it, and the other by entering inside it." In this context, we may use his words. The fieldwork methodology supports taking an "insider's view," or looking at a phenomenon from within, to better comprehend it. Fieldwork is a way of gathering data in which the researcher spends time with the subjects in their natural environment and gains first-hand knowledge by assimilating into the community.


Anthropologists are also aware of the distinction between:

  1. What people think,

  2. What people say,

  3. What people do,

  4. What people think they ought to have done.


If anthropologists are merely asking questions and recording people's responses, as is the case with the "survey" method, they will essentially be gathering data on "what people say they do." It is very likely that they are not doing as they claim to be. They might be responding in a way that is socially and normatively acceptable. In other words, they could not be telling the whole storey. Many instances of this kind have been documented by anthropologists.


For instance, a respondent who claims to uphold the value of honesty might be a pharmacist by trade, but an anthropologist who lives in his home discovers that the respondent is actually stealing medications from the hospital where he works and selling them to his patients whom he is treating illegally. Paul Bohannon discovered this through his research on the Bunyoro. When anthropologists spend a significant amount of time with people, they get to know their actual ways of life rather than the ones they describe, which may be an "ideal" manner or what they believe to be the proper way to live.


Contributions of Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski

Malinowski consistently emphasised the value of mastering the people's native tongue in his works. He held that it is impossible to understand a people's cultural ideas without being conversant in its language. Malinowski outlined the fundamental principles of fieldwork. He taught others how to conduct fieldwork for a very long time. His followers engaged in the same kind of fieldwork, spending a significant amount of time among people in their natural environment in an effort to comprehend their institutions and points of view. Fieldwork inspired by Malinowski's example gradually become essential to contemporary anthropology. Malinowski's entire body of work was concerned with studying people while making an effort to participate as much as possible in their daily lives, even though he did not invent the phrase "participant observation."


Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


Q3) Discuss the relationship of archaeological anthropology with other disciplines. 10

Ans) The relationship of archaeological anthropology with other disciplines is as follows:


Relationship with History

According to history, prehistoric/archaeological anthropology has been around for more than 150 years. History also demonstrates how the nature, timing, and order of discovering various objects and fossils are murky and unfinished. The theory of evolution and our understanding of development, change, and diffusion mechanisms can be studied in light of the history of discoveries. This discipline has a connection to cultural history reconstruction. A more complete picture of man and culture is frequently produced when historical and archaeological data are integrated.


Relationship with Archaeology

Anthropologists who excavate the physical evidence of ancient cultures are known as archaeologists. Prior to the invention of writing, only extremely early periods are covered by archaeological anthropology. For its study, archaeology also depends on other sciences. The pursuit of material remains left by man is the subject of archaeology. The recovery of materials from both exploration and excavation is a task that archaeologists have developed methods and procedures for. The materials are organised in reference to location, time, and shape once they have been retrieved. Archaeologists further infer culture from the assemblage before interpreting the entire cultural regime.


Relationship with Earth Sciences

Geosciences are fields that study both geography and geology. But they are not interchangeable. While geography is concerned with distance, geology is concerned with time. The former examines the earth's inside, whereas the latter examines its outside When combined, geology and geography give the sense of being a diachronic subject.

  1. The vertical dimension that the geological aspect primarily displays is time.

  2. The horizontal concept of space is provided by geography.


Relationship with Physical/Natural and Biological Sciences

Reconstruction and many other sciences are closely related, particularly with relation to date. These include a variety of subjects, including chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, statistics, botany, and zoology. There are two types of relationships:

  1. Relative: The age of human remains is determined in reference to an already-dated event.

  2. Absolute: This establishes the date of an object in the calendar's absolute numerical order.


Q4) Briefly discuss the genesis of physical/biological anthropology adaptation to heat. 10

Ans) The genesis of physical/biological anthropology adaptation to heat:


The genetic adaptability of humans to various environmental situations, as studied in physical anthropology. Humans have physical adaptations in reaction to extreme cold, muggy heat, arid environments, and high altitudes. There are two types of heat adaptation: dry heat adaptation and adaptation to humid heat (desert conditions). In warmer regions, losing body heat rather than keeping it is the issue. Typically, sweating is how the body gets rid of surplus heat. However, in humid heat, the humidity of the surrounding air partially inhibits perspiration from evaporating, which can lead to overheating.


As a result, the heat-adapted individual in humid regions is typically tall and skinny, giving him the greatest surface area for heat radiation. Because warming of the air in the nasal passages is undesirable, he frequently has a large nose. He also typically has dark skin, which protects him from damaging solar radiation and may lower his sweating threshold. The person who has acclimated to the desert can easily perspire but must deal with the water loss that results; as a result, he is typically short and skinny. Water loss and demand are both reduced by this adaptation. Skin pigmentation is moderate because excessive pigmentation provides high solar protection but also permits the body to absorb heat, which must be expelled through perspiration. People who have adapted to the desert are also prone to night-time cold sensitivity.


Q5) Describe in brief the methods of data collection in social/cultural anthropology. 10

Ans) The methods of data collection in social/cultural anthropology are:



Viewing a specific episode, phenomenon, or even exchanges and interpersonal relationships between two or more persons constitutes observation. To be a useful component of a scientific research, this viewing must be methodical and relevant.


The categories of observation include:

  1. Participant observation.

  2. Non-participant observation.

  3. Quasi-participant observation.


Case Study

A case study is a comprehensive approach that helps us to gain a comprehensive understanding of a particular incident or occurrence. This method was frequently used to analyse conflicts, legal disputes, and cases, and it basically involved tracking a case or an event over a lengthy period of time to get insight into social processes in addition to structures and norms.



Tracing the line of descent is made easier through genealogy. Given that it links the past to the present, it is an essential component of anthropological fieldwork. Studies on genealogy have also exposed the myths and precepts related to ancestors and ancestor worship.



When the researcher is not physically present, the informant who provides the information can be sent a questionnaire to complete. In the virtual environment, a questionnaire can also be employed. For a questionnaire, the order of the questions is crucial. One starts with straightforward, easy-to-answer questions before moving on to ones that are more challenging and introspective. Multiple-choice questions, in which there are various possibilities to pick from, are frequently available.



Most interviews conducted in a field setting in a hamlet are casual and occasionally impromptu. When a researcher is living within the community, she or he can conduct interviews while interacting with members of the community, assisting with community projects, or even while enjoying a cup of tea at a friend's house or in the village tea shop. This is what many anthropologists refer to as "deep hanging out." Direct interviews, whether formal or casual, are typical of fieldwork. When conducting any form of interview, the participants' verbal or nonverbal consent is crucial.



The researcher follows an interview schedule when conducting interviews. There are two types of interview schedules: scheduled and unstructured. A structured interview schedule, which is typically used for conducting surveys or obtaining quantitative data, contains a predefined format of questions that the researcher utilises while conducting an interview.


Assignment – III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.


Q6) Current field of study in Biological Anthropology. 5

Ans) The current field of study in Biological Anthropology includes:


  1. The primary goal of palaeoanthropology, often known as human evolutionary studies, is to record the biological evolution of humans.

  2. The study of primates, both extant and extinct, is known as paleo-primatology. The study of bones is referred to as osteology.

  3. A theoretical framework for comprehending the biology of the human species is provided by human genetics.

  4. Understanding the mechanisms of evolution, such as natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow, and mutation, is made possible through population studies.

  5. Comparative analysis of all current populations is a focus of molecular anthropology.

  6. Essentially, the study of human variety is referred to as human biology. Numerous elements, including environment, diet, and heredity, affect growth and development.

  7. Human ecology is the study of population interactions with their surroundings and the exchange of energy with other living things.

  8. The identification of human skeletal remains for legal purposes is the focus of forensic anthropology.

  9. Demography is the study of population growth and mortality, two variables that are specifically influenced by genetics and environment.


Q7) Anthropology as a discipline. 5

Ans) The rigorous study and inquiry of the origins and diversity of humans was one of the main objectives of anthropology as a discipline. Darwin had made it clear that humans were a single species from a biological perspective, and race theories that had linked variations in human societies to racial distinctions were widely discredited. If race was not the criterion, it was necessary to find other explanations for the physical and social distinctions among various human populations. The study of the biological and social evolution of humans at that time was the focus of anthropology, which also sought to explain the observable distinctions in bodily kinds and social and cultural life. The notion of social evolution was founded on the final supposition that spatial and temporal disparities might be translated. Because the notion of social evolution was Eurocentric and directly or indirectly backed colonialism by its concept of "civilization" as being synonymous with the west, anthropology has occasionally come under fire for being a colonial discipline.


Q8) Growth of archaeological anthropology in India. 5

Ans) In the year 1863, Indian archaeological anthropology entered its formative stage. Palaeolithic sediments were originally excavated by Calcutta University in 1948 at Kuliana in Mayurbhanj, Orissa. The human remains discovered in Nal in 1929 and at Mohenjo-Daro in 1931 and 1937 were the subject of a report written by D. N. Majumdar. Dharani P. Sen was an expert in Stone Age culture and chronology, Pleistocene stratigraphy, and ancient archaeology. The Archaeological Survey of India organised an expedition at Bruce Foote's Gujarat study site during the analytical phase of the early 1940s, under the direction of H.D. Sankalia. In the Sabarmati valley of the Mehsana district, scientists found fresh Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites as well as Acheulian culture remnants here. Before India gained its independence, ASI was responsible for all prehistoric study in that country. Apart from ASI, Deccan College Research Institute and Calcutta University also conduct some archaeological studies. Other major developments of the analytical phase include the 1940 appointments of R.E.M. Wheeler as Director General of ASI and H.D. Sankalia as Professor in the Department of Archaeology at Deccan College (1944).


Q9) Symbolism and Interpretative theories 5

Ans) As culture was acknowledged as largely symbolic activity giving meaning to the world that humans occupy, a deep interest in human symbolism also emerged. This demonstrates unequivocally that the human world is constructed rather than an objective space filled with objectively real things, or that what we take to be real is what we have created and given meaning to. Accordingly, culture is the received code or map of symbols that is handed down to us by our society and is then reconstituted by our actions that adhere to the symbolic codes that we internalise. This was a significant departure from past theories that viewed society as a "thing" that could be comprehended through a "scientific" approach. The underlying premise of both structural-functional and evolutionist perspectives was that what is observed is something genuine with meaningful content. The interpretative method, however, remained largely upheld its positivist and functional stance. When many of the presumptions of scientific rationality and "objectivity" of the so-called scientific observer came under fire from a number of sources, the feminist and critical approach from the "margins" was the most significant. This is when anthropology began its critical phase.


Q10) Geological time scale 5

Ans) The frequent use of the geological time scale in prehistoric research is another crucial component because of the vast amount of time it encompasses. According to the relative age relationships between the earth's structures, the geological time scale is a sequential arrangement of the earth's geology. Precambrian and Phanerozoic are the two aeons that make up Earth's geological history. The latter began about 550 million years ago and is still going strong now. Eras and periods were used to further separate aeons. Only at the end of the Cenozoic era's quaternary period did humans first emerge on earth. The Pleistocene epoch of this Quaternary period marks the beginning of the prehistoric era. Around 2.5 million years ago and ending 11,500 years ago, the Pleistocene epoch began. This time period was characterised by extreme weather changes and protracted ice ages. The term "glacial" refers to these ice ages, and "interglacial" refers to the milder intervals between them. The Pleistocene epoch came to an end with the last glacial era. The Holocene, an interglacial epoch since then, is currently in progress. Glacial and interglacial times were extremely harsh during the early history of humans. Remains from prehistoric times attest to human fight against these environmental factors.


Q11) Serology. 5

Ans) Serology is the name given to the scientific study of blood and its characteristics. The immunological characteristics of blood are. They are established based on the hereditary antigens found in red blood cells. Due to individual variance, blood group proportions vary amongst populations. At least 15 different blood grouping systems exist. An antigen-antibody reaction is the fundamental tenet of blood categorization. Only the appropriate antibody for a certain antigen will react with it; other antibodies will not. Agglutination is one way to notice the reaction. Antigens are proteins that promote the development of antibodies. Antibodies are the chemicals in serum or plasma that respond to an antigen. Here, we'll solely talk about the ABO and Rh systems. However, since instrumental error, human error, and observational error all have a role to play, perfection is not always feasible. However, a sincere effort must be made to resolve these issues and obtain accurate measurements. Similar methods are used for biochemical studies, serological testing, etc., as well as for gathering and analysing dermatoglyphic data.

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