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Anthropology aims to describe in the broadest sense what it means to be human. It is the study of human nature, human society, and human history, trying to integrate all that is known about human beings and their activities at the highest and most inclusive levels. Anthropologists study and compare human societies across space and time, in order to formulate generalizations about what it means to be human.

Although the concerns of anthropology are as old as human history, anthropology as an academic discipline dates only from the late 19th century. Anthropology is divided into the following four subdisciplines: physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, anthropological linguistics, and archaeology. Cultural anthropology is also called social anthropology and ethnology.

Mennonite interest in anthropology has come largely through experiences in cross-cultural ministries of the church, in mission and service activities. Anthropology has been introduced into the curricula of Mennonite schools as part of training for such service. Since the 1950s, Mennonites have pursued graduate studies in cultural anthropology and anthropological linguistics as preparation for mission service, for Bible translation, for training others for such ministries, and for academic careers in university departments of anthropology. Mennonites have also published definitive and respected works on a wide variety of anthropological topics.

See also Contextualization; Geography; Sociological Studies

Author(s) Robert L Ramseyer
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Ramseyer, Robert L. "Anthropology." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 17 May 2022.

APA style

Ramseyer, Robert L. (1989). Anthropology. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 May 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 28. All rights reserved.

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