Envisaging the Essence of Anthropology: Possibilities, Paradoxes and Shifting Paradigms

Anthropology woven into the very human existence enjoys the august privilege of being the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities ‘making the familiar exotic and the exotic familiar’ acting as a linkage between the past and present and as a window to prognosticate the future penetrating through unmatched dynamism and accurate foresight.

The world today has become like an extended and diverse family, having placed anthropology as an eminent stream towards understanding the evolutionary origin of humans, socio-cultural existence across time and space and promoting shared human values and diversity.

One of the paramount challenges of anthropology in the coming times will be both; to remain committed to rights of the indigenous groups that represent cultural diversity and also to theoretically offer coherent interpretations of the evolving social phenomenon’s with which the world is faced today.

Cutting edge information technology has revolutionised the way we communicate today and have a plethora of information and avenues. On the other hand, tremendously increased pace of urbanization, westernization and modernization has created a hazardous situation in the developing urban space. The lifestyle in cities has become complex like never before giving rise to several issues which anthropology cannot neglect. In this sphere, anthropology needs to perceive and address in appropriation to the emerging dynamics of the social relations, symbols, and political economies, caste and class dynamics, changing ideologies, smart cities, street food, street children that are most manifested in the urban space. The influence of political economy, architectural and planning theory, cultural studies, urban anthropology and cultural geography can be seen in the increasing attention to economic, political, and discursive models of the city..

At the same time post-structural and postmodern perspectives have recast the kinds of questions and modes of inquiry used to study the urban space. The dominant research trends in urban anthropology are currently studies of caste, class, and gender in the urban context; political economic studies of transnational culture, diaspora; and studies of ethnicity, migration, human trafficking, contemporary popular culture, technological innovations, artificial intelligence and social production of urban space and planning.

Last 25 years have seen paradigm shifts in Biological Anthropology especially in the Indian context where anthropologists have studied population affinity, variation and adaptations using molecular anthropological techniques and the study of DNA is also emerging very fast. Cutting edge researches in molecular anthropology in that line has drawn attention of researchers to investigate Microbes while analytical methods in human osteology have widened the scope for studying skeletal biology in investigating crime, criminals and forensics.

Recently, humanity has witnessed the unprecedented and catastrophic outrun of pandemic caused by Covid-19 giving impetus to the insurgency of revolutionizing practices or policies pertaining to public health. Food systems have metamorphosed the way the world must view the traditional methods of healing.

Amidst such despondent times, Anthropology with its specialized areas of enquiry comprising the field of health and diseases, nutrition, physical and mental health and issues of well-being, bio-cultural aspects of diseases, human adaptation to environment and community genetics, has come to play a vital role even more vigorously. Post-pandemic, traditional medicines and alternative medicines are making space in the field of health care.

Anthropological archaeology today stands at a crossword of exigency for a paradigm shift to transform our understanding of the human past and cultures emphasizing on the multi and interdisciplinary research work pertaining to anthropological -archaeology, human evolutions, living traditions, cultural trends and it's continuity through ages with special reference to the indigenous communities still bearing the enriched relics of the prehistoric past across Asia and the World.

Thus, anthropology today stands at a stage where it must choose a holistic approach towards common social good in its pursuits creating a substratum to build an inclusive, evolved and value oriented society by addressing the eminent issues. When an anthropologist seeks to gain understanding of people’s way of life, he or she is dealing not with one individual, but with the collective well-being and happiness of the society at large. Keeping in mind the idea of social justice, in our efforts towards better lives, the cultural background of the community concerned are studied and make amicable efforts to alter the way of life of tribes, women and historically oppressed communities by planning and government schemes.

Socio-cultural anthropology with its rich wealth of ethnographic anecdotes to showcase how anthropological research and analysis has helped us understand the contemporary world in all its diversity and complexity. Likewise, anthropological concepts, methods, and knowledge under Business or the Corporate Anthropology, population dynamics and ethnography are being applied by the business giants today to understand what’s working for the business and what isn’t and so forth with a few leading organizations already employed anthropology to improve the workspace.

As the pursuit of the multidimensional proxies is at the core of anthropology, its essence lies in the dialogue and discussion on the contemporary understanding of the past as well as the present complexities of human society.

Anthropology in its unique multivalence and approach of integrating human cultures addressing peace, war and particularly becoming a voice for the endangered and unvoiced, must continue to ignite and contribute towards a more inclusive world by placing significant focus on futuristic temporalities.

As society in 21st century became complex and paradoxical as never before; new issues are pertinently eminent for the human civilisation. Lately societies are equipped with more power by the development of strong political structures, advanced tools, better communication, health, economic growth, biological, artificial intelligence and space research in one hand and poor public delivery system, cultural and cross border conflicts, hatred and hegemony of dominance, otherness’s, marginalised people’s rights, etc. on the other hand. These paradoxes leave us with the question of how we can bring much needed inclusivity and holistically adaptable harmony in the civilisation.

Keeping up with the pace and carrying the baton forward, Department of Anthropology, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, has taken the initiative to organise the Pre-Congress of World Anthropology Congress 2023, under the title “Envisaging the Essence of Anthropology: Possibilities, Paradoxes and Shifting Paradigms”. The conference is aimed to encapsulate the essence of anthropological aspects by having brainstorming sessions encompassing varied topics related to the emerging research trends, prominent intrigues and possibilities in the field of Anthropology.

It is anticipated that the conference will fill in the existing lacunae and facilitate the larger goal of the value oriented academic advancement that anthropology is ought to contribute to.

Sub themes

  1. Changes in urban spaces: Changing ideologies, smart city, Caste, class dynamics in Cities, Caste and gender in corporate world
  2. Challenges of street Anthropology: Fast food, street food, street children
  3. Ethnicity, ethnic conflict, urban poverty, collective gatherings and festival activities
  4. Migration, Diaspora, human trafficking, Child labour
  5. Contemporary popular culture, Social media, sports culture: Digital games,Technological innovations, Artificial Intelligence
  6. Tribal development, displacement, rehabilitation and social justice, public policy, Planning
  7. Poverty, agrarian distress, sustainable development, subaltern and marginalized groups
  8. Role of Government in development, Government schemes, NGOs, CBOs, International agencies, Globalization studies
  9. Epidemiology and Culture, Public Health, Govt. Health Programmes
  10. Ethno-medicine, Indigenous Healers, Addiction, Mental Health and happiness
  11. Medical Pluralism, Integration of AYUSH in Public Health
  12. Ageing, Population and demographics, Gender and Health, Disability Studies
  13. Emerging trends and methods in Biological Anthropology and Bio-Informatics
  14. Bio-Cultural Aspects of diseases and Health
  15. DNA Polymorphism and Genomics and Adaptations
  16. Functional and Evolutionary Anatomy, Paleo-Pathology; Forensic Anthropology-
  17. Emerging Trends and Multidisciplinary Approaches in Ethno archaeology and Anthropological Archaeology
  18. Burial to Monuments: Appraising Mortuary Practices and Associated Cultures From Prehistoric Ages to Modern Times
  19. Simulating Human Dispersal, Climate and Culture in Paleontological and Anthropological Context.
  20. Culture, Religion, Language and Modernity
  21. Tribe, Caste, Class Dynamics
  22. Body, Gender and Sexuality
  23. Social Exclusion and Inclusion
  24. Anthropology of Democracy and Politics
  25. Anthropological linguistics and ethnolinguistic
  26. Socio-linguistics and modernity
  27. Corporate Culture and Governance
  28. Man- Machine-Management
  29. Marketing, Consumer behaviour and design
  30. Organisational Ethnography