Arts and Culture Editor
Since 2015, the World Anthropology Day celebration has taken place on the third Thursday of February, providing awareness of what anthropology is and creating more awareness of the realm of study. Anthropology is the study of people and cultures that have existed in the past and the present.
“I feel anthropology is important because our field is relatively unknown. People may hear of anthropology, but they don’t know what it is usually, and if they have heard of anything it is archaeology. But, that is often confused with paleontology, we don’t dig up dinosaurs in archeology,” said junior Rebekah Holmes, president of the Millersville University Anthropology Club.
Holmes found her love for archaeology through the television show “Expedition Unknown” and “The Mummy” movies as a kid. Still, her passion grew stronger once she learned more about anthropology and found her concentration in archaeology.
To grasp anthropology, there is first the challenge of understanding the different subfields which are archeology (understanding of the past), physical anthropology (humans at the scientific level), linguistic anthropology (understanding language), and cultural anthropology (analyzing humans and culture). Each subfield of anthropology has something different to offer in understanding the culture around us, even in Lancaster County.
“Being in anthropology really opens your worldview and forces you to step out of your comfort zone. You gain the skill of being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes” said senior Rhiannon Flaig, an anthropology major with a minor in archaeology.
The study of anthropology opened doors to answers and opportunities for Flaig when she took Physical Anthropology with Dr. Garcia and found more interest in archaeology, causing her to make it her concentration.
As World Anthropology Day is a day to celebrate and educate about the subject, the Millersville University Anthropology club was not only the spreading of knowledge but also their passion for learning. As a part of the club, there is also a field school that allows students to get hands-on experience in finding and collecting artifacts that help tell the story of the people who were before us.
“There is something that bonds you while you’re eating slightly dirt-covered sandwiches together after a few hours of digging. You go a little crazy after cleaning artifacts for hours once you start full-time lab work, but having your friends around you makes it fun,” said Flaig.
As field study can be considered a tiresome but rewarding experience, there are other ways that someone can learn about anthropology. One way being the exploration of the Gerhart building, an anthropology library with literature organized by the subfield, and experts in the study, our faculty. For the students that are interested in archaeology, like Flaig and Holmes, a resource that would be beneficial to learn about the program or field school would be Dr. Timothy Trussell. In another subfield is Dr. Justin Garcia, a cultural anthropologist who teaches courses in language, physical anthropology, and communications. Lastly, there is the Chair of the Department of Criminology, Sociology, and Anthropology, Dr. Marlene Arnold. Dr. Arnold’s expertise ranges across the realm of anthropology but she specializes in cultural anthropology and has experience in medical anthropology. Dr. Arnold’s passion for culture carries on her passion in her teaching.
“I fell in love with anthropology as an undergraduate student, because I found the differences in cultures around the world and here in the U.S. to be endlessly interesting,” said Dr. Marlene Arnold.
In terms of getting more involved and digging deeper into understanding anthropology, the meetings for the Anthropology Club meets every Tuesday from 12:10 p.m.-1:00 p.m. in the Gerhart building.
“Those looking to join Anth club should expect a fun, open environment of discussion. Each week we have a new topic up for discussion, and the goal is to be open and try to view the world through an anthropological lens,” said Holmes.
Millersville student holds a discovered arrowhead.