I recently read this excellent post on the blog Living Anthropologically about what draws people to anthropology and what keeps them there. The author made the following observation: “Anthropology requires a basic respect for people and working with them, not just studying them. Looking for answers means being humble and open to this process.”
This statement captures something I’ve always thought about myself: I’m a “people person.” I even wrote it in the personal statements that got me into grad school. However, I had never really sat back and thought about what it actually meant. I’ve described myself as a misanthrope yet, paradoxically, I recognise that I’m curious about people and that I want to know what makes us “human.” This curiosity is why I chose to study anthropology, and it’s subsequently shaped my own worldview.
But there’s a catch to allowing an interest in other people to inform one’s understanding of oneself. It means always asking questions — uncomfortable, unexpected questions — and not always understanding or accepting the answers. Continue reading