I was in my Anthropology induction on Thursday for a little over half an hour before we were sent out on a task. A task involving being let loose in Central London asking (and annoying) Starbucks staff about student buying habits. Bit random eh?
“Anthropology? What’s that?” – I hear you whispering! Anthropology is when you sit on the London Underground and no one looks up from their phones, when you hug your best friend but simply shake the hand of someone new and when you ask for the “thingy” instead of the TV remote. Anthropology is essentially everything. It is the study of humankind; perhaps it could be summarised as the explanation and comparison within social interactions (but that’s if you want the technically correct definition)!
It is also the subject of which I hope to obtain a degree in, but why (don’t worry I seen those eyebrows go up in confusion and I know for a fact that you are interested in my whacky choice that is going to cost me £9,000 a year…)? Well, even if you don’t actually really care then I’m going to tell you anyway, I’m fascinated my humans and everything about them. How we interact and behave in different social situations without even really thinking about the transition between them, it’s incredible. How can you not have an interest in that?
Gender is something you could consider as universal, but is it? Is what we define as male and female the same as that in Thailand? Or what we consider “male” and “female” related jobs the same as the world renowned Amazonian tribe: the Yanomamo? Of course it isn’t because we are all brought up in a wide range of social backgrounds, where everything is culturally relative. Murder in the UK is deemed as socially unacceptable or extremist, whereas in some indigenous tribes across the world it is a norm and not wanting to conform to that would be categorised as weird, strange or even offensive.
Anyway my induction simply involved going into the high street cafés and asking what people ordered and why! My group spoke to a King’s college student who buys a Latte from Starbucks daily at around two o’clock because that is when she properly wakes up. Another group spoke to a man who had ordered a tomato pasta because it was the cheapest thing on the menu, whilst another guy had bought a salad because his colleague bought it the day before and he had food envy. One girl bought a ham sandwich because it was the only thing Costa sold that didn’t have Mayo in it and she was lactose intolerant. A young lad who our group spoke to always ordered a glorified cheese sandwich in Subway because he was vegetarian and apparently they aren’t equipped for anything other than keen meat enthusiasts, I personally just dislike Subway in general. So all in all my induction was bizarre. P.S. Welcome to world of the Anthropology of Food (it exists I promise)!
Although, that is only a snippet of Anthropology and it kind of synthesises why I’m so captivated, I really could go on and on and on about how wonderful it is..
So next time someone pushes in front of you in the queue for the help desk at Tesco’s, ask yourself “I wonder if that person is aware of queuing as a concept or did they grow up in a place where it had no value so therefore didn’t exist?” – to be honest they probably are just queue skipping so you should say something!