Anthropology Quotes

Anthropologists (and non anthropologists) have said some pretty interesting stuff, from things that relate to anthropology as a subject, to observations that can be applied to the wider world. Memorise these great anthropology quotes and show your friends how super duper brainy you can sound!

“The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”Ruth Benedict

“Anthropology is the science which tells us that people are the same the whole world over – except when they are different.”Nancy Banks-Smith

“Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.”Alfred L. Kroeber

“Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.”George Lucas

“Younger anthropologists have the notion that anthropology is too diverse. The number of things done under the name of anthropology is just infinite; you can do anything and call it anthropology.”Clifford Geertz

“Maybe if I’d studied writing instead of anthropology, I’d be more sensible. You know – pick a genre, follow the rules, stay in the box – but let’s face it. Sensible people don’t major in anthropology.”Mary Doria Russell

“I honestly think anthropology is one of the most useful fields a fantasy writer can study, more so even than history.”Marie Brennan

“Anthropology never has had a distinct subject matter, and because it doesn’t have a real method, there’s a great deal of anxiety over what it is.”Clifford Geertz

“After the war, I went to the University of Chicago, where I was pleased to study anthropology, a science that was mostly poetry, that involved almost no math at all.”Kurt Vonnegut

“The task of the modern era was the realisation and humanisation of God – the transformation and dissolution of theology into anthropology.”Ludwig Feuerbach

“Anthropology was the science that gave her the platform from which she surveyed, scolded and beamed at the world.”Jane Howard

“We need to think more about the nature of rhetoric in anthropology. There isn’t a body of knowledge and thought to fall back on in this regard.”Clifford Geertz

“Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess.”Margaret Mead

“Anthropology is never an exact science; the observer never experiences the same culture as the participant.”Orson Scott Card

“Adventure has no place in the anthropologists profession; it is merely one of those unavoidable drawbacks, which detract from his effective work through the incidental loss of weeks or months.” – Claude Lévi-Strauss

“The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens (‘wise man’). In any case it’s an arrogant and big headed thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.”Terry Pratchett

“Cultural anthropology is not valuable because it uncovers the archaic in the psychological sense. It is valuable because it is constantly rediscovering the normal.”Edward Sapir

I hope you’ve enjoyed these quotes, if you have any suggestions then please go ahead and leave a comment below!

[In the interest of maintaining a relatively effective level of SEO I have used the phrase ‘anthropology quotes’ throughout, however the technically correct terminology is ‘anthropology quotations’, so forgive me grammar police!]