Biological Anthropology: Prospects and Perspectives

Scheffler, Christiane; McGlynn, George; Zink, Albert

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 71 No. 1-2 (2014), p. 1 - 1

published: Mar 1, 2014

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2014/editorial-71-1-2

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The Society for Anthropology (Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, GfA) was founded in 1992 by uniting two predecessors, the German Society for Anthropology from the new German states (East), and the Society for Anthropology and Human Genetics from the old German States (West), both of which had at this point been officially dissolved. The GfA seeks to represent all branches of anthropology and human biology in the German speaking countries, including Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and South Tirol, Italy. Seven societal work groups were formed, each of which is designed to address different scientific topics. These are palaeoanthropology and pre-historic anthropology, forensic anthropology, human ethology, gender studies, paedagogics, prevention, and freelance anthropologists. An additional group consists of young scientists completing their degrees. More than 20 years after its formation, drastic changes in the university environment have occurred. The last several years have witnessed the closure of several wellknown departments at top universities that focused on anthropological research, or have suffered faculty cutbacks, in some cases reducing the representation down to a single teaching position. Nevertheless, anthropology hasn’t lost its fascination and is actually experiencing a considerable upswing in public and scientific interest. More than ever, the role of the Society for Anthropology is to underline the importance of anthropological research, the variety of topics it offers, and the unique interdisciplinary approach that characterizes this field. This special issue contains twelve contributions originating from current anthropological research activities as conducted by the different work groups throughout Germany. It combines scientific articles and reviews of important research topics that are either performed at the main centers for anthropological research or the presentation of particular topics of some of the work groups. As diverse as the work group makeup, the contributions cover a variety of aspects of physical and cultural anthropology, such as palaeodiet and palaeoecology, morphometrics and sexing methods, mummy studies, forensic applications, insights into arts as behavior, educational science, ethics, aging, prevention, and gender studies. These articles clearly demonstrate the wide spectrum and highly interdisciplinary scientific approaches integrated into the Society for Anthropology. Anthropology and human biology are modern scientific fields that still play an important role in the scientific landscape.We think this special issue is suitable to demonstrate the importance and relevance of studying humans in space and time. It not only allows us to reconstruct aspects to human evolution and development, but also helps us to better understand the different facets of our cultural heritage that make us unique as a species. Christiane Scheffler, George McGlynn & Albert Zink