What is hip-hop anthropology?
Traditional anthropology is considered a four-field discipline that includes the archaeological, linguistic, cultural, and physical/biological study of human beings. The term “anthropology” is derived from the Greek anthrōpos, meaning “man,” understood as humankind, and logia, meaning “discourse” or “study.” Cultural anthropology has emphasized relativism (the concept that points of view have no absolute truth and that values are culturally bound), the use of participant/observation as a methodology for ethnographic research, and the application of findings to frame cultural critiques. Essentially, cultural anthropology aims to better understand the non-biological explanation for human behavior.
Hip-hop is a four-element form of expression consisting of visual, auditory, physical and linguistic codes. These codes relate to graffiti art, turntablism or musical composition / production, break dancing, and rap. Traditionally, hip-hop refers to the unity of these four codes. However, today we also have exponential elements of hip-hop such as literature, theatre, audiovisual production, or fashion.
Hip-hop anthropology refers to the study of hip-hop – as a whole or as singular elements – in a manner that is relativist, utilizes participant/observation, creates ethnographic accounts, and utilizes the findings to contribute to the study of humankind within the social sciences.