Strategy and Booklist Anthropology Optional (Paper-1) for UPSC Mains

Strategy and Booklist Anthropology Optional (Paper-1) for UPSC Mains

Anthropology is gaining importance as optional subject among the CSE aspirants in recent time due to its advantage over some of the most preferred optional such as geography, pub Ad, history etc.

What is anthropology?

Anthropology is a study of human kind in its totality .The totality reveals the aspects namely the biological aspect, cultural aspects and social aspects of humankind in time and space in a holistic way.

Anthropology optional covers social-cultural and biological aspects of man in terms of evolution and variation.

Why to choose anthropology as optional subject?

1. Mostly Static

2. Easy to understand

3. Limited syllabus

4. Scoring

5. Can easily be covered in 3 months

6. Helpful in Prelims, GS and essay

How it helps in Prelims, GS & Essay?

  • Prelims

  • Questions on tribals (from which state they belongs to, their festivals and culture)

  • General Studies 1

  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

  • Role of women and womens organization

  • population and associated issues

  • Poverty and developmental issues,

  • Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

  • Effects of Globalization on Indian Society.

  • Social Empowerment, Communalism, Regionalism and Secularism.

  • General Studies – II

  • Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGO, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

  • General Studies – III

  • Land Reforms in India

  • Challenges to internal security

  • General Studies – IV

  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators.

  • Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

  • Essay

  • On women, tribal and Society.

Buy Printed Study Material for UPSC PRE GS & CSAT COMBO

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Printed Study Material for IAS Mains General Studies

Strategy and booklist

  • Please sit with the syllabus and previous years question bank. You will realise that most of the previous year questions have been repeated number of times. Hence it is very important to cover the syllabus along with clarity of understanding as well as making 200-400 words of notes on each sub-topic..

  • Practice diagrams for physical part, diagrams will ultimately fetch you marks

  • Try to attempt more question from physical anthropology part and theory part as socio based questions fetch lesser marks comparatively.





1.1 Meaning, scope and development of Anthropology.
1.2 Relationships with other disciplines: Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Earth Sciences and Humanities.

Brain Tree Anthropology by G.S Karthik


1.3 Main branches of Anthropology, their scope and relevance: 
(a) Social- cultural Anthropology.
(b) Biological Anthropology.
(c) Archaeological Anthropology.
(d) Linguistic Anthropology. 

General Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain


1.4 Human Evolution and emergence of Man:
(a) Biological and Cultural factors in human evolution.
(b) Theories of Organic Evolution (Pre- Darwinian, Darwinian and PostDarwinian).

(c) Synthetic theory of evolution; Brief outline of terms and concepts of evolutionary biology (Doll's rule, Cope's rule, Gause's rule, parallelism, convergence, adaptive radiation, and mosaic evolution).

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath


1.5 Characteristics of Primates;
Evolutionary Trend and Primate Taxonomy;
Primate Adaptations;
(Arboreal and Terrestrial) Primate Taxonomy;
Primate Behaviour; Tertiary and Quaternary fossil primates;
Living Major Primates;
Comparative Anatomy of Man and Apes;
Skeletal changes due to erect posture and its implications.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath



1.6 Phylogenetic status, characteristics and geographical distribution of the following:
(a) Plio-pleistocene hominids in South and East Africa - Australopithecines.
(b) Homo erectus: Africa (Paranthropus), Europe (Homo erectus heidelber-gensis), Asia (Homo erectus javanicus, Homo erectus pekinensis).
(c) Neanderthal Man- La-Chapelle-auxsaints (Classical type), Mt. Carmel (Progressive type).
(d) Rhodesian man. (e) Homo sapiens - Cromagnon, Grimaldi and Chancelede.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath



1.8 (a) Principles of Prehistoric Archaeology. Chronology:
Relative and Absolute Dating methods.

General Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain


(b) Cultural Evolution- Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures:
(i) Paleolithic (ii) Mesolithic (iii) Neolithic (iv) Chalcolithic
(v) Copper-Bronze Age (vi) Iron Age

An outline of INDIAN PREHISTORY by D.K. Bhattacharya


2.1 The Nature of Culture: The concept and characteristics of culture and civilization; Ethnocentrism vis cultural Relativism.
2.2 The Nature of Society: Concept of Society; Society and Culture; Social Institutions; Social groups; and Social stratification.

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree


2.3 Marriage: Definition and universality;
Laws of marriage (endogamy, exogamy, hypergamy, hypogamy, incest taboo); Types of marriage (monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, group marriage). Functions of marriage;
Marriage regulations (preferential, prescriptive and proscriptive);
Marriage payments (bride wealth and dowry).

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid/Brain tree


2.4 Family: Definition and universality;
Family, household and domestic groups;
functions of family;
Types of family (from the perspectives of structure, blood relation, marriage, residence and succession);
Impact of urbanization, industrialization and feminist movements on family.

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid/Brain tree



2.5 Kinship:
Consanguinity and Affinity;
Principles and types of descent (Unilineal, Double, Bilateral, Ambilineal);
Forms of descent groups (lineage, clan, phratry, moiety and kindred);

Kinship terminology (descriptive and classificatory);
Descent, Filiation and Complimentary Filiation;
Descent and Alliance

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree


3. Economic organization:
Meaning, scope and relevance of economic anthropology;
Formalist and Substantivist debate;
Principles governing production, distribution and exchange (reciprocity, redistribution and market), in communities, subsisting on hunting and gathering, fishing, swiddening, pastoralism, horticulture, and agriculture; globalization and indigenous economic systems.

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree


4. Political organization and Social Control:
Band, tribe, chiefdom, kingdom and state;

concepts of power, authority and legitimacy;
social control, law and justice in simple societies

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree


5. Religion:
Anthropological approaches to the study of religion  (evolutionary, psychological and functional);
monotheism and polytheism;
sacred and profane;
myths and rituals;

forms of religion in tribal and peasant societies (animism, animatism, fetishism, naturism and totemism);
religion, magic and science distinguished;
magico- religious functionaries (priest, shaman, medicine man, sorcerer and witch)


Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree



6. Anthropological theories:
(a) Classical evolutionism (Tylor, Morgan and Frazer)
(b) Historical particularism (Boas); Diffusionism (British, German and American)
(c) Functionalism (Malinowski); Structural- functionlism (RadcliffeBrown)

(d) Structuralism (Levi - Strauss and E. Leach)
(e) Culture and personality (Benedict, Mead, Linton, Kardiner and Cora - du Bois).

(f) Neo - evolutionism (Childe, White, Steward, Sahlins and Service)

(g) Cultural materialism (Harris)

(h) Symbolic and interpretive theories (Turner, Schneider and Geertz)
(i) Cognitive theories (Tyler, Conklin)
(j) Post- modernism in anthropology


Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree Anthropological Thought by Upadhyaya and pandey



7. Culture, language and communication: Nature, origin and characteristics of language; verbal and non-verbal communication; social context of language use.


Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree



8. Research methods in anthropology:
(a) Fieldwork tradition in anthropology
(b) Distinction between technique, method and methodology

(c) Tools of data collection:
Case study,

oral history,
secondary sources of information,
participatory methods.
(d) Analysis, interpretation and presentation of data

Socio-cultural Anthropology by Dr N K Vaid /Brain tree



10. Concept of human growth and development:
1. stages of growth - pre-natal, natal, infant, childhood, adolescence, maturity, senescence.
2. Factors affecting growth and development genetic, environmental, biochemical, nutritional, cultural and socio-economic.                             3. Ageing and senescence. Theories and observations - biological and chronological longevity.
4. Human physique and somatotypes. Methodologies for growth studies.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree



11. Population Studies:

11.1 Relevance of menarche, menopause and other bioevents to fertility. Fertility patterns and differentials.
11.2 Demographic theories- biological, social and cultural
11.3 Biological and socio-ecological factors influencing fecundity, fertility, natality and mortality.

Telugu Academy /Physical Anthropology by P.Nath


9.1 Human Genetics:
1. Methods for study of genetic principles in man-family study
a. pedigree analysis,

b. twin study,

c. foster child,

d. co-twin method,                

e. cytogenetic method,

f. chromosomal and karyo-type analysis,
g. biochemical methods,

h. immunological methods,
i. D.N.A. technology and recombinant technologies.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree



9.2 Mendelian genetics in man-

a. family study,

b. single factor,

c. multifactor,

d. lethal,

e. sub-lethal and        

f. polygenic inheritance in man.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


9.3 Concept of genetic polymorphism and selection,
1. Mendelian population,
2. HardyWeinberg law;
3. causes and changes which bring down frequency - mutation, isolation, migration, selection, inbreeding and genetic drift.
4. Consanguineous and non-consanguineous mating,
     a. genetic load,
     b. genetic effect of consanguineous and cousin marriages

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


9.4 Chromosomes and chromosomal aberrations in man, methodology.
(a) Numerical and structural aberrations (disorders).
(b) Sex chromosomal aberrations -
     1.Klinefelter (XXY), Turner (XO),
      2. Super female (XXX),
      3. intersex and other syndromic disorders.
(c) Autosomal aberrations -
     1. Down syndrome, 2. Patau, 3. Edward and 4. Cri-duchat syndromes.

(d) Genetic imprints in human disease, genetic screening, genetic counseling,
human DNA profiling, gene mapping and genome study

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


9.5 Race and racism,
1. biological basis of morphological variation of non-metric and metric characters.
2. Racial criteria,
3. racial traits in relation to heredity and environment;
4. biological basis of racial classification,
5. racial differentiation and race crossing in man.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


9.6 Age, sex and population variation as genetic marker -
1. ABO, 2. Rh blood groups, 3. HLA Hp, 4. transferring, 5. Gm, 6. blood enzymes.

Physiological characteristics

1. Hb level, 2. body fat, 3. pulse rate, 4. respiratory functions and 5. sensory perceptions in different cultural and socio-economic groups.

Telugu Academy , Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


9.7 Concepts and methods of Ecological Anthropology.
1. Bio-cultural Adaptations - Genetic and Non- genetic factors.
2. Man's physiological responses to environmental stresses:
   a. hot desert, b. cold, c. high altitude climate.

Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


9.8 Epidemiological Anthropology:
1. Health and disease.
2. Infectious and non-infectious diseases.
3. Nutritional deficiency related diseases.

Telugu Academy , Physical Anthropology by P.Nath / Brain tree


12. Applications of Anthropology:
1. Anthropology of sports,
2. Nutritional anthropology,
3. Anthropology in designing of defence and other equipments,

4. Forensic Anthropology, Methods and principles of personal identification and reconstruction,
5. Applied human genetics -
   a. Paternity diagnosis,genetic counseling and eugenics,
   b. DNA technology in diseases and medicine,
   c. serogenetics and cytogenetics in reproductive biology

Telugu Academy , Physical Anthropology by P.Nath ,
Internet for recent updates in applications

So taking current scenario regarding optional Anthropology and comparing its pros & cons it presents a good choice for the CSE aspirant.


Buy Printed Study Material for UPSC PRE GS & CSAT COMBO

Online Crash Course for UPSC PRE Exam

Printed Study Material for IAS Mains General Studies


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