LEFT: As in many rural areas of the world, traditional lifestyles and modern amenities are mixed side by side.
Reaching Across Worlds:
RIGHT: Many rural Kazakhs still maintain large herds of sheep, goats, camels, and horses as part of their nomadic way of life.
Teaching Anthropology for
Christian Homeschool Families
By Celia Emmelhainz
You may have heard
other Christians talk
about anthropology as
a secular and hostile
discipline, but there
are many people of
faith who work in
anthropology . . . .
“Salem, Meruert, ne janalik bar?” As I return home from a long day of interviews, I greet my Mongolian Kazakh host
sister through the window. Her brothers
and sisters run and chase the dog around
the yard, reminding me of my own siblings back home. When I enter the house,
I smell baursak (a fried bread) and manti
(meat dumplings), which Meruert is
pinching together and cooking for our
evening meal. She invites me in for tea
and we sit down for a chat . . .
When I lived with Meruert two years
ago, I was part of an anthropological team
studying the nomadic Kazakh people of
Mongolia. For nearly three months, we
interviewed dozens of people about how
their families, religion, and economic sit-
uation had influenced them in deciding
whether to migrate or stay in Mongolia.
This is what cultural anthropologists do:
we study how people around the world
think and act and relate to each other
in terms of the “culture” in which they
live. In this article, I hope to share what
I’ve learned so that other homeschool-
ing families can learn about cultures and
people groups in an intentional way.
Anthropology for Homeschoolers
So why study cultural anthropology as a
Christian homeschooling family?
I grew up in a large homeschooling
family in rural Ohio, studying with my
six siblings from third grade until college. I’ve recently finished a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, where I focused on the Kazakh peoples of Central
Asia. It was partly because of my parents’
interest in learning about cultures that I
became prepared to do the kind of studies I do now.
While it can be challenging to work
as a Christian within the profession of
anthropology, I love what I do. Through
the study of culture, I have learned more
about my own community, as well as
how to relate to those with different beliefs while maintaining my own integrity.