I chose to major in anthropology because I wanted to soak up knowledge of cultures and history for the construction of my fantasy worlds. Life, as always, has different plans.
What I learned from spending eight years to obtain a four-year-degree can (somewhat) be boiled down to these vague ideas:
1) Culture defines us and our individual identity on such an innate level that we cannot witness or identify the vast majority of its affects on our life, mindset, and actions.
2) Culture is changeable. The unconscious can become conscious, and history and values can be altered over time. Technology can change behavior, and as behavior changes, values shift and identity construction adopts new forms.
3) Each people has their own history. A People’s history formulates the shape of changes internal to one’s own culture, the available avenues to take when your behavior changes in response to an altered environment, and how to interact with others outside your cultural group.
4) Humans relate to the world in terms of relationships between and among things. This is how all societies develop categories, stereotypes and groups of “like.” But each of these societies arranges the same things differently and their categories may be shaped or changed due to relationships with other groups.
5) The political map is an outgrowth of relationships between and among various societies, forged by the definition of dominant cultures, ethnic minorities, and culturally constructed borders reinforced by economic systems and who is included in that system, and in what manner they are included. Individuals’ identities and value systems can be formed and changed by shifts in these relationships and these changes can, in turn, result in individuals taking action as identity and values collide in a manner that can incite action (rebellion, war, law-breaking, etc).
What does this mean?
For my writing I have fodder for the construction of a very sophisticated political map, based on groups responding to other groups based on deep histories.
For my career--and this is where I’ve been most shocked about my application of my education-- the tools that I developed to be “successful” as a writer are dated. I saw this when i graduated college and plunged into reading blogs and listening to all the talk of “midlist genre authors being dropped,” but I scoffed at the idea that it would change that completely so quickly.
I mean, it might be *harder* to get in, but it was still possible. Indeed, it was still *necessary* for success as a writer. Right???