When Europe conquered and ruled the world, its inhabitants went out to engage with innumerable peoples and places. European merchants, soldiers, missionaries, settlers, and administrators – together with men of power who stayed at home, they helped transform their non-European subjects, with varying degrees of violence, in a “modern” direction. And of course, these subjects were not passive…
Europeans Imperial dominance [was] not a temporary repression of subject populations but an irrevocable process of transmutation, in which old desires and ways of life were destroyed and new ones took their place – a story of change without historical precedent in its speed, global scope, and pervasiveness.
It was in this world that anthropology emerged and developed as an academic discipline. Concerned at first to help classify non-European humanity in ways that would be consistent with Europe’s story of triumph as “progress,” anthropologists then when out from Europe to the colonies in order to observe and describe the particularity of non-European communities attending their “traditional” cultural forms or their subjection to “modern” social change.
Keep in mind the cultural context of colonialism and its roots to anthropology, especially if you take anthropology classes that look at the world in very western lenses. decolonize your own education.