Are Anthros Becoming Furries?

Bad enough that we anthropologists have to compete with the clothing line Anthropologie. Now real competition shows up, a genuine cultural phenomenon. Anthros are becoming furries in popular internet parlance – anthropomorphized versions of humans. Is it now game over?

[Update: Got the video to embed; here’s the link to What Is Anthro?, complete with theme music from Haddaway’s What Is Love?]

Globalized culture is often visual culture. So just check out the image results of Google searches on “anthro girls” and “anthro boys.” Or if you’re too lazy (I know you are; via biocultural evolution, you are optimized to do internet searching for visual benefits over clicking costs), just scroll down. Here are two top results.

How’s that for the anthro image!? Somehow, somewhere I (my professional anthro self) should feel violated. But I’m too busy clicking on more images…

Now, just what is happening? Well, it appears “anthros” has become a broad term for humanoid objects. Kinda like several professors I know. Here’s the expert opinion from jekkal on How to Classify Anthro:

Anthro covers every possible thing you could turn into a humanoid, from superintelligent shades of blue to your pencil, and even covers various things like your tattoos coming to life. Machines, Animals, and Plants, in non-anthro form, are all what they sound like. Anthro machines are Droids, anthro plants are Treants, and Anthro Animals are Furries. Combining Droids and Furries gives us Cyborgs, while the same combination outside of the Anthro spectrum gives us virtual pets like Aibo. Plants don’t really merge with Machines or Animals too well.

And the handy Venn diagram from jekkal:

Here we thought the threat to the discipline was getting split by the science controversy, or so diffused that we merge with disparate scholarly traditions. Popular culture has already overtaken us!

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7 Responses to Are Anthros Becoming Furries?

  1. David Formosa says:

    It gets even more confusing when you have people like Alex Osaki and Kathy Gerbasi who are anthropologists and sociologists researching furries.

  2. Kate says:

    Sorry to break it to you dude but you lost that google fight years ago. YEARS ago, furry is nothing new, it’s been around since the 90s, and having had checked google for “anthro” as early as 2005 I can say you are a surely, surely, a slow poke.

  3. flower says:

    What happened to naiads and dryads? That way you can include anthropomorphic versions of water and water spirits as well as trees and plants. Surely “dryad” is easier to wrap one’s tongue around than “treant”? Is it “tree-ant” or “treent”?

  4. dro says:

    Alas, this is the sort of thing that happens when different social groups (in this case, anthropologists and furry fandom) use the same jargon. Technically ‘anthropo’ is the proper root, but doesn’t sound very good when spoken aloud.

    I’ve got a background in both anthropology and furry, and I can understand the frustration if you’re doing a web search, and things from other domains keep coming up. Once you’re within your peer group, at least, the meanings are pretty clear from the context. I remember back when I used to write lecture notes in class, “anthropology” took too long to write. I shortened it to “anth” and “anth’ist” (for anthropologist), and “arch” and “arch’ist” for archeology.

    The good news is that furry is a relatively small social group compared to other nerdy fandoms, so you’re unlikely to be outnumbered. After 23 years of conventions, our largest annual event managed to grow to 5,000 people in 2012 – which is peanuts in comparison to San Diego Comic-Con International, which had over 130,000 people.

    Anyway, if you want to take a look at something anthropomorphic that’s not cheesecake, there’s an excellent online webcomic called Digger by Ursula Vernon, which received a Hugo Award this year, now that its story is finished. One of the elements of the plot is the main character learning to cope with the customs of different cultures far, far away from her home. Anthropology and anthropomorphism combined! Along with talking statues, matriarchal hyena warriors, ancient gods, prophetic slugs, and vampiric squash. Highly recommended.

  5. Todd S. says:

    Odd that “anthro” would equate to furry, as it refers to the human side of the mix. Kind of like how “holic” has come to mean an addiction even though the “hol” part of it comes from alcohol. So that if “holic” means addiction then alcoholics are addicted to “alco”. Pop culture can be dumb.

  6. zbeast says:

    Furry’s have been around since the 90’s… Oh it’s older than that..
    Take a look at Bast, Anubis, Indian animal spirits, take a look at old tv shows like amazing 3 or Kimba the white lion.. Any number of science fiction story’s. Furry’s or furry like creatures have been used for everything thing from villains, hero’s to victims of race hatred.

    These day’s furry’s rather than them being a god or a race from another world they are us and we are them.

  7. Pablo Gustavo Rodriguez says:

    It is a problem with english languaje. Just try a search in spanish (“chicas antro” and “muchachos antro”). You´ll see it´s very much funny.

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