What is Anthropology?
Anthropology is the study of people and culture. It seeks to produce generalizations about people, their behavior, and culture to develop an understanding of human diversity. It is a broad discipline with a large amount of overlap and connection within its subfields that includes:
- the study of existing cultures (Cultural Anthropology)
- humans and material culture from the past (Archaeology)
- humans as biological organisms (Physical Anthropology)
- language as part of the human experience (Linguistic Anthropology).
Cultural Anthropology is the study of the knowledge, values, and ways of viewing the world of living peoples. An important goal is to understand the internal logic of another society, to understand why people do what they do.
Upper level classes taught by Dr. Marjorie Snipes include: Peoples and Cultures of Latin America, Ethnographic Field Methods, History of Anthropological Thought, Animals and Culture, Myth, Magic and Religion, and The Myth of the American West.
Upper level classes taught by Dr. Lisa Gezon include: Environmental Anthropology, Anthropology of Gender, Peoples and Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Human Life Cycle in Cross-Cultural Perspective.
Current student Brent Cole volunteering in Haiti, 2011.
Linguistic Anthropology is the study of language as the most complex set of symbols that humans use to communicate meaning. It recognizes that “it is upon language that culture itself depends - and within language that humanity’s knowledge resides.” American Anthropological Association website (http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm).
The Upper level class taught by Dr. Lisa Gezon is Language and Culture.
Archaeology is the study of cultural systems through the recovery, analysis, and interpretation of their material remains. Through archaeological data, anthropologists learn about people of the distant and recent past, how they adapt within their environments, and how culture develops and changes over time.
Upper level classes taught by Dr. Ashley Smallwood include: Artifact Analysis, Ice Age Peoples, Human Evolution, The Rise and Fall of Civilizations, and Archaeolgical Field Methods.
Upper level classes taught by Dr. Ben Steere include: Cherokee Archaeology, Indigenous Archaeology, Human Evolution, The Rise and Fall of Civilizations, and Archaeolgical Field Methods.
Physical Anthropology is the study of humans as biological organisms, within an evolutionary framework, and with an emphasis on the interaction between biology and culture. It also includes the study of our closest relatives, the non-human primates.
Upper level classes taught by Dr. Kerriann Marden include: Human Osteology, Forensic Anthropology, Human Paleopathology, Primate Behavioral Ecology, Human Variation, and Field Methods in Bioarchaeology.
Careers in Anthropology
Careers in Anthropology
If you are interested in pursuing a career in Anthropology, please click HERE to view some resources we have assembled to assist you with your academic preparation and job search. Below, read about some examples of our alumni applying Anthropology since graduation.
After two tours of humanitarian service in Haiti, I knew anthropology was the right choice for me as an undergraduate. The study of anthropology helped me to better understand the relativistic nature of culture. It exposed me to different methods of scientific research, including physical and theoretical models. Because of the department’s Waring endowment, I was allowed the opportunity to present my own original research at professional academic conferences. But maybe the most important thing I took from the study of anthropology was that it actually moved me closer to understanding my own humanity. Now as a graduate student, I can look back and see how anthropology laid the groundwork, the human link if you will, to my goal of becoming a professional international aid worker.