Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is a field like psychology, philosophy, sociology, history and other humanities and social science disciplines that work to understand people - why they are who they are and do what they do, how they think, how they talk, eat, fight, love, and how they organize themselves socially, politically, and in relation to things like gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity and inequality.

What distinguishes an anthropological perspective from other kinds of perspectives is that anthropologists usually conduct what we call "fieldwork". This means that we base our knowledge of people on the experience of living with them for long periods of time – usually at least a year, sometimes much longer.

Anthropological research deepens and complicates understandings of culture, religion, political systems, power, work, emotions, relationships, gender, and many other things. Faculty in the department have conducted long-term fieldwork in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Melanesia and Europe. Their research spans many different topics, such as child soldiers, indigenous peoples, language death, disability, human rights, political upheaval, local politics, sex work, relationships between people and animals, medicine, urban life and evangelical movements.