Cultural Anthropology

The Study of Differences, Identity and Practices

Cultural anthropology is the study of the different cultural groups, identities and practices found within the contemporary world. As the contemporary world becomes one more marked by flows of people, ideas, money and images, cultural anthropology has rigorously attempted to research how the local becomes globalized, and the global becomes localized. The detailed lens of ethnographic thick description of peoples’ local life-worlds is a mainstay for cultural anthropology, but this ethnographic sensitivity to context and detail is nuanced by a sophisticated and theoretically informed vision of how both are affected by structural issues, especially political and economic at a global level.

The major in Cultural Anthropology provides students with an opportunity for study and experience away, either domestically or abroad, and is designed to leverage these experiences by providing a theoretically and methodologically sophisticated standing ground from which to explore, reflect upon, and share those various experiences during a two-semester capstone sequence during the senior year.

For those students who are unable to study away, the goal of the on-campus major is to provide rigorous training in ethnographic methods and anthropological theory so that graduate level training can take place. While the goal of the undergraduate program in cultural anthropology is to provide an excellent foundation for advanced study, the goal is not to be paraprofessional.

An undergraduate education in Cultural Anthropology provides a series of skills in qualitative data analysis and research design, quantitative reasoning, a stress on critical inquiry, experiential education regarding ethnocentrism, and cultural relativity. This training assists in application to other forms of graduate study such as law, economics, political science, peace and conflict resolution, social work, and public health. Students majoring in Cultural Anthropology also have found this course of study helpful in pursuing occupations in government services, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations and international business.