Academic Programs

Division of Social Studies



The Anthropology Program encompasses the subfields of sociocultural, linguistic, historical, archaeological, and applied anthropology. It seeks to understand the cultural dynamics in the formation of the nation-state; the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial; and the politics of identity, difference, and inequality in the contemporary world. The core of the program consists of courses that examine everyday experiences in relation to a range of societal issues, such as development and the environment, medicine and health, religion, language, kinship and reproductivity, sports, mass media, visual culture, and aesthetics. Anthropology offers a way to understand patterns and contradictions of cultural meaning within a transnational and transcultural world. Areal strengths include West and Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, Australasia, and the United States.


Majors in anthropology can design a course of study in various topical, area, and theoretical orientations. Prior to Moderation, students must complete an introductory course and at least two 200-level courses in anthropology. In consultation with their Moderation board, students shape their plan of study in the Upper College to include at least three additional courses in anthropology, at least two of which should be 300-level courses, as well as the Senior Project. One of the 300-level courses required is a seminar on contemporary cultural theory that involves each member of the anthropology faculty. In addition, the program recommends that students take at least one course that involves field research and encourages fieldwork as part of the Senior Project. Students intending to pursue postgraduate study are required to take a 200-level course in field methods and are encouraged to study a foreign language to the 200-level.

Recent Senior Projects in Anthropology

  • "From Clinic to Support Group: Medical Expertise and Lyme Disease in Dutchess County, New York"
  • "Global Guru: Constructing a Multicultural Movement around a Living God"
  • "India Wiring Out: Transnational Call Centers and Their Relationship to the Indian Nation-State"
  • "Tutus and Tuxedos: Boundary Maintenance and Transgression in Costuming, Clothing, and Gender Expression"


Anthropology courses approach seemingly "natural" ideas such as indigeneity, race, gender, sexuality, and class as cultural constructions that change over time. They critically examine, for instance, the international division of labor, the growth of the media, and the global commodification of culture. Many classes apply this anthropological perspective to a variety of sources, ranging from traditional ethnographies to novels, travel literature, music, films, and new forms of electronic media (the program has a film library, which includes ethnographic and experimental films). The program also administers a student research and travel fund, the Harry Turney-High Fund, to support work on Senior Projects.