Anthropology

WHAT IS ANTHROPOLOGY?

Simply put, Anthropology is the study of human beings, their complex relationships with one another, and with the world around them. Of course, this is an inexhaustible subject. Historically (and in our department) Anthropology has been divided into four sub-fields: Archaeology (the study of the past through changes in human landscapes, material artifacts, and documentary records) Biological Anthropology (the study of the biological evidence for such phenomena as evolution, population change, health, and social inequality), Linguistics (the use and transformation of language in social practices and cultural contexts) and Social, or Cultural Anthropology (the study of human relationships and activities, and the meanings and values that motivate them).  In our department, we offer an array of coursework in all four of these sub-fields, and promote opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to develop their own research projects.  The Anthropology department at William & Mary is especially interested in promoting engaged anthropology, scholarship and teaching that works with members of diverse communities – from Virginia Indians to Mexican farmers – to carry out research that addresses their concerns and interests. These projects are crucial dimension of our ethics and practice.

WHY STUDY ANTHROPOLOGY?

Because the study of human relationships touches on literally every aspect of our world, studying anthropology provides students with an array of indispensable opportunities. Our majors have gone on to work as everything from physicians and journalists, to playwrights and software designers. We provide access to specific institutions like museums, laboratories, and cultural resource management firms that directly make use of anthropological skills and insights. Some of our students participate in internships or conduct research within local cultural institutions that include Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestowne. Our methods are as diverse as scientific techniques used to understand the biochemistry of ancient agricultural or hunting practices, and the interpretive skills necessary to an ethnographic understanding of immigrants and refugees around the world.  Our faculty are dedicated to insuring that our students develop the skills, concepts, and experience they need to make vital contributions to the world beyond William & Mary.

Students can pursue bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Anthropology. Our graduate program offers terminal M.A.'s and M.A./Ph.D.'s with specializations in Historical Anthropology and Archaeology. Undergraduates can major and minor in Anthropology or minor in Native Studies. Students at all levels have multiple research opportunities in and around Williamsburg.