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Anthropology is a social science for explaining and understanding differences, similarities, changes, and continuities in human culture, society, language, and physical characteristics. There are four main branches of study in anthropology consisting of archaeology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and physical anthropology.

The Anthropology Department provides a major and a minor in Anthropology and offers courses toward the combined Anthropology/Sociology major; all courses to be credited toward any major or minor in the department must be passed with a grade of C- or better.

Anthropology Policy on Courses Transferred In to the Major/Minor:

  • Students participating in an HWS term abroad program may count one “culture area” course towards an anthropology major, even if the course is not taught by an anthropologist. Limit--one such course per student. The student will consult with their anthropology adviser about whether this course will count within or outside the student’s area of specialization.
  • Anthropology majors/minors must take the core courses (ANTH 273, 306, 465 and the 300- level seminars) at HWS. No exceptions.
  • Students who take anthropology courses at US accredited institutions that HWS accepts for graduation credit will receive credit toward their anthropology major or minor for that course(s) provided that an appropriate faculty member has checked the course description/syllabus against our own course offerings (with the intention of not allowing students to take essentially the same course, albeit under slightly different titles, both here and elsewhere).
  • Students who take anthropology courses outside the U.S., even on HWS programs (with the exception listed in the first item above), taught by instructors from non-U.S. areas, must petition the department if seeking to count a course for anthropology credit, providing thorough documentation of the course content and instructor qualifications.
  • Anthropology majors make apply one Sociology course (200-level or higher) toward their major as an elective that is outside the student’s primary specialty.


disciplinary, 11 courses
A 100-level course in the student’s required primary specialization of either (1) sociocultural and linguistic anthropology or (2) archaeology and physical anthropology; ANTH 273, ANTH 306, and ANTH 465; one anthropology course on a geographic area in the primary specialization; and six additional anthropology electives of which at least two must be at the 300-level. Four of the electives must be in the primary specialization and two outside the primary specialization. One 200 or higher level course in sociology may count as an elective outside the primary specialization. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the major.

disciplinary, 6 courses
One course in cultural anthropology and five additional courses in anthropology, of which at least three must be at the 200-level and at least two at the 300-level or higher (ANTH 450 does not fulfill this requirement). All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted toward the minor.

disciplinary, 11 courses
ANTH 110; SOC 100; any four of the five courses from department core offerings (ANTH 273, ANTH 306, SOC 211, SOC 212, SOC 300); a 400-level seminar in either anthropology or sociology; two electives in anthropology and two electives in sociology that together form a cluster, to be chosen in consultation with the adviser. All courses must be passed with a grade of C- or higher. No more than one course with a CR grade may be counted towards the major.

Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology
ANTH 110 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 115 Language and Culture
ANTH 205 Race, Class, Ethnicity
ANTH 211 Power, Protest, and Politics
ANTH 212 NGOs and Development
ANTH 213 Cultures of India
ANTH 217 Precolonial Africa
ANTH 220 Sex Roles
ANTH 221 Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
ANTH 222 Native American Religions
ANTH 227 Intercultural Communication
ANTH 246 Stratagems and Spoils
ANTH 247 Urban Anthropology
ANTH 260 Medical Anthropology
ANTH 271 Jobs, Power, Capital
ANTH 279 Diagnosing the World
ANTH 280 Environment and Culture
ANTH 282 North American Indians
ANTH 295 Village India
ANTH 296 Africa: Beyond Crisis, Poverty, and Aid
ANTH 297 Latin America
ANTH 302 Borders and Walls
ANTH 319 Feminist and Political Anthropology
ANTH 323 Ethnographies of Capitalism
ANTH 330 Anthropology of Creativity
ANTH 331 Rethinking Families
ANTH 340 Anthropology of the Global Commons
ANTH 341 Making Babies
ANTH 352 Builders and Seekers
ANTH 354 Food, Meaning, Voice
ANTH 362 Evolution and Culture
ANTH 370 Life Histories

Archaeology and Physical Anthropology
ANTH 102 World Prehistory
ANTH 206 Early Cities
ANTH 208 Archaeology of Japan and China
ANTH 209 Women and Men in Prehistory
ANTH 210 Prehistoric Ecology
ANTH 217 Precolonial Africa
ANTH 228 Physical Anthropology
ANTH 260 Medical Anthropology
ANTH 285 Primate Behavior
ANTH 290 Pharaohs, Fellahin, Fantasy
ANTH 310 Experimental Archaeology and Paleotechnology
ANTH 326 Ancient Mesoamerican Urbanism
ANTH 342 Ancient World Systems
ANTH 362 Evolution and Culture

ANTH 102 World Prehistory This course seeks to replace myths of “killer apes” and “ancient astronauts” with archaeological reality. A broad survey of archaeological knowledge of both New and Old World prehistory provides a framework for analysis of major transitions in cultural evolution and of selected archaeological puzzles, such as the enigmatic markings of the Peruvian desert near Nazca. This course is designed for non-majors who want a general understanding of what “happened” in prehistory. The course is also suitable for prospective majors who need an overview of the archaeological record against which to set more specialized courses in archaeology. No prerequisites. (Staff, offered annually)

ANTH 110 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology This course explores the anthropological understanding of human society through ethnographic case studies of particular societies. In the holistic approach of anthropology, the interrelations of kinship, economics, politics, and religion are stressed. Special emphasis is also placed on anthropological theories of human behavior and the wide range of creative solutions to the problem of social living devised by various cultures of the world. (Staff, offered each semester)

ANTH 115 Language and Culture This course introduces students to the study of language as a natural phenomenon and as a human creation. Different approaches to the analysis and study of language as a social and symbolic system are presented. Topics include the Sapir Whorf hypothesis (the idea that language determines how and what we think), the relationship between language and gender, how social forces alter the shape of language, and what language tells us about the structure of the human mind. (Anderson, offered annually)

ANTH 205 Race, Class, and Ethnicity This course explores race, class, and ethnicity through comparative study of the diverse experiences, histories, and life conditions of indigenous peoples, immigrant groups, diasporas, religious minorities, and oppressed classes in various local and global contexts. Analyzed and compared are the conscious and systemic social, cultural, economic, and political forces that have developed in history and function at present to maintain unequal access to wealth, power, and privilege according to differences of race, ethnicity, and class. Also examined are the various modes of thought and social action oppressed peoples have employed for political empowerment, economic justice, cultural survival, integrity of identity, and recognition of human rights. (Anderson, offered occasionally)

ANTH 206 Early Cities This course deals with the manner in which humankind first came to live in cities. Early urbanism is viewed within the context of the general origins of complex society in both the Old and New Worlds. Explanatory models, such as those emphasizing population pressure and trade as causal mechanisms for the growth of cities, are reviewed. This course provides the student with a knowledge of early urban forms in different parts of the world, as well as familiarity with the methods used by archaeologists to study such phenomena. ANTH 102 is helpful background but is not required. (Staff, offered alternate years)

ANTH 209 Women and Men in Prehistory Until recently, much of world prehistory has been written as if only men were participants in the evolution of culture. Women for the most part have been invisible to archaeology. In the last decade, however, archaeologists have begun to focus explicitly on the issue of gender in prehistory. This course examines some of the older male-centric models, as well as some of the innovative (and controversial) new work, endeavoring to build a picture of the past in which both men and women are seen to be actors. Cases are chosen from a mix of archaeological periods and settings but currently include the controversy over the gender of the occupant of Tomb 7 at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico. (Staff, offered every 2-3 years)

ANTH 212 NGOs and Development This course introduces students to critical research on NGOs in a variety of geographic contexts and invites students to consider the usefulness of approaching NGOs as discursive constellations, as arising from the interplay of international and national policy, as cultural practices, and as products of and producing globally circulating discourses of development. The course asks, what are the everyday practices constituting NGOs and development practices, and in what ways do development practices compel new types of relationships? Further, the course asks about how anthropologists study these phenomena, and how anthropological research might speak to policy concerns and issues of social justice. Prerequisites: Students must have taken ANTH 110 or declared an anthropology major or minor, international relations major or minor, sociology major, or anthropology-sociology major, or have permission of instructor. (J. Rodriguez, offered alternate years)

ANTH 213 Cultures of India This course introduces students to the ongoing legacies of colonialism, nationalism, and to the centrality of gender to anti-colonial and nationalist discourses in India. We explore theorizations of caste, popular stereotypes about India, and debates over how to approach these phenomena. The course attends to the place of India in the international hierarchy of nation-states and to struggles around “development” and “modernization,” processes that articulate the Indian government with international policy. The course addresses contemporary politics, with special attention to India’s emergence as a superpower with nuclear capabilities, multinational corporations, and local struggles over the shape of everyday life. (J. Rodriguez, offered annually)

ANTH 217 Precolonial Africa Were you aware Africa is not a single country, but 54 countries, spanning an area greater than the USA, Europe, and China combined? Did you know that while East African merchants sailed to India and Asia, African empires in the Western Sahara were building libraries, universities, and funding the European Renaissance with caravans of gold? Or that Ethiopia is one of the oldest continuous Christian states in the world, and has preserved Biblical texts long thought lost by the rest of the world? If not, you are not alone: great minds from Hegel to Hugh Trevor- Roper pointed to their own ignorance as proof that Africa had 'no historical part of the world.' This course will dispel such ignorance. Using research from oral historical studies, archaeology, anthropology, and history, we will explore the great cultures and civilizations of Africa that flourished before the Colonial Period. Emphasizing Africa's unique contributions to world history, anthropological theory, and the study of global systems. Simultaneously, we will also examine how scholarly knowledge of this period has been produced, beginning with the bias introduced by colonial-era scholars and the work of current scholars to 'decolonize' the work of their predecessors. (Clark. offered occasionally)

ANTH 220 Sex Roles What do “sex,” “sexuality” and “gender” mean, and how have anthropologists dealt with these concepts? This course will explore ethnographic approaches to sexuality and gender, and the complex relations between sexual and gendered practices, identities, and roles. We will focus our studies on ways that sex and sexuality have intersected with traditional anthropological concerns about the developmental process and rites of passage as related to kinship, family, and community. We will examine ethnographic studies, both US and non-US focused, to assess how cross-cultural studies of sexuality and gender have contributed to more complex understandings of these areas of human experience. A focus on ethnographic studies will be complemented by films and readings in other bodies of literature that have informed sexuality and gender studies. (Maiale, offered alternate years)

ANTH 221 Human Rights of Indigenous People Throughout its history, anthropology has been committed to and active in maintaining the rights of indigenous peoples against the destructive global forces of nation-state power, racist ideologies, assimilation, and industrial resource appropriation. To develop an informed, up-to-date, and critical understanding of these issues, the course will offer an overview of the contemporary state of indigenous peoples and then guide students in pursuing on-line research of Internet sites established by indigenous peoples themselves, anthropological groups, international human rights organizations, world news services, national governments, and the United Nations. (Anderson, offered alternate years)

ANTH 222 Native American Religions This course explores Native American sacred ways of speaking, acting, knowing, and creating in diverse historical and contemporary culture; contexts. Indigenous views and practices are studied as a groundwork for interpretative and theoretical formulations about the role of religion Native American history, culture, and language. Native American religious traditions are further comprehended as dynamic modes of survival, empowerment, and renewal in the face of Euro-American domination, past and present. Upon these understandings, indigenous, anthropological, and Euro-American domination perspectives on religion are brought into balanced dialogue and exchange. (Anderson, offered alternate years)

ANTH 228 Physical Anthropology Physical anthropology studies humans as biological organisms (members of the Primate Order). This course provides an overview of the three major divisions of physical anthropology: anatomical and behavioral characteristics of living non-human primates; the fossil evidence for human evolution, including discussion of the origins of culture as a major adaptive characteristic of humankind; and examination of human variability today, including a discussion of race. (Staff, offered alternate years)

ANTH 260 Medical Anthropology The course explores the interconnected cultural, social, political, historical, and economic dimensions of illness, health, and healing in diverse human contexts. The first phase of the course involves study of the ways anthropologists research and understand human practices, meanings, and experiences related to illness and medical treatment in diverse socio-cultural contexts. A second facet is an inquiry into how anthropologically informed models and field methods can enhance biomedical approaches to knowing about and healing physical and mental illnesses. The third phase of the course is an in-depth critical analysis of the structural conditions that deny access to health care and vITA resources to billions of people in the world today. Fourth, the course turns to appreciating the ways individuals and communities actively create meaning, purpose, and value in confronting suffering and structural violence. The course culminates with close study of the ways medical anthropologists today are actively addressing global and local public health inequities by providing adaptively emerging health care programs that can comprehensively improve the lives of individuals and contribute to long-term well-being of communities. (Anderson, offered annually)

ANTH 273 Research Methods This course considers the practice, problems, and analysis of field and library research in social and cultural anthropology. It examines the theoretical background and social and political role of ethnographers, and gains an understanding of the basic skills and qualitative methods of inquiry, including participant observation, interviewing, photography, life history, ethnohistory, and network and structural analysis. Students conduct research projects locally. Prerequisite: Students must have taken at least a 100-level anthropology course, or have declared an anthropology major or minor, sociology major, or anthropology-sociology major, or have permission of the instructor. (Maiale, Annear, spring, offered every year) Note: Majors should plan to take this course at the earliest opportunity in order to complete their programs.

ANTH 282 North American Indians The course is a survey of the experiences and sociocultural systems of past and present indigenous American peoples north of Mexico. Examined are relationships between ecological factors, subsistence patterns, modes of social organization, language, architecture, art, gender relations, ways of knowing, and religious beliefs. Also studied are historical and contemporary issues of political-legal relations, survival strategies, social activism, economic development, cultural identity, language renewal, land rights, cultural vitality, resource rights, and artistic creativity. (Anderson, offered annually)

ANTH 285 Primate Behavior Because primates are humankind’s closest relatives, the study of primate behavior holds a special fascination for us. This course uses films and readings to examine the various behaviors of representative prosimians, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and apes. It looks primarily at studies of natural primate behavior in the wild but also reviews some examples of lab research. The focus is on locomotion, subsistence, social behavior, and intelligence within an evolutionary framework. The course concludes by considering the light which study of non- human primates might shed on the evolutionary origins of our own species. (Staff, offered alternate years)

ANTH 296 Africa: Beyond Crisis, Poverty, and Aid This course explores the continent’s diversity by reexamining broadly held stereotypes, delving into its history, and researching daily realities of modern day Africans. We will examine a cultural mosaic of different African societies from a variety of perspectives, including anthropology, politics, history, and economics. While this course focuses on small-scale communities and case studies, it also looks at wider sociocultural and geopolitical interconnections. We will ask how common representations of Africa shape our understanding of this diverse continent and gain insight into the many different ways Africans live their lives. (Annear, offered annually)

ANTH 298 Modern Japan Japan is a remarkable society. The only non-Western nation to repel colonization and industrialize independently, Japan now has the third largest economy in the world. This course looks at contemporary Japanese society from the perspective of cultural anthropology. In addition to considering anthropologists’ overall interpretations of Japanese culture, personality, and ways of thinking, it explores Japanese society through ethnographies or in depth case studies of changing Japanese families, schools, businesses, religious groups, villages, cities, and towns. No prerequisites. (Holland, offered alternate years)

ANTH 302 Borders and Walls Our lives are shaped by borders and walls, the material and conceptual obstacles that keep some of us in and others out. Passports, immigration checkpoints, neighborhood boundaries, and constructions like the Berlin Wall impact our experiences of safety and danger, belonging and alienation, delimiting and shaping our everyday experiences. This course examines anthropological engagements with these boundaries and their ongoing production, asking about experiences of crossing, the temporal shifting of borders, what happens in the space of a former wall’s absence, how individuals navigate conceptual borders of race, class, and sexuality, as well as the visceral boundaries that mark the edges of the contemporary nation-state. How do our everyday practices give meaning and life to borders and walls? What role do state practices of surveillance, militarization and security play in creating separations in our lives, and how can we contend with them? How are nation-states and communities constituted through the demarcation of borders and boundaries? What makes borders and walls porous for particular subjects and not others? (N. Rodriguez, offered occasionally)

ANTH 306 History of Anthropological Theory This course explores the range of anthropological theory by reviewing works identified with different theoretical perspectives: 19th century evolutionism, Boasian empiricism, British social anthropology, structural idealism, cultural ecology, neo-evolutionism, practice theory, and post modernism. The emphasis is on developing the student’s own ability to evaluate and use theory. Prerequisites: Several anthropology courses or permission of instructor. This is ideally a junior year course for majors and students from related fields. (Staff, offered every fall)

ANTH 319 Feminist and Political Anthropology This course explores anthropological engagements with feminism and what this productive and corrective engagement with feminisms and what this practices and to a critical analysis of the anthropological endeavor. This course explores how culturally produced systems of gender and power inform such processes as nation-states, History-making, commonsense, the academic enterprise, social institutions, research methods, embodies dispositions, and the (re)making of cultural worlds. Particular attention will be given to understanding what makes cultural anthropology is a political pursuit, one wrapped up in systems of inequality that include colonialism, science and scientific expertise, and the authority to write and speak. Prerequisites: Students must have taken ANTH 110 and one other 200-level or higher anthropology course or have declared an anthropology major or minor, anthropology-sociology major, or sociology major, or have permission of the instructor. (J. Rodriguez, offered alternate years)

ANTH 323 Ethnographies of Capitalism This course explores theories of capitalism and capitalist practice and debates in the discipline of anthropology about what constitutes “capitalism,” as well as how one goes about studying these varieties of social relations. Emphasis is given to ethnographic examples for understanding the cultural processes that produce capitalist relations, and the cultural practices that capitalist forms of organizing produce. Particular consideration will be given to how capitalist relations operate at the intersections of race, class, gender, nationality and other social positionalities. Prerequisite: Students must have declared a major or minor in anthropology, or have permission of the instructor. (J. Rodriguez, offered alternate years)

ANTH 330 The Anthropology of Creativity Creativity flows continually through all human cultures and languages with spontaneity, novelty, and unfolding meaning. The course offers a survey of various anthropological perspectives on the power of individuality, interpretation, resistance, and imagination in the aesthetic process of creation. Considered are music, poetics, literature, and graphic arts in various historical and contemporary cultural contexts, with special attention to creolization and hybridization in the process of globalization. Prerequisites: Students must have taken at least one anthropology course, or have declared a major or minor in anthropology, a major in sociology, or a major in anthropology-sociology, or have permission of the instructor. (Anderson, offered annually)

ANTH 342 Seminar: Comparing Ancient World Systems War and Peace--which has truly characterized the world of the past? This course focuses on how ancient cultures came into contact with one another to create larger systemic networks of information exchange, trade, political interaction, and warfare. Our study is grounded in “comparative world-systems theory,” which modifies Wallerstein’s vision of a modern World-System and extends the concept to significantly earlier time periods. We will study continuity and transformation in general world-system dynamics in antiquity, paying particular attention to effects on urbanism and warfare. The course is grounded in the study of archaeological/historical cases (for example, ancient Mesopotamia), and is discussion based; student research presentations are an integral part of the course. The first half of the course will focus on some of the broader aspects of comparative world systems theory and apply those to the case of Uruk Mesopotamia (mid-4th millennium BC). The second half of the course will look at several additional pre-modern world systems, chosen to fit with the interests of students taking the course. (Nicholas, offered alternate years)

ANTH 354 Seminar: Food, Meaning, Voice Everyone eats and the meanings attached to food are bountiful. Anthropologist Jack Goody notes that cuisine like music is not hampered by language and is able to easily cross cultural barriers. So food communicates within language and can also communicate like language. Food speaks. But what does food have to say? This course explores anthropological approaches to the study of food and cuisine. In our readings and writings, we will examine the way food is produced, prepared, exchanged and given meaning in cultures around the world. Food plays an important part in identity construction, religion, and socialization, and we will explore the communicative significance of foodways in past and present societies as expressed through symbols, rituals, everyday habits, and taboos. Course readings will investigate the way that cultural ideas about gender, ethnicity, national identity, class, and social value are communicated through activities such as cooking, consuming special diets, feasting, and fasting. Prerequisite: Students must have declared a major or minor in anthropology, or have permission of the instructor. (Annear, offered alternate years)

ANTH 416 Visual Anthropology Culture is manifested in visual symbols embedded in gestures, ceremonies, ritual performances, and artifacts. In this course students will explore the history and development of anthropology’s relationship to visual practices, focusing on, but not limited to, photography and film, both as a mode for representing culture and as a site of cultural practice. Our central goal will be to move away from concepts of objectivity or subjectivity toward the use of deeply situated spaces to investigate the making of reality. Critical theory, methods, and ethical concerns are all part of the current refashioning of visual anthropology and as such will be critical components of the class. Prerequisite: Students must have declared an anthropology major or minor, sociology major, or anthropology- sociology major, or have permission of instructor. (Maiale, offered annually)

ANTH 450 Independent Study Permission of the Instructor.

ANTH 456 1/2 Credit Independent Study Permission of the Instructor.

ANTH 465 Senior Seminar A seminar for senior majors to learn advanced forms of intensive writing, critical reading, oral presentation, and media application for conveying and analyzing anthropological knowledge. Students will conduct original research culminating in a substantial portfolio of work. The topic will vary with the research specialization of the faculty member teaching the seminar each year. Prerequisite: Students must be senior anthropology majors or senior anthropology-sociology majors, or have permission of the instructor. (Staff, offered annually)

ANTH 495 Honors Permission of the Instructor.

ANTH 499 Internship in Anthropology A minimum of 150 hours of work or practice under the supervision of an anthropology faculty adviser. Students are expected to keep a reflective journal and to produce a paper that relates their experience to more general issues in anthropology. The length and scope of the paper shall be determined in consultation with the internship faculty adviser. Internship adviser permission is required to take this course, and prior departmental approval is required for any students who wish to repeat ANTH 499. Permission of the instructor.

Note: The following regularly offered courses outside anthropology will count toward the major:
BIDS 288 White Mythologies
EDUC 331 Rethinking Families

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.