Research and Publications

At UMass Boston, we are committed to anthropological scholarship that engages with the wider community and is relevant to the needs of a changing world.  To that end we have built a department faculty whose individual research priorities include synergistic links that draw on Anthropology’s holistic and interdisciplinary foundations.  The following key departmental research areas reflect our department’s dedication to community engagement and outstanding scholarship.  Within these areas, undergraduate and graduate students alike find abundant research opportunities, from assisting with community surveys and archaeological field and lab work to conducting independent thesis research under faculty supervision.  For a sampling of recent publications and presentations by department faculty, please click on the tabs at the left.

Cultural Preservation & Representation

Through the lens of visual and material culture, members of our faculty explore how diasporas have become centers of authentic cultural production.  Building on the strengths of the Historical Archaeology MA program, this research addresses wider contemporary forms of cultural expression, heritage, and change, drawing on the tools of sociocultural anthropology and related fields for research and training frameworks.  The practical and policy dimensions of this work include assessment and management of contemporary forms of cultural/ethnic expression and change, and the practical, policy and ethical issues involved in their representation.

Indigenous People’s Rights

Through research & collaboration with local and regional Native American communities, including the Eastern Pequot, Mashantucket Pequot, Schaghticoke, Nipmuc, and Mashpee/Wampanoag, our department has engaged UMass Boston students and faculty in critical issues faced by New England’s Native peoples and other indigenous groups in the Americas.  The research and activism of our faculty has benefited federal recognition efforts on behalf of New England tribes.  Archaeological research on tribal lands by our faculty and students has advanced the interests of regional Tribal Nations in documenting the precontact and colonial history of their communities.

Globalization, Transnationalism, Urbanism, and the Environment

This focus centers on the impact of globalization on culture and society worldwide, from the onslaught of technology and the commodification of labor and resources in traditional societies, to the establishment of immigrant and transnational communities in the urban U.S. Viewed historically, the impact of European colonialism in the Americas and the rise of industrial society are major foci of the Historical Archaeology graduate program, where students have opportunities to work on archaeological and archival projects from New England to the American Southwest and from Iceland to Mexico. In addition to local preservation agencies and nonprofit organizations, our faculty has been active with local community groups including the Columbia Point Community Partnership and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, in support of local community development and empowerment.  UMB Anthropology faculty has also been active in documenting the impact of globalization and environmental degradation on biodiversity conservation and human health, working with community groups in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Bolivia. 

Health Disparities

Health disparities research is a University-wide priority at UMass Boston.  UMB is the only public university in New England recognized by NIH as a minority-serving institution. The University has forged research and training partnerships with area institutions, including the Dana Farber Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital of Boston and Harvard School of Public Health, to address local, state and national health disparities.  Joining these campus-wide efforts, faculty in the Department of Anthropology study the impact of war and poverty on nutrition, growth and development; the relationships among market integration, acculturation, stress, and health; and the measurement of ethno-race in health research.  Through community-based participatory research projects, our faculty work to improve health education and early cancer detection in under-served communities.  

Ethnicity & Identity

Encompassing both historical and contemporary perspectives on ethnicity and identity, Anthropology at UMB is committed to research that documents and explains how people construct and negotiate ethnicity in everyday life and the ways that people maintain ethnic identity in the face of changing political and economic pressures.  Faculty approaches to this research focus are innovative and include archaeological, archival, ethnographic, and linguistic methods.  Through undergraduate research initiatives like the Latino Leadership Opportunity  Program, Anthropology faculty train and provide research opportunities to students interested in exploring the relationship between ethnicity and a range of public policy issues.   

Collaborators at UMass Boston