UMass Boston

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Welcome to the Department of Anthropology

Anthropology studies past and present people in all their cultural, social, and biological complexity. Our department embraces interdisciplinary breadth in cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biocultural anthropology to explore issues ranging from the diversity of local neighborhoods to the global struggles of Indigenous and African Diasporic people, from the rise of ancient civilizations to the impacts of modernity and environmental change, and from warfare and violence to health disparities and individual well-being.

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About the Department

For anthropologists, people’s activities reflect the changing cultural, social, ecological, and historical contexts in which they have lived, whether in the past or the present. We ask questions about why people do, think, and believe what they do, and offer explanations or interpretations embracing cultural and historical frameworks. Anthropology helps students understand the cultural and economic connections that link people, neighborhoods, nations, and the global system. Looking at the biological side of our human adaptation, we try to understand how our social and cultural environments "get under the skin" to affect health and well-being, as well as studying human biological variation and evolution.

As the only public university in the Boston area, UMass Boston has a vital urban mission; one that is reflected in the teaching and research of the Department of Anthropology. We are committed to scholarship and teaching that engages with the wider community and addresses the needs and interests of our diverse students. In addition to a wide array of courses attractive to the general student, we offer undergraduates several avenues for furthering their study of anthropology. Besides our Anthropology major and minor, students may minor in the affiliated Native American and Indigenous Studies and/or in Environmental Anthropology. Our Master's Program in Historical Archaeology focuses on the impact of European colonialism on Indigenous peoples and early industrialization in the Americas, the African Diaspora, environmental change, histories of marginalized peoples, and collaborative and community methods. It benefits from ongoing research and teaching activities at the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research

The following five key departmental research themes reflect the Anthropology faculty’s dedication to community engagement and outstanding scholarship:

  1. Cultural Preservation and Representation
  2. Rights, Cultures, and Histories of Indigenous Peoples
  3. Globalization, Transnationalism, Urbanism, and the Environment
  4. Biocultural Approaches to Health Disparities and the Life Course
  5. Ethnicity, Identity, Race, and Diaspora