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Anthropology Department

Welcome to the Anthropology Department at UMass Boston!

Anthropology studies people in all their cultural, social, and biological complexity.  Our courses embrace the interdisciplinary breadth of the field, exploring issues ranging from the diversity of local neighborhoods to the struggles of indigenous people across the globe, from the rise of ancient civilizations to the impact of modernity and environmental change on the health and well-being of populations. Our graduate program uses the tools of archaeology to answer questions about the impact of European colonialism and the emergence of industrial society in the Americas. 

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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 graduate program in Historical Archaeology focuses on the impact of European colonialism and early industrialization in the Americas, African diaspora archaeology, environmental change over time, the histories of marginalized peoples, collaborative and community methods, and benefits from ongoing research 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. Indigenous People’s Rights
  3. Globalization
  4. Transnationalism, Urbanism, and the Environment
  5. Health Disparities; Ethnicity and Identity