Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of people: past and present.  Crossing the boundaries between the humanities and the sciences, anthropology considers what it is to be human.  Some anthropologists examine the evolution of our biological family or the ways in which humans communicate.  Others explore the behaviors of peoples, societies, and cultures worldwide or across millennia.  However, all anthropologists concern themselves with the variety and unity of humanity.  Anthropologists create a global picture of the human experience and use that picture to solve contemporary problems.  In order to create that picture, the Department of Anthropology offers courses in several sub-fields of anthropology, including archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and medical anthropology.

Archaeologists explore history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other material remains.  Biological anthropologists study evolution, using evidence from the fossil record, genetics, and primate behavior to explore human origins as well as human diversity.  Cultural anthropologists examine contemporary or recent societies, studying not only cultural diversity but also a host of social issues, from the dynamics of power and inequality to the ways in which culture shapes economic, political, and legal systems.  Linguistic anthropologists study the characteristics of human language and question how language shapes, and is shaped by, social interactions.  Medical anthropologists consider how people view disease and illness in different parts of the world and explore how global, historical, and political factors influence those views.

Together, the subfields of anthropology “make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”  They celebrate the unity and diversity of the human experience.  

Department of Anthropology

75 Shannon Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753