Anthropology
Offered by the Anthropology department.

Anthropology cultivates the intellectual and practical agility required in a world in which understanding and negotiating international and cross-cultural difference is increasingly a part of everyday life.

Major requirements

Anthropology major worksheet

The major in anthropology consists of 10 courses that must include the following four core courses:

ANTH 102 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 301 Seminar in Anthropological Theory
ANTH 302 Research Methods
ANTH 401 Senior Seminar

Six electives that must include:

At least one world culture area course from the following list:
ANTH 225 Peoples and Cultures of Africa
ANTH 235 Peoples and Cultures of Latin America
ANTH 245 Indigenous Movements of Latin America
ANTH 255 Gender in Africa
ANTH 275 Peoples and Cultures of the Himalaya
ANTH 295 Peoples and Cultures of South Asia

And one 300-level elective:
ANTH 333 Economic Anthropology
ANTH 340 Seminar on Religion in Anthropological Perspective
ANTH 350 Gender and Social Organization
ANTH 357 Indigenous Religions

ANTH 101 is highly recommended. Majors who have taken a first-year seminar with a member of the Anthropology Department faculty may petition to count the FYS towards credit for the major.

Minor requirements

Anthropology minor worksheet

The minor in anthropology consists of either ANTH 101 or ANTH 102, at least one 300-level course and at least one, but not more than two, world culture area courses for a total of five courses in anthropology.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 099 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 101 – Human Evolution

    Discoveries related to human and cultural evolution are constantly changing our view of where we came from and how we got to be the way we are. This course considers the latest findings and controversies concerning evolutionary theory, our relationship to apes, our sexuality, bipedalism and capacity for language, the relevance of “race,” our links to Neanderthals, the development of what we call civilization and other topics.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 102 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

    This course explores cultural diversity in the contemporary world and introduces the analytical and methodological tools that anthropologists use to understand cultural similarities and differences in a global context. This course will acquaint students with the extraordinary range of human possibility that anthropologists have come to know, provide a means of better understanding the culturally unfamiliar and offer a new perspective through which to examine the cultures that they call their own.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 198 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 199 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 210 – Feast or Famine: The Ecology and Politics of Food

    This course concerns how food is produced, distributed and consumed. Topics covered include: how culture shapes taste, cuisine, nutrition and food production systems, as well as the ecological, economic and political factors that cause famine and food shortage. Films, case studies, guest speakers, action/service fieldwork and modeling exercises provide opportunities to think creatively about policy and action to increase food security for the most vulnerable at home and abroad. Students are expected to meet the challenge of bringing these issues into a forum for discussion on the Wheaton campus.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 215 – Tanzania: Education and Development

    This faculty-led field course uses education as lens to study the history of development in one of the most geographically and culturally rich countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Through readings, lectures, site visits, village homestays, and intensive teaching in a rural secondary school, students explore the history of education in East Africa from the pre-colonial period to the present and the challenges that persist in providing equal educational opportunities for all in a poor, developing country. Students will spend several days visiting development projects in two Northern zone cities, Arusha and Moshi and then move up-county to reside in a village mid-way up Mt. Kilimanjaro, a world heritage site and gateway to the roof of Africa.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 220 – Archaeology: Practice and Prehistory

    Archaeology is the study of past human cultures and societies through their material remains. This course covers archaeological theories, methods and practice, how data is collected and analyzed, and how archaeologists draw conclusions to interpret and reconstruct the past. Topics such as the archaeology of gender, ethnicity, and social inequality are considered. The course also focuses on human prehistory – the transition from mobile hunter-gatherers to sedentary farming, and the rise of cities and the first civilizations. The course concludes with the role and obligation of archaeology to the public, and the impact of colonialism, warfare, and extremism on archaeology.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 225 – Peoples and Cultures of Africa

    This course takes a topical/historical approach to the study of sub-Saharan African societies. The diversity of unique African cultural features (in kinship, economy, politics and ritual) will be considered against the backdrop of historical interactions with Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia from the precolonial period to the present. Topics covered include: lineages and stateless societies, chiefdoms and long-distance trade, slavery, colonialism and underdevelopment, social movements and resistance, cosmology, warfare and stratification by ethnicity and gender.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 226 – Anthropology of Art

    This course considers art as diverse as Maori canoe prows, Warhol’s Pop, aboriginal sand drawings, gang graffiti, Tibetan tangkas, children’s finger painting and Mapplethorpe’s photographs from an anthropological perspective, asking: Why do humans make art? How and why does art affect us and those of other cultures? What are the relationships between art, artists and society? Artists are encouraged to participate.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 230 – Language and Culture

    Linguistic anthropology is concerned with the many ways that language and communication make us what we are as human beings and affect our daily social and cultural lives. Topics covered include: evolution of language; how language and culture affect the way we know the world; language acquisition; and language and communicative behaviors associated with social classes, races and genders.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 235 – Peoples and Cultures of Latin America

    The course looks at the issues faced by peoples and cultures of Latin America primarily through the careful reading of ethnographies. The ethnographies, as well as the associated articles and films used in the course, highlight the social realities and history of Latin American region. In this course we focus on understanding the interconnectedness of the Americas, the relationship between gender and state development, multiple forms of violence (structural, gendered, political, symbolic and everyday), religious change, and the impact of migrations, as well as the legacies of historical constructions of race, gender and ethnicity.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 240 – Urban Anthropology

    The 20th century has been characterized by massive urban growth throughout the world. Ethnographic studies serve as a basis for studying the causes, processes and consequences of urban migration and urbanization, as well as cross-cultural similarities and variations in urban ways of life. This course examines how people negotiate urban life as a particular sociocultural world. We develop an anthropological view of cities by surveying rural-urban influences, neighborhoods, ethnicities, subcultures, social networks and stratification to understand how social relations are constructed and how cultural knowledge is distributed in cities, including the metropolitan area.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 245 – Indigenous Movements of Latin America

    This course takes a topical approach to contemporary challenges facing indigenous peoples in Latin America. The course uses recent ethnographic accounts to give us an in-depth understanding of the struggles, achievements and meaning-making practices of indigenous peoples in Latin America. We focus on identity-making practices of indigenous ethnic groups in their struggles within the states of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 250 – Political Anthropology

    What is power and what are the many forms in which we can see it being exercised? This course starts by exploring the evolution of political structures from stateless societies to advanced civilizations. We will analyze some classic anthropological studies of local political systems in different parts of the world and then shift our focus to how changes in the global economy affect citizens in such areas as employment, immigration, health and human rights.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 255 – Gender in Africa

    What contributions have women made to the societies of Africa prior to colonialism? How and why did colonialism affect men and women differently? What are the implications of gender inequality for economic development in Africa today? These questions are considered from ethnographic, autobiographical and fictional accounts. Gender, class and cultural identity will be focal points.

(Previously Women in Africa)

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 260 – Gender and Development

    This course focuses some of the central development problems in the Global South (poverty, hunger, infectious disease, illiteracy) and how our thinking about these issues changed once women were entered into the development equation. The backdrop to the issues we will tackle is the re-organization of the global political economy and the way that different actors in the business of development (international bodies such as the UN and its subsidiaries, national governments, multinational corporations and trade bodies, NGOs and Aid agencies, and the local recipients of aid) understand the fundamental problems causing underdevelopment and the solutions that they affirm. While we will consider the big picture of development from the top down, our key focus will remain on how women and men in the Global South understand and cope with the key development challenges they face in a rapidly changing world.

(Previously Women and Development)

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 265 – Medical Anthropology

    Medical Anthropology explores how socio-cultural and biological factors influence practices of health and well being. Students in the course will learn about (1) diverse experiences and cultural influences on the distribution of illness, (2) cultural breadth in prevention and treatment of sickness and healing processes, (3) ways to document and understand the social relations of therapy management, and (4) the potential social benefits of pluralistic medical systems.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 270 – Psychological Anthropology

    Shamanic cures, ecstatic trance, spirit possession, dream interpretation, identity negotiation and other psychological phenomena that pose challenges for anthropological explanation are examined in order to better understand the relationship between sociocultural context and individual experience and thought. Case studies from diverse cultural settings are bases for exploring contemporary issues and topics in this field.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 275 – Peoples and Cultures of the Himalaya

    The Himalayan region provides extraordinary opportunities for pursuing fascinating issues that interest anthropologists everywhere, including the relationship between ecology and culture, the politics of gender, negotiating ethnic identity, religious diversity and interaction, and globalization. This region is also home to some of the most widely known fantasies about the ideal society, usually called Shangrila. This course uses intimate, detailed portraits of cultures and societies that the best of anthropology provides in order to examine these issues (and fantasies) in Himalayan contexts, while at the same time providing a broad overview of the enormous diversity to be found in the region and the challenges that those who live there share.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 280 – Archaeology of the Southwest

    This course will investigate the prehistory of native people in the American Southwest. Students will discover how, through archaeological theory and method, material culture is used to reconstruct the chronology and way of life in the ancient Southwest, from the arrival of the first humans onto the North American continent to the coming of the Spanish. The course will focus on the three major culture groups and regions of the Southwest – the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi), Mogollon, and Hohokam, and will explore how these ancient people managed to adapt to and flourish in some of the harshest environments in North America, and created impressive settlements with unique and complicated social dynamics.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 295 – Peoples and Cultures of South Asia

    Religious and ethnic diversity and conflict, ritual performance and festivity, caste, colonialism, cultural heritage, nationalism and modern struggles over sovereignty and development schemes are all features of South Asia that anthropologists find particularly interesting. This course explores the extraordinary cultural diversity of this region, which extends from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka and Pakistan to Bhutan in order to better understand the differences and commonalities that divide and unite its peoples.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 299 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 301 – Seminar in Anthropological Theory

    This seminar provides a selective survey of the past one hundred years of anthropological theory, with a particular focus on the contributions of American, British and French theorists in the development of anthropological paradigms that are now most important in the discipline. These include evolutionary, functionalist, historical particularist, culture and personality, structuralist, symbolic/interpretive, ecological materialist, Marxist world systems, feminist, poststructuralist, practice and postmodernist theory, which will all receive major attention. Readings may include primary theoretical texts, classic and contemporary ethnographies and biographical materials on a number of influential anthropologists.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 302 – Research Methods

    In this seminar, students learn how to develop a testable hypothesis, conduct a review of research literature, define an appropriate sample and employ a range of ethnographic methodologies in one or more research sites. The course culminates in the design of a pilot project and proposal.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 311 – Violence against Women

    This seminar explores the nature of violence against women, focusing on current research on woman battering, rape, child sexual abuse and pornography. Students will compare theoretical approaches and will critically examine empirical research. The impact of race, ethnicity and class on the abuse experience are considered. A major part of the seminar involves original research by students on an issue of their choice. The semester will culminate in a symposium on violence against women organized by seminar members.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 333 – Economic Anthropology

    The seminar explores capitalism and alternative forms of economic organization, challenging students to reconceptualize “economy” as a cultural system. Students compare nonmonetized economic relations in different societies and interactions between economic cores and peripheries. This reconceptualization informs a critical understanding of the implications for participation in the global economic system and its impact on the rest of the world.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 340 – Seminar on Religion in Anthropological Perspective

    In various places throughout the world, people are killing themselves and others in the name of Religion or “religious beliefs.” Attempts to make sense of these and other phenomena (such as trance, fundamentalism and ecstatic worship) that we call religious often reveal deep-seated prejudices and unfounded assumptions. This seminar examines how anthropologists have sought to understand such phenomena from the perspectives of practitioners in order to develop conceptual frameworks that facilitate cross-cultural understanding.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 350 – Gender and Social Organization

    A unified analysis of gender and kinship is considered essential to an understanding of social organization. This course starts from the premise that cultural conceptions of gender are not “natural” categories. In this course we will consider how marriage, family and household organization both reflect and structure cultural definitions of gender and sex-role behavior and the dynamic interaction of public and private domains in the production of culture. We will be comparing small-scale societies to more complex forms (peasant and industrial economies) and we will also consider the differences among those societies that organize descent bilaterally, matrilineally and patrilineally. Seminar participants are responsible for preparing and presenting the readings and conducting two small fieldwork projects.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 357 – Indigenous Religions

    (See Rel 357 for course description.)

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 399 – Independent Study

    Independent study supervised by a member of the Anthropology Department.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 401 – Senior Seminar

    A semester of directed research in which students explore topics of their own choice through their own original research. Students meet regularly in a seminar setting, which provides a framework in which to discuss the many stages of the research process and offer collaborative support for fellow students pursuing their individual projects. Students will be expected to produce a completed thesis in February as their capstone to the major.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 499 – Independent Research

    Open to majors at the invitation of the department.

  • Anthropology

    ANTH 500 – Individual Research

    Selected majors are invited by the department to pursue individual research in preparation for writing an Honors Thesis.

Giampaolo DiGregorio

Visiting Instructor of Anthropology

Donna O. Kerner

Professor of Anthropology; William Isaac Cole Professor of Anthropology

Joshua MacLeod

Visiting Instructor of Anthropology

Bruce Owens

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Chair of Anthropology Department; Co-Coordinator, Wheaton/Royal Thimphu College Partnership Program

M. Gabriela Torres

Associate Professor of Anthropology; Public Health Coordinator