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411 Milbank Hall
212-854-9389 / 5428

Chair: Paige West (Tow Professor)
Professors: Nadia Abu El-Haj, Lesley Sharp (Ann Whitney Olin Professor)
Associate Professor: Paul Kockelman, Brian Larkin
Assistant Professors: Severin Fowles, Stephen K. Scott
Associate Professor (Adjunct): Kate Riley
Professors Emeriti: Abraham Rosman, Nan Rothschild, Paula G. Rubel, Judith Shapiro, Joan Vincent

Other officers of the University offering courses listed below:

Professors: Lila Abu-Lughod, Partha Chatterjee, Myron Cohen, Terence D’Altroy, E. Valentine Daniel, Nicholas Dirks, Ralph Holloway, Mahmood Mamdani, Don J. Melnick, Brinkley Messick, Rosalind Morris, Elizabeth Povinelli, David Scott, Michael Taussig
Research Professor: Nan Rothschild
Associate Professors: Elaine Combs-Schilling, Marina Cords, Steven Gregory, Marilyn Ivy, John Pemberton
Assistant Professors: Zoe Crossland, Catherine Fennell, Hlonipha Mokoena, Audra Scripsen
Lecturers: Karen Seeley, Pegi Vail

The Discipline of Anthropology

Anthropology examines the social worlds people create and inhabit.  It is a comparative discipline that takes seriously the differences between societies across the globe and through time. Historically, anthropologists studied non-European societies, describing their social and linguistic systems, their patterns of thought and culture and by doing so they aimed to throw into relief the contingency of normative Western assumptions. 

Contemporary anthropology examines a very different landscape.  It seeks to examine not just the diversity of cultural practices but to understand how societies clash, mutually interact and are interconnected through movements of goods, people, ideas, culture and politics.  Anthropology today is thus more genuinely cross-cultural than it once was.  Anthropologists conduct research with urban New Yorkers as often as with Mayan peasants, with genetic scientists as much as with spirit adepts and seek to understand the increasingly complex interconnections of people around the world.

The Department of Anthropology

Our faculty specialize in science and medicine, technology and media, religion, language and cognition, visual and material culture, colonialism and postcolonialism, and conservation and the environment.  We conduct research in Africa, the U.S., Oceania, the Middle East and Latin America and in doing so we use a variety of foci, tacking between the immediacy of local modes of lived experience and broader social and political transformations.


Anthropology seeks to prepare students to succeed in a globalized world.  It provides them with the skills to identify problems in intercultural settings, to recognize alternative lived realities, to discuss solutions with colleagues of diverse backgrounds, and to communicate those solutions to broader publics.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successfully completing the major, students should be able to attain the following outcomes:

  • Articulate key methodological and theoretical debates in the history of the discipline;
  • Compare and use distinct analytical frameworks for interpreting meaningful social behavior, detecting patterns and thinking comparatively across social domains, cultures and contexts;
  • Develop an anthropological sensibility that enables one to distill social meaning from everyday encounters with individuals, material objects, texts and other social phenomena;
  • Undertake ethnographic, linguistic or archaeological fieldwork using the appropriate methods;
  • Conceptualize, undertake, and present an original research project by the end of the senior year.

The department also cooperates with related programs such as Africana Studies, American Studies, Human Rights, Urban Studies, and Women’s Studies. Arrangements for combined, double, joint, and special majors are made in consultation with the chair.