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Anthropology is the study of human societies and the development of human diversity to better understand what it means to be human. Anthropology differs from other social sciences in that anthropologists are interested in, and take seriously, all kinds of social life. Whether the social phenomena concerns only a few people or a whole population, anthropologists recognize it is relevant to all of humanity.

About the Major

How do anthropologists study humans? At Hamilton, anthropology is a holistic discipline. Anthropologists consider and deconstruct inference from language, behavior, material culture, and biological adaptations of humans. Anthropology sees social and cultural life as constituting the questions, pursuits, and dilemmas entailed by living among others. Anthropologists trace the ways in which such questions, pursuits, and dilemmas have emerged in ways shaped by power and inequality through the construction of categories.

I learned how to think about the ways in which things happen, why they happen, who makes them happen and what happens because of them. The anthropology professors at Hamilton expertly draw these ways of thinking out of their students, and they do so through encouragement, humor and the expectation of hard work.

Ana Baldrige ’12 — anthropology major

How do we teach anthropology at Hamilton? Our department emphasizes experiential learning opportunities that provide students with the theoretical and methodological toolkits to better understand human diversity. Using ethnographic methods, anthropologists immerse themselves in the particular social environment, build reciprocal relationships with participants, consider participants as ‘teachers’, and analyze what those specific cultural practices tell us about the human condition. Quantitative methods include the incorporation of cutting-edge scientific techniques to make inferences about past and present societies.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Project Geologist, GEI Consultants
  • Physician, Jefferson General Medical & Pediatric Group
  • Exhibition Coordinator, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Vice President of Sales, Bayer Corp.
  • History Teacher, Hingham Public Schools
  • Attorney, Voices for Children
  • Staff Archaeologist, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
  • Trial Preparation Assistant, New York County District Attorney’s Office
  • Professor, Brandeis University

Contact Information


Anthropology Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4404 315-859-4649 anthropology@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Principles of Social and Cultural Anthropology 113FS


Cross-cultural approaches to the study of such topics as inequality, polity, language, economic behavior, the body, and other categorical distinctions emergent from human practice. Exposure to anthropological theory, methods, and ethnography.

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Linguistic Theory: A Brief History 201S


A general examination of the nature of language. Topics include the history of ideas about language; philosophical and cognitive aspects of language; evolutionary, structural and generative approaches to the analysis of language. Writing-intensive. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Globalization and the City: An Anthropological Interrogation 204F


Examines why and how the city has taken on renewed focus as “site” in which contemporary global processes take place. Draws on anthropological literature and films on urbanization to provide theoretical foundations and empirical case studies to critically respond to the question: What does the globalization of the city look like? Students will choose their own city upon which to conduct secondary research drawing from scholarly articles, news media sources, and documentary film archives to create short essay films that illustrate how global processes reshape their selected urban locale.

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Household Archaeology: Daily Life in the Past and Present 216S


Houses and the people we share them with play a central role in human society, shaping relationships and identities. Household studies focus on the house or dwelling itself as a way to understand the individuals, families, and activities that make up our daily lives. This class explores how houses and the strategies of daily life are integral to some of the most transformative sociopolitical change in the ancient and more recent past.

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Phonetics and Phonology: The Analysis of Sound 225S


How the sounds of language are produced. The structure of sound systems in a variety of languages (including non-European). Organization of field projects: data collection, transcription analysis. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Anthropology of Food 272S


This course examines how culturally variant practices of food and eating are actively involved in (1) creating and maintaining sociality, (2) constructing and reinforcing identity, and (3) in shaping global relations of power and inequalities. Through reading ethnographies, watching films, and discussing materials in class, this course will introduce you to other ways of viewing, experiencing, and understanding food. It will also provide an opportunity to inquire how our role as consumers reinforces certain global food-ways, impacting many people who remain unseen in the process. Writing-intensive.

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