Lacey Carpenter researches daily life during a time of political transformation in the Oaxaca Valley, Mexico.
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
Stuff: Materiality and Inequality 200S
This course fulfills the SSIH requirement for Anthropology and Archaeology concentrators. In keeping with the history of U.S. four-field anthropology, it examines the social origins of inequality through the lenses of material culture and technologies of production, labor and social structure, and hierarchy. The topical foci of the course will be developed around a contemporary issue or event. The course will engage students from both tracks, emphasizing the shared interest in material culture analysis and issues of labor, inequality, and political economy.View All Courses
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.View All Courses
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.View All Courses
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.View All Courses
Anthropology of Food 272F
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.View All Courses
Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality in China 314S
This course discusses the transformations in Chinese notions of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality from 1949 to the present. We will explore topics such as defining, naming, and preserving ethnic identity and culture; changing notions of femininity and masculinity; emerging forms of gendered inequality; and the growing importance of sex work and sex-at-work while considering the interrelationship between such phenomena and the broader political, economic, and social developments in 21st-century China.View All Courses
Reading the (Anthropological) Signs