Anthropology is the holistic and comparative study of human beings. Anthropologists study people from a variety of perspectives--historical, biological, social, and cultural.
At Haverford we teach socio-cultural anthropology: the comparative study of social organization, family life, subsistence, exchange, politics, ritual, religion, and expressive culture in diverse human communities. Socio-cultural anthropologists promote knowledge and broaden intercultural understanding through sustained participant-observation fieldwork; they study small-scale indigenous and rural communities, state societies and urban populations, and transnational polities and cultures.
Anthropology at Haverford
The Anthropology Major at Haverford teaches students the methods of social and cultural research and analysis and introduces them to the history of anthropology. Students are encouraged to think critically and self-reflectively about several areas of intellectual inquiry, including:
The discipline of anthropology:
- To understand the unique contribution that anthropology makes to the study of the social, and the ways that it addresses the most pressing issues of our times, especially in relation to globalization, diversity/multiculturalism, and the scalar relations between local contexts and broad social, geographic and historical movements
- To learn how to situate strange and familiar social practices and cultural categories in shifting and contingent historical, economic and political formations/structures, and to recognize the impact of the position of the scholar in the production of knowledge
- To know the key figures in anthropology and their specific theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions to the history and development of the discipline; to understand key contemporary debates in the field and how older notions of race, culture, nation, and language have shaped recent theoretical innovations; to be familiar with the range of subfields of the discipline (e.g. political and legal anthropology, medical anthropology, the anthropology of religion, environmental anthropology, etc.) and their different contributions to knowledge
The craft and theory of anthropological research:
- To have first-hand experience of data-collection methods central to anthropology, including ethnographic field research, interviewing, and archival research
- To understand the ethical obligations of an ethnographic researcher and to be able to engage others with respect and compassion
- To be versed in the ethnographic record of more than one society; to develop a capacity to think comparatively across cultures; to problematize and analyze familiar practice and ‘common sense’ in a new light
- To understand the relationship between theory and empirical data, i.e., 1) how specific anthropologists have used theory to interpret and explain social and cultural formations, and 2) how particular ethnographic situations and circumstances have allowed or required specific anthropologists to revise, critique, and improve theoretical models
- To understand ethnography as a methodology and a genre of writing
The basic skills of anthropological writing and communicating anthropological knowledge:
- To be able to write a critical essay, a fieldnote, an academic book review and a review of the literature for a topic of anthropological interest
- To understand the difference between a scholarly argument that proves a particular point (interpretive, explanatory), and an argument that advocates an attitude or action
- To be able to construct a sound argument supported by evidence and to be able to engage in scholarly debate
- To understand the diverse media and forums through which anthropological knowledge is communicated to the public
The final original project:
- To write a senior thesis, by 1) defining a research question, 2) situating that research question within a broader field of anthropological and scholarly inquiry, 3) conducting research with primary source materials (ethnographic, archival, and/or material), and 4) developing an original argument about the primary source materials that is informed by the relevant theory and anthropological literature
The Haverford Department of Anthropology does not teach archaeology or physical/biological anthropology. Courses in those areas may be taken at Bryn Mawr College.
Students are required to take a total of 11 courses in the major, including six required courses within the department. Individual programs require the advisor’s approval.
- ANTH 103a, Introduction to Anthropology, preferably in the first or second year.
- ANTH 303a or b, History and Theory of Anthropology, before the senior year.
- One course focused on an ethnographic area, such as ANTH 241, Mediterranean; ANTH 245, Africa; ANTH 244, China; or a similar course on another campus.
- One other 200 level course in this department.
- One 300 level course in this department, before the senior year.
- A two-credit, intensive Senior Thesis Seminar, during the fall and spring semesters of the senior year (Anthropology 450/451).
All major programs require the approval of the major advisor. No more than one biological anthropology or archaeology course may be counted for the Haverford major. The remaining courses may be courses offered in the department, in an anthropology department on another campus, or in approved related fields. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the use of e-mail, Blackboard, Tripod, and the storage server.
The minor in anthropology consists of six courses, including: ANTH 103a, Introduction to Anthropology; ANTH 303, History and Theory of Anthropology; an ethnographic area course; and three other courses at the 200 or 300 level, including one course at the 300 level. A minimum of three courses must be taken in the Haverford department. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the use of e-mail, Blackboard, Tripod, and the storage server.
Requirements for Honors
Honors are decided at the discretion of the faculty in the department of Anthropology. They are based upon overall excellence in the major. "Excellence" is defined by three criteria: outstanding work in the senior thesis (final written work and oral presentation), strong cumulative performance in all anthropological coursework (typically a grade point average of 3.7 or higher), and a record of consistent intellectual commitment and participation in the department. High Honors will be awarded, upon occasion, for exceptional contributions in all areas.