The undergraduate concentration in Anthropology involves training in the four subfields of anthropology: socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and biological anthropology. We offer a general track that draws from all of those, as well as tracks in each individual subfield and a track in medical anthropology, which bridges several of these subfields. Many of the department's courses are appropriate for non-concentrators and we encourage students from throughout the Brown community to take advantage of our courses and other programmatic offerings.
Socio-cultural anthropology engages the full breadth of the modern human experience through the lens of ethnography, the longterm qualitative study of social processes in a particular context or setting. Socio-cultural anthropology works at the crossroads of the social sciences and the humanities in order to understand human experience in all of its fullness. The discipline does not restrict itself to a single aspect of human social life, such as the political or the aesthetic. Conversations in our classrooms and seminar rooms attempt to put behavior in the broadest contexts of meaning, power, institutions, and history. In a time of increasing specialization and fragmentation of knowledge, Anthropology provides an opportunity to look at the big picture and find it in the locally meaningful. In a world of manifold crises, it provides opportunities for applying the knowledge it produces, and in a world of increasingly global connection, the discipline provides many roadmaps.
Anthropological archaeologists study the human past through the medium of material culture and are especially interested in exploring social processes through time and throughout the world. In that regard, anthropological archaeologists not only reconstruct the nuances of a particular past society but situate their studies in a greater comparative perspective to more broadly contribute to our understanding of the human experience. The undergraduate curriculum in anthropological archaeology emphasizes firm theoretical and methodological training in the discipline, while capitalizing on the department's focus on the archaeology of the Americas, especially indigenous and colonial New England, the American Southwest, and the Maya.
Linguistic anthropology is the study of language in social context, both past and present. Linguistic anthropology places the ethnography of language in use at the center of its analysis. Linguistic anthropology aims to use the insights gained from such an approach to illuminate human societies in their complexity and variability. Course offerings examine how language intersects with some of Brown's broader strengths, including the study of Latin America, society and the media, politics and inequality, and medicine and science studies.
Biological anthropology focuses on the biological aspects of the human condition, emphasizing especially our evolutionary legacy and the role of social processes in shaping biological phenemona. The Department of Anthropology offers a core course in biological anthropology (Human Evolution) as well as advanced courses on the human skeleton and other select topics.
Medical anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that seeks to understand human experiences of health, illness, and suffering. Medical anthropologists study topics such as global health, local health systems, indigenous medicine, violence and trauma, disability and the body, gender and sexuality, biotechnology, bioethics, and social suffering.