What is Anthropology?

Put simply, anthropologists study human beings from all time periods and all walks of life.

The scope of anthropology is vast: anthropologists can study any number of human spaces, from Japanese fish markets, Brazilian favelas, Lebanese bars, and East St. Louis neighborhoods, to Bronze Age China production center, 17th century New Mexico, and mortuary sites in ancient Peru — to name a small sampling of research performed by Harvard anthropologists. While anthropology is broad in scope, however, the various nodes of anthropological thinking originate in distinctive intellectual frameworks, methods, and lively internal debates conducted around shared passions and inquiries. More than anything, anthropology is a perspective that combines critical analysis, cultural and historical awareness, and intense intellectual engagement with theory, people, and the world. As an anthropologist, you will enter into conversations with other people, including academic peers, with an important perspective that others often miss--the human.


The buttons below will take you to pages made to address questions you might have as you enter into anthropology... 

Entering Anthropology

How does one enter the discipline of anthropology? The following videos share the experiences of two different Harvard community members

"Step Out of the Book...Into the World"

In conversation with Angela Ortiz & Cengiz Cemaloglu,
Professor Ajantha Subramanian (Anthropology & South Asian Studies) discusses how she came to the discipline of Anthropology. From a background in Religion - with a focus on textual analysis - Professor Subramanian found that she wanted to "step out of the text and into the world" by the time she finished her own undergraduate studies. She worked to understand how "religion and politics [were] lived practices rather than just conceptual frameworks" in the world.

New Ways of Thinking

Cengiz Cemaloglu, '18 is a joint-concentrator in Anthropology and Government. He discusses the experience of reading Marx while taking the Anthropology Sophomore Tutorial at the same time as an Intermediate Macro-Economics Class.  Interestingly, this reading connects to his personal background, as well as how he understands the "different perspectives" that one gains from Anthropology.