Welcome to the
Department of Anthropology
Anthropology at Binghamton University Defined
Anthropology studies human populations and cultures in comparative, historical and evolutionary frameworks. The curriculum promotes understanding of the variety of past and present human groups, the cultures and societies people create, the processes that animate cultural production and social life, and the processes that underlie human biological development and change. Students learn and apply the research methods and theoretical constructs used by anthropologists to investigate peoples and their social worlds. Excavating and analyzing the remains of past cultures, observing human and non-human primate behavior, examining global social and cultural changes, and exploring the biocultural and biomedical processes that define humans are but a few of the approaches anthropologists use to investigate the human way of life.
A general statement about the field of anthropology is that it seeks to understand the forms and processes of social and cultural production, and the nature and origins of human biological variability through systematic exploration and scientific examination of human groups and their artifacts and life ways, past and present. Anthropology's traditional emphasis is on the study of small-scale societies, but recent practical and theoretical concerns have broadened the scope of anthropological research to include the entire range of ethnically complex and globally interdependent societies of the world. Ecological, physiological, psychological, historical, economic, artistic, technological and political phenomena all fall within the current purview of anthropology. The discipline thus draws freely on various fields of study in the humanities and natural sciences, as well as in the various social sciences, in its exploration of the patterns of human social life and adaptation.
There are four traditionally recognized subfields of the discipline: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology and sociocultural anthropology. Binghamton University's faculty represent quite well these four subfields, and this coverage is key to the training of our students.