The department’s faculty specializes in the subdisciplines of anthropology: archaeology and cultural and social anthropology. These subdisciplines provide the theoretical and applied foundation for the faculty’s teaching and research. Within these subdisciplines, faculty training, experience, current research, and teaching are focused on specific topical and methodological areas of health, heritage, and environment, as described below.
The department trains archaeologists who intend to specialize in historical archaeology. We train archaeologists to work in public settings, management environments, and in the academy; they are encouraged to undertake research on the political uses of the past, global climate change, museum interpretations of importance to local communities, and understanding and enhancing the role of cultural resource management (CRM) and applied archaeology. The geographical focus of the archaeology work is in the Americas and the Atlantic World. The faculty encourages research on the long-term environmental change, landscapes, the built environment, and the study of ethnicity, class, and race. Active excavations are used to understand local histories, their impact on national identities for minority members, and the role of reconstructed and rebuilt landscapes and urban environments in shifting power relations. Historical archaeology is strong in Diaspora studies, ties between archaeological practice and community identity, and the use of media to influence political decisions. Training is provided in material culture analysis, zooarchaeology, GIS, web-based communication, and field settings. The department maintains close ties to many distinguished archaeologists who have taught courses or provide internships for graduate students. Historical archaeology is also strengthened through ties to other departments across campus. More information about archaeology in the department.
Cultural and Social Anthropology
Faculty members have a strong commitment to applied cultural analysis and to engaged scholarship that is broadly participatory and directed to diverse stakeholder interests and concerns. A core interest of the cultural and social anthropologists is the study of learned and shared knowledge and behaviors, and how such knowledge and behaviors affect, for example, the health care “cultures” of different communities, uses of the environment, tourism and heritage resource development, religious groups, aging, and relationships between gender constructs and health and social risks. Most of the cultural and social anthropologists are contributing research and public service that is directly relevant to the needs of our local communities, the State of Maryland, the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and national organizations. These same faculty members also maintain connections and research activities in numerous international settings, including the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. The research methods employed include the traditional inductive ethnographic methods of participant observation and interviewing, life and oral histories, analyses of discourse and text, visual anthropology, and quantitative methods. Individual faculty members have skills in evaluation research, cognitive research methods, social and cultural assessment, and community-based development.
Areas of Research Concentration
All graduate students are asked to focus in one the department's three areas of concentration. These areas of inquiry are designed around the strengths and interests of our faculty and often intersect across the traditional subfields defined in Anthropology. Students are therefore encouraged to draw upon the expertise of the entire faculty in their work within one of these three conceptual fields:
Anthropology of Environment
The focus for this area of concentration is on the management of natural resources and the study of cultural and behavioral factors as they impinge upon our understanding of the environment and our ability to respond to environmentally-based opportunities, problems, and crises. Faculty interests include human ecology, cultural and environmental conservation, culture and cognition in environmental decision making, gender and ethnic factors in environmental problem solving and conservation, environmental justice, ecotourism, and aspects of agricultural development and regional or community planning.
Anthropology of Health
The focus for this area of concentration is how health and well-being are shaped, experienced, and understood in light of global, historical, and structural forces. Faculty interests include global health, community-based health research, health systems, health policy and governance, health disparities, migrant and immigrant health, risk environments, disease and diagnostic categories, addiction, experiences of social suffering, hypermarginality, gun violence, incarceration, and racialization.
Anthropology of Heritage
The focus for this area of concentration is on the management of heritage and cultural resources and the identification and study of both material and intangible cultural resources as they relate to our ability to understand the relationships between the past and the present. Faculty interests include historical archaeology, cultural resource management, applied folklore and oral history, heritage tourism development, relationships between culture and history, and health-based heritage practices. More information about heritage studies in the department.
The department does not view these areas of concentration as isolated categories, but rather in terms of their systemic interrelationships. In keeping with the synthetic and holistic nature of anthropological inquiry, the ways in which these areas overlap and relate to each other is as interesting and functionally important as is their particular character. Therefore, students will be encouraged to explore the interrelationships between their areas and the others.
Students seeking to pursue interests outside these areas may do so with departmental permission and the cooperation of a faculty advisor. Students thus seeking to depart from the areas of concentration must make clear their intent prior to their acceptance of admission.
Areas of study can include:
- anthropological contributions to such fields as:
- agricultural development
- natural resources management
- tourism and heritage development
- and urban and/or regional planning
- archaeology and tourism
- broad development issues in developing countries
- cognitive anthropology
- communities in the United States or abroad
- community-based development
- cultural and environmental conservation
- cultural and gender aspects of development
- cultural and heritage tourism
- cultural resource management
- development of communities, organizations, or individual/family units.
- ecological anthropology
- environmental anthropology
- folk life and oral history
- historic archaeology
- historic preservation
- human-plant co-evolution
- local community development/organizing
- natural resources management
- public interpretation
- sustainable agricultural development
- tourism development and planning
- global health
- community-based health research
- health systems
- health policy and governance
- health disparities
- immigrant and minority health
- risk environments
- disease and diagnostic categories
- experiences of social suffering
- hypermarginality and poverty
- gun violence
The University of Maryland is part of the Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs (COPAA).