Anthropology

Dr. Rowan K. Flad, Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS)

Anthropology brings global, comparative, and holistic views to the study of the human condition, exploring the enormous range of similarities and differences across time and space. It includes the study of how human behavior has evolved as well as how language, culture, and society have shaped and continue to shape the human experience.

The concentration in Anthropology aims to cultivate a critical understanding of this wide ranging experience.  To study the human condition is to confront the familiarity of the seemingly strange, and to interrogate the strangeness of that which seems familiar.  What does this mean? At the very least, it means stepping back and seeing ourselves the way others might see us – a shift in perspective that is foundational to human empathy and humility. Anthropology also invites deeper analysis of behaviors that we might think we fully understand but that have histories and complexities that only reveal themselves to careful investigation. This is why we do long term field research in local languages to understand social life in all its richness and depth. And finally, making the familiar strange demands an ethical and political accounting. It means not accepting the world as given. This might well be the heart of the discipline, its moral optimism: the conviction that things can be different and better -- and that knowledge about the world should be oriented towards greater empathy, solidarity, and equality. Through an insistence on the importance of context, anthropologists wrestle with the totality of intersections between human practices and behaviors, beliefs, culture, place, politics, identities, and more.  Some develop this awareness of cultural and social context into an engaged participation in the contemporary world through politics, work in the public sector, global health policy, journalism, cultural heritage work, the law, advertising or business.  For others the study of anthropology provides a foundation for graduate studies in anthropology or related fields.

At Harvard the Anthropology Department is divided into two programs: Archaeology and Social Anthropology.

Archaeology investigates the past human condition primarily through the identification, recovery, and analysis of the material remains of ancient peoples in the field and in the laboratory. Goals of archaeology include understanding such developments as the origins of modern humans, the beginnings and spread of agriculture, and the rise and elaboration of complex societies as well as the roles that archaeologically documented pasts play in the modern world.

Social Anthropology examines the social and cultural diversity of contemporary human experience, practice, and knowledge. Based on ethnographic field research, it provides a critical perspective on the understanding of everyday life in a globalized world, and the political, economic, and cultural interconnections within and among the societies of the world.

All students are strongly encouraged to take the opportunity to study and/or carry out research abroad, and gain a basic knowledge of both subfields (Archaeology and Social Anthropology). Beyond this, most students focus their studies within one of the two programs, meeting the concentration requirements set forward by the particular program concerned. Some students may choose to pursue a combined focus on both approaches, meeting reduced concentration requirements for both Social Anthropology and Archaeology.

The requirements for honors eligibility and tutorials are also distinguished by program. In Social Anthropology certain honors recommendations are possible without a thesis, but not to students pursuing a combined concentration in Archaeology and Social Anthropology. In Archaeology, honors recommendations require a thesis. Senior theses are generally supervised within a program, and the tutorials concentrate on problems of research within the subfields of each program. Anthropology concentrators may, however, take tutorials for credit in both programs if they so choose. Field and laboratory research are encouraged although not required.

While specialization in either Social Anthropology or Archaeology is the most common pattern of study, the Department also encourages interdisciplinary work across programs or between Anthropology and other disciplines. The Anthropology Department allows students to arrange joint concentrations with other FAS departments when appropriate and possible. Such concentrations are restricted to honors candidates and culminate in an interdisciplinary senior thesis. A joint concentration involves an individualized, coherent plan of study approved by both of the departments involved. The number of required Anthropology courses and basic program requirements may be reduced.

REQUIREMENTS
Archaeology
Basic Requirements: 10 courses (40 credits), including 2 tutorials

  1. Required courses:
    1. Anthropology 1010 (fall term)
    2. Four additional Archaeology courses, any level
    3. One archaeology research seminar (graduate level)

      Course Categories: The five archaeology courses must fulfill the following course categories (These can be double counted). 1. Area: Old World archaeology course; 2. Area: New World archaeology course; 3. Topical/method/theory course; 4. Archaeological science course
       
    4. One related course: One additional course in archaeology or human evolution. This course must be approved by the DUS or ADUS
    5. One Social Anthropology course OR one course in human evolution or Human Evolutionary Biology topic
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Anthropology 97x, Sophomore Tutorial in Archaeology (spring term).
    2. Junior year: Anthropology 98a, Junior Tutorial in Anthropology (fall term).
  3. Thesis: None.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information:
    1. Pass/Fail: Two courses may be taken Pass/Fail and counted toward the concentration. All Anthropology tutorials are letter-graded.
    2. Languages: The department itself has no language requirement. However, the importance of modern languages for research in all branches of Anthropology cannot be too highly stressed. Concentrators who expect to do work in Anthropology beyond the AB degree are most strongly urged to develop their language skills as undergraduates.
    3. Statistics: Concentrators in Archaeology are encouraged to take courses in statistics and/or computer science (including GIS). Competence in handling quantitative data is extremely important in anthropological research, and such competence is best obtained through formal training in statistics.
    4. Study and Research Abroad: Concentrators in Archaeology are encouraged to investigate the possibilities for studying and/or carrying out research abroad during the summer or during the academic year. If a student has received Harvard degree credit for courses taken in a Harvard-approved overseas studies program, that student may petition the DUS or ADUS for permission to count these courses toward the requirements of the Archaeology concentration. Ordinarily up to two courses per semester may be counted for concentration credit.

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 12 courses (48 credits)
THESIS TRACK (Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors attainable)

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Junior year: In addition to Anthropology 98a (fall term), Archaeology honors candidates are strongly encouraged to enroll in Anthropology 98b, an individual Junior Tutorial, normally taken spring term, in which they carry out study and research related to the preparation of the senior thesis.
    3. Senior year: Anthropology 99 (year-long 8-credit course, letter-graded), culminating in the submission of a senior thesis and related poster, followed by an oral presentation of and examination on the thesis.
  3. Thesis: Yes.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements. Honors candidates usually carry out research for their senior theses during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Social Anthropology
Basic Requirements: 10 courses (40 credits), including 2 tutorials

  1. Required courses
    1. Anthropology 1610: Ethnographic Research Methods (fall term)
    2. Four Social Anthropology courses, any level.
    3. Two courses in Anthropology (Social Anthropology or Archaeology).
    4. ​​​One related course: One additional course in Anthropology or in any social sciences field or advanced foreign language. Students may substitute a relevant course in humanities or science fields with approval from the DUS or ADUS.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Anthropology 97z, Sophomore Tutorial in Social Anthropology (spring term).
    2. Junior year: Anthropology 98a, Junior Tutorial in Anthropology (fall term).
  3. Thesis: None.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information:
    1. Pass/Fail: One course may be taken Pass/Fail and counted for concentration credit. This will ordinarily be in the related course category. All Anthropology tutorials are letter-graded.
    2. Language: No (but strongly encouraged).
    3. Study Abroad: Concentrators are strongly encouraged to participate in study abroad or internship programs. If a student has received Harvard degree credit for courses taken in a Harvard-approved overseas studies program, that student may petition the DUS or ADUS for permission to count up to two courses per semester toward the requirements of the concentration.

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 12 courses (48 credits)
THESIS TRACK (Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors attainable)

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore and Junior years: Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Senior year: Anthropology 99 (year-long 8-credit course tutorial, letter-graded), culminating in the submission of a senior thesis and an oral examination on that thesis.
  3. Thesis: Yes.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements. Prospective honors candidates are strongly encouraged to enroll in Anthropology 98b (spring term), Junior Tutorial for Thesis Writers. Honors candidates usually carry out research for their senior theses during the summer between their junior and senior years.

NON-THESIS TRACK (Honors only)

All graduating seniors in Social Anthropology who are not thesis candidates may be considered for a non-thesis honors recommendation of Honors (but not High or Highest Honors), provided that their concentration grade point averages calculated at the end of their next to last semester are among the highest twenty-five percent of non-thesis candidates in their graduating class.

Combining Archaeology and Social Anthropology
Basic Requirements: 10 courses (40 credits), including 2 tutorials

  1. Required courses:
    1. Anthropology 1010: Fundamentals of Archaeological Methods and Reasoning (fall term)
    2. Anthropology 1610: Ethnographic Research Methods (fall term)
    3. Four additional Anthropology courses, any level.
    4. One related course: One additional course in Anthropology or a related discipline. This course must be approved by the DUS or ADUS.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Both Archaeology and Social Anthropology Sophomore Tutorials (Anthropology 97x and 97z, two courses, spring term).
    2. Junior year: Anthropology 98a, Junior Tutorial in Anthropology (fall term)
  3. Thesis: None.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information:
    1. Pass/Fail: Same as Basic Requirements for each program.
    2. Languages: Same as Basic Requirements for each program.
    3. Statistics: Competence in handling quantitative data is extremely important in anthropological research, and such competence is best obtained through formal training in statistics.
    4. Study Abroad: Study abroad is encouraged. Consult the DUS or ADUS.

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 12 courses (48 credits)

THESIS TRACK (Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors attainable)

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore and Junior years: Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Anthropology 99: Senior Tutorial (year-long 8-credit course tutorial, letter-graded), culminating in the submission of a senior thesis and an oral examination on that thesis.
  3. Thesis: Yes.
  4. General Examination: None.
  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements. Prospective honors candidates are strongly encouraged to enroll in Anthropology 98b (spring term). Honors candidates usually carry out research for their senior theses during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Non-thesis honors are not available to students doing a combined concentration in Archaeology and Social Anthropology. These students may pursue honors via the thesis track only. Consult the DUS or ADUS.

Joint Concentrations

The programs in Archaeology and Social Anthropology of the Department of Anthropology both encourage a joint concentration with any other department that permits a joint concentration. The Anthropology part of the joint concentration can serve as either the primary or allied field. Consult the DUS or ADUS and the concentration advisor in the allied field for details.

Archaeology and another field outside of Anthropology

For the Archaeology portion of the joint concentration, there is a six course requirement.

  1. Required courses:
    1. Anthropology 1010 (fall term).
    2. Anthropology 97x: Sophomore Tutorial in Archaeology (spring term).
    3. Anthropology 98a: Junior Tutorial in Anthropology (fall term).
    4. Three additional Archaeology courses, any level

Course Categories: The three archaeology courses must fulfill the following course categories. 1. Area: Old World archaeology course; 2. Area: New World archaeology course; 3. Topical/method/theory course;

  1. One additional course in anthropology, archaeology, or human evolution. This course must be approved by the DUS or ADUS.
  2. Because a joint concentration is an honors concentration, if Archaeology is the primary field, the following courses are also required:
    1. Anthropology 99: Senior Tutorial in Archaeology (year-long 8-credit course).
  3. Other information: Prospective honors candidates are strongly encouraged to enroll in Anthropology 98b (spring term). Honors candidates usually carry out research for their senior theses during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Social Anthropology and another field outside of Anthropology

The Social Anthropology portion of the joint concentration consists of a six course requirement.

  1. Required courses:
    1. Anthropology 1610: Ethnographic Research Methods (fall term).
    2. Anthropology 97a: Sophomore Tutorial (spring term).
    3. Anthropology 98a: Junior Tutorial (fall term).
    4. Two Social Anthropology courses, any level.
    5. One additional course in Anthropology.
  2. Because a joint concentration is an honors concentration, if Social Anthropology is the primary field, the following courses are also required:
    1. One Social Anthropology course, any level.
    2. One additional course in Anthropology.
    3. Anthropology 99: Senior Tutorial (year-long 8-credit course).
  3. Other information: Prospective honors candidates are strongly encouraged to enroll in Anthropology 98b (spring term). Honors candidates usually carry out research for their senior theses during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Concentration requirements for the Joint Concentration in History and Anthropology (Archaeology or Social Anthropology track, or both): 14 courses (56 credits)

  1. Four Anthropology Courses (in Social Anthropology or Archeology or a mix of both), including one of either Anthropology 1610 or Anthropology 1010
  2. Sophomore tutorials: History 97; Anthropology 97x or 97z
  3. Junior tutorials/seminars: Anthropology 98a; a seminar in History resulting in a 20-page research paper using primary sources
  4. Senior thesis tutorial History 99 or Anthropology 99 (full-year)     
  5. Four additional courses
    1. One Western history course
    2. One Pre-modern history course
    3. One Non-Western history course
    4. Another course in History

Please also note the following information:

Two types of courses count automatically toward Anthropology/History concentration requirements:

  1. Courses listed in the course catalogue's "History" section and historical courses in the catalogue's "Anthropology" section, as determined in consultation with the History DUS.
  2. Courses taught in the General Education and/or Freshman Seminar programs by members of the History or Anthropology Department Faculty. Students wishing to count such courses toward their concentration requirements should consult the Undergraduate Office, as they may need to file a petition requiring approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students may also apply to do an independent study, or History 91r, with a member of the Department; History 91r can be used to fulfill one of the elective course requirements.

The joint concentration also regularly accepts credit from Study Abroad toward concentration requirements. With the exception of certain Freshman Seminars taught by History or Anthropology faculty (see above), courses taken on Pass/Fail basis may not be counted for concentration credit.

ADVISING

Advising in the Department of Anthropology is carried out by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies (ADUS), faculty, senior graduate students, and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator. The DUS has overall responsibility for the academic progress of undergraduates and, along with the ADUS, is available by appointment for advice on academic and administrative matters. The Undergraduate Program Coordinator also provides information on departmental and College requirements and on administrative matters, particularly to Social Anthropology students. Starting in the junior year and depending on their interests, undergraduates often begin to work more closely with individual faculty members, senior graduate students (especially in Social Anthropology), and members of the staff of the Peabody Museum (especially in Archaeology) within the tutorial system. Choice of a faculty adviser depends largely upon the academic and research interests of the student.

For up-to-date information on advising in Anthropology, please see the Advising Programs Office website.

RESOURCES

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Founded in 1866, the Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere.

Alfred P. Tozzer Memorial Library
Founded in 1866, Tozzer Library is the oldest library in the United States devoted to Anthropology and contains more than 250,000 volumes, with a special emphasis on materials relating to the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Archaeological Research Labs
The Mesoamerican Lab focuses on Mesoamerican archaeology, ethnology, epigraphy, and iconography; the Zooarchaeology Lab focuses on the research and analysis of animal remains form archaeological sites; the Joint Use Lab provides facilities and equipment for materials analysis in Archaeology and related disciplines.

Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL)
A collaboration between the Departments of Anthropology and of Visual and Environmental Studies, SEL offers instruction in film, video, phonography, and photography that promotes innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography.

Additional Resources
Anthropology’s tradition of cross-cultural understanding and multidisciplinary approach to the study of the human condition has fostered strong links to many other disciplines and research centers across Harvard University. Social Anthropologists can be found in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Asia Center, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the South Asia Institute, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and the Faculties of Medicine, Public Health, and Education, as well as in other departments of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. There are Archaeologists in the departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Classics, and History of Art and Architecture, as well as a Standing Committee on Archaeology that includes individuals from across FAS who are practicing archaeologists or for whom use of the results of archaeological study are integral to their teaching and research. From time to time distinguished visiting scholars hold teaching appointments in the department. Harvard students have access to an exceptionally large number of professional anthropologists.

FIELDWORK

Fieldwork may be taken for credit through an approved university. Although concentrators will register directly with the other university, they must first obtain permission from the Department of Anthropology at Harvard, and apply for credit through the Office of International Education. Upon completion of this work and receipt of the official transcript, the department will make a recommendation to the Office of International Education regarding the amount of concentration credit to be granted toward the AB degree.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

The department's website address is www.anthropology.fas.harvard.edu. The undergraduate office is Room 103B, Tozzer Anthropology Building, 21 Divinity Avenue (617-495-3814). Monique Rivera is the Undergraduate Program Coordinator: anthrouc@fas.harvard.edu. The Director for Undergraduate Studies is Dr. Rowan K. Flad, Peabody Museum 57G, 11 Divinity Avenue (617-495-1966) rflad@fas.harvard.edu. The Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies is Dr. Philip Kao, Tozzer Anthropology Building, Room 207, 21 Divinity Avenue (Philip_kao@fas.harvard.edu).

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Anthropology 126 113 93 69 67 58 59 53 43 45
Anthropology + another field 6 7 6 10 7 7 7 7 8 11
Another field + Anthropology 6 2 6 4 5 5 8 7 7 8