The Department of Anthropology was established in the mid 1970s to create both a first-class undergraduate program designed to be of service to a distinguished state university, and a graduate program that would produce anthropologists of international standing. Initiated with a concentration in socio-cultural anthropology, it now balances that inquiry with archaeology, and linguistic anthropology.
Faculty teaching and research and graduate studies take advantage of and overlap these sub-disciplinary boundaries. The Department encourages an integrative, historical, and theoretical approach to the study of social life. Together, the undergraduate majors, graduate students, and faculty comprise a uniquely close-knit and scholarly community in which to study, critique, and practice anthropology.
The Department is committed to the study of global and historical cultural diversity. Faculty and graduate students pursue research both abroad and in the United States. Our theoretical interests are varied and eclectic, extending from classical subjects and places to the more recent critical reconstruction of anthropological knowledge occurring at the interdisciplinary borders of the social and physical sciences, and the humanities. The faculty also has a broad interest in the history of anthropology stressing the development of specific national traditions and theoretical orientations and the ways in which these orientations crosscut and critique one another. The foci of specific faculty include symbolic anthropology, structuralism and post-structuralism, culture theory, linguistic relativity, language endangerment, multimodal and critical discourse analysis, Marxist theory, political economy, feminist and gender theory, historical anthropology, classic sociological theory, and historical ecology.
Our faculty conduct research in diverse places across the globe. Collectively our expertise spans Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Central and South America, the Middle East and Israel, and East Africa, as well as North America. For more information on the sites and topics of ongoing faculty and graduate student research, please see our research page.
The Department sustains a productive dialogue not only among its sub-disciplines but also across the University. Anthropology is a first or second major for many undergraduates heading to futures in, for example, business, professional sports, and professional schools including Architecture, Business, Law and Medicine. The University of Virginia supports many outstanding interdisciplinary programs and academic centers that provide opportunities for scholarly collaboration, advanced study, and financial support, and our faculty and graduate students are extremely active in interdisciplinary exchanges, including with the Departments of Environmental Sciences, History and Religious Studies, among many others. Consistent with this spirit, Anthropology graduate students are encouraged to follow their interests by taking courses and working with faculty from other departments and schools across the University.