Anthropology Department

Anthropology offers perhaps the broadest comparative framework for the study of human life and experience.

The discipline is traditionally divided into the subfields of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, and archaeology. Of these, we emphasize cultural and linguistic anthropology here at Reed. Cultural and linguistic anthropology explore the astonishing range and variability of human practices past and present, paying particular attention to language, race, gender, sexuality, class, and (trans)nationalisms and providing frameworks for contextualizing and analyzing them.

Research in both cultural and linguistic anthropology is distinguished by an implicit and explicit comparative lens, as well as an emphasis on empirically grounding theoretical interpretations or generalizations in firsthand, qualitative ethnographic fieldwork.

Anthropology as a discipline has seen seismic changes since its inception in the late 19th century. While early western anthropologists focused on indigenous peoples past and present, the discipline has expanded and diversified to include practitioners all over the world, and anthropological research now addresses the entire range of human communities, institutions, and practices.