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College of Arts & Sciences

The Department of Anthropology has identified four themes, or areas of concentration, that integrate the four programs within the department. Faculty in the department have established working groups for each theme. Each year, external speakers are brought to campus to give lectures based on research connected to these themes. And, finally, all PhD students are required to take a core seminar that introduces them to these four themes. 

Ecology and Evolution

Faculty: de Ruiter (Chair), Alvard, Athreya, Dostal, Gursky, Hopkins, Thakar, Waters, Winking, Wright

Ecology and Evolution examines the adaptations and interactions of humans, non-human primates, and their fossil ancestors with their ecosystems. As anthropologists, we take evolutionary and ecological approaches to the study of adaptation, behavior, culture, diet, foraging strategies, and morphological variation among past and present populations. Topics of special interest include behavioral ecology, human evolutionary ecology, human technological variability, parenting and life history, primate conservation, the earliest peopling of Eurasia and the Americas, quantitative methods, phylogeny and systematics, and the craniofacial morphology of Australopithecus and early Homo. This concentration emphasizes the holistic development of theory, concepts, and methods through the practice of ethnographic, archaeological, and paleoanthropological field and laboratory work worldwide. 

Technology and Material Culture

Faculty:  Alvard, Crisman, Carlson, Laporte, Pulak, Wachsmann, Waters

The linking of material culture and technology makes obvious sense, as it is the study of material culture that allows us to understand the development of technologies. But the relationship between the two is more complex, as material culture and the technologies that produce it reflect the values, ideas, and attitudes of the peoples who use(d) them. Further, modern technologies allow us to study and preserve material culture in new and exciting ways. The members of the Technology and Material Culture Working Group, although focused on research in different cultural regions and time periods, concern themselves which these diverse aspects of technological and material studies.

Dispersals, Diasporas, and Migrations

Faculty:  Athreya, Crisman, Hopkins, Wachsmann, Waters, Werner, Wright

Since its inception as a field of study, anthropologists and archaeologists have examined major questions regarding the movement of peoples and the objects and ideas associated with them. Faculty within the Dispersals/Diasporas/Migrations Working Group attempt to disentangle the complex relationships between the movement of people and their socio-cultural and environmental landscapes, in the past and the present. Dispersals, diasporas and migrations have consequences of interest to anthropologists including how cultures adapt after dispersal into new environments, mechanisms and technologies of migration by land and water, how migrant laborers navigate new social landscapes, how gender may shape migration decisions, how movement impacts groups in diaspora, and how individuals and families reconstruct their ethnic identity after free or forced migration to a new homeland. Although members of this working group incorporate diverse approaches to meeting the challenge of studying mobility, they all seek a deeper understanding of the causes and processes inherent in dispersals, diasporas and migrations. 

Food, Nutrition, and Culture

Faculty:  Hopkins (Chair), Crisman, de Ruiter, Perri, Thakar, Werner, Winking, Wright

Since its inception at TAMU, faculty in the Department of Anthropology have shared research interests in the ways that humans have nourished their bodies through human history.  This research focus includes work that identifies the component foods and nutritional adequacy of prehistoric human diets, and the implications of dietary decisions for growth and development.  On a broader scale we study the role of humans as members of ecosystems, and the intersection between foodways and the social, cultural, and environmental contexts in which humans live.  Researchers in the group use diverse methodological approaches to study food, nutrition, and culture, including paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, ethnobotany, paleopathology, stable isotope analysis, material culture studies and ethnography.