If you are interested in pursuing a degree or finding a job in the field of anthropology, everything you need is here. Find the best schools, career information, history of the discipline, influential people in the field, great books, and more.
What Is Anthropology?
Anthropology is the study of humans, humanity, and the human experience both throughout history and in the present day. This includes the study of early civilizations as well as a diverse range of modern cultures. The field of anthropology overlaps with a number of other critical disciplines including history, sociology, and biology. The makes anthropology a particularly versatile discipline whether you plan to pursue a career in education, the social sciences, journalism, and much more.
Earning a degree in anthropology can open numerous professional doors. In addition to fields such as archaeology and museum curation, the research, critical thinking, and communication skills learned in this discipline can apply in a wide range of educational, scientific, and social services work settings. The best schools for anthropology will put you in a position to become an innovator and a leader in this exciting field..
The study of anthropology has deep roots in academic history, with early Greek and Roman scholars engaging in the exploration of various overlapping areas including culture, linguistics, and the way societies develop. Below are a few highlights from our 4-part series–A Brief History of the Anthropology Discipline:
Herodotus wrote what we might now call “early anthropology” by documenting and attempting to understand the disparate cultures of Greece and Persia in the 4th Century BC.
Charles Darwin outlined his theory of evolution, encouraging a view of society and culture as evolving through stages, in 1859.
Franz Boas framed anthropology as a research discipline whose primary goal was the scientific study of different cultures in the 1920s.
As an anthropology major, you’ll study subjects such as history, biology and linguistics in the context of human evolution, communication, social organization and more. Common courses include Race and Science, Conducting Ethnographies, Documenting Culture, Environmental Conflict, and more.
What Can I Do With a Degree in Anthropology
This degree can qualify you to work directly in the field of anthropology as an archaeologist, historian, or museum curator. And the critical-thinking, problem-solving and research skills you’ll build as an anthropology major will also be valuable in a wide range of professional settings in both the public and private sectors.
Who are the top anthropology influencers in history?
The history of anthropology stretches back for thousands of years, but the greatest concentration of groundbreaking ideas and figures emerged in the mid-19th Century, forging an academic tradition that continues to transform and evolve today. These figures rank as the most influential anthropologists between 4000 BC and 2020, according to our InfluenceRankings
Franz Boas was a German-born American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology who has been called the “Father of American Anthropology.”
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist whose work was key in the development of the theories of structuralism and structural anthropology.
Bronisław Malinowski was an anthropologist whose writings on ethnography, social theory, and field research were a lasting influence on the discipline of anthropology.
Clifford Geertz was an American anthropologist who is remembered mostly for his strong support for and influence on the practice of symbolic anthropology.
Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist who featured frequently as an author and speaker in the mass media during the 1960s and 1970s.
Edmund Leach was a British social anthropologist and academic who served as Provost of King’s College, Cambridge from 1966 to 1979, as well as President of the Royal Anthropological Institute from 1971 to 1975.
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher and a central Enlightenment thinker whose comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics have made him one of the most influential figures in modern Western philosophy.
Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist who formally established the academic discipline of sociology and, with Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science.
Ruth Benedict was an American anthropologist and folklorist who studied under Franz Boas as a graduate at Columbia University in 1921.
Mary Douglas was a British anthropologist, known for her writings on human culture and symbolism, whose area of speciality was social anthropology.
The following are the top Anthropology influencers in the field today according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.
Ulf Hannerz is an emeritus professor of social anthropology at Stockholm University, where he has focused his research on urban and media anthropology.
Marshall Sahlins was the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago who has explored the power of culture to shape ideas and beliefs, and who coined the phrase “teach-in” as a Vietnam War activist.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes is a program director and professor for medical anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, where she has conducted research in numerous areas including cultural forensic anthropology, human organ trafficking, invisible genocides, Pope Francis, violence, death squads, and epidemics.
David Graeber is a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics as well as an activist and anarchist who has raised criticisms about the actual harm/benefit caused by the International Monetary Fund and their loans to struggling nations.
Marcia C. Inhorn is the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at Yale University whose research into the social impacts of infertility in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon made her the first anthropologist to conduct such a study in the Middle East.
Paul Rabinow is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley and director of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC), and is widely known for his willingness to “tinker” with current modes and methods of inquiry in search of new methods.
David Price is a professor of anthropology at St. Martin’s University, and is widely recognized as an expert in cultural anthropology and intellectual history.
Daniel Miller is a Professor of Anthropology at University College London and is the founder of University College of London’s digital anthropology program.
Bruno Latour is an anthropologist, philosopher, and sociologist, best known for his work, Nous n’avons jamais ete modernes: Essais d’anthropologie symetrique (translated: We Have Never Been Modern).
Chris Hann is one of the founding Directors of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology who is best known for his ethnographic work, as well as his exploration of the connections between anthropology and history.