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    Macalester College
   
 
  Sep 25, 2017
 
 
    
College Catalog 2017-2018

Anthropology


Full Time Faculty: Ron Barrett, Olga González (Chair), Arjun Guneratne, Scott Legge, Dianna Shandy

Emeritus: David McCurdy, Jack Weatherford

Anthropology is the study of humankind in all of its aspects, cultural and biological, across both space and time. The discipline consists of four sub-fields: cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archaeology, and biological (or physical) anthropology, which studies human physical variation and the evolution of the genus Homo. This holistic approach to understanding human beings is a distinctive attribute of the discipline and places it at the nexus of the social sciences, the natural sciences and the humanities. Anthropology thus provides a broad, comparative perspective on what it means to be human.

The anthropology program offers courses in both cultural and biological anthropology, and stresses training in anthropological methods. Anthropologists see culture not as a collection of practices or behaviors but as the knowledge, values and systems of beliefs and morality that shape human actions and the interpretations human beings make of the world they live in. We believe that culture may best be discovered by intensive ethnographic research (fieldwork) among the people concerned, conducted in their language. Anthropology takes culture to be a process, not a thing. We impart to our students this processual understanding of culture, linking it to training in the methods and techniques anthropologists use to conduct research.

The history of the human species is not complete without understanding how it changed over time, and such an understanding will help put to rest popularly held misconceptions regarding the nature of biological difference among human populations. The emergence of a capacity for culture (the ability to symbolize and engage in learned, shared behavior) in an ancient population of hominoids, some 7 to 10 million years ago, was the catalyst that drove human evolution forward. Natural selection operated on those biological traits that were linked to the human ability to symbolize and use tools, particularly the evolution of the neo-cortex and of a musculoskeletal structure facilitating bipedalism. Culture and biology therefore are the two parts of a double helix that accounts for why humans evolved, and the department provides a broad range of courses that address this relationship.

The aim of the anthropology program is to train students to think anthropologically, that is, to think holistically and critically about the human condition and the values, assumptions, and premises they may encounter in a culturally complex and socially diverse world that is being knit ever more closely together by the processes of globalization. We seek to educate our students broadly in the wide-ranging field of anthropology, to give them the theoretical training they need to understand why we frame questions the way we do, and to train them in the methods of anthropological inquiry. More narrowly, we prepare students for graduate work in the discipline and in related fields, and provide them with practical ethnographic skills that will be of value to them professionally. To that end the department requires study abroad and emphasizes courses in theory and in methods.

An anthropology major will prepare students for careers in a variety of fields including law, business, government, medicine, public health, humanitarian and development work, museum administration, and any other occupation that requires a knowledge of and appreciation for cultural diversity and an understanding of symbolic meaning and social relations. We encourage students to plan summer work, internships, and course work in light of their general career objectives. Because of this need to plan, students should choose course work carefully in consultation with their advisors.

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the anthropology department count toward the general distribution requirement in the social sciences except for ANTH 115 ANTH 223 , ANTH 240 ANTH 252 , ANTH 333 , ANTH 340 ANTH 342 , ANTH 405 , ANTH 604 , ANTH 614 , ANTH 624 , and ANTH 634 . Courses numbered ANTH 115 , ANTH 240  and ANTH 340  count toward the general distribution requirement in math/natural sciences
ANTH 223 , ANTH 252  and ANTH 342  count toward the humanities general distribution. ANTH 405  counts toward the fine arts distribution. Consult the department chair for information on how specific topics courses may meet a general distribution requirement.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The anthropology department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the anthropology department are available from either the department website or the Director of Academic Programs.

Topics Courses

ANTH 194 , ANTH 294 , ANTH 394 , ANTH 494  

Examination of selected topics of relevance to anthropology, such as Primates; Anthropology through Science Fiction; Darfur: Conflict and Human Rights in Africa, and Applied Anthropology. To be announced at registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.  In general, these do not count towards fulfillment of the major. An exception may be made at the discretion of the department chair.

Programs