About anthropology at Purchase
What is Anthropology?
Anthropology is the most cutting-edge and interdisciplinary field in the social sciences.
Anthropology is the study of culture and what it means to be human. We examine everyday life and ways of thinking that shape our identities. Most importantly, we look at the wide diversity of identities within and across cultures, globally.
In no other field do you have the freedom to combine the mind-shifting experiences that come with deep immersion in a foreign culture with political action, philosophical meditation, creative writing, new exciting theories, video production, and music performances.
A Flexible Major
In what other major can you study Japanese anime, organized crime, social justice and activism, magic and witchcraft, gender politics in Nigeria, drag performance, noise music, urban violence, material culture, and drug addiction?
Our Anthropology courses focus on many of the topics that, even if they first appear exotic, are directly relevant to our everyday lives. In Anthropology we dig deep to find the concerns that are relevant to us all: These include: capitalism, neoliberalism, globalization, science and technology, precarity, religion, activist politics, the arts, and the role that language plays in the ways that we think.
Methods That Get Your Hands Dirty
Anthropologists are compassionate: we study people face-to-face and we are just as vulnerable as the people we study.
Anthropology's unique contribution to the social sciences is the methodology called ethnography. Ethnography, also known as fieldwork and participant-observation, means making long-term observations of life in a particular scene as it occurs--and getting involved. Rather than surveys and statistics, ethnography means hanging out, participating, and finding your way within the full density and complexity of the scene you are studying.
Here are some recent Anthropology Senior Projects in which students used ethnographic methods:
* An Intellectual Income: Chess Players in the Squares of New York City
* Standardized Testing in a Bronx Elementary School
* Caribbean Cruise Ships, Global Citizenship, and the Commodification of "Native" Cultures
* The Vinyl Record Collecting Scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
* The Look of Love: Everyday Life in NY/NJ Love Hotels
* Ma Ganga in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: Religious Rituals, Environmental Conservation, and the Making of a Translocality
* Art Therapy in Two Connecticut Prisons
* The Organic Food Movement and its Imposters
* Neoliberalism and the Value of a College Degree
* Listening to the Experimental Music Scene in Manhattan's Lower East Side
* Women and Welfare in the US
Thinking by Doing
Anthropologists don't just theorize; we try things out first-hand.
You won't just study music as a form of communication or protest in different cultures; you'll also learn how to convey your own ideas through musical performance.
You won't just study informal economies; you and your peers will launch one of your own.
Anthropology is an ideal partner program for a double major.
Anthropology fits especially well with fields such as Arts Management, Creative Writing, Media, Society & the Arts, Journalism and New Media. Many courses across the college curriculum can count as Anthropology electives.
Theory and Creativity
No other social science can match Anthropology's flexibility, adaptability, and creativity. Anthropology majors experiment with writing. In many of our courses, you will be encouraged to try new techniques--literary, poetic, and multimedia--to convey your ideas and analyses. Anthropology welcomes rule-breaking and innovation.