Academic Department


Anthropology is the study of the human condition from the deep past to the emerging present. The field is unified by its commitment to engaged field research that seeks to enhance understanding across boundaries of culture, nation, language, tradition, history and identity. A holistic discipline, anthropology regards economy, politics, culture and society as inseparable elements of humanity’s complex long-term history. A bridge between the humanities, social, and natural sciences, anthropology documents the diversity of our communities and examines the consequences of our commonalities. Because it engages directly with communities around the world, anthropology has a unique capacity to bring the entire human experience to bear on vital questions of sustainability, equality, and mutual understanding that will shape the future of the planet.

Cornell’s Department of Anthropology is one of the most respected programs in the world with a long tradition of innovation and a legacy of leadership in the discipline. The work of its faculty traces the human career from the emergence of the species to the formation of 21st century post-colonialism. Our ethnographic, archaeological and biological research links empirical observations to critical theoretical approaches. Key themes in ongoing research projects and teaching profiles include: medicine and culture; politics, inequality and sovereignty; economy, finance, corporations and law; materiality and aesthetics; gender, personhood and identity; ethics and humanitarianism; humans and animals; colonialism and post-coloniality. Our students and faculty work around the globe from Ithaca, India and Indonesia to the Caribbean and Central America, from Japan, Africa and Nepal to China and the Caucasus, from the circumpolar North to the Global South. The Anthropology Collections, housed in McGraw Hall and used in a range of courses, include over 20,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects whose origins span the globe and represent over 500,000 years of human history.

Associated Faculty