While most people might know ‘anthropology’ as the misspelled name of an overpriced clothing store, the study of Anthropology is actually an amazing subject. You can study everything from 18th century European fashion and its role in gender norms to the cultural effects of Gangnam Style and what it means in 21st century social media (trust me, I wrote a final paper on this topic and it is fascinating). With such a wide range of topics you can study under this major, how can you go wrong? But for those who are not familiar with the awesomeness of anthro, it’s best to start with what’s its definition is.
What is Anthropology?
Literally meaning “the study of humans,” anthropology studies looks at how societies in the past, present, and future develop. Defined by the American Anthropological Association, anthropology can be subdivided into four categories:
- Sociocultural Anthropology
- Biological (or Physical) Anthropology
- Linguistic Anthropology
I had the amazing experience of taking a course at Bryn Mawr College called “East Asian Cultures and Cities” which focused on the development of certain cultural phenomenons such as plastic surgery and Lolita Japanese subcultures. We even learned the importance of Pokemon and Japanese anime and why it is a lens from which anthropologists and sociologists can study from.
While this major seems to study a lot of ‘useless’ or odd things, you have to think why this is all important (because it definitely is). Anthropology not only studies the past, but studies the present and the future. Almost crossing over into the definition of sociology, anthropology studies the structures of race and ethnicity primarily, but also how they define us. For example, you can see how the Japanese culture and society depict beauty through studying its beauty trends, the influence of globalization, and the development of subcultures. With this knowledge, you start to find roots of societal issues and cultural differences. The most mind blowing part is the fact that what you learn in anthropology can literally be applied to any situation.
What can you do with Anthropology?
What’s interesting about anthropology is that it covers such a large spectrum, so you can specialize in almost anything. In addition, the critical reading and writing skills you develop from this major can be applied to any career you take on. This is especially useful in the current fast-changing job landscape. Here are a couple popular career paths for anthropology majors (from AAA):
- Academica (Professor, Teacher)
- Historic Preservation
- Museum/Curation/Project Design
- Advocacy (human rights/social justice)
- Human/Social Services
- International Development/Affairs
- Public Health
- Law/Criminal Justice
- Market Research
Coolio. Now what are some good colleges/universities to study Anthropology at?
While there isn’t a definite list, here are some colleges and universities of the many colleges out there that historically have very strong anthropology departments:
- Arizona State University: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
- Pennsylvania State University: Anthropology
- Texas A&M: Nautical Archaeology
- University of Michigan: Anthropology
- University of Wisconsin: Anthropology
- College of William & Mary: Anthropology
- UC Berkeley: Anthropology
What do you think of Anthropology? Heard of any other great programs? Comment below!