Anthropology

Dr. Richard H. Meadow, Head Tutor in Archaeology
Professor David Pilbeam, Head Tutor in Biological Anthropology
Professor Smita Lahiri, Head Tutor in Social Anthropology

Anthropology brings global, comparative, and holistic views to the study of the human condition, exploring an enormous range of similarities and differences across time and space. It includes the study of how Homo sapiens evolved as well as the study of how language, culture, and society have shaped and continue to shape human experience.

As a comparative discipline that takes both scientific and humanistic approaches to human evolution, human biology, society, culture, economics, politics, the arts, psychology, history, and language, anthropology is uniquely holistic in its understanding and outlook; that is, it is interested in the whole of the human condition. Anthropology’s distinctive humanistic tradition of cross-cultural understanding includes both Western and non-Western societies. Its commitment to exploring the long sweep of time over which humans have evolved makes it a broad, global science. Through its subdisciplinary specialties (biological, social, linguistic, medical, and applied anthropology, and archaeology), anthropology has developed a true multidisciplinary character and has forged strong links to many of the sciences, humanities, and arts.

At Harvard the Anthropology Department is divided into three wings, each concerned with one of the main branches of anthropology: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Social Anthropology.

Archaeology investigates past human ways of life primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material remains of ancient peoples. It studies past societies using customized approaches and techniques of the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities in the context of archaeological methods and theoretical frameworks. Goals of archaeology include understanding such developments as the origins of modern humans, the beginnings and spread of agriculture and the rise of complex societies. Biological Anthropology examines human biology, growth and development, and long-term physical evolution as revealed by the fossil record. It also studies the behavior of non-human primates, and modern humans and human behavioral evolution. Social Anthropology provides comparative and critical perspectives on human thought, practice, and diversity by looking at societies around the globe. It shows that assumptions about human experience and action based on knowledge of a single society are limited and inadequate, and views Euro-American social and cultural orders with the same critical eye it brings to the study of other societies.

Because of the diversity of the field, Anthropology is not the same endeavor for all its concentrators. All students are encouraged to gain a basic knowledge of the three subfields, and all three wings encourage students to take the opportunity to study and/or carry out research abroad. Beyond this, most students focus their studies within one of the three subfields, meeting the concentration requirements set forward by that wing of the department. Some students may choose to pursue a combined focus on two of the three subfields, meeting reduced concentration requirements for both wings.
The requirements for honors eligibility and tutorials are also distinguished by wing. In Biological Anthropology and Social Anthropology certain honors recommendations are possible without a thesis, but not to students pursuing a combined focus in two subfields. In Archaeology, honors recommendations require a thesis. Senior theses are generally supervised within a single wing as well, and the tutorials concentrate on problems of research in each subfield. Anthropology concentrators may, however, take tutorials for credit in more than one wing. Field and laboratory research is encouraged although not necessarily required. Some funds are available for honors concentrators planning to carry out research between their junior and senior years.

The structure of the concentration provides students with an introduction to anthropology as a whole, and a broad and solid knowledge of their chosen subfield or subfields. While wing specialization is the most common pattern of study, the program also encourages interdisciplinary work either across subfields or between anthropology and other disciplines. The Anthropology Department allows students to arrange joint concentrations when appropriate. Such programs are ordinarily restricted to honors candidates and culminate in an interdisciplinary thesis. Each student’s joint concentration should involve an individual, coherent plan of study approved by both departments. The number of required Anthropology courses and basic wing requirements may be reduced. Students pursuing such interests are encouraged to work closely with the Head Tutors to take advantage of both the structure and flexibility that the concentration offers.

REQUIREMENTS

Archaeology

Basic Requirements: 10 half-courses

  1. Required courses:

    1. Wing requirements: Six half-courses plus tutorials (below).

      1. Anthropology 1010.

      2. Area: Old World.

      3. Area: New World.

      4. Topical/method & theory.

      5. Research seminar.

      6. Archaeological science.

    2. Courses in other wings: One half-course in either biological anthropology or social anthropology.

    3. Reading and related courses: One half-course.

  2. Tutorials:

    1. Sophomore year: Anthropology 97x, sophomore tutorial in Archaeology (half-course, spring term).

    2. Junior year: Anthropology 98xa, junior tutorial in Archaeology (half-course, fall term).

  3. Thesis: None.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information:

    1. Pass/Fail: Two half-courses may be taken Pass/Fail and counted toward concentration. These ordinarily include courses from the reading and related courses category. All anthropology tutorials are letter-graded.

    2. Languages: The department itself has no language requirement. However, the importance of modern languages for research in all branches of anthropology cannot be too highly stressed. Concentrators who expect to do work in anthropology beyond the AB degree are most strongly urged to develop their language skills as undergraduates.

    3. Statistics: Concentrators in Archaeology are encouraged to take courses in statistics and/or computer science (including GIS). Competence in handling quantitative data is extremely important in anthropological research, and such competence is best obtained through formal training in statistics.

    4. Study and Research Abroad: Concentrators in Archaeology are encouraged to investigate the possibilities for studying and/or carrying out research abroad during the summer or during the academic year.

Archaeology Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 13 half-courses

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.

  2. Tutorials:

    1. Sophomore year: Same as Basic Requirements.

    2. Junior year: In addition to Anthropology 98xa (fall term junior tutorial), Archaeology honors candidates enroll in Anthropology 98xb, an individual junior tutorial, normally taken spring term, in which they carry out study and research related to the preparation of the senior thesis.

    3. Senior year: Anthropology 99x (full course, letter-graded), culminating in the submission of a senior thesis, followed by an oral examination on the thesis.

  3. Thesis: Required.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements. Honors candidates usually carry out research for their senior theses during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Biological Anthropology

Basic Requirements: 10 half-courses

  1. Required courses:

    1. One half-course in genetics (Life Sciences 1b, freshman year).

    2. One half-course in human evolution and morphology (e.g., Science B-27, Life Sciences 2).

    3. One half-course in human/primate behavioral ecology (e.g., Science B-29, Human Evolutionary Biology 1310).

    4. One half-course in social anthropology.

    5. One half-course in archaeology.

    6. One half-course in evolutionary/organismic biology.

    7. Two additional half-courses in related fields.

  2. Tutorials (all letter-graded):

    1. Sophomore year: Sophomore tutorial (spring term). This seminar integrates the field with modules on each of the major sub-fields within the discipline; it also provides a joint experience for all concentrators in an intimate seminar environment.

    2. Junior year: Junior research seminar. A small, intensive research course, normally to be taken in the junior year, which includes some independent research component and is taught by a member of the faculty.

  3. Thesis: None.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information:

    1. Pass/Fail: Two half-courses may be taken Pass/Fail and counted toward concentra-tion. These ordinarily include courses in related fields. All anthropology tutorials are letter-graded.

    2. Languages: No requirement, but proficiency in a foreign language is recommended for students planning to pursue a PhD in anthropology.

Biological Anthropology Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 13 half-courses

THESIS TRACK

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.

  2. Tutorials (all letter-graded):

    1. Sophomore year: Same as Basic Requirements.

    2. Junior year: Thesis honors candidates must take a thesis research-related course, either a junior research seminar or a supervised reading and research course (91r).

    3. Senior year: Anthropology 99 (full course, letter-graded), culminating in the submission of a senior thesis, followed by an oral examination on the thesis.

  3. Thesis: Required.

  4. General Examination: The department will administer to each student a one-hour examination covering the substance of the thesis as well as general knowledge of the field.

  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.

NONTHESIS TRACK

  1. Required courses:

        a-g. Same as Basic Requirements.

        h. Three additional half-courses in human evolutionary biology approved by the concentration adviser. These courses are ordinarily advanced lecture or supervised reading courses on a focused topic. They may not include HEB 99 (senior tutorial).

  2. Tutorials (all letter-graded):

    1. Sophomore year: Sophomore tutorial. Same as Basic Requirements.

    2. Junior year: Junior tutorial. Same as Basic Requirements.

    3. Senior year: None.

  3. Thesis: None.

  4. Submission of written work and general examination: Prior to reading period in the eighth term, each student will submit to the department a substantive piece of writing in the field, ordinarily a term paper or report on original research, as well as an essay assigned by the department that integrates the advanced courses selected for the focused honors topic. The department will then administer to the student a general examination covering the substance of the honors essay as well as general knowledge of the field.

  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.

Social Anthropology

Basic Requirements: 10 half-courses

  1. Required courses: Eight half-courses plus tutorials (see item 2).

    1. Entry course: May be Anthropology 1600 or other designated social anthropology entry course.

    2. One half-course in ethnographic methods: May be Anthropology 1610 or other course with Head Tutor approval, including an appropriate individual Anthropology 91zr course.

    3. Four additional social anthropology courses, any level.

    4. One additional anthropology course, any wing (social anthropology, biological anthropology, or archaeology).

    5. One related course: One half-course in any social sciences field or advanced foreign language. Students may substitute a relevant course in humanities or science fields with approval from the Head Tutor for Social Anthropology.

  2. Tutorials:

    1. Anthropology 97z: Sophomore Tutorial, spring term. Letter-graded.

    2. Anthropology 98z: Junior Tutorial. A selection of courses offered each year, usually in the fall term. Taught by advanced graduate students or faculty. Letter-graded.

  3. Thesis: None.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information:

    1. Pass/Fail: One half-course may be taken Pass/Fail and counted for concentration credit. This will ordinarily be in the related course category. All anthropology tutorials are letter-graded.

    2. Languages: The department itself has no language requirement. However, the importance of modern languages for research in all branches of anthropology cannot be too highly stressed. Concentrators who expect to do work in anthropology beyond the AB degree are most strongly urged to develop their language skills as undergraduates.

    3. Statistics: Competence in handling quantitative data is extremely important in anthropological research, and such competence is best obtained through formal training in statistics.

    4. Study Abroad: We especially encourage students’ participation in study abroad programs or internships, through which they can get their own cross-cultural experience. If a student has received Harvard degree credit for courses taken in a Harvard-approved overseas studies program, that student may petition the Social Anthropology head tutor for permission to count these courses toward the requirements of the Social Anthropology concentration. Ordinarily up to two courses per semester may be counted for concentration credit.

Social Anthropology Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 12 half-courses

THESIS TRACK (Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors attainable)

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.

  2. Tutorials:

  3.     a-b. Same as Basic Requirements, plus

    1. Senior year: Anthropology 99 (full course individual tutorial, letter-graded), culminating in the submission of a senior thesis.

    2. Oral Examination: Ordinarily a defense of the thesis.

  4. Thesis: Required.

  5. General Examination: None.

  6. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.

NONTHESIS TRACK (Honors; not eligible for High or Highest Honors)

All graduating seniors in social anthropology who are not thesis candidates may be considered for a non-thesis honors recommendation of Honors (but not High or Highest Honors), provided that their concentration grade point averages calculated at the end of their next to last terms are among the highest twenty-five percent of non-thesis candidates in their graduating class in social anthropology.

Combining Two Wings

Basic Requirements: 10 half-courses

  1. Required courses:

    1. Wing requirements: Six half-courses plus tutorials (below). Three in each wing. Consult the head tutors.

    2. Courses in the third wing: One half-course in the remaining wing.

    3. Reading and related courses: One half-course.

  2. Tutorials: Both Anthropology 97 courses, sophomore tutorials taught in each wing (two half-courses, spring term).

  3. Thesis: None.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information:    

  6.     a-b. Same as Basic Requirements for each wing.

    1. Statistics: Biological Anthropology concentrators are specifically encouraged to take Statistics 100 or 102 to fulfill their Quantitative Reasoning Core requirement. Concentrators in Archaeology are encouraged to take courses in statistics and/or computer science (including GIS). Competence in handling quantitative data is extremely important in anthropological research, and such competence is best obtained through formal training in statistics.

    2. Study abroad is encouraged by all three wings. Consult the head tutors.

Combining Two Wings Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 13 half-courses

Nonthesis honors are not available to students doing a combined wing concentration. These students may pursue honors via the thesis track only. Consult the head tutors.

Joint Concentrations

The Archaeology Wing of the Department of Anthropology encourages a joint concentration with any other department that permits a joint concentration. Archaeology can serve as either the primary or allied field. For the Archaeology portion of the joint concentration, there are six basic course requirements:

Required courses (six half-courses):

  1. Anthropology 1010.

  2. Anthropology 97x: sophomore tutorial in Archaeology (half-course, spring term).

  3. Anthropology 98xa: junior tutorial in Archaeology (half-course, fall term).

  4. One half-course in New World Archaeology.

  5. One half-course in Old World Archaeology.

  6. One half-course in a topical subject or in method and theory.

Because a joint concentration is an honors concentration, if Archaeology is the primary field, the following courses are also required: Anthropology 98xb: junior tutorial in Archaeology (half-course, spring term), and Anthropology 99x: senior tutorial in Archaeology (full course). Consult the head tutors.

ADVISING

Advising in the Department of Anthropology is carried out by the head tutors, faculty members at all levels, senior graduate students, and the undergraduate coordinator. The three head tutors — one each in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Social Anthropology — have overall responsibility for the academic progress of undergraduates and for supervising sophomore and junior tutorials. These individuals are available by appointment for advice on academic and administrative matters. The undergraduate coordinator also provides information on departmental and College requirements and on administrative matters. Starting in the junior year and depending on their interests, undergraduates often begin to work more closely with individual faculty members or with senior graduate students within the tutorial system. Choice of a faculty adviser is made by the head tutor for the wing through consultation between student and faculty members and depends largely upon the academic and research interests of the student.

For up-to-date information on advising in Anthropology, please see the Advising Programs Office website.

RESOURCES

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography contains one of the finest collections of its kind in the country. In it are located the offices and research and teaching laboratories of Biological Anthropology and Archaeology. Adjacent to it stands the Alfred P. Tozzer Memorial Library, containing a collection of 200,000 volumes, as well as current holdings of a wide range of the most important anthropological periodicals. The Social Anthropology Wing offices and many of the Social Anthropology faculty offices are located in William James Hall. In addition to those on the staff of the department and the museum, there are anthropologists associated with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the East Asian Research Center, the Committee on Latin American Studies, and the Faculties of Medicine, Public Health, and Education. There are also archaeologists in the departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Classics, and History of Art and Architecture, as well as a Standing Committee on Archaeology that includes individuals from across FAS who are practicing archaeologists or for whom use of the results of archaeological study are integral to their teaching and research. From time to time distinguished visiting scholars hold teaching appointments in the department. Harvard students have access to an exceptionally large number of professional anthropologists.

FIELD WORK

Field work may be taken for credit through an approved university. Although concentrators will register directly with the other university, they must first obtain permission from the Department of Anthropology at Harvard, and apply for credit through the Office of International Programs. Upon completion of this work and receipt of the official transcript, the department will make a recommendation to the Office of International Programs regarding the amount of concentration credit to be granted toward the AB degree.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

The undergraduate office is located in William James Hall, Room 352 (617-495-3814). Elizabeth Rew is the undergraduate coordinator. The department's website address is www.fas.harvard.edu/~anthro. The head tutor for Archaeology is Dr. Richard Meadow, Peabody Museum 35B, 617-495-3354, pilbeam@fas.harvard.edu. The head tutor for Biological Anthropology is Professor David Pilbeam, Peabody Museum 51B, 617-495-4736, wrangham@fas.harvard.edu. The head tutor for Social Anthropology is Professor Smita Lahiri, William James 360, 617-496-9647, lahiri@wjh.harvard.edu.

CORE AND GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

Social Analysis is an exempt area for all three tracks. Specific requirements are as follows:

Archaeology

Non-exempt areas:

Exempt areas:

Historical Study A

Foreign Cultures

†Historical Study B

Social Analysis

†Literature and Arts A

Literature and Arts C

†Literature and Arts B

ONE of the areas marked † depending on program in consultation with the wing Head Tutor.

Moral Reasoning

 

†Quantitative Reasoning

 

†Science A

 

†Science B

 

Biological Anthropology

Non-exempt areas:

Exempt areas:

Foreign Cultures

Science B

†Historical Study A

Social Analysis

†Historical Study B

Literature and Arts C

†Literature and Arts A

ONE of the areas marked †.

Literature and Arts B

ONE of the areas marked *.

*Literature and Arts C

 

Moral Reasoning

 

Quantitative Reasoning

 

Science A

 

Social Anthropology

Non-exempt areas:

Exempt areas:

†Historical Study A

Foreign Cultures

†Historical Study B

Literature and Arts C

Literature and Arts A

Social Analysis

Literature and Arts B

ONE of the areas marked † .

Moral Reasoning

 

Quantitative Reasoning

 

Science A

 

Science B

 

For more information on fulfilling the Core requirement, see the Core Curriculum Requirement.

All students—regardless of concentration—planning to graduate under the requirements of the Program in General Education must complete one letter-graded course in each of the eight categories in General Education. The Class of 2013 is the first to enter the College under these requirements. Students who entered Harvard College in September 2008 or earlier are expected to fulfill the requirements of the Core Curriculum, but will be permitted to switch to the Program in General Education if such a change is possible and advisable given their overall schedule and plan of study. For more information on the requirements of the Program in General Education and the possibility of switching to it, please see The Program in General Education in Chapter 2 and the General Education website.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Anthropology

151

195

173

163

126

Anthropology + another field

11

14

12

7

6

Another field + Anthropology

5

6

9

6

6