The Department of Anthropology is a highly interconnected, diverse, theoretically engaged and practice-oriented research and teaching program at Michigan State University, the nation’s leading land grant institution. Our collective approaches are grounded in participatory fieldwork and a comparative perspective that aim to advance knowledge regarding the biological, cultural, and environmental interplay of the human experience. Our work contributes to the creation of knowledge within the discipline, makes a difference in the lives of people locally and globally, and prepares students at all levels and abilities to face the challenges of a globalized complex world.
We conceptualize anthropology as the humanistic science of cultural and biological diversity across time and space. This definition encompasses tensions that have characterized and animated anthropology since its inception as a discipline with commitments in the humanities and in science, which engages both cultural and biological diversity simultaneously and in relation to one another. As the discipline incorporates humanistic and scientific studies of societies across millennia and around the world, anthropologists utilize an extremely broad range of theoretical approaches and draw on sources and types of data that vary enormously.
In the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University, we believe that the strength and vitality of our discipline lies in our ability to approach fundamental issues concerning cultural and biological diversity from multiple perspectives, rather than the achievement of consensus. Our faculty specializes in sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, medical anthropology, physical anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. However, many of the research themes we address cross these areas of subdisciplinary specialization, and our research and teaching benefit from consideration of the multiple vantage points we bring to bear on these themes.