Research

Socio-Cultural

Culture, Resources, and Power Program (CRP): 

The Culture, Resources, and Power Program (CRP) involves faculty and graduate students in socio-cultural and linguistic anthropology. CRP faculty situate their research within contemporary processes of globalization, examining the intersections of global and local forces and the new practices and politics that emerge at those intersections. CRP members pursue problem-focused, policy-relevant research, driven by real-world problems as well as emerging trends in social theory. Their research and teaching integrate several interrelated thematic areas: local, national, and transnational identities; political ecology and sustainability; economic development and social policy; social justice and human rights; language, discourse, and power; and the production of knowledge.

Social Theory and Cultural Inquiry

Social Theory and Cultural Inquiry seeks to ground ethnographic investigation in anthropological theory. Faculty and students pursue research that contributes to understanding specific cultures, to analyzing human behaviors across cultures, and to theory building. The program encourages its graduate students to acquire a strong background in methodology, ethnography, and theory. Faculty are drawn from sociocultural, linguistic, and medical anthropology and archaeology and have expertise in the U.S. and Canada, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Representation and meaning are central to social life and cultural practice and to complex processes of structural reproduction and transformation. The interconnected issues that we pursue thread across the landscapes of everyday life, systems of belief, and formations of self and identity in relationship to social environments, community arrangements, and ethnic traditions. These broad themes are explored in the diverse contexts of everyday life, religious practices, expressive and performative genres, popular cultural traditions, scientific and medical ideologies, and statist and governmental discourses. Our various projects of inquiry and critique draw on postcolonial, poststructuralist, subaltern and transnational studies to explore the dynamic order of things and the ways in which discourses and practices shape the textures of everyday existence and inform the lives of individuals and communities across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Archaeology

The Department of Anthropology’s archaeology program focuses primarily on prehistoric and historic periods of the Great Lakes region. The faculty also conduct active fieldwork in southern Africa, western Mexico, California, the southeast and southwest United States, and England.

The wide-ranging interests of faculty and students are united by a common interest in cultural adaptations to different environmental and social contexts, and changes in the relationships between humans and their natural and cultural environments over time. Graduates of the doctoral program in archaeology teach in colleges and universities in the US and abroad, and work in a variety of settings outside academia, including museums, state and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, and in cultural resource management.

The Consortium for Archaeological Research (CAR) was founded in 1995 to integrate the use of different disciplines in furthering an understanding of the past. Archaeology faculty from Anthropology join with faculty from Art & Art History, History, Geography, and the MSU Museum to facilitate research and dissemination of knowledge about past human societies through the use of written documents and the material remains of past human behavior. The Department of Anthropology hosts the Campus Archaeology Program, which works to mitigate, protect, and communicate the rich archaeological and cultural heritage resources on Michigan State University’s beautiful and historic campus.

Physical

The program in physical anthropology focuses on the complex interactions of human biology and culture, particularly the effects of human actions on skeletal anatomy both during life and after death. Graduates in physical anthropology have built careers in academia, in public and private sector organizations concerning health-related public policy, and also law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels. The graduate program in physical anthropology is particularly strong in skeletal biology, osteology, and forensic anthropology. Physical anthropology faculty and graduate students also work closely with faculty in the MSU medical colleges and in the School of Criminal Justice.

Faculty and students in physical anthropology are actively engaged in research and teaching concerning a variety of issues in human biology, including:

  • The Physiology of Human Bone
  • Dietary Change in Prehistoric and Historic Populations
  • The Effects of Disease, Nutrition, and Trauma
  • Human Biology and Racial/Ethnic Classification Systems
  • Crime Scene Investigation, Including Recovery and Treatment of Human Remains
  • Individual Identification
  • Facial Reconstruction
  • Postmortem Changes

Students and faculty conduct research in the forensic anthropology laboratory in Fee Hall, which also houses the two MSU medical colleges. Graduate students also have access to the autopsy facilities at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing for study, training, and research.

Faculty and students also collaborate with forensic scientists from other units on campus, including the School of Criminal Justice, the College of Natural Science, and the Department of Entomology.

Medical

The Medical Anthropology Program introduces students to major theoretical approaches to health, medicine and society. The program is research oriented and emphasizes political economy, post-structuralism, interpretive theory and critical analysis of health care and health policy.

Medical Anthropology at Michigan State University focuses on:

  • Health and Political Economy
  • Health Policy
  • Medical Systems
  • Ethnicity, Class, Gender, and Health Inequality
  • Medicine, Science and Technology
  • Religion, Ritual and Healing
  • Alternative Medicine and Ethnomedicine
  • Culture of Biomedicine
  • Bioethics
  • Psychological Anthropology
  • Anthropology of the Body
  • Environment and Health
  • Health and Subjectivites
  • Geographic Areas: Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Latin America, United States

Training in the program includes graduate seminars in medical anthropology and course work tailored to meet students’ interests. Additional course work includes the department’s requirements in sociocultural or biocultural anthropology.

Graduates hold faculty positions in the U.S. and abroad, while others work in nonacademic settings. The latter include positions evaluating government programs, administering medical services, overseeing the review of medical research proposals, and carrying out research on health. The Medical Anthropology Faculty have specific collaborations with a variety of centers and institutes across MSU including: African Studies CenterAsian Studies CenterCenter for Advanced Study of International DevelopmentCenter for Ethics and Humanities in the Life SciencesCenter for Latin American & Caribbean Studies Julian Samora Research InstituteWomen & International Development Program.