The curriculum in Anthropology encompasses two overlapping and yet distinct “tracks”: (i) cultural and social anthropology and (ii) biological anthropology, archaeology, and material culture studies.

Cultural and social anthropology explores the social orders and meanings that human actors create. Although in the past, cultural and social anthropologists typically carried out research overseas, today cultural and social anthropologists also work in their own societies, and our course offerings reflect this global and inclusive approach. In addition, the curriculum in cultural and social anthropology reflects the discipline’s longstanding practice of joining together the study of how people understand their own experiences with cross-cultural comparison.

The curriculum in cultural and social anthropology examines a broad range of issues from a number of theoretical perspectives. Our courses examine societies of diverse cultural traditions and economic forms, as well as the movements of people, objects, and ideas among them. We examine such topics as race and ethnicity, medicine, science, gender, sexuality, the environment, religion, law, popular culture, and politics. And we pursue comparisons that look across both history and geography.

The second curricular track—in biological anthropology, archaeology, and material culture (BAM)—focuses on human physical and cultural evolution, modern human diversity, and the material cultures of historical and contemporary ethnic groups. The BAM track includes courses from Classics and Environmental Studies, as well as Anthropology. In conjunction with these courses, students gain hands-on experience working with fossil hominid skeletal casts and artifacts from a wide variety of prehistoric and modern cultures in the collections of the Jean M. Pitzer Archaeology Laboratory.

Both tracks in anthropology (cultural and social anthropology and BAM) are offered within the joint undergraduate program in Anthropology of Pitzer and Scripps Colleges.

Pitzer Advisers: E. Chao, S. Miller, C. Strauss

Faculty of the Pitzer Anthropology Field Group

Emily Chao (Pitzer)
Professor of Anthropology, 1996
B.A., University of California; M.A., New School for Social Research; Ph.D., University of Michigan
Specialization: China, cultural anthropology, ritual, gender, history, national discourse.

Sheryl Miller (Pitzer)
Professor of Anthropology and Distinguished Teaching Chair in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, 1969
B.A., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Specialization: African archaeology; world prehistory; human evolution; African and Native American ethnography; cultural ecology; ethnic arts

Claudia Strauss (Pitzer)
Professor of Anthropology, 2000
A.B., Brown University; A.M., Ph.D., Harvard University
Specialization: U.S. political culture; psychological anthropology; language, culture and society

Anthropologists in the Claremont Colleges

Emily Chao (Pitzer)
Lara Deeb (Scripps)
Marianne De Laet (Harvey Mudd)
Dru Gladney (Pomona)
Sheryl Miller (Pitzer)
Gabriela Morales (Scripps)
Joanne Nucho (Pomona)
Seo Young Park (Scripps)
Claudia Strauss (Pitzer)

Student Learning Outcomes

Goals of the Sociocultural Track

Students who complete the cultural-social track of the anthropology major should:

  1. Be able to recognize and critically engage popular versions of anthropological theories in such non-academic forms as informal conversation and mass-mediated entertainment; and furthermore, when these popular versions of anthropological theories are versions of social evolutionism and/or racism, or are ethnocentric, be able to identify their fallacies and harmful consequences;
  2. Be able, when reading an anthropological article or book, to recognize and critically discuss the work’s relationship to major paradigmatic traditions in disciplinary anthropology (e.g., functionalism, structuralism, and semiotic theory);
  3. Question the universality of meanings and practices; be able to identify contingent social orders through comparisons across time and geography and be able to distinguish human phenomena that are, to various degrees, invariant from those that are not;
  4. Be able to relativize—or doubt the absoluteness of—taken-for-granted concepts in their own lives (notably “gender,” “race,” and “ethnic” identifications) and taken-for-granted institutions and domains in their own social world (such as “the family” and “the economy”).
  5. Be able to analyze the interconnections among economics, politics, kinship and family, the psyche, and expressive and artistic forms—domains conventionally differentiated and separated by the social sciences.
  6. Be able to identify (in particular circumstances) how cultural categories contribute to and reproduce relations of power and inequality.
  7. Be able to plan and conduct ethnographic field research projects at an undergraduate level.

Goals of the Human Evolution, Prehistory, and Material Culture Studies Track (HEPtrack)

The educational goals for majors in the HEP track include:

  1. An understanding of the human evolutionary past, in terms of both biological and cultural factors;
  2. An awareness of the biological facts of contemporary human physical diversity and the socio-political implications attached to the concept of “race” as a means to label differences through 500 years of history, particularly in what is now the U.S.;
  3. A recognition of diversity in cultural systems, and the roles played by material culture in the negotiation of cultures and the agency practiced by their social enactors;
  4. An ability to analyze problems, to formulate and test hypotheses, to seek evidence and interpret data rationally, and to recognize one’s own bias as well as the biases of others;
  5. An ability to conduct original research.

Goals of both tracks

All students who complete the anthropology major should:

  1. Comprehend and critically analyze scholarly works; demonstrate a capacity to distinguish the author’s point of view from the views the author criticizes, responds to, and builds upon;
  2. Write cogent, clear research papers and short anthropological essays.