Historical Archaeology, Bioarcheology and Maritime Archaeology
We focus on historical archaeology and bioarchaeology and teach a wide range of courses covering early humans through the recent past, archaeological method and theory, material analysis, and field archaeology. The historical archaeology emphasis within Maxwell draws upon our strengths in social and cultural anthropology as well as from history and geography. We offer hands-on opportunities in our classes and involve students in field programs in New York and the Caribbean. Teaching and research is facilitated by our new suite of archaeology and bioarchaeology Laboratories in Lyman Hall.
Historical archaeology at the Maxwell School draws on our strengths in not only social and cultural anthropology but also history and geography to deepen our understanding of world cultures and topical issues both international and domestic. For example, historical archaeology sheds significant light on both the formation of colonialism and capitalism as well as its impact at the local, regional and global levels. In the Americas, archaeological studies of contact period sites illuminate lifeways of the colonizing setters, the indigenous peoples encountered, and the laborers who were brought in to facilitate both colonial and capital objectives.
Artifacts and Materials Analysis
Detailed and refined analysis of materials are critical to any interpretation of archaeological findings. Our research and teaching involves detailed analysis of assemblage based data as well as refined analysis of particular sets of data including glass, beads and a range of ceramic analysis. Onsite collections are maintained in a controlled environment, and the materials are available for comparative study and analysis. In partnership with the Digital Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), with support from the Mellon Foundation, we offer a fully equipped satellite laboratory for accessing and entering archaeological data in the DAACS system.
Historically, the exploitation of marine resources and travel by water was often a key aspect of human adaptation. Coastal lagoons, navigable rivers and sea crossings formed the trade routes of ancient civilizations; and over the past 500 years, sea routes played a central role in trade patterns and the Columbian exchanges that shaped the modern world. Given the Anthropology Department's focus on the period of European expansion, faculty and graduate student research projects in maritime archaeology have focused on sites relating to the emerging Atlantic World. Examples of projects include island communities, such as the East End (St. John, US Virgin Islands); the African settlement of Elmina (Ghana); Bunce Island (Sierra Leone); and the European shipwreck sites (Ghana and Sierra Leone).
Transferable knowledge. Adaptable skills.
Applying anthropology involves combining theory, ethnographic insight and methodological expertise towards practical ends. Applied anthropologists work diverse fields including law, health care, agriculture/forestry, social and environmental planning, tourism, cultural resource management (including archaeological sites), indigenous rights, conflict management, social services, and communications. The Maxwell School's unique structure at the nexus of social science and public affairs is designed to develop students' ability to work in inter- and multi-disciplinary settings—a major aspect of applied anthropology and a central feature of our graduate program.
Peace and Conflict Studies
We offer undergraduate and doctoral training in peace and conflict studies including courses on peace, war and security; culture and disputing; negotiation; peacekeeping; and intercultural conflict and communication, among others. Faculty members are actively researching and working in diverse settings such as international peacekeeping in Egypt and Palestine, post-conflict reconstruction in Mali and Darfur, and local efforts in reducing and preventing violence in Syracuse neighborhoods. Faculty and student activities have been supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United States Institute of Peace, the Near East Foundation, the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stabilization Institute, the U.N. Dept. of Peacekeeping Operations, U.N. Interagency Framework for Coordination on Preventative Action, and the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The field of political anthropology encompasses the analysis of power, leadership, and influence in all their social, cultural, symbolic, ritual, and policy dimensions. It includes the examination-in both state and stateless societies-of forms of authority and domination, the dynamics of political identity, social and political violence, nationalism, ethnicity, colonialism, war and peace, and modes of political reconciliation and peace-building. This subfield provides a rich empirical and theoretical grounding for students planning careers in academia; international development; humanitarian work; international, state and local governance; international diplomacy; and transnational advocacy, among others.
Social Activism and Social Movements
Our department has a rich tradition of research and teaching on the social and cultural forces that generate, sustain, and weaken social movements, and on the impacts such movements have had historically and in the contemporary world. The department also has a tradition of engagement with hands-on, participatory, activist, action-oriented and applied research projects that seek to work in conjunction with movements for social change.
We offer coursework at both the undergraduate and graduate levels on social movements, focusing on both theory and methods. Other related courses in political anthropology and specific world areas complement these.
Heritage Management and Public Policy
We offer graduate and undergraduate classes in Public Policy and Archaeology, World Heritage Sites, and Museums and Indigenous Peoples. The public policy and archaeology class examines legal structures for archaeological site protection and heritage management in the United States and provides a survey of global perspectives on cultural resource management. The World Heritage site class examines UNESCO’s program and explores the potentials land problems in protecting cultural and natural resources from local and global perspectives. At Syracuse University, we have been active in heritage management and interpretive archaeology, completing large scale preservation planning projects in Central New York and stepping in to assist in the protection of fragile and endangered resource.
Our strengths in cultural anthropology include political anthropology, medical anthropology, gender and sexuality, globalization and culture change, conflict resolution, religion, and social movements. Our students conduct intensive and often multi-sited fieldwork in pursuing their doctoral degrees, while undergraduates develop skills in anthropological methodologies through coursework and internships. We work closely with the departments of History, Sociology and Geography in the Maxwell School and with the departments of Religion and Women and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as with programs in LGBT Studies, Native American Studies and regional offerings through the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.
Culture Change and Globalization
Societies are not static. One focus of anthropology is on the changes that have taken place and are taking place at increasingly rapid rates as colonialism, economic transformations such as neo-liberalism, the media and other factors impinge on communities throughout the world. Our historical archaeologists look primarily at the changes connected to colonialism while socio-cultural faculty look at changes related to new patterns of education, the role of television and film on local cultures, and the massive effects related to what is termed globalization. Courses looking at culture change and globalization tend to be focused on specific regions of the world, as the complex factors of change are also very context-driven and require the in-depth understandings provided by an area focus. Students often pursue undergraduate minors or graduate Certificates of Advanced Study in a world region.
Gender and Sexuality
Syracuse University has one of the oldest Women and Gender Studies Programs in the country, and anthropology course offerings and expertise have informed it for decades. Social and religious constructions of gender/sexuality as well as issues related to citizenship and governance are the primary focus of our department. Anthropology faculty and students have done research on issues of gender/sexuality in many ethnographic regions, including Native and non-Native populations in the U.S. as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Central Asia, and Europe.
Medical anthropology is one of the most vibrant and useful areas of anthropological research and practice. Our emphases are on studies of health and medical disparities around the globe, global health policy, health consequences of violence and war, the body and personhood, mental health, culture and biomedical technologies, gender and health, and evolutionary psychology. We offer an undergraduate minor and doctoral training in medical anthropology. Students and faculty collaborate with the Consortium for Culture and Medicine which includes the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, and the SUNY Upstate Medical University. Additionally, many students of medical anthropology also enroll in the MPH program at Falk College.
Anthropological studies of religion focus on lived practices, rather than primarily on textual doctrines, and on the intersections between religion as practiced and other aspects of society, whether systems of economics, gender, politics, medicine and more. Religious beliefs and practices are infinitely varied from society to society and are developed and tailored with symbols, oral traditions, and rituals that complement and support the social systems in which they are embedded. At Syracuse University, our faculty members examine, amongst other issues, religion and gender systems; rituals and oral traditions as representative especially of those marginalized by elite institutions; religion and politics, whether in Brazil, India, China, Europe or the U.S.; and the interface of religious and medical systems, including religious and medical pluralism, in societies across the globe.
Space and Place
Space and Place
Based on anthropologist Edward T. Hall’s seminal idea of proxemics—the structure of the person’s micro-space—as well as the work of environmental psychologists and cultural geographers, Space and Place incorporates the theory of Bourdieu, Giddens, Foucault and LeFebvre, and it explores issues such as the cultural aspects of design, the production of space and the politics of space. Research has been carried out in most ethnographic regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe. Course offerings bridge anthropology, geography and history.
Explore our scholars by regional expertise
Since the 1960s, anthropology at Syracuse has had a focus on Africa. The anthropology faculty are part of a critical mass of Africanist faculty in the Maxwell School and the College of Arts and Sciences. The Maxwell African Scholars Union through the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs and the Department of African American Studies are supported by holdings in the University Library and the only set of The Kenya Archives in the United States. Swahili is offered through the Department of Languages, Literature and Linguistics. The Department of African American Studies offers an M.A. in Pan African Studies, as well as fellowships in African American Studies, open to students from across the university.
Caribbean and Latin America
Our research in Latin America and the Caribbean focuses on both cultural and archaeological studies. Currently our faculty are engaged in research in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba and the U.S. Virgin Islands with research interests and experience spanning the region and graduate students working in more than a dozen Caribbean and Latin American countries. The interdisciplinary Program on Latin America and the Caribbean (PLACA) hosts speakers, seminars and working groups and mobilizes the expertise of 15 faculty and more than 40 graduate students from history, sociology, public administration, geography and anthropology. Graduate students Interested students can earn a Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and apply for small research grants.