The goal of Hamilton's Anthropology Department is to offer students two distinct tracts — cultural anthropology and archaeology — through which to explore the diverse culture, beliefs and practices of human beings throughout time.
Anthropology — The study of the rich cultural, social, linguistic and biological diversity of humanity — is a hands-on learning experience at Hamilton. Small liberal arts colleges rarely offer all four areas of study (cultural and social, linguistic, and biological anthropology and archaeology), but Hamilton does. Students take introductory and theory courses and choose between two tracks: cultural anthropology and archaeology. This curriculum familiarizes you with all sub-areas, teaches you to write and think critically, and prepares you for a field that contributes to a wide range of areas: international business, epidemiology, social impact studies, organizational analysis and market research, just to name a few.
Cultural and Social Anthropology
This subarea deals with the description and analysis of people's lives and traditions, from their social relations to religion to politics. Fundamental to cultural and social anthropology is an understanding of the underlying structure of social relations in particular contexts and how those relations differ in other contexts. Topics range from an examination of rituals among the Yanamamo of Venezuela and Brazil to the spread of AIDS in the western world.
The great diversity in language throughout the world is explored through linguistic anthropology. Of interest are topics such as the relationship between the evolution of language and the evolution of Homo sapiens, the historical development of known languages, the writing of alphabets for unwritten languages, and how language in general influences and is influenced by other aspects of human life.
Study of this subarea provides a better understanding of the human species through an examination of the evolutionary roots of biology and behavior. Anthropologists approach this goal through paleoanthropology, the study of fossil human ancestors; primatology, the study of non-human primates; and human biology, the study of human physical variation.
The study of the human past through its material remains, archaeology allows us to overcome the temporal shallowness and the uneven cultural distribution of written historical documentation. It provides the key to understanding the histories of different prehistoric cultures. Archaeologists are interested in where, when, how and why particular developments took place and how those developments differ from area to area.