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Anthropology is the study of human societies and the development of human diversity to better understand what it means to be human. Anthropology differs from other social sciences in that anthropologists are interested in, and take seriously, all kinds of social life. Whether the social phenomena concerns only a few people or a whole population, anthropologists recognize it is relevant to all of humanity.

About the Major

How do anthropologists study humans? At Hamilton, anthropology is a holistic discipline. Anthropologists consider and deconstruct inference from language, behavior, material culture, and biological adaptations of humans. Anthropology sees social and cultural life as constituting the questions, pursuits, and dilemmas entailed by living among others. Anthropologists trace the ways in which such questions, pursuits, and dilemmas have emerged in ways shaped by power and inequality through the construction of categories.

I learned how to think about the ways in which things happen, why they happen, who makes them happen and what happens because of them. The anthropology professors at Hamilton expertly draw these ways of thinking out of their students, and they do so through encouragement, humor and the expectation of hard work.

Ana Baldrige ’12 — anthropology major

How do we teach anthropology at Hamilton? Our department emphasizes experiential learning opportunities that provide students with the theoretical and methodological toolkits to better understand human diversity. Using ethnographic methods, anthropologists immerse themselves in the particular social environment, build reciprocal relationships with participants, consider participants as ‘teachers’, and analyze what those specific cultural practices tell us about the human condition. Quantitative methods include the incorporation of cutting-edge scientific techniques to make inferences about past and present societies.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Project Geologist, GEI Consultants
  • Physician, Jefferson General Medical & Pediatric Group
  • Exhibition Coordinator, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Vice President of Sales, Bayer Corp.
  • History Teacher, Hingham Public Schools
  • Attorney, Voices for Children
  • Staff Archaeologist, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
  • Trial Preparation Assistant, New York County District Attorney’s Office
  • Professor, Brandeis University

Contact Information


Anthropology Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4404 315-859-4649 anthropology@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Principles of Social and Cultural Anthropology 113FS


Cross-cultural approaches to the study of such topics as inequality, polity, language, economic behavior, the body, and other categorical distinctions emergent from human practice. Exposure to anthropological theory, methods, and ethnography.

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Linguistic Theory: A Brief History 201S


A general examination of the nature of language. Topics include the history of ideas about language; philosophical and cognitive aspects of language; evolutionary, structural and generative approaches to the analysis of language. Writing-intensive. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.

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Anthropology of China 233F


This course introduces students to social issues in contemporary China as seen through the lens of anthropological analysis. Through reading ethnographies, watching films, and engaging in classroom discussions, we will examines topics such as the individualization of China and consumer identity, censorship and emerging forms of social media, urbanization and migrant labor, the one-child policy and changing family values, and economic development and environmental degradation.

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The Archaeology of Hamilton's Founding 251S


As an archaeological canvas, Hamilton College provides oral tradition and integrates historical documents. Its archaeological record on the lands it occupies within Northeastern North America can be peeled back in layers, focusing on both prehistoric and historic components from the first peoples in the area, the influence of Samuel Kirkland, and changes in the College over its history. Includes excavation of an archaeological site on the campus, several field trips to local historical societies and use of College archives.

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Anthropology of Food 272S


This course examines how culturally variant practices of food and eating are actively involved in (1) creating and maintaining sociality, (2) constructing and reinforcing identity, and (3) in shaping global relations of power and inequalities. Through reading ethnographies, watching films, and discussing materials in class, this course will introduce you to other ways of viewing, experiencing, and understanding food. It will also provide an opportunity to inquire how our role as consumers reinforces certain global food-ways, impacting many people who remain unseen in the process. Writing-intensive.

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Anthropology of Education 318


Examines the school as a site for the reconstruction of cultural difference. Special attention paid to links between schooling and the nation, to connections between schooling and modernity, and to themes such as discipline, value, gender, language and labor. Examples from Bolivia, Tanzania, India and the United States, among other nation-states. Concludes with a consideration of globalization, specifically the rise in neoliberal approaches in the governance of school systems.

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