Anthropology, which views human behavior, biology and society (both past and present) in a cross-cultural perspective, combines scientific and humanistic interests in a social science framework. Anthropology involves the study of humans located around the globe, over a span of four to five million years, using perspectives from the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities (arts), which makes it one of the broadest ranging of all academic disciplines. A degree in Anthropology can prepare you for a wide array of career choices.
Archaeology is the study of cultures of the past by means of the recovery and analysis of material remains. Faculty research in this area includes the peopling of the New World, the prehistoric and historic archaeology of Ontario, hunter gatherer ecology, early sedentism and early urbanism, complex civilizations in Peru, the integration of GIS with archaeology, remote sensing, 3-D imaging, textile analysis, lithic analysis, faunal archaeology, commercial archaeology, and community-based research.
Biological Anthropology focuses on the genetically controlled aspects of human variability, but is also concerned with how biology and culture are interrelated. Biological anthropologists at Western are currently involved in the study of the relationship between body and brain size over the course of human evolution, the burial practices of middle and upper classes in the ancient Moche civilization of coastal Peru, and the analysis of human mummies, as well as the primatological study of nonhuman primates. Western has research and teaching strengths in bioarchaeology, which encompasses all biological components of the archaeological record.
Linguistic Anthropology examines the intersections of language, culture, and society. Studies in linguistic anthropology range from micro-level analyses of interpersonal discourse (looking at language in everyday and ritual contexts, at different linguistic aspects of artistic and expressive language, or at social meaning and social variation in speech) to the macro-level analysis of speech communities where language is used to form social identities or for playing out power relations between people, institutions and even countries. Faculty members have worked with linguistic and cultural groups in South America (Brazil and Venezuela) and North America (urban populations in Ontario and Quebec, First Nations in Southwestern Ontario and Alberta, the Canadian Arctic, and Arizona).
Sociocultural Anthropology seeks to understand how human experience is shaped by the social, cultural, political, economic, and religious realities with which all people live. We approach this ambitious goal by analyzing, comparing and reflecting on research conducted with and about people around the world, including many locations in the Americas (from Canada in the north to Argentina in the south), as well as the South Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa including Madagascar. Current research projects include studies of culture and the environment, refugee and migration studies, the history of anthropology, artisanal mining, mobile phones, the history of public health, and First Nations identity and politics in Canada.
The Undergraduate Chair of Western's Anthropology department, Professor Sherrie Larkin, would be happy to answer any queries you may have about our program.