ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT
For the general education of Smith undergraduates, the anthropology department's offerings promote awareness and understanding of human variation on a global scale, as well as in reference to the ethnic and cultural diversity of the United States. We aim to challenge students' taken-for-granted assumptions about their cultures by introducing them to societies and social groups whose "principles and prejudices" (Bowen, Return to Laughter) are different from their own. We expect that a greater sensitivity to the cultural dimension of human experience will be carried into students' work in their chosen majors.
For those students who choose either to major or minor in anthropology, the department provides a balanced view of the range of intellectual concerns and research priorities which mark the subdisciplines of cultural anthropology. We emphasize anthropology's commitment to the value of the ethnographic method as the prerequisite to a comparative analysis of human cultures. We are committed to the signature method of anthropology, the direct observation of ongoing social systems and their cultural frameworks. Our students gain an appreciation for the importance of anthropological methods and ethnographic texts to other academic disciplines, and in relationship to many contemporary issues.
Members of the department are acutely sensitive to the privilege and responsibility of the ethnographer, that is, to the ethical dimensions of fieldwork. We promote a self-critical anthropology, one which asks hard questions about the researcher's personal motives and reciprocal obligations to those she studies. We believe that our students gain perspective on anthropology by exploring the complex political and historical circumstances which attend local level research.
We encourage both anthropology majors and non-majors to participate in the activities of the Anthropology Club, a student-run interest group at Smith.
Click here for more information: Power Point Presentation of the Major in Anthropology
Click here to view Anthropology major Jennifer Holliday '13 in a Smith College Women of Promise video