Binghamton's Anthropology Department offers undergraduate and graduate students an unparalleled education through its comprehensive curriculum that promotes an understanding of the variety of past and present human groups, the processes that underlie human biological and cultural development and change, and the ways human society and culture are maintained.
Areas of Study
Specifically, Binghamton offers programs in four anthropological subfields: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology and sociocultural anthropology. No matter what subfield(s) you choose to pursue, your training will help you develop an awareness of human diversity and an enhanced ability to interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds. Your work in anthropology will enhance your writing and communication skills, as well as your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and you will learn to think analytically and to evaluate information.
The Archaeology Program at Binghamton University is distinguished by its emphases on critically engaged archaeology and science-based research. Our research and teaching are informed by practice theory, political economy, theories of the subject, feminism, critiques of ideology, phenomenology, historical ecology, cultural resource and heritage management, evolutionary theory and archaeometry. Our professional practice ranges from collaborative and critically reflexive approaches to research with connections to multiple publics, to a cutting-edge field and laboratory investigations in the archaeological record. Faculty members acknowledge political, economic, ethical and scientific elements of all archaeological practice. We are actively involved in consultations and collaborations with indigenous and descendent communities (Native Americans, African Americans and others); in research on museum and media presentation of archaeology; in collecting and cultural understandings of objects; in explaining the archaeological record, investigating the history of human evolution and in the establishment of participatory community archaeology programs. The Binghamton program's dual emphasis on responsibilities to the living and well-grounded, theoretically informed studies of the past places particular weight on the dynamic relationship between past and present.
Our Archaeology Program enjoys a strong national and international reputation, thanks to the active research and public outreach of our faculty and students. The program is particularly well known for its engagement with cutting-edge theory in archaeology and anthropology, and for its attention to linking theoretical perspectives to archaeological practice. The success of these endeavors is documented in the excellent faculty and graduate student record of external research funding, strong publication record and high levels of interest in our program on the part of prospective graduate students both nationally and internationally.
Our goal is to prepare students to be ethical researchers, innovative scholars and successful practitioners of professional archaeology in a variety of career contexts ranging from the academy to cultural resource management. The achievement of this goal is demonstrated in the success of our graduates, many of whom have pursued careers in academic and applied professions.
Biological anthropology (or physical anthropology) is the subfield of anthropology concerned with human biology. We study the full depth of human evolutionary history and the full breadth of modern human biological variation. Of course, as cultural evolution is one of the hallmarks of human history, lines between "biological," "behavioral" and "cultural" variation in humans are often obscure. Biological anthropologists view humans three-dimensionally in their biological, ecological and cultural dimensions, and biological anthropology may be viewed as an integrative, biocultural science. The subdivisions of biological anthropology are numerous but include the basic fields of paleoanthropology, skeletal biology, forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, primatology, human genetics, human population biology and biomedical anthropology.
At Binghamton University, the diverse research interests of the faculty in biological anthropology cover: population genetics and molecular anthropology of Pacific and New World peoples [Ralph, Koji, Mike]; human adaptations to high altitude stress [Ralph, Mike]; psychosocial stress [Gary]; nutritional stress [Kathy]; chronic and infectious disease stress – including malaria [Koji], Lyme disease [Ralph] and neurodegenerative diseases [Ralph, Koji]; hypertension and breast cancer [Gary]; health transitions [Ralph, Koji, Kathy]; global health and epidemiology [Kathy]; evolutionary medicine [Kathy, Mike, Gary]; women's and children's health [Kathy, Gary]; nutrition and breastfeeding [Kathy]; genetics of animal domestication [Andy]; evolution of hominin hearing and language [Rolf]; prehistoric and historic health and stress [Liz]; human rights [Liz]; ancestry and social race [Liz]; development of population-specific biological profile standards [Liz]; skeletal trauma analysis [Liz]; paleopathology [Liz]; forensic genetics [Andy]; and the history of human biology and anthropology [Mike]. Each of the faculty members who contribute to these areas has ongoing field (Pacific, China, East Africa, North Africa, Europe, and South America) and laboratory-based research projects, many of which include undergraduate and graduate students. Prospective MS and PhD applicants are encouraged to contact relevant faculty in advance to discuss research opportunities in their area of interest.
Linguistic anthropology focuses on interrelations between language and culture. The broad focus is on the process through which cultural meanings emerge in contexts of social interaction. More specifically, linguistic anthropology explores the ways in which language presupposes or creates cultural values that inform the meaning of social interactions across both everyday and ritual contexts. This basic process is explored from various perspectives including, to name but a few, those that focus on identity, gender, class and, more generally, discourse. Cutting across these, there is attention to the role that ideology plays in human cultural life. At Binghamton University, the general methodological approach taken is a semiotic one. This approach is in line with the new foci established by the sociocultural faculty. As such, it is one that can be found in other courses offered by the faculty.
In 2004, the program in sociocultural anthropology began a project of rebuilding and redefinition around a new constellation of interests and expertise. Through this process, we sought to blend well-established anthropological perspectives — notably in political economy and critical anthropology — with innovative research agendas to create a distinctive profile for our graduate program. We have conceived of this not as a project yielding a fixed agenda, but rather as one of ongoing critical appraisal of how we can best assimilate new developments in social and cultural anthropology within our teaching and our scholarship.