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Anthropology is the study of humans. Of course, scholars working in other disciplines also study humans: sociologists study human societies; medical researchers study human bodies; philosophers study human thought. Anthropologists draw on ideas and knowledge from all of these fields and then add their own particular perspective. Anthropologists, no matter what their research focus, always remember that they are seeing only one possible way out of many that humans think about and act in the world. Anthropologists, in short, examine how human cultures differ from each other and they try to understand what makes humans different from other animals.
To see some of the career paths Anthropology students who graduated from StFX have taken, click here.
Culture is the central concept of anthropological research. When studying the difference between humans and other animals, Physical anthropologists look at how human evolution led to our capacity for culture. Physical anthropologists compare human culture to that of the non human primates, such as gorillas or chimpanzees. They also examine how culture is imprinted in the human body—years of working at a computer can actually leave a physical mark!
Human cultures vary greatly over time and around the world. Archaeologists study human societies by analyzing the things people left behind or threw away as well as sometimes the words they wrote down. These material remains might be thousands of years old, or they might be what someone put in the garbage dump yesterday. Social anthropologists look at contemporary human societies, from small groups of people living in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest to people living in the biggest cities of the world. Linguistic anthropologists are interested in how language and culture interact. A linguistic anthropologist studying your community might ask why your professors insist that you write "grammatically correctly" and who defines grammatical correctness.
At StFX, we introduce students to all four fields of anthropological study—physical anthropology, archaeology, social anthropology and linguistic anthropology—in Introduction to Physical Anthropology/Archaeology (ANTH 111) and Introduction to Socio-cultural Anthropology (ANTH 112). The Department of Anthropology offers a General Anthropology stream which allows students to put together the courses they feel will best suit their interests and future plans. We also offer three suggested streams to provide guidance to students interested in the following specific areas: Archaeology, the Anthropology of Development, and Indigenous Studies.
Check out our website to discover what anthropology can offer you.