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Welcome From the Department Head

Werner

Anthropology involves the study of human biological and cultural diversity, across time and space. In addition to conducting academic research, anthropologists apply their knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems in a variety of fields, including forensics, cultural resource management, economic development, public health, museum studies, and environmental conservation.

The Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M has 24 full-time faculty members situated in four distinct programs: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Nautical Archaeology.  The department is home to two research centers, the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation (CMAC) and the Center for the Study of the First Americans (CSFA), which represent the department’s two primary research strengths. In addition to these strengths, faculty and graduate students are involved in research projects that cluster around four themes that cut across the subfields of anthropology:  Diasporas, Dispersals, and Migration; Evolution and Ecology; Food, Nutrition, and Culture; and Technology and Material Culture.

The department offers a B.A. degree and Minor at the undergraduate level.  At the graduate level, the department accepts students who either want to complete a Ph.D. in Anthropology, or an M.S. in Maritime Archaeology and Conservation. Currently, the department has approximately 200 undergraduate majors and 95 graduate students.

Bridging Themes

Ecology and Evolution 

Faculty:  De Ruiter (Chair), Alvard, Athreya, Bryant, Carlson (David), Goebel, Graf, Gursky-Doyen, Thoms, Waters, Winking, Wright

Ecology and Evolution examines the adaptations and interactions of humans, non-human primates, and their fossil ancestors with their ecosystems. As anthropologists, we take evolutionary and ecological approaches to the study of adaptation, behavior, culture, diet, foraging strategies, and morphological variation among past and present populations. 

Topics of special interest include behavioral ecology, human evolutionary ecology, human technological variability, parenting and life history, primate conservation, the earliest peopling of Eurasia and the Americas, quantitative methods, phylogeny and systematics, and the craniofacial morphology of Australopithecus and early Homo. This concentration emphasizes the holistic development of theory, concepts, and methods through the practice of ethnographic, archaeological, and paleoanthropological field and laboratory work worldwide. 

Technology and Material Culture

Faculty:  Castro (Chair), Alvard, Castor, Crisman, Carlson (Debbie), Carlson (David), Eckert, Goebel, Graf, Pulak, Smith, Wachsmann, Waters

The linking of material culture and technology makes obvious sense, as it is the study of material culture that allows us to understand the development of technologies. But the relationship between the two is more complex, as material culture and the technologies that produce it reflect the values, ideas, and attitudes of the peoples who use/d them. Further, modern technologies allow us to study and preserve material culture in new and exciting ways. The members of the Technology and Material Culture Working Group, although focused on research in different cultural regions and time periods, concern themselves which these diverse aspects of technological and material studies.

Dispersals, Diasporas and Migrations

Faculty:  Goebel (Chair), Athreya, Castor, Crisman, Eckert, Graf, Green, Hamilton, Smith, Thoms, Wachsmann, Waters, Werner, Wright

Since its inception as a field of study, anthropologists and archaeologists have examined major questions regarding the movement of peoples and the objects and ideas associated with them. Faculty within the Dispersals/Diasporas/Migrations Working Group attempt to disentangle the complex relationships between the movement of people and their socio-cultural and environmental landscapes, in the past and the present. Dispersals, diasporas and migrations have consequences of interest to anthropologists including how cultures adapt after dispersal into new environments, mechanisms and technologies of migration by land and water, how migrant laborers navigate new social landscapes, how gender may shape migration decisions, how movement impacts groups in diaspora, and how individuals and families reconstruct their ethnic identity after free or forced migration to a new homeland. Although members of this working group incorporate diverse approaches to meeting the challenge of studying mobility, they all seek a deeper understanding of the causes and processes inherent in dispersals, diasporas and migrations. 

Food, Nutrition and Culture 

Faculty:  Wright (Chair), Bryant, Carlson (David), Crisman, de Ruiter, Eckert, Thoms, Werner, Winking

Since its inception at TAMU, faculty in the Department of Anthropology have shared research interests in the ways that humans have nourished their bodies through human history.  This research focus includes work that identifies the component foods and nutritional adequacy of prehistoric human diets, and the implications of dietary decisions for growth and development.  On a broader scale we study the role of humans as members of ecosystems, and the intersection between foodways and the social, cultural and environmental contexts in which humans live.  Researchers in the group use diverse methodological approaches to study food, nutrition and culture, including paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, paleopathology, stable isotope analysis, material culture studies and ethnography.

Additional Information

I invite you to explore our website further and learn more about our department, our people, and our research. Here is a sample of the information you can find on this website:

Click any of the links in the navigation bar at the top of this page to get started, or type your search interest in the Search box. I invite you to contact me if you would like further information about our department.

Cynthia Werner
Department Head