Tulane's Anthropology Department offers major concentrations in each of 4 subfields of anthropology. Our faculty offer a wide range of courses on specific world areas, topical subjects, and theoretical perspectives. For a listing of these courses, please refer to our Classes page.
Prospective applicants for the Ph.D. program in anthropology at Tulane should contact faculty members whose interests most closely match their own.
Archaeology professors in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane have unearthed evidence about ancient cities and monuments in Peru and Mexico, ancient Maya palaces and hieroglyphic inscriptions in the jungles of Guatemala, stone tools and symbolic material culture from Stone Age Africa, and a mid-sixteenth-century Spanish colonial fort at the capital of a Native American chiefdom in North Carolina. They venture far and wide in search of sites and artifacts; they dig along the coast, in the mountains, and in the swamps; and they search for sites in woods, fields, rainforests, and deserts. They study stone tools, pottery, trade goods, architecture, monuments, iconography, rock art, past environments, and maps.
Although adventure does figure in the archaeology undertaken by Tulane professors, they are all bound by an anthropological interest in broad patterns of cultural continuity and change in the prehistory and history of humankind. This focus is reflected in our undergraduate curriculum, which encourages students to 1) develop broad background knowledge of anthropology, 2) gain experience in archaeological fieldwork, 3) participate in analyses and management of archaeological collections, and 4) explore interests in related fields of study, including other subdisciplines of anthropology, and disciplines such as history, classics, linguistics, environmental studies, earth sciences, and geography.
Our graduate curriculum emphasizes a broad appreciation for method and theory in anthropological archaeology, as well as a breadth of knowledge of world prehistory. We also emphasize deep knowledge in particular world areas of particular interest to faculty and students. Archaeology faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane have interests and expertise in human origins and the development of behavioral modernity, the archaeology of Paleolithic and Neolithic societies of the Old World, ancient civilizations of the New World, the development and collapse of complex societies, and Native American responses to European contact and colonialism in the Americas.
Biological (or as it sometimes called, physical) anthropology is a biological science that focuses on the evolution, behavior, and variation (genetic and morphological) of humans, our living primate relatives, and the fossil remains of our hominid ancestors and their relatives. As a subdiscipline of anthropology, however, biological anthropologists work in the combined realm of the biological and social sciences. Specifically, unlike human biologists, biological anthropologists study humans from a biocultural perspective.
Cultural anthropology (also known as sociocultural anthropology) is the branch of the discipline concerned with documenting the wide range of institutions, beliefs, practices, and technologies of contemporary human populations around the world. It is equally concerned with developing generalizations based on comparative study. The main technique of this subdiscipline is ethnographic research, the first-hand documentation of a people and their situation by a trained investigator.
Language is a, if not the, particularly human ability. Linguistic anthropologists are concerned with not only the sound, meaning, and structure of language, but also how it is acquired and lost and how people use it in social contexts (sometimes known as the ethnography of speaking). The program in anthropological linguistics is designed to train the student in modern techniques of language analysis and description, while providing exposure to the elements of diversity and universality in human language use. The student gains familiarity with real language data, at the same time developing theoretical frameworks within which to evaluate this knowledge and skills in formal analysis, language, and social modeling.
Visit the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Program website, or navigate to its page through the link on our Resources page.