Anthropology Department

Anthropology offers a broadly comparative framework for the study of human life and experience. The discipline is traditionally divided into the subfields of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, and archaeology. Of these, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology are emphasized at Reed. Cultural anthropology examines the range and variability of human practices and provides frameworks for their interpretation. Its distinguishing disciplinary features are implicit or explicit comparativism and evidentiary grounding of theoretical interpretations or generalizations in firsthand ethnographic fieldwork. Earlier emphasis was on nonliterate peoples of the past and present. However, anthropological research has increasingly included studies of populations of European heritage and those of literate, complex societies.