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Focus Areas and Subdisciplines

The UO Department of Anthropology is dedicated to better understanding human cultural and biological origins and diversity through education and research. The faculty is committed to excellence in teaching and to the advancement of knowledge through local, national, and international programs of research.

The Department is composed of three subfields: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Sociocultural Anthropology. While each subfield focuses on a different aspect of the study of humans, numerous links and shared perspectives in teaching and research exist among them. The UO Department of Anthropology is distinctive in its integration of the anthropological subfields via five areas of expertise and focus:

  • Evolution, Ecology, and Environment examines the adaptation of human and non-human primates with their ecosystems. As evolutionary anthropologists, we study these interactions through research on behavior and cognition, diet, foraging strategies, life history patterns, and morphological variation of past and present populations.
  • Indigenous and Minoritized Groups encompasses issues facing indigenous and minoritized groups such as globalization, health care, school curricula, and management of archaeological sites and cultural heritage. We foster indigenous scholarship (both undergraduate and graduate), and promote collaborative relationships such as those between the academy and tribal and local community stakeholders.
  • Food, Health, and Society examines the effects of economic and cultural factors on diet, health, and subsistence in modern and prehistoric contexts. Our studies of health range broadly from nutritional anthropology and social construction of health and illness to evolutionary medicine.
  • Identity, Heritage, and Globalization encompasses the politics of culture, nationalism and transnationalism, folklore, tourism, and popular culture, performance and political economic change both in the modern world and historically. We investigate the different dimensions of identity including gender, race and ethnicity in a variety of contexts such as international development and political organizations, festivals, rituals, museums and state and local governments. We examine cultural heritage and cultural resource management as well as globalization and culture contact in both pre-historic and contemporary contexts such as migration and displacement.
  • Sex, Gender, and Sexuality examines the evolutionary dimensions of sex and sexuality; variations in constructions of sex, gender, sexuality, and the body; intersections of systems of sexuality and gender with other systems of inequality such as class, race, ethnicity and political economy through the lens of social movements and popular culture; and kinship systems, broadly construed, as these relate to gender and sexuality regimes, through time and across cultures.