Bookmark and Share
  • Text +
  • Text -

The Anthropology Department

What is anthropology about? If you don't know what anthropology is about, here is a start: It is the study of human lifeways, in the round. It is arguably the broadest of the social sciences and humanities (the two sets of disciplines that study humans). Across time and space— wherever people are found—anthropologists are interested in exploring the patterning in the textures of their lives. The work is typically field-based and often naturalistic, done in-situ where people live(d). The work is typically comparative, minimally with an eye toward how a currently studied lifeway relates to others. The work also typically has cognitive and interpretive aspects, as anthropologists try to understand the contextualized local meanings and values in terms of which people live. The work is also typically reflexive and critical, in that it asks questions about values and about what the import of anthropological work is.

We can say a little more (though we do not try in this website to replicate our curriculum) by way of orientation about the nature and configuration of the discipline of anthropology and of this department in its own right and in its roles in a liberal arts college. 

Some contexts of anthropology—Interest in the core subject matters of Anthropology is widespread and ancient. Ordinary people living ordinary lives often examine human lives and lifeways analytically and sometimes make comparisons. In some contexts, proto-anthropology has resulted in writings. Perhaps the fine Roman writer Tacitus was the first reasonably fully fledged ethnographer in his writings about the Germanic peoples on the frontiers of the empire. People have often asked such questions as these: Why are those people different? Why do we do that? Why do these people look different or speak differently? How are they similar?

Anthropology as an academic discipline was established in Western Europe and and some overseas extensions, such as the U.S., in the 1860s, during the heyday of European evolutionary thought. From the beginning, anthropology was a comparative and historical discipline. As it developed in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, ethnography came to be a central focus of its attention. In the United States, anthropology came to be loosely gathered together into the four subdisciplines that are commonly understood in the U.S. to make up the discipline: social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistic anthropology.

Ralph BoltonProfessor (909) 607-2228On leave 2013-15
Dru GladneyProfessor (909) 607-3042Hahn 105
Pardis MahdaviAssociate Professor and Chair (909) 607-7854On leave 2014-15
Lynn ThomasProfessor (909) 607-2494Hahn 210
Adjunct/Performance Faculty
Sylvia MartinLecturer (909) 607-9553Hahn 207
Sheri SardinasAcademic Department Coordinator (909) 607-3027Hahn 212

Mailing AddressPomona College, Anthropology, 420 N. Harvard Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711

Phone(909) 607-3027

Fax(909) 607-7882

Campus LocationHahn Building