Anthropology studies humankind from a comparative perspective that emphasizes the diversity of human behavior and the importance of culture in explaining that diversity.

While the discipline encompasses the biological nature of our species and the material aspects of human adaptation, it takes as fundamental the idea that we respond to nature and natural forces in large part through culture. Anthropology, then, is the study of human beings as cultural animals. Sociocultural anthropology draws its data from the direct study of contemporary peoples living in a wide variety of circumstances, from peasant villagers and tropical forest hunters and gatherers to urban populations in modern societies, as well as from the history and prehistory of those peoples.

The Anthropology Program at MIT offers students a broad exposure to the discipline as well as an anthropological perspective on problems and issues relevant to other fields in the humanities, social sciences, and engineering. It also provides more intensive introduction to areas of faculty specialization, which include social and political organization, economics and human ecology, religion and symbolism, and the anthropology of medicine and scientific research. Geographical specializations include cultures of Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.

The anthropology curriculum is divided into six groups that show the breadth of the field, with particular emphases: introductory, social anthropology, technology in cultural context, and areal and historical studies. Special topics in anthropology and advanced graduate subjects are also offered.

MIT Anthropology students learn about the concept of culture, the nature of anthropological fieldwork, and the connections between anthropology and the other social sciences. They study the various theories that attempt to explain human behavior as well as the range of methods anthropologists use to analyze data. Students can focus on geographical areas, and on issues like neocolonialism, gender studies, religion and symbolism, or comparative political organization.

Department of Anthropology links

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Review the MIT Department of Anthropology curriculum at:


Updated within the past 180 days

MIT Course #Course TitleTerm
 21A.100Introduction to AnthropologyFall 2004
 21A.110Anthropological TheorySpring 2003
 21A.112Seminar in Ethnography and FieldworkSpring 2008
 21A.211Magic, Witchcraft, and the Spirit WorldFall 2003
 21A.212Myth, Ritual, and SymbolismSpring 2004
21A.215Medical Anthropology: Culture, Society, and Ethics in Disease and HealthFall 2008
 21A.216JDilemmas in Bio-Medical Ethics: Playing God or Doing Good?Spring 2005
 21A.217Anthropology of War and PeaceFall 2004
 21A.218JIdentity and DifferenceFall 2002
 21A.218JIdentity and DifferenceSpring 2007
 21A.219Law and SocietySpring 2003
 21A.224JIntroduction to Latin American StudiesFall 2005
 21A.225JViolence, Human Rights, and JusticeFall 2004
 21A.226Ethnic and National IdentitySpring 2005
 21A.230JThe Contemporary American FamilySpring 2004
 21A.231JGender, Sexuality, and SocietySpring 2006
 21A.235American Dream: Exploring Class in the U.S.Spring 2007
 21A.240Race and ScienceSpring 2004
 21A.245JPower: Interpersonal, Organizational and Global DimensionsFall 2005
 21A.260Culture, Embodiment and the SensesFall 2005
 21A.336Marketing, Microchips and McDonalds: Debating GlobalizationSpring 2004
 21A.337JDocumenting CultureSpring 2004
 21A.338JGender, Power, and International DevelopmentFall 2003
 21A.340JTechnology and CultureFall 2006
 21A.342Environmental StrugglesFall 2004
 21A.344JDrugs, Politics, and CultureSpring 2003
 21A.344JDrugs, Politics, and CultureSpring 2006
 21A.348Photography and TruthSpring 2005
 21A.350JThe Anthropology of ComputingFall 2004
 21A.360JThe Anthropology of SoundSpring 2008
 21A.430JIntroduction to Latin American StudiesFall 2006
 21A.441The Conquest of AmericaSpring 2004
 21A.453Anthropology of the Middle EastSpring 2004
 21A.460JMedicine, Religion and Politics in Africa and the African DiasporaSpring 2005
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Updated within the past 180 days

MIT Course #Course TitleTerm
 21A.337JDocumenting CultureSpring 2004
 21A.750JSocial Theory and AnalysisFall 2004
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