2006 Excavations at Dadiwan, Gansu Province, China

The Archaeology program emphasizes comparative study of the emergence and development of complex societies, from their initial foundations in hunter-gatherer behavior to their manifestation as states and empires. This theoretical approach is firmly grounded in the use of empirical archaeological data from around the world to evaluate models that offer understanding of the dynamics of change in human societies.   Faculty and graduate student research most strongly emphasizes Latin America, Eurasia, and North America.  Research is internationally collaborative, and an especially high priority is placed on sound relations with colleagues in regions outside the U.S. where research is carried out. 

Detailed Program Overview

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Medical Anthropology

Concentration in Medical Anthropology

The University of Pittsburgh offers a concentration in medical anthropology for students at both the master's and doctoral levels. Students have the opportunity to focus their course work in relation to a range of issues in health, illness, and medical systems. At the same time, students are required to fulfill the basic departmental requirements in their chosen sub-field of anthropology, ensuring well rounded and high quality training in general anthropology.

Faculty Appointments and Course Offerings

The core medical anthropology faculty includes members whose primary appointments are in the Department of Anthropology as well as faculty appointed in the Graduate School of Public Health, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, the Medical School, and the Dental School. Some of the courses offered in the concentration are: Medical Anthropology I and ll; The Anthropology of Food; Asian Medical Systems; Medical Ethics; Dimensions of Aging; Clinical Aspects of Dementia Care.

Student Research

Medical anthropology students pursue a wide variety of research interests, such as a study of the meaning of risk for patients and medical staff involved in liver transplantation in Pittsburgh; the household production of health in the urban Amazon; birthing and concepts of motherhood in Italy; the relationship of medical choice to the development of an urban Aymara identity in Bolivia; hospitals and maternal health in China; the meaning and experience of adolescence in Japan; women's identity and reproduction in Japan; fertility decision making in the Solomon Islands; health reform policy in Brazil; social support networks for patients with Alzheimer's disease in western Pennsylvania; physician patient communication in Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

University of Pittsburgh Resources

The University of Pittsburgh is a large institution with a well known medical center and a history of interest in health and medical issues across a wide number of units. These present a broad range of training opportunities for students in medical anthropology. Students concentrating in medical anthropology are encouraged to take advantage of the all of the resources and expertise available at the University. This includes working with anthropologists whose primary appointments are in other units in the University, and scholars from other disciplines with research and teaching interests in health, illness and medical systems including faculty in other departments representing interests in demography, medical sociology, health issues in history, the history of medicine, medical ethics, social epidemiology, biostatistics, cross cultural psychiatry, health education, and several kinds of clinical research.

Opportunities for Other Degrees

Both masters and doctoral students have the opportunity to pursue various degrees in the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) in addition to their anthropology degree. Currently several doctoral students are also enrolled in the GSPH in order to earn an MPH. Several programs in the GSPH will accept some anthropology credits as electives, and anthropology students may use GSPH credits as electives. The History and Philosophy of Science Department, in collaboration with the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, offers a masters degree in medical ethics, which students may pursue in addition to their anthropology degree.

Requirements for the Concentration

Students wishing to concentrate in Medical Anthropology need to complete a specific course of study. Medical Anthropology I, (an introductory survey of medical anthropology) is required at both the masters and doctoral levels. Masters students must also take an additional six credits of elective course work from a list of courses designated in the concentration. Doctoral students must take Medical Anthropology I and Medical Anthropology II (the graduate seminar in medical anthropology), as well as 12 additional elective credits from the list. Substitutions of other courses in the University to fulfill elective requirements are common, but must be approved by the student's advisor and the departmental Committee on Graduate Studies. Medical Anthropology I and II must be completed with a grade of B- or better. Students opting for the concentration must inform their advisor who will monitor their progress in completing the requirements. Upon satisfactory completion of the concentration courses, the student will petition the Committee on Graduate Studies for final approval.

Joint PHD/MPH Degree Program

Medical Anthropology students can now earn an MPH (Master of Public Health in Behavioral and Community Science) as part of their doctoral program in Anthropology. 


Faculty to different degrees involved in the medical anthropology program and their current research interests are listed below. More information on faculty interests can be found in the Research section of this website.

Joseph S. Alter (Professor, Anthropology) medical anthropology; physical fitness; public health; ecology, biosemiotics, the relationship between health, culture, and politics, broadly defined; India.

Kathleen M. DeWalt (Professor, Anthropology), nutritional anthropology; impact of policy on nutritional status in Latin America and US; ethnomedical systems and medical decision making; health ecology; political economy and health.

Patricia I. Document (Associate Professor, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences; Scientific Director of the Center for Health Equitysocial relationships; cancer; breastfeeding; racial and ethnic disparities; evaluation; violence and global health.

Tomas Matza (Assistant Professor, Anthropology) mental health, environmental anthropology, ecology and health; Russia.

Mark P. Mooney (Professor, Departments of Anatomy and Histology, School of Dental Medicine, and Anthropology) craniofacial and developmental biology; comparative anatomy; experimental morphology; physiological adaptations to extreme environments.

Harry Sanabria (Associate Professor Emeritus, Anthropology) economic anthropology and political economy; social history and historical demography; cross-cultural studies of drug production and consumption; urban US, Bolivia and Argentina.

Jeffrey H. Schwartz (Professor, Anthropology) human and faunal skeletal analysis of archaeological recovered remains; dentofacial growth and development in Homo sapiens, US, England, Israel, Cyprus, and Tunisia.

Michael I. Siegel (Professor, Anthropology) craniofacial biology; with a clinical specialty in cleft palate; functional anatomy; animal models; and physiological adaptation to stress.

Pamela J. Stewart (Senior Research Associate, Anthropology) human endocrinology, patient/physician communication in contexts of chronic illness; women's health issues; North America, the Pacific, Asia, and Europe.

Andrew J. Strathern (Andrew W. Mellon Professor, Anthropology) conflict and violence; the anthropology of the body; the cross-cultural study of medical systems; Papua New Guinea, Europe, and Taiwan.

Martha Terry (Research Associate, GSPH; Adjunct Research Associate, Anthropology) human sexuality and reproduction, sexually transmitted disease, HIV prevention, urban US, Mexico.

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Social & Cultural Anthropology

The Social and Cultural Anthropology faculty conduct research and offer courses on a wide variety of methodological, theoretical, and ethnographic topics. The societies covered range from tribal and peasant societies to pluralistic nation states. Topical specializations include urban and development studies, medical anthropology, language and culture, demography, economics, ecology, kinship and social organization, law and conflict management, folklore, ethnicity, nationalism and the state, political economy, historical anthropology, and colonialism. Students are trained in methods of collecting and analyzing data, research design, and proposal writing. In geographical terms there is particular emphasis on South and East Asia and the Pacific and on Latin America. Cultural anthropologists collaborate with cognitive and medical scientists, linguists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, and scholars in urban, legal, and women's studies (among others) in other departments and schools in the University.

Core Faculty

Joseph S. Alter

Laura Brown

Heath Cabot

Nicole Constable

Robert M. Hayden

Gabriella Lukacs

Tomas Matza

Kathleen Musante

Andrew J. Strathern

Emily Wanderer



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Physical Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology supports a broad-based program in Physical Anthropology which provides students with the background to study morphology, systematics, bioarchaeology, anatomy, paleopathology and evolution. The students then define more specific foci for their own research. The faculty share joint appointments with the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Several extensive collections of casts of fossil primates and skeletal material are located within the department. A wide variety of facilites for the study of functional, comparative, and developmental anatomy are available. These include a laboratory for experimental studies of functional morphology and image analysis equipment for structural analysis. Students are encouraged to use the resources and courses available in the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, the Graduate School of Public Health, and other health and biology-related schools and departments within the University. Close ties are also maintained with University-affiliated hospitals.

Core Faculty

Margaret Judd

Mark P. Mooney

Jeffrey H. Schwartz

Michael I. Siegel

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Student Resources & Opportunities

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PhD/MPH Program

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