Department Office and Administration
Nicole Constable, Department Chair
Cynthia Graf, Department Coordinator
The Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh covers a wide range of geographical and topical specialties in all four subfields of anthropology (social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, physical anthropology, and anthropological linguistics). All four are embedded in a context of anthropological training of broad theoretical and geographical scope.
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. Faculty specialties, and course offerings, include settlement patterns, origins of agriculture, household archaeology, comparative political economies, sources of political authority and legitimization, chiefdoms and states, the rise of cities, mortuary analysis, human ecology, maritime adaptations, pastoral societies, warfare, contact period studies, historical archaeology, cultural resource management, statistical analysis and computer applications (including Geographic Information Systems), faunal analysis, and geophysical approaches to archaeology. To further this end, department resources include: dedicated computer facilities for quantitative and GIS/spatial analysis and digital imaging; wet and dry labs for isotopic pre-treatment and sample preparation; comparative collections for the analysis of Old and New World fauna; and equipment for field-based survey, mapping, geophysical prospection and materials analysis.
The Department of Anthropology supports a broad-based program in Biological Anthropology which provides students with the background to study morphology, systematics, bio-archaeology, paleopathology, anatomy, 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 facilities 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.
Social and 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 Medical Anthropology, STS, Health and the Environment; Labor, Precarity, Politics; Mobility, Migration, and Citizenship; Language, Media, and Circulation. 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 Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (among others) in other departments and schools in the University.