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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.

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Undergraduate Courses
MIT Course #Course Title
21A.100 Introduction to Anthropology, Fall 2004
21A.110 Anthropological Theory, Spring 2003
21A.112 Seminar in Ethnography and Fieldwork, Fall 2003
21A.211 Magic, Witchcraft, and the Spirit World, Fall 2003
21A.212 Myth, Ritual, and Symbolism, Spring 2004
21A.215 Medical Anthropology, Fall 2004
21A.216J Dilemmas in Bio-Medical Ethics: Playing God or Doing Good?, Spring 2005
21A.217 Anthropology of War and Peace, Fall 2004
21A.218J Identity and Difference, Fall 2002
21A.219 Law and Society, Spring 2003
21A.224J Introduction to Latin American Studies, Fall 2005
21A.225J Violence, Human Rights, and Justice, Fall 2004
21A.226 Ethnic and National Identity, Spring 2005
21A.230J The Contemporary American Family, Spring 2004
21A.231J Gender, Sexuality, and Society, Spring 2006
21A.240 Race and Science, Spring 2004
21A.245J Power: Interpersonal, Organizational and Global Dimensions, Fall 2005
21A.260 Culture, Embodiment and the Senses, Fall 2005
21A.336 Marketing, Microchips and McDonalds: Debating Globalization, Spring 2004
21A.337J Documenting Culture, Spring 2004
21A.338J Gender, Power, and International Development, Fall 2003
21A.340J Technology and Culture, Fall 2006 NEW
21A.342 Environmental Struggles, Fall 2004
21A.344J Drugs, Politics, and Culture, Spring 2006
21A.344J Drugs, Politics, and Culture, Spring 2003
21A.348 Photography and Truth, Spring 2005
21A.350J The Anthropology of Computing, Fall 2004
21A.430J Introduction to Latin American Studies, Fall 2006 NEW
21A.441 The Conquest of America, Spring 2004
21A.453 Anthropology of the Middle East, Spring 2004
21A.460J Medicine, Religion and Politics in Africa and the African Diaspora, Spring 2005

Graduate Courses
MIT Course #Course Title
21A.337J Documenting Culture, Spring 2004
21A.750J Social Theory and Analysis, Fall 2004