Anthropology Department

Anthropology is devoted to the “holistic” study of humankind, to the understanding and explanation of human beings in all of their diverse aspects at all times and places. The Department of Anthropology is home to a diverse community of anthropologists who study all aspects of human life, from our hominid origins millions of years ago to the vast diversity of populations living in the world today.

Our anthropologists ask questions about all components of the human experience, and seek to describe and interpret human behavior and culture, language, biology, and the environment at many levels of organization.  Through the Department, the University of Hawaii provides meaningful opportunities to learn about what is human, how we evolved, and what lies in our future…

The subject of Anthropology embraces four sub-disciplines - Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Linguistics.

Archaeology is concerned with cultural development and variation through time. It involves the reconstruction of past human behavior through the study of material remains recovered by field survey and excavation. Archaeology encompasses a wide variety of analytical and experimental methods and techniques which draw on both the natural and social sciences.

Biological Anthropology is concerned with the physical or biological aspects of being human, especially how we evolved and why we vary from each other. The study of biological anthropology encompasses a wide range of scientific fields, including genetics, forensics, primatology, biomedical anthropology (infectious and genetic diseases), human growth and the physiology and evolution of behavior.

Linguistic Anthropology explores the complex relationships between language and culture by combining social theory with the analysis of linguistic for and the study of variation in language across time and space and the social uses of language.

Social Anthropology is concerned with the cultures and ways of life of all the world’s societies in both the present and the recent past - from remote tribal communities in Africa to the villages of contemporary Polynesia and everywhere in between, Social anthropologists employ a wide range of perspectives on human social life including material culture, social organization, politics, economics, symbolism, change and “development”, ethnicity, and modern nation-state formation.