Anthropology club taking care of the environment Welcome and E Komo Mai to the Department of Anthropology! With an open-door policy and a tangible attitude of engagement, we have a strong tradition of mentoring students to a successful future. We distinguish ourselves from other anthropology departments by our cultural and physical location in the Hawaiian Islands, which is reflected in stimulating and thought-provoking class discussions in which we locate ourselves as individuals and as groups and the relationships we build within our community.

Anthropology helps students gain a fuller understanding of human behavior through introductory and advanced courses in the subfields of archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. Field courses, field trips, and labs are designed to take advantage of the varied ecology, history, and the rich multicultural environment of Hawaiʻi Island. Stop by for a chat, cruise our website, or just take a class to discover the wonderful world of anthropology.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Joseph Genz, Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology

Department News

UH Hilo students, including graduate students with the Anthropology Department, at the 2023 National Diversity in STEM Conference

At the 2023 National Diversity in STEM Conference this past October, two UH Hilo students, Taecia Kukui Akana and Shania Tamagyongfal, won awards for their outstanding presentations! A cohort of UH Hilo pupils and staff, including anthropology students and Department Chair Joseph Genz, made the trip to Portland, Oregon. Learn more about the award-winning presentations as well as other amazing student presenters. Thank you to the article's author, Evangeline Lemieux.

Come Visit Us!

About the Field: Disciplines of Anthropology

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. Students in our department will have incredible opportunities to explore their interest in archaeology during field schools and numerous field trips that such a unique location provides us with.

Dr. Peter Mills at an archaeological site

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 (chronic, infectious and genetic diseases), human growth and the physiology and evolution of behavior. Lab courses offered will allow the students opportunities to do specific research projects that spark their interest and will help broaden the scientific spectrum from a biological, genetic, evolutionary, biomedical, or human growth perspective.

Cultural Anthropology is concerned with the world’s cultures and ways of life in both the present and the recent past – from remote tribal communities in Africa to the villages of contemporary Polynesia and everywhere in between. Cultural anthropologists employ a wide range of perspectives on human social life including material culture, social organization, politics, economics, religion, symbolism, change and “development,” ethnicity, and modern nation-state formation. In classes, students engage and analyze provocative topics such as our survival as a global village, the underlying reasons for escalating disparities and inequities, the cultural construction of violent conflict, and how we come to believe certain ideas.

Anthropology students who participated in cleaning a heiau in Keaukaha

Linguistic Anthropology explores the complex relationships between language and culture by examining variation in language across time and space and the social uses of language. With the extremely unique location of our department, many opportunities for the students to experience linguistic diversity arise daily. The number of languages spoken in Hawaiʻi is remarkable and it gives our students advantages when understanding the diversity of languages past and present, around the world.

Alumni Stories

Learn more about past students and their careers.

Student Stories

Discover what projects B.A. and M.A. students are working on.

Our Faculty and Staff

Daniel “Dan” E. Brown
Daniel “Dan” E. Brown
Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
Axel Defngin
Axel Defngin
Project Manager, Islands of Opportunity Alliance (IOA)-LSAMP
Joseph H. Genz
Joseph H. Genz
Chair and Associate Professor, Anthropology; Director, Islands of Opportunity Alliance (IOA)-LSAMP
Kathleen L. Kawelu
Kathleen L. Kawelu
Associate Professor, Anthropology
Peter R. Mills
Peter R. Mills
Professor, Anthropology; Director Heritage Management MA Program
Lynn A. Morrison
Lynn A. Morrison
Professor, Anthropology
Christopher A. Reichl
Christopher A. Reichl
Professor, Anthropology
Lynne M. Wolforth
Lynne M. Wolforth
Lecturer, Anthropology

Contact Us!

Please contact us for more information, a site visit, or a Zoom meeting.