Graduate Programs


The Anthropology Department offers a rigorous and comprehensive program for graduate students, who examine and experience anthropology through fieldwork, laboratory work, and close study. Our faculty members are experts in the study of many of today’s hot spots like Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and China. Other areas of faculty expertise—like the effects of religion on politics and society, democratic transitions, and evolutionary biology—are at the forefront of current trends in anthropology.

Social anthropologists typically measure themselves along two lines: areas of ethnographic expertise and areas of theoretical significance. Ethnographically, the Department has concentrated on developing three overlapping strengths: Africa (Davidson , Ngom, Shipton, Asia (Barfield, Weller, Korom, Shohet, Smith-Hefner, Weller, White, and the Islamic world (Barfield, Haeri, Hefner, Norton, Smith-Hefner). These specialties mesh with strengths of the entire University. We spread more broadly for theoretical topics, but we have a number of important synergies for which we are known. One is the study of religion in the contemporary world (Haeri, Hefner, Korom, Ngom, Smith-Hefner, Weller). There is, in addition, something of a BU Anthropology school on problems of pluralism and civil society (with recent books by Hefner, Norton, and Weller). Another concentration of energies concerns issues of youth and popular culture (Arkin, Ngom, Shohet, Smith-Hefner, and White).

Boston University has also committed itself to a program of intensive development in biological anthropology, with the goal of producing a world-class center of research and education. Five teaching faculty have been added to the Department’s roster since September 2008. Current faculty projects afford opportunities for student participation in cutting-edge field and laboratory work on both human and non-human primates. Faculty research interests encompass morphology, behavior, endocrinology, and genetics, including laboratory studies of the evolution of primate locomotion (Cartmill) and field and lab work on the behavioral ecology of orangutans (Knott), human vocal and endocrinological maturation (Hodges-Simeon), and obesity and metabolism (Schmitt). Eva Garrett, who will join our faculty in 2017, investigates the anatomical and genetic evolution of the sense of smell in humans and other primates.

Rob Weller,
Director of Graduate Studies