Welcome to the Department of Anthropology!

Anthropology is the integrative study of human beings at all times and in all places. Within this broad field of study, three programs of foundational training form the focus of our department: Archaeology; Human Biology, Ecology, and Evolution; and Sociocultural Anthropology and Ethnography.

We cross cut these specializations with five concentrations to integrate anthropology’s diverse expertise. Our current concentrations focus on: Health, Medicine, and Humanity; Heritage and Unwritten Histories; Global Engagement; Race, Place, and Power; and Food, Environment, and Sustainability.


Department of Anthropology Statement Concerning UNC’s Confederate Monument

Anthropology is a discipline of engagement with social issues that matter. As such, anthropologists are acutely aware of inequality and the way that systems of power marshal words, symbols, and even silences to marginalize and oppress. That’s precisely what has happened for generations on UNC’s campus, where a monument to the Confederacy—and thus a monument to the oppression of African Americans and their earlier exclusion from these halls of higher education—commanded a central place. Standing just outside of Alumni Hall—home to the Department of Anthropology—this towering statue stands as a declaration of white supremacy. For some, it fosters an atmosphere of fear that goes against the University’s emphasis on inclusivity.  A rhetoric that celebrates diversity will always ring hollow when accompanied by a standing embodiment of oppression.

Anthropology is a discipline grounded in careful observation and conversation. As anthropologists, we hear the testimonies of offense and experienced marginalization that pervade our campus and community. We recognize the power of symbols to intimidate, to silence the oppressed, and to empower those who would use fear as a weapon of privilege. Unfortunately, the Confederate monument resonates powerfully in this negative way. There is no place on a university campus for a memorial that uncritically references the institution of slavery.  The university’s commitment to inclusivity demands that we act to insure the safety of all, particularly the brave persons whose daily presence at the monument gives voice to our collective conscience and the need to contextualize the meaning of this Confederate statue. 

A commitment to acknowledging our shared humanity is a foundational tenet of Anthropology. From this tenet, it follows that a monument to divisiveness and racial exclusivity should have no home in McCorkle Place.



Department News


Performance and workshop focus on why art matters in medicine

April 10, 2018 What does art do and why does it matter in medicine? Performance artist Marina Tsaplina, who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was 2, attempted to unpack that question at a recent event at UNC-Chapel … Continued

Department Celebrations

April 6, 2018 Dottie Holland will receive the 2018 Ned Brooks Award for Public Service today in the Carolina Club, Alumni Center. Guy Shalev was awarded the prestigious Dan David Prize for Bioethics. Michelle Rivkin-Fish has been offered a Lady … Continued

Anthropology undergrad Alex Polydoroff selected as Burch Fellow

April 2, 2018 Five students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences were selected as recipients of the 2018 Burch Fellowship to pursue unique, self-defined educational experiences anywhere off UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. The … Continued

FYS visits International Civil Rights Center and Museum

March 27, 2018 First Year Seminar students in the Anthropology course “Race, Racialization, and Blackness: A Multidimensional Approach,” visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum and the Beloved Community Center, both in Greensboro, NC (March 24, 2018). The students … Continued

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