Anthropology examines the rooted concepts and everyday practices that provide frames for the ways people think, act, and make sense of the world (their own and that of others). Where those frames come from and what forms of life they enable or disable are central to the constitution and disbursement of power in our worlds. Anthropology interrogates this constitution by examining how people in society, differently located in space or time, have thought and acted, and what possibilities this suggests for other ways of thinking about and acting in the world.
At the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, our students and faculty explore these issues through an engagement with varied forms and practices of life. Rather than being divided into different fields, our department operates collectively, drawing on a series of archives—ethnographic, historical, archaeological, linguistic—to pursue larger interdisciplinary questions. Faculty and student research interests span the range of the domains most critical to contemporary anthropology, including philosophy, law, ethics, politics, semiotics, ecology and ecocriticsm, science and technology studies, critical native studies, aesthetics, affect theory, visual cultures, moving image, and sound studies.