Founded at the turn of the twentieth century, Anthropology at Columbia is the oldest department of anthropology in the United States. Cross-cultural interpretation, global sociopolitical considerations, a markedly interdisciplinary approach, and a willingness to think otherwise have, from the outset, informed the spirit of Anthropology at Columbia. In these current times of increasing global awareness, a spirit of mindful interconnectedness central to the founding mission of the Department guides us still. Professors in Anthropology at Columbia today write widely on colonialism and postcolonialism; gender; theories of history, knowledge, and power; language; law; magic; mass-mediated cultures; modernity and flows of capital and desire; nationalism, ethnic imaginations, and political contestations; material cultures and environmental conditions; ritual, performance, and the arts; and linguistics, symbolism, and questions of representation. Faculty write across worlds of similarities and differences, concerning nearly every geographical region on Earth, and concerning other increasingly transnational and technologically virtual conditions of being.
The Department of Anthropology offers courses and majors in two areas: sociocultural anthropology and archaeological anthropology. While sociocultural anthropology now comprises the largest part of the Department and accounts for the majority of faculty and course offerings, archaeological anthropology is also a vibrant program within the Department, with interests overlapping significantly with those of sociocultural anthropology.
Majors and concentrators should consult the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) when entering the Department and devising their program of study. Students may also seek academic advice from any Anthropology faculty member, as many faculty members hold degrees in several fields or positions in other departments and programs at Columbia. All faculty in the department are committed to an expansiveness of thought and an independence of intellectual pursuit and advise accordingly.