About the Department
Anthropology is a discipline that studies what it means to be human from every angle. Cultural anthropologists study people in all parts of the world by going to where they live and speaking the local language. Linguists examine the similarities and differences of the several thousand languages currently spoken. Archaeologists study the material culture of the past, usually by digging it up. Biological or physical anthropologists study human genetic variation, the fossil evidence of our evolution, human adaptation to different environments and the behavior of the great apes. As anthropologists, we see our work as a science in exploring human origins and adaptation to different geographical environments, a social science for our concern with past and present variations in human societies, and a humanity for our continuing critical engagement with the question of how we can best study our culturally invented selves. We teach our students to use their minds to cross the artificial barriers to our common humanity, barriers imposed by ethnocentric ideas of race, gender, class and assumed levels of "civilization." A Hofstra degree in Anthropology provides the student with experience in synthesizing diverse kinds of data about human beings, a skill increasingly valued in many career paths inside and outside academic settings.
Our Vision for Anthropology at Hofstra
As members of a discipline that studies what it means to be human from every angle, we are pleased to play an active role at Hofstra not just in our major but also through our cross-cutting ties to other disciplines and campus-wide programs. We are a discipline without borders or predefined limitations. At this critical moment in our country's history, with increased concern about global conflict, human rights and terrorism, we are committed to providing students and colleagues with insights to promote deeper cross-cultural understanding and counteract ignorance and prejudice of other people and cultures.
As full-time professors and several superb part-time faculty, we have practical research experience in a wide range of topics and regions. We bring to our students first-hand knowledge of life in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Central America and North America. Our specialties include ethnography, historical archaeology, labor studies, race and racism, gender and sexuality, religion, especially Islam, medical anthropology, creolization, and class formation.
Current members of the department have made major commitments to special programs on campus, including directing African Studies, Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies, and the Center for Public Archaeology. Faculty also teach courses in Women's Studies, Latin American Studies, Labor Studies and Asian Studies. Several of the faculty have taught courses in other departments, such as philosophy, history, honor's college and graduate education. We have organized and directed major conferences at Hofstra on African Studies and Long Island Native Peoples. The department has jointly sponsored colloquia, including well-attended forums with Ruth Behar (a Macarthur Fellow), Michael Blakey (director of the New York African Burial Ground excavation project) Ian Tattersall (one of America's premier experts on human evolution) and Franz de Waal (a leading expert in primate evolution).
As educators, our students come first. We teach a variety of cross-cultural courses, bringing to students an awareness of the world outside our own society and encouraging them to reflect on the wide diversity of human behavior, past and present. We offer several special programs including opportunities for field experience through the department’s archaeological field school and a study-abroad program in West Africa. For our majors and minors, we provide experience outside the classroom in everything from the latest ethnographic films at the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York to a Native American sweat lodge on Long Island. Some students have travelled to the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association and other have received internships with non-profit social justice organizations in the local community. Our students have also won important awards, such as the Gates Scholarship, on campus. We also offer a Anthropology paper prize every year honoring the best of student’s work. Our students stay in touch, keeping us informed of their career moves, whether in anthropology or not.
The future of anthropology at Hofstra, as we see it, will continue to serve the entire community. We focus on diversity as our society continues to reinvent itself as a multicultural community. We offer students a view on the entire world, drawing from our own experience. We reach across disciplines to colleagues with shared interests in many of the other departments on campus. We are active in our profession, publishing, lecturing, receiving major research grants and being elected to leadership positions in our professional organizations. In our continued service to the university, we see potential for growth and welcome you to be a part of an exciting major and possible career.