The study of anthropology traditionally covers four “fields”: sociocultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological anthropology and archaeology. At Sarah Lawrence College, we concentrate on sociocultural and linguistic anthropology.
Behind almost every aspect of our lives is a cultural realm: a shared construction that shapes assumptions and determines much of how we perceive and relate to the world. Sociocultural anthropology is the study of that realm—its extent and its effects. As students learn to approach with an anthropological eye what they formerly might have taken for granted, they gain insight into how social forces govern the ways in which we relate to ourselves and each other: how we use words, how we define ourselves and others, how we make sense of our bodies—even how we feel emotions. Through examining the writings of anthropologists, viewing ethnographic films, and discussing these and other materials in seminar and conference sessions, students develop a comprehensive and multipatterned sense of the cultural dimensions of human lives. By studying the underpinnings of language, symbolic practices, race, gender, sexuality, policy and advocacy, medical systems, cities, modernity, or social organization across a range of Western and non-Western settings, they come to understand better how meaning is made. With seminar dynamics and content characteristic of graduate-level work, Sarah Lawrence’s anthropology courses take students in often unexpected and challenging directions.