The Department of Anthropology of The University of Alabama offers programs leading to the Master of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. These programs seek to furnish a balanced view of anthropological inquiry by means of intensive training in the literature, theory, methods, techniques, and skills required for research in anthropology. The MA builds on the inherent strengths of medium-sized departments—the ability to provide necessary background through small seminar courses and specialized training through the tutorial format of individually directed research projects. In short, the MA program provides students with a scholarly comprehension of the discipline, practical experiences in anthropological research situations, and the initial competency required of a professional anthropologist. The PhD program provides students with advanced training in one of two departmental focus areas: Biocultural Medical Anthropology or Archaeology of Complex Societies of the Americas. See specific details at the website of the Department of Anthropology.
- Keith Jacobi
Graduate Program Director
- Christopher Lynn
- Ian Brown
- Jason DeCaro
- Marysia Galbraith
- Keith Jacobi
- Lisa LeCount
- Christopher Lynn
- Elliot Blair
- Katherine Chiou
- Courtney Helfrecht
- Holly Horan
- Cameron Lacquement
- Stephanie McClure
- Sonya Pritzker
- Alexandre Tokovinine
- James Bindon
- John Blitz
- William Dressler
- Vernon J. Knight
- Kathryn Oths
Museum Studies Program
- John Abbott
- Alexander Benitez
- William Bomar
- John Friel
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in anthropology and graduate standing, or permission of the instructor.
Advanced introduction to contemporary linguistic anthropology: explores various theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of language as a semiotic resource for social actors and communities.
Explores the gendered, ethnic, cultural, and class dimensions that underlie the patterning of disease and illness worldwide, with attention to the long-term health effects of racism, sexism and poverty. Topics include reproductive and sexual health, obesity, body image, HIV/AIDS, mental illness, homelessness, and more.
The cultural and linguistic basis of cognitive organization, local systems of folk classification, and the collection and analysis of data of shared cultural and social information. Offered according to demand.
This course will explore the body as the object and subject of culture. It will examine how viewing the body as a biocultural canvas and looking at culture as “lived through” the materiality of the body influences our understandings of health and health care. Students will be challenged to examine health as a concept that is quantifiable and generalizable as well experiential and person-centered. They will be challenged to view the discipline of medicine as a framework for employing verifiable and shared (or questionable and contested) knowledge of biological systems whose foundational assumptions and core meanings are grounded in particular social and cultural worlds.
Ancient Maya civilizations in Mexico and Central America from the earliest inhabitants until the Spanish Conquest.
Students in this course will learn to use the concepts and methods of ethnography of communication by developing and carrying out a research project on language and social interaction. You will learn how social interaction is organized, how to document and study it, and how to address such evidence to to anthropological and applied problems. Graduate students will produce a research report worthy of submission to a research conference of their professional scholarly organization. All students will finish the course with a critical and sophisticated understanding of how social interaction works in a variety of contexts.
Provides the student with an overview of health, illness, and healing as they vary between and within cultural systems.
The course examines ethnicity, nationalism, democratization, unification, and fragmentation with an emphasis on specific countries or regions within Europe. Classic anthropological topics, such as kinship, political organization, ritual, and religion are employed in the study of European nations, ethnicities, and minority communities.
A survey of thematic areas of research on Latin American cultures. Thematic areas include, but are not limited to, health, environment, political systems, forms of production, and religion.
A survey of the standards, customs, and beliefs that typify African cultures. Offered according to demand.
A survey of the anthropological literature on religion, including such topics as myth, ritual, magic, witchcraft, totemism, shamanism, and trance states. Offered according to demand.
Ethnography is a hallmark of anthropology. It is at once a theoretical approach, set of methods, and style of writing. This course highlights ethnographic theory, methods for collecting ethnographic material, and techniques for writing about culture by reading exemplary texts, discussing key concepts, and practicing various methods. Each student will develop an ethnographic project that involves fieldwork, data analysis, and writing.
Students all encounter dilemmas in their everyday lives. Oftentimes, these situations do not present a clear solution, forcing us to ponder the morals and codes we live by and the manner in which we attempt to present logical responses to ethical conundrums. The field of archaeology may, at first, seem like an odd candidate for discussion of ethics given that it studies past peoples. Students will learn that archaeology is indeed heavily situated in the present and has many ties to such subjects as identity, notions of nationhood and nation-building, collective memory, and historical revision. This class will explore the legal and ethical dimensions of modern archaeology through a consideration of the archaeology as a profession, professional codes on archaeological ethics, the relationship between archaeology and others (the public, ethnic groups, collectors, etc.), international and national approaches to archaeological heritage management, the antiquities trade, maritime law, underwater archaeology, and treasure hunting, cultural resource management in the United States, and archaeological education.
What is law? Do all societies have it? Is there really something distinct about “thinking like a lawyer”? This seminar primarily draws on anthropological studies of legal systems and practices to show that the answers to these questions are surprisingly complex. We will study law both cross-culturally and, within the United States, cross-contextually, in order to explore what really distinguishes legal rules from cultural norms and to ask whether basic legal concepts exist across cultures.
This course covers the basic background and skills necessary to manage and analyze spatial datasets using GIS (Geographic Information Systems). We will emphasize the GIS concepts and techniques that are most useful to archaeologists, and we will be working with real archaeological data for all labs and projects. Topics include data acquisition, spatial queries, working with rasters, catchments, cost‐surface analysis and visualization analysis. The course includes a weekly guided lab on ESRI ArcGIS software.
An examination of the origin and development of pre-Columbian and early historic cultures of eastern North America. Offered according to demand.
Contemporary issues in concept formation, theory construction, methods, and techniques. Offered according to demand.
This course will undertake a broad survey of the literature on modern and ancient foodways, addressing major themes including the domestication of plants and animals; food and social complexity; food, power, politics, and status; the daily meal; feasting and drinking; plating and presentation; food preferences/taste and disgust; and the intimate relationship between food and identity. Furthermore, we discuss the wide range of methods and techniques in the archaeologist’s toolkit that aid in the undertaking of gastronomic research, including the analysis of plant and animal remains, residues recovered from cooking and serving ware, and the chemical composition of human bones.
The course views the art that societies past and present produce; it explores culture, creativity, and human beings' distinctive compulsion to make decorative objects.
Directed field study in the excavation and analysis of archaeological deposits. Each student must design and conduct a research project, then adequately report the results. Off campus.
No description available.
12 hours of anthropology or permission of instructor; graduate standing This course combines the methods used in historical archaelogy with a basic survey of the archaeological record of the historic period of North America.
Devoted to issues not covered in other courses. Offered according to demand.
The Andes is a region of geographic and environmental extremes that witnessed the early rise of complex societies long before the Inca Empire. In this course, we examine the prehispanic cultures that resided in this region—from the peopling of South America to the aftermath of Spanish Conquest.
This course explores anthropological theories and methods of space, place, and environment. It concentrates on ethnographic and archaeological discussions of landscape and ecology. Anthropologists who study landscape and ecology focus on the cultural practices through which communities in the past and present produce the socially meaningful sites, shrines, and physical features of their environment, while also taking into account how the environment influences people’s social actions and underlies people's deepest cultural values. To understand a landscape or an ecology, then, is to examine the interrelation of various social and environmental, cultural and material phenomena. The course also introduces the field and laboratory methods that anthropologists employ to apply their theoretical perspectives on landscape and ecology.
This laboratory class is designed to introduce archaeological laboratory methods, reasoning and interpretation through paleoethnobotanical identification and data analysis. We will be studying the major classes of plant remains likely to be encountered in archaeological sites, how to identify them, and how to organize the data to produce interpretable results. The course will emphasize the use of plant remains to answer archaeological questions, rather than study the plant remains for their own sake.
Ceramics are the most ubiquitous and variable materials on many archaeological sites and, as such, they offer archaeologists a vast amount of information about the past. In this class, we approach ceramics from the perspective of research questions, and investigate how analytical techniques can help address them. The class also has a large practical component. Students will conduct analyses on collections and present their findings at the end of the class. This course is meant to provide a framework for developing hypotheses, methods and skills directly applicable to senior projects, MA theses, and Ph.D. dissertations.
A survey of the discoveries, methods, and theories that provide the background for modern research in macroevolution in the human lineage.
A detailed introduction to human osteology, emphasizing the identification of fragmentary remains and the criteria for determination of age, sex, and race. Offered according to demand.
This course provides an introduction to evolutionary and biocultural approaches within anthropology to the central and peripheral nervous systems and their interconnections. Topics include the evolution of the brain; how culture and social structure shape the brain, its development, and its activity; and anthropological perspectives on connections among culture, behavior, brain, mind, and body.
An introduction to the biocultural and evolutionary bases of human adaptability.
An introduction to anthropological inquiries and methods in nutrition including food habits, food systems, dietary variability, and food movements using an engaged anthropological framework. This experiential learning class teaches students how to conduct nutritional anthropological fieldwork within local community settings.
Health culturally competent socialized adults and mature physical forms arise from a developmental process with evolutionary, biological, social and cultural dimensions. We survey child/human development from an anthropological perspective, considering interactons across levels of analysis from genes to culture.
Course investigates skeletal pathology and trauma. Topics included: 1. Understanding disease processes, 2. Distinguishing accidental and violent trauma on bone, 3. Recognizing the following conditions in skeletal remains: congential anomalies, circulatory disorders, joint diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, skeletal dysplasias, neoplastic conditions, diseases of the dentition and other conditions. Students will inventory, evaluate and analyze sets of human skeletal remains for pathology and trauma and complete final reports on those remains.
This course is an introduction to teaching anthropology at the primary and secondary levels. It is a service-learning course, which means that all students will serve as instructors in a local anthropology course offered in the Tuscaloosa area. This course will expose students to applied anthropology through teaching the anthropological perspective via an activity-based four-subfield curriculum in conjunction with local elementary schools, after-school programs, or similar community partners. These programs will be taught by teams, and each student will be responsible for attending weekly course meetings, developing curricular material and implementing it in a classroom setting, and co-teaching with other students.
Directed nonthesis research in archaeology, cultural anthropology, anthropological linguistics, or physical anthropology.
No description available.
Prepares students in the scientific method and research skills used in anthropology. Instruction emphasizes grant writing, study design, interview and observation techniques, and the collection, management, and analysis of data using a statistical software package.
This seminar is designed to refine doctoral students' background in qualitative and quantitative research methods necessary for dissertation research. Emphasis is placed on the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods for students doing ethnographic research, and techniques of numerical induction for archaeology students.
An examination of contemporary archaeological theory and method and their development during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Contemporary issues in the archaeology of complex societies, including different aspects of complexity and attempts to classify and measure them.
A biocultural overview of the anthropology of health. Topics include biological and cultural approaches to various dimensions of human health and illness.
An examination of Indians and Eskimos of North America during the historical period, focusing on the impact of European contact on culture and society.
A critical examination of archaeology's history as a science, with emphasis on intellectual trends, changes in method and theory, and recent developments. Offered once a year.
This course examines seminal works in the history of anthropology. Works may include books or smaller publications that exemplify important developments in theory and method.
This seminar reviews past and contemporary theories and approaches used in cultural anthropology.
A series of seminars and lectures designed to refine the student's knowledge of research on nonhuman primates, fossil hominids, population genetics, and human variation and adaptation. Offered once a year.
Directed dissertation research in archaeology, cultural anthropology, anthropological linguistics, or physical anthropology.
No description available.
This course is normally taken near the end of the museum studies program after the majority of other required courses have been completed. For the internship, students will develop a project proposal for a 40-hour unpaid internship at a host museum of their choice. Once the proposal is approved by the MUSM Internship Coordinator and MUSM Chair, students will complete the internship at their chosen host museum and be evaluated by their host museum supervisor and MUSM Internship Coordinator.
This course utilizes case studies, analysis of timely topical issues, and problem-based learning exercises to explore many facets of museum studies relevant to administration and management in not-for-profit museums of various types (art, history, natural history, or science/technology). Intended for students considering a career in arts administration, or museums specifically, this course provides an inter-disciplinary introduction to museum work. Students will gain an understanding of the history and philosophy of museums, the role of museums in society, collecting policies, governance, strategic planning, budgeting, grant-writing, museum ethics, multicultural issues, and legal issues in museums. Behind-the-scenes visits to museums and guest speakers will be included.
This course considers the intellectual, physical, legal, financial, social, and ethical challenges of preserving and providing access to museum collections. Through lectures, readings, hands-on activities, and field trips students explore the theory and practice of collections management and learn how to maximize available resources for collections care in any museum regardless of size.
This course provides an overview of museum exhibition and education initiatives; two of the most important functions of all museums. The emphasis of the first part of the course will be on critiquing, designing and presenting museum exhibitions to various audiences. As exhibition and education are intricately linked in museums, the education component of this course will explore various ways to engage the visiting public through museum displays as well as other public outreach programs. Students should be prepared to not only design appealing museums displays but also successfully export their content in various formats to various publics that include schoolchildren.