Cultural Anthropology

Socio-cultural anthropology centers on the study of living humans and the production and transformation of their systems of meanings, world views, material artifacts, and everyday activities through processes of colonization, state-building, migration, environmental change, and globalization. Socio-cultural anthropologists are passionate about understanding human cultural diversity and the many ways in which culture shapes the way people live across the globe.

The socio-cultural anthropology program at Purdue emphasizes processes of social and cultural transformation, emerging local and global institutions, and the interplay of power and ideology. We provide training in a broad range of areas, including the anthropology of religion, gender, kinship, sexuality, violence, human rights, economic and political anthropology, human-environment relationships, post-colonial studies, transnational movements, applied anthropology and visual anthropology, as well as ethnographic and participatory field methods.

Faculty are engaged in field research in Europe, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Senegal, Tunisia, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and the United States and have broader expertise that encompasses Southeast Asia, native North America, Inner Asia, Oceania, the Amazon, and Scandinavia. Our faculty conducts research projects specifically with Jewish communities in Denmark; Saami pastoralists; rural and urban communities in West Sumatra, Indonesia; women in Africa and the Middle East; and indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon. We engage a wide range of issues including people and plant interactions in the urban US; alternative genders and sexualities; global LGBTQ movements and identities; matrilineality; gender and power; religious transformations; grassroots projects; tourism; social and environmental justice; community and conservation issues; and minority religious communities.

Cultural anthropologists:

Myrdene Anderson (see Linguistic anthropology)
Ellen Gruenbaum 
Riall Nolan
Laura Zanotti



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