What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the systematic study of humanity, with the goal of understanding our evolutionary origins, our distinctiveness as a species, and the great diversity in our forms of social existence across the world and through time.

Anthropology is divided into four subfields: sociocultural, linguistic and biological anthropology, and archaeology.

Sociocultural anthropology

Sociocultural anthropologists interpret the content of particular cultures, explain variation among cultures, and study processes of cultural change and social transformation. UC Davis sociocultural anthropologists conduct research on most areas of the world, focusing on topics that include: human ecology; gender relations; culture and ideology; demography and family systems; race, class and gender inequality; resistance movements; colonialism, neocolonialism, and development; and cultural politics in the West.

Biological anthropology

Biological anthropologists study a variety of aspects of human evolutionary biology. Some examine fossils and apply their observations to understanding human evolution; others compare morphological, biochemical and physiological adaptations of living humans to their environments; still others observe behavior of nonhuman primates (monkeys and apes) to understand the roots of human behavior.

Archaeology

Archaeologists study the material remains of present and past cultural systems to understand the technical, social and political organization of those systems and the larger culture evolutionary process that stand behind them. The UC Davis program in archaeology emphasizes research in California and the Great Basin, but also supports the study of hunter-gatherer systems in general, and is engaged in such research in Australia and Asia.