What is Anthropology?

"Anthropology is so important, all children should learn it" -- Marc Brightman, The Ecologist

Anthropology, the study of humankind, is an inter-disciplinary field with four main subdivisions that range across science, social science, and the humanities: archaeology, linguistics, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology.

  • From the earth, archaeologists recover material, human, and environmental remains in order to interpret the cultures of past societies.
  • Linguistic anthropologists study comparatively the ways in which language and other media shape social life.
  • Biological anthropologists investigate human physical origins, growth, and development in relation to environmental, genetic, and sociocultural factors.
  • Cultural anthropologists work with living human groups and individuals throughout the world, recording their ways of life and beliefs (ethnography) and analyzing and interpreting their findings with a view to understanding and explaining similarities and differences in human behaviour.



  1. Human/ environment relationships:
    • Long-term archaeological perspectives on the relationship of human settlement and mobility with resource use, agricultural ecosystems, urbanism, food, and health.
    • Cross-cultural studies of the constitution, use, and meanings of landscape, space, and place

  2. Food, diet, and human health:
    • Long-term, cross-cultural perspectives on diet and human health
    • Food and drink studies

  3. Materiality & the world of things
    • New Materialism," or semiotic interrogations of the meaning potentials of materiality
    • The production and consumption of material culture, including behavioural chains, usewear, taphonomy, and technological analyses.


The Trent Anthropology Department strives to provide students with a high quality education through which they can explore human life and its transformations from a perspective that is global, historical, and cross-cultural. The anthropological approach (which is relativistic, pluralistic, holistic, and comparative) unites the discipline as it has developed and continues to develop in symbiotic relationship with other disciplines. Students have the opportunity to study linguistic, archaeological, biological, and cultural anthropology, as well as other disciplines which have shaped anthropology, or in which anthropological perspectives are valued. Reflecting current and historical trends of scholarship, the Department offers a variety of courses, both practical and theoretical, ranging from the scientific to the humanistic. In offering the study of humanity in all its variety, present and past, the Department strives to encourage an appreciation of both the diversity and commonality of humanity in order to promote understanding, respect, and peace.

Department of Anthropology office (L&HS-DNA C207) is open:
Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. -  4:30 p.m.
Tuesdays from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Please Note: Anthropology Library & Resource room (L&HS-DNA C203) is normally open at 9 a.m. and will be closed at 4 p.m., except on Tuesdays it will be closed at 3 p.m.

Anthropology - A Profile (Download PDF)