The Stanford Department of Anthropology is distinguished by its innovative approach to the discipline, and Department faculty are at the forefront of exciting new developments in the field. We believe that anthropology should be engaged with recent developments in the world at large, and we seek to bring anthropological perspectives to bear on the problems of a modern, global society. This attention to real-world problems and issues takes us far from the pursuit of the exotic that some still associate with the discipline of anthropology. It leads us, rather, to an intellectually rigorous and socially responsible pursuit of answers to questions that urgently matter in the contemporary world.
This orientation leads us to appreciate the way that different research methods and theoretical approaches can complement each other. Our department is dedicated to a broad intellectual pluralism, in which a range of different approaches are recognized and valued. Different problems require different methodologies, but rather than opposing one method to another, we prefer to think about how they can be innovatively combined to yield new insights into important problems.
As a result, we are willing to question conventional intellectual boundaries. This often means setting aside received divisions between sub-fields – as in recent studies of language that also speak to the best recent work in sociocultural anthropology, ecological and ethnographic studies that combine biological and cultural understandings, or archaeological research that is simultaneously concerned with ethnographic understandings of heritage and the politics of representation. Just as we challenge conventional sub-field boundaries, we are equally committed to crossing disciplinary boundaries, and to engaging the exciting new developments that are emerging at the interstices of disciplines, in areas as diverse as cultural studies, human ecology, science and technology studies, critical theory, gene-culture coevolutionary theory, anthropological genetics, feminist studies, and ethnic studies.