Sociocultural Anthropology

The study of sociocultural anthropology at the University of Washington encompasses a diverse array of approaches to the study of culture and ethnographic research, from theories of culture and power to post-structuralism, post-colonialism, post-socialism, critical theory, and semiotics. Topical interests among the faculty include ethnicity; identity and representation; politics of reproduction; gender; language ideology; environment and development; governmentality and institutions; ethnobiology; religion; cross-cultural studies of healing and death; popular culture; nationalism, globalization, and migration studies; the history and critique of anthropology; tourism; political economy; indigenous rights, law, and human rights; and violence and warfare. Program strengths lie in the areas of medical anthropology and the politics of reproduction; governmentality studies; nationalism, ethnicity, and identity; science and technology studies; and culture and environment.

The Department of Anthropology was first established in the 1930s with an emphasis on Native North America and Northwest Coast societies. Today members of our sociocultural faculty conduct research in East, South, and Southeast Asia; the Pacific Islands; the Americas, including Mexico, Central America, and the United States; the Middle East; West and East Africa; and Ukraine. China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the United States are each represented by multiple faculty members with research interests in these regions.

Graduate study in sociocultural anthropology involves the development of theoretical, geographic, methodological, and linguistic specialties, as well as a historical perspective on the discipline. Upon completion of course requirements and the requirements for candidacy, graduate students conduct an extended period of field research (1-2 years) prior to writing a dissertation. Our graduate program has a commitment to training international graduate students, and each incoming class typically includes one or two students from outside the United States. Our placement record in academic teaching and research positions is excellent, and graduates from our program have also successfully developed careers in public health, international development, community advocacy, government, and business.