In the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst, we regard anthropology not so much as a discipline but as an approach to understanding various issues about the human condition. Accordingly, new questions and perspectives are constantly being explored and tested. Individuals with quite different backgrounds, experiences, and goals have joined our program and have been successful in their contributions to anthropology as a whole.
On a theoretical level, we emphasize a biocultural perspective on human adaptation and adaptability, enhanced by a political-economic approach to key questions about the nature of human societies. In terms of courses and research training, we offer special concentrations in the ethnography of complex societies, the origins and nature of social inequality, the theory of human adaptation and evolution, theoretical and quantitative archaeology, and applied archaeology. There are also concentrations on historical and contemporary European societies, and pre-Contact and historical populations of the northeastern United States.
At UMass, there are four overlapping subdivisions of anthropology: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.