Anthropology is the exploration of what it means to be human. As a study concentration, anthropology is far more than stones and bones. Although anthropology is often associated with faraway places and remote excavations, anthropologists are increasingly involved in research on such topics as education, health, food, migration, sport, cultural identity, and other pressing issues in contemporary societies.
In addition to traditional paths in teaching and research, an anthropology degree can lead to careers in non-academic areas such as forensics, contract archaeology, cultural resource management, museum technology, social services, education, government, and marketing.
The study of anthropology provides a broad-based approach to the understanding of human culture (past and present) and human biology. The anthropological perspective is global, holistic, and involves considerable time-depth. The major exposes students to the primary subdivisions within the field: archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics.
Anthropology Department Mission Statement:
We believe that the anthropological perspective has a transformative power affecting our views of the natural world and its inhabitants, in the past, the present, and the future. We prepare students to apply what they learn, in the classroom, in fieldwork and to the many aspects of their lives. Through their studies, anthropology students learn to contextualize and respect human and non-human primate behaviors, to use quantitative and qualitative scientific and empathic modes of understanding, and to find their place as responsible citizens in society.
Anthropology Department History:
The Anthropology Department at SUNY Buffalo State was founded as a joint sociology/anthropology department in the fall of 1966. The department became independent in the fall of 1970 through the aegis of Drs. June Collins and George Tomashevich, both cultural anthropologists. The department moved into its new laboratory and office spaces in 1973 with the construction of the Classroom building. Hiring of faculty was vigorous in the early 1970s and soon three more cultural anthropologists (Drs. Jill Nash, Simeon Chilungu, and Don Mitchell), a biological anthropologist (Dr. Marie Geiss), and an archaeologist (Dr. William Engelbrecht) joined as tenure-track faculty. A folklorist, Dr. Lydia Fish, transferred to anthropology from English in 1977. They were joined by another cultural anthropologist, Dr. Dennis Gaffin, in 1989. Hiring was limited to adjuncts and the occasional full-time temporary lecturer until the 2000s.
In 2005, the department hired Dr. Lisa Marie Anselmi as Dr. Engelbrecht's successor upon his retirement. This hire renewed the department’s focus on Indigenous cultures and on local archaeological sites as she conducts field and collections work in Western New York and Ontario. She was joined in 2009 by Dr. Susan Maguire, a specialist in military historical archaeology with field experience at Old Fort Niagara (Youngstown, NY) and in Canada.
The department added two scholars with broad international interests. Dr. Kimberly Hart, a cultural anthropologist working in Turkey, joined the department in 2007 and Dr. Julie Wieczkowski, a primatologist and biological anthropologist working with Tana River mangabeys in Kenya, joined the department in 2008.
These four tenured faculty members are supplemented by a small group of adjunct instructors each semester to teach courses in three of the four fields of anthropology: archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology. The department offers a BA degree and a minor. The department also hosts two interdisciplinary minors, forensic anthropology, the techniques for recovery and analysis of human remains for legal purposes, and Indigenous studies, an in-depth focus on the cultures, histories, languages, literatures and contemporary issues of the Indigenous cultures of North, Central, and South America.
The department regularly offers students field work experiences in archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology and has connections with over 15 local community partners including the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo History Museum, Forest Lawn Cemetery, and the Buffalo Museum of Science.
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