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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Anthropology View this department's website

Anthropology is the study of humankind in its broadest sense, from our earliest evolutionary origins to the global interconnectedness of today. Students who are curious about the similarities and differences among humans around the world often find a fresh analytical perspective in anthropology. This program emphasizes sociocultural anthropology, which is the study of contemporary peoples as investigated directly by anthropologists through field research. Courses range from introductory overviews of the most significant questions in the discipline to more focused considerations of topics from across the entire discipline of anthropology. Departmental offerings also provide exposure to particular cultural areas in which the faculty hold expertise: Asia, Latin America and Native North America. For majors and minors in anthropology, the sequence of courses in theory and methods seeks to encourage analytical skills, provide a foundation in anthropological theory and develop practical skills in observation, interviewing, ethics and interpersonal rapport. The study of anthropology contributes to the liberal education of students by providing new tools for understanding and analyzing the diversity of world cultures, as well as our own.

Career Opportunities in Anthropology

With its emphasis on non-Western cultures and its integration of perspectives from the humanities and sciences, anthropology offers versatile training for students in our increasingly interconnected world. A major or minor in anthropology provides excellent preparation for careers in research, education and human services, especially those which involve contact with international and/or multicultural communities. Students of anthropology find employment in both the public and private sectors, in fields as diverse as international development, refugee resettlement, hospital administration, museums and cultural resource management, and tourism.

Facilities and equipment available to the department include classrooms, offices and instructional aids in Eaton Hall, Native American art collections in the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and library holdings.

Requirements for the Anthropology Major (9 Credits)

  • ANTH 111 (US) Essentials of Anthropology (1) OR
  • ANTH 250 (US) Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 361 (W) Ethnographic Methods
  • ANTH 371 Survey of Anthropological Theory

One course in a Geographic Area:

One Topical Course

Three additional courses chosen from geographical and topical categories, and/or departmentally approved courses taken during off-campus programs.

Senior Year Experience

Requirements for the Anthropology Minor (5 Credits)

  • ANTH 111 (US) Essentials of Anthropology or
  • ANTH 250 (US) Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology

One topical course

One area course from the following


  • Peter Wogan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Chair
  • Rebecca J. Dobkins, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Joyce Millen, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
  • Pamela Moro, Professor of Anthropology

Course Listings

ANTH 090X Native North American Film (.25)

A study of films and videos about and/or by Native North Americans. It is intended to introduce the cultures of indigenous peoples of Canada and the U.S. through visual media, as well as to explore and critique the conventions employed by the filmmakers. Ideally taken concurrently with ANTH 231.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 111 (US) Essentials of Anthropology (1)

This course presents a general introduction to the anthropological point of view, basic concepts and subject matter. Major portions of the course are devoted to: the biological processes of evolution, the development of the primate order and our own species from its earliest origins; archaeological approaches to understanding the past, focusing upon the beginnings of food production and agriculture; the nature of language and the key role of language in human culture; and a survey of topics in the study of contemporary culture, including adaptations to the environment, family and social structure and issues/conflicts in the “modernizing” world.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 211 (IT) Folklore (1)

Considers the major forms, functions, origins, methods of transmission and performance of folklore, as well as the collection and analysis of folklore. Introduces a variety of folklore genres (such as myth, joke, riddle, proverb, ballad), drawing upon cross-cultural as well as U.S. examples. Students will carry out independent research and analysis projects.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 231 (TH; US) Native North American Cultures (1)

This course offers a survey of the dynamic, changing cultures of Native North America, from the time of the first peopling of the continent to the present day. The approach emphasizes the diversity of these cultures, as well as the complexity of the relationships between Native American and non-native peoples. Particular attention given to Oregon and the Northwest.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society; Thinking Historically; Indigenous Peoples and Cultures Cluster

Prerequisite: ANTH 150 recommended

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 233 (US) Peoples & Cultures of Asia (1)

This course represents an application of the anthropological perspective (an emphasis on field-collected data and the common patterns of culture and social life) to the study of the development and contemporary life of societies in Asia, including India, China and Thailand. Specific topics include kinship and family structures, adaptations to the natural environment, political and economic structures, religion, expressive culture and the arts, processes of urbanization and industrialization, and issues of social change in the late 20th century.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society; Asia Cluster

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 250 (US) Controversies and Issues in Cultural Anthropology (1)

This course offers an introduction to cultural anthropology through an examination of major questions which concern anthropologists, such as: Is human behavior inherited or learned? Why is there war? What are the reasons for social inequality? Through a problem-solving method of learning, students will have the opportunity to debate and discuss the often conflicting approaches of leading anthropologists to these issues.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Every Semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 251 Latin American Culture (1)

[Crosslisted with LAS 251]

This course provides an introduction to major aspects of Latin American cultures (especially indigenous cultures), including the following: conquest history, ethnicity, national identity, religion, healing, politics, gender, media representations, Lations in the U.S., and language. A service-learning component involves work with a local community agency serving Latinos.

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 303 Museum Studies Seminar (1)

This seminar is designed to introduce students to the field of museum anthropology and to the theoretical and practical dimensions of museum studies. As an applied research experience, it offers the opportunity to do hands-on work with the Native American collection and exhibition program at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Topics include the application of contemporary anthropological theory to work in museums, particularly in terms of issues of cultural representation, ethics, fieldwork, and museum display. Students will learn and apply skills in collections and archival management, exhibition development, and museum public programming.

Prerequisite: ANTH 231 or ANTH 351, and consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 341  Anthropology of Art (1)

This course focuses upon art as a dynamic process involving not only the human creation of objects, but the circulation of these objects within the various social, cultural and historical contexts which give them meaning. Provides a foundation in the anthropological study of art, aesthetics, museums and material culture. Special attention will be given to the arts of Native North America, Africa and Oceania.

Prerequisite: No prerequisites, though ANTH 111 or 250. ANTH 231 or a background in Art is recommended.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 343 Ethnomusicology (1)

This course considers music in social and cultural context, with attention to the functions, forms and meanings of music as an aspect of human behavior. Introduces techniques for the cross-cultural study of music. Examples are drawn from a number of musical traditions, primarily from the non-Western world.

Prerequisite: No prerequisites, though ANTH 111 or 250 or training in Music is recommended.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 345 Gender Issues in Anthropology (1)

An examination of gender and sex cross-culturally and in evolutionary perspective, with emphasis on the non-industrialized world. Some of the topics we will consider include women and men in prehistory; notions of masculinity, femininity and sexuality; the sexual divisions of labor and economic organization; women’s involvement in ritual and religion; and impact of sociocultural change on gender issues.

Prerequisite: No prerequisite, ANTH 111 or 250 or courses in Women’s Studies are recommended. 

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 351 (AR) Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and the Environment (1)

This course focuses upon environmental and human rights issues affecting indigenous peoples worldwide. Using the cross-cultural, comparative and field-based perspectives that distinguish anthropology, this course examines some of the most pressing problems facing the world's indigenous peoples, explores strategies used by these groups in facing human rights and environmental violations, and offers students the opportunity to study about and take action on these issues. Case studies of specific indigenous groups will be drawn from different world areas, including North and South America, Africa, Oceania and Asia.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values; Indigenous Peoples and Cultures Cluster; Environmental Cluster

Prerequisite: prior course work in Anthropology or Environmental Studies required

  • Offering: Alternate years in Spring
  • Instructor: Dobkins

ANTH 353 Myth, Ritual and Religion (1)

Religion is found in some form in every culture and the discipline of anthropology has been much concerned with exploring and understanding the global diversity of religious expression. This course introduces the cross-cultural study of myth, ritual and religion through case studies drawn from around the world.

Prerequisite: Prior course work in Anthropology or Religion recommended

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Dobkins, Moro

ANTH 355 Warfare, Violence and Peace (1)

This course will critically examine anthropological theories about the causes, functions, and meanings of warfare, violence, and peace. In particular, the following topics will be addressed: 1) the causes and nature of warfare according to competing theories from materialist, functionalist, symbolic, and biological perspectives; 2) the function and meaning of headhunting, cannibalism, human sacrifice, torture, gang violence, and organized crime; 3) changes from violent to peaceful practices. Various case studies will be examined, with special emphasis on small-scale societies.

Prerequisite: One previous course in anthropology

  • Offering: Taught 2003-2004 academic year
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 356 (W) Language and Culture (1)

This course introduces students to the major issues and methodologies in the study of language in its cultural context. In particular, the course focuses on linguistic questions related to the following: 1) gender; 2) power; 3) ethnic, racial, and national identifies; 4) literacy; 5) poetic, verbal performance; and 6) intercultural communication. Analysis often centers on video and cassette texts from films, conversations, and the students' own fieldwork data.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Previous coursework in Anthropology recommended

  • Offering: Every third semester
  • Instructor: Wogan

ANTH 357 Writing Culture: The Crafting of Anthropological Texts (1)

How do anthropologists represent other cultures? This course examines the most significant mode of writing within anthropology: the ethnography. Students will read a selection of ethnographies representing a variety of issues, theoretical approaches, and styles of crafting ethnographic text. Topics to be explored will include the establishment of authorial voice, the integration of data into text, contemporary experimentation with and critique of the ethnographic format. Specific content and reading lists will rotate depending on instructor.

Prerequisite: At least One prior course in Anthropology.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 358 Special Topics in Anthropology (1)

This course provides the flexibility to offer special topics of interest in anthropology. The course may study a particular subfield of anthropology, or a particular anthropological problem in depth.

Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or ANTH 250 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 361 (W) Ethnographic Methods (1)

A practical writing-centered introduction to the field techniques of anthropology, with an emphasis on student-conducted research. Topics include ethics, rapport, gathering and recording data (focusing upon techniques of participant-observation and interviewing), writing description and qualitative analysis. Each student will design and carry out an independent, semester-long research project. This course is intended for anthropology minors and majors.

Prerequisite: ANTH 371

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Moro

ANTH 371 Survey of Anthropological Theory (1)

This course surveys the history of anthropological theory, with an emphasis upon contemporary schools and movements within the discipline. Topics range from the nineteenth-century intellectual history of the discipline to current trends and critiques in anthropology. Appropriate for students of anthropology and others interested in cultural studies or theory in the social sciences.

Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or 250 or permission of instructor.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Dobkins, Wogan

ANTH 394 Internship in Anthropology (1)

This course provides an opportunity for practical experience (minimum 12 hours per week) in an off-campus setting related to the study of anthropology and to the student's emerging research and professional interests. The student will be supervised by an on-site professional as well as a faculty member. A paper, journal, and periodic consultations with the faculty member are required. The course does not fulfill the senior experience requirement.

Prerequisite: The internship is open to advanced majors in anthropology only; completion of ANTH 371 and ANTH 361 are recommended.

  • Offering: Fall/Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 490 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

This course provides the opportunity to conduct a major research project which cannot otherwise be pursued through any existing course in the department's curriculum. Students must have standing in anthropology and will work under faculty supervision. 

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ANTH 499 (W) Senior Seminar (1)

Students will read and discuss current research in anthropology. Each student will write and present a major paper.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: ANTH 371 and senior standing

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff