Sociology and Anthropology
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Sociocultural Anthropology

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Sociocultural anthropology is the study of human similarities and differences and their impact on a wide range of social phenomena. The salient features of our epoch—global communications, a world market, mass migrations, urban growth, and intra- as well as international conflict—underscore the importance of understanding societies in all their cultural complexity and variety. Anthropologists innovate methods uniquely suited to studying social phenomena at different scales within a historical and political context. Through a range of research methods anthropologists analyze what unites diverse peoples as well as what distinguishes them from one another.

The theoretical and methodological approaches used by anthropologists are interdisciplinary, comparative, and holistic. Students of anthropology learn critical approaches to the study of culture, how to use participant-observation fieldwork methods, how to conduct ethnographic research, how to gather and explain complex data, and how to use anthropological knowledge in making and debating policy.

George Mason University’s distinguished anthropology program faculty covers a broad spectrum of theoretical specializations, as well as world regions—Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and the United States.


Andrew Bickford (Ph.D., Rutgers University)— war and culture, militarization, security, biotechnology, bioethics, synthetic biology, medical anthropology (health issues in, and related to, the military, war, and conflict), masculinity, post-socialist societies, political anthropology, climate change and security, giant squid and oceans, Europe and the United States 

Cortney Hughes Rinker (Ph.D., University of California, Irvine)—Islam, reproduction, aging and the end-of-life, clinical and religious ethics, medical anthropology, development, applied anthropology, Middle East and North Africa, United States

Rashmi Sadana (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) – urban ethnography, mass transit and megacities, language politics, ethnography of literature, modernity and identity, nationalism, colonialism, postcolonialism, globalization, India

Anne Schiller  (Ph.D., Cornell University)—cultural identity and heritage preservation, indigenous peoples, Italy, Indonesia

Linda J. Seligmann (Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana)—political economy, gender/class/ethnicity, transracial/transnational adoption, Latin America, Andes 

Susan R. Trencher (Ph.D., Catholic University of America)—history of anthropology, anthropological theory and practice, anthropology of anthropology, American culture

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