Sociocultural Anthropology

Sociocultural Anthropology Image

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, social and economic inequality, 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, Southern Africa, and the United States.


Huwymin Lucia Liu (Ph.D., Boston University, Massachusetts)— Cultural Anthropology, Political Anthropology, Politics, Economy and Religion, Socialism and Change, Subjectivity and Governance, Civil Society, Life and Death Studies, Ritual Studies, Culture and Emotion, Gender and Masculinity, China and Taiwan

Christopher Morris (Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder)— environmental governance, pharmaceutical politics, extractive industries, indigeneity, medical anthropology, Southern Africa

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

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


Sociocultural Anthropologists in Other Departments/Schools at George Mason

Jennifer Ashley (Ph.D. Brown University; Asst. Prof. Global Affairs)—Latin America, social movements, political subjectivity, youth studies, media, journalism, information technology

Kevin Avruch (Ph.D., University of California, San Diego; Dean School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution), culture and ethnic conflict, peacekeeping

Lisa Breglia (Ph.D., Rice University; Assoc. Prof. Global Affairs)—Natural and cultural resources, intellectual property, World Heritage, and global environmentalism

Susan Crate (Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Prof. Environmental Science and Policy)—cultural ecology, circumpolar region

Leslie Dwyer (Ph.D., Princeton; Assoc. Prof. Conflict Analysis and Anthropology), violence, gender, post-conflict social life, transitional justice, and the politics of memory and identity, Indonesia

Susan Hirsch (Ph.D., Duke University: Prof. Conflict Resolution and Anthropology)—legal anthropology, sociolegal studies, discourse analysis, gender theory, East Africa, Islam

Niklas Hultin (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Asst. Prof. Global Affairs) —West Africa, political and legal anthropology, human rights, law and law enforcement, small arms, information practices, banking

Yasemin Ipek (Ph.D., Stanford University; Asst. Prof. Global Affairs)—Nationalism, sectarianism, transnational Islamic humanitarianism, activism and civil society, the Middle East

Roger Lancaster (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; Prof. Cultural Studies and Anthropology)—social inequality, gender/sexuality, Mexico and Central America

Joseph Maxwell (Ph.D., University of Chicago; Prof. College of Education and Human Development)—culture and education

Jorge Osterling (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; Assoc. Prof. Multicultural and Multilingual Education)—educational anthropology, education and immigrants

Lisa R. Pawloski (Ph.D., Indiana University, Prof. Nutrition and Food Studies)nutritional anthropology, adolescent health, West Africa, Thailand

Janine Wedel (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; Prof. Schar School of Policy and Government)—corruption, governance, foreign aid, Eastern Europe

Matthew E. West (Ph.D., Columbia University; Asst. Prof. Global Affairs)—Globalization, legal and economic anthropology, the anthropology of science and technology; patents, copyright, property, and piracy; creativity, copying, and the knowledge economy; semiotics; social media; environmental capitalism; China, Hong Kong, Taiwan