"Anthropology is the study of what makes us human"
- American Anthropological Association
Sexual misconduct and other forms of harassment and intimidation have inflicted severe harm on our department. Over the past two years, we have reckoned with the way intimidation and harassment violate equal access to a safe and supportive educational and work environment. In response, we have instituted changes to departmental policies and procedures with the aim of increasing transparency and accountability and will continue to do so over the short and longer term. Many members of the Anthropology department are also actively working with the greater Harvard community to advocate for necessary changes to the University’s investigatory processes for the betterment of our educational mission.
Learn More About Anthropology
But anthropology is more than just a catalog of diversity. There is an oft-cited phrase that anthropology “makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar.” What does this mean? At the very least, it means stepping back and seeing ourselves the way others might see us – a shift in perspective that is foundational to empathy and humility. Anthropology also invites deeper analysis of behaviors that we might think we fully understand but that have histories and complexities that only reveal themselves with careful investigation. This is why we do long term field research in local languages to understand social life in all its richness and depth. And finally, making the familiar strange demands an ethical and political accounting. It means not accepting the world as given. This might well be the heart of the discipline, what one of my favorite anthropologists calls its moral optimism: the conviction that things can be different and better -- and that knowledge about the world should be oriented towards greater equality and justice.