"Anthropology is the study of what makes us human"
- American Anthropological Association
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.