Historical Anthropology

Historical research defines Anthropological Archaeology and has long been a significant aspect of Social Anthropology. Through work with material artifacts, textual records, and oral narratives, archaeologists and social anthropologists illuminate the historical dynamism of material landscapes, social relations, and cultural meanings. Our faculty research covers a wide range of historical phenomena including, the social, cultural, ecological, legal, and political dimensions of colonialism, processes of decolonization, changing articulations of identity and difference within postcolonial and postimperial societies, and the production of old and new nationalisms. Many are also deeply engaged with questions of epistemology and method, particularly how to understand overlaps and divergences between anthropological and other disciplinary approaches to the past. Finally, several of our faculty address the changing place of anthropology in the world and how the discipline has been variously implicated in wider processes of state formation, political contestation, and cultural production. 

Gary  Urton

Gary Urton

Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies
Department Chair


Research and Teaching Interests: South American archaeology, ethnohistory and ethnology; ancient accounting and...

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Peabody Museum 557A
21 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Chair Business Contact:
(617) 495-5820 | Peabody Museum 30A
p: (617) 496-8534
Michael  Herzfeld

Michael Herzfeld

Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences
Director, Thai Studies Program, Asia Center
On Leave Spring 2018


Research and Teaching Interests: Social theory, history of Anthropology, social poetics, politics of history;...

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Tozzer Anthropology Building 311
21 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: (617) 496-5190