We are one of the fastest growing departments with nearly 200 majors. As the largest undergraduate-only anthropology program in the state of North Carolina and the third largest program overall (behind UNC and Duke University), we offer both B.S. and B.A. degrees in several fields of anthropology. Despite the small number of faculty (10 full time tenure-track faculty [4 full professors, 2 associate professors, 4 assistant professors] and 1 senior lecturer), the Department ranks #4 in the College of Arts & Sciences for amount of degrees produced and #4 for amount of majors relative to the number of tenure line faculty. 


The Department of Anthropology is committed to a comparative and holistic approach to the study of the human experience. The anthropological perspective provides a broad understanding of the origins as well as the meaning of physical and cultural diversity in the world - past, present, and future. As such, the program in anthropology offers the opportunity for understanding world affairs and problems within the total context of the human experience and for constructing solutions to world problems which are firmly grounded in that context. Cultural anthropologists study people and their cultural practices and beliefs both within and outside of the United States as well as the topics of identity, power, inequality, and social praxis. Archaeologists study the material culture of past peoples in order to reconstruct their cultures, traditions, and practices in order to understand both what came before and how this may help us understand the present. Biological anthropologists study primate evolution and behavioral ecology, human biological variation, biocultural adaptations, bioarchaeology, and human paleontology. Together, we strive to understand both past and present variation in human societies. [ Welcome from the Chair ] [ Why study anthropology? ]


Study Abroad with the Department of Anthropology
Friday, November 7, 2014 - 12:48pm

The Department of Anthropology offers students three exciting opportunities to travel abroad: Spring (Mexico) and Summer (Ecuador and Ireland)

Department mourns the loss of one of its alumni
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 10:53am

The Department of Anthropology is saddened to hear of the sudden death of our recent alumnus, Dan Upchurch

Dr. Linda Jencson publishes new chapter on disaster and pop culture
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 1:36pm

Dr. Linda Jencson has just published a chapter, "All Those Apocalypses: Disaster Studies and Community in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel," in the edited volume Reading Joss Whedon.

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Alumni spotlights

Dr. Melissa Shrift, Associate Professor of Anthropology, East Tennessee State University

After graduating from Appalachian with a B.A. in anthropology, she pursued graduate work in cultural anthropology at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She returned to China to conduct her doctoral research on Chairman Mao icons and Chinese popular culture.

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Faculty spotlights

Dr. Cheryl Claassen, Professor of Anthropology

"[In the spring of 2010, I was] on leave [and had] several tasks to complete. One was to write a paper for publication on a ritual rock shelter in eastern Kentucky, a women's retreat/seclusion place for menstruation, birthing and initiation. I also [spent the semester studying] Aztec beliefs, and pilgrimages. Some of you who have had classes with me in the past 4 years may understand where all of this is coming from but others of you may be baffled."

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