Anthropology

About Us

Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Anthropology--the study of human diversity across geographic space and evolutionary time--takes on these far-reaching questions in four sub-fields: Archaeology investigates the behaviors and cultural patterns of past human societies through examination of material artifacts. Biological anthropology considers the biological diversity and evolution of humans and our closet primate relatives. Cultural anthropology considers social and cultural diversity among living populations. Linguistic anthropology studies social and cultural dimensions of language, as well as its origins and features. From these diverse perspectives, anthropologists study such wide-ranging topics as human evolution, culture change, health, nutrition and disease, personality, family and marriage, politics, gender, and sexuality. Training in the concepts and methods of anthropology prepares students to make sense of the multi-cultural, globalized world in which we live.

What can I do with my anthropology degree?

A background in anthropology is a valuable asset in today’s job market. The skills that you learn as a major are applicable to a wide range of academic and professional careers. Many of our majors have continued on to graduate studies at New York University, University of Chicago, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Connecticut, and Boston University. Our students have also used their anthropological training to enter fields such as business, law, government, education, international relations, public health, and social and environmental activism. 

Contact Us

Office: SOUTH CLASSROOM BUILDING 107C
Department of Anthropology
SUNY New Paltz
600 Hawk Drive SCB 107C
New Paltz, NY 12561-2443
Phone: (845) 257-2990
Fax: (845) 257-2984

Department Chair: Kenneth Nystrom, nystromk@newpaltz.edu
Department Secretary: Susan Buckbee, buckbees@newpaltz.edu

 


African American Anthropology

In honor of Black History Month, we're going to highlight anthropologists from both the past and present that have made significant contributions to our discipline. For this first installment here are brief descriptions and links to a couple professional societies.These are valuable resources for students interested in pursuing a career in anthropology or that may be working on a project for class.

Association of Black Anthropologists

A wonderful source is the website for the Association of Black Anthropologists. A section of the American Anthropological Association, the goal of the ABA is to "bring together Black Anthropologists and other scholars concerned with the goals of the ABA and support its activities," ensuring "that people studied by anthropologists are not only objects of study but active makers and/or participants in their ow history. We intend to highlight situations of exploitation, oppression, and discrimination." In this spirit, the ABA publishes the journal Transforming Anthropology, with the mission of interrogating "the contemporary and historical construction of social inequities based on race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, nationality and other invidious distinctions." The Sojourner Truth Library has electronic access to issues published between 2000 and 2010.

Society of Black Archaeologists

Launched in 2011, the Society of Black Archaeologists with the goal of advocating for "the proper treatment of African and African diaspora material culture, promote more people of African descent to enter the field of archaeology, ensure community collaborations, raise and address concerns related to African peoples worldwide, and highlight the past and present achievements and contributions people of African descent have made to the field of archaeology." In addition to maintaining a list of job openings and fieldwork opportunities, their website also contains a nice list of other resources on African and African diaspora archaeology.


Anthropology News

Current Student Update: Robyn Schaefer (Class of 2016)

In January, Robyn spent the winter session in Belize through a study abroad program offered through SUNY Cortland. Robyn worked 40 hours a week for three weeks at the Belize Botanic Garden (for more information on the garden follow this link). She spent the majority of her time in the nursery propagating and repotting plants, air-layered trees, and learning about Mayan medical plants. The gardens promote the preservation of the rainforest and Mayan practices. The gardens were originally farmland that the owners transformed into a botanical garden as a way to reintroduce wildlife back into that area as well as educate the people that came to visit.

 


Anthropology Alumni Update: Tisa Loewen (Class of 2015)

Tisa was awarded a Historic Huguenot Street Scholarship (follow this link for more information on the scholarship) in 2016. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in Anthropology and Bioarchaeology at New York University. Congratulations!

 


Anthropology Alumni Update: Jacob Yoder (Class of 2015)

For the last year, Jacob has been working as a City Year Americorps member helping students from a low income area in Manchester, new Hampshire. Here is how he describes his experience in his own words:

I work in a 5th grade classroom, coaching students on behavior, attendance, and class work. My school is an extremely diverse cultural smorgasbord because of Manchester's high population of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Having a background in anthropology makes my immersion in such a diverse array of cultures extremely interesting, and easier to navigate. My work at school is incredibly fun and rewarding, but ultimately it is about fighting poverty. I tutor students who are struggling in math and english in order to give them a better shot at graduating from high school down the road, so they can achieve a brighter future.

City Year is an education based non-profit powered by Americorps, with a mission of reducing the rate of high school drop-outs nationwide. In high poverty zones across the country students struggle in the classroom because of issues at home, and lack of resources in schools. As such, drop out rates are much higher in low income school districts. In America, 50% of drop-outs come from only 12% of schools... one's in high poverty zones. This causes the cycle of poverty to continue, because students who don't graduate from high school are 6 times more likely to go to prison, 3 times more likely to be unemployed, and will earn an average of $1 million less in their lifetimes. Corps members like myself serve all over the country, tutoring and mentoring students who are falling behind in order to fight poverty through education.

 


Anthropology Alumni Update: Cheryl Moran (Class of 2011)

Cheryl completed a 1 year Taught MA degree at University of Sussex in Brighton, England and graduated with Merit in 2013. The program was called Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation. Her coursework examined poverty, migration, health, politics and all things related to international development and social change. Her degree work focused on medical anthropology and her thesis was titled 'Living with a Chronic Illness: Coping Strategies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.' Cheryl’s fieldwork involved collecting date from informants attending Crohn's and Colitis support groups around East Sussex and West Sussex counties.

Cheryl describes her experience this way: “I found the work to be quite challenging simply because the course load and the grading system is very different in the UK. Overall, the anthropology department at Sussex is one of the best in the UK and I had an amazing experience during my time there.”

 


Current Student Update: DeYan McCarthy (Class of 2017, Anthropology and Deaf Studies)

In the summer of 2015, DeYan traveled to Ethiopia in a course led by Rebecca Swenson (Communication Disorders, coordinator of the Deaf Studies minor). While there, DeYan worked closely with students at the Kal Center for Special Needs and help produce a short film. Read more about her experience here: https://sites.newpaltz.edu/collegelasne … practices/

These types of experiences are considered 'impact-high' opportunities as they provide the chance to work and learn outside of the classroom environment. As the study of culture is one of the core principles of the Anthropology, study abroad courses represent a significant opportunity for majors to experience new environments, meet new people, and to truly engage in anthropology.

This is how DeYan's describes her experience in her own words:

"There is a really big difference in learning about a culture and being immersed in a culture. In my minor, Deaf Studies, we learn a lot about the Deaf culture and it's history, which was something new to me. We talked about what it meant to be deaf and the Deaf community. However, you can not fully understand a culture like this until you experience it yourself. Getting the opportunity to go to Ethiopia, to spread Deaf awareness and empower the Deaf community was incredible. The deaf adults and children were so welcoming and the other students I went to Ethiopia with were like my Ethiopian family. When we were not doing site visits or filming, we engaged ourselves in the Ethiopian culture. We went shopping in the markets, went cultural dancing, visited historical castles and monasteries and saw a wild life preserve. We also went to the Ethiopian National Museum where I saw the original bones of Lucy. This was really cool because I learned about this in General and Biological Anthropology, but to see it in person was something else. Being an Anthropology major, it was interesting to look at a culture from a different lens and apply what I learned in class to things i was seeing and experiencing. I was able to understand and appreciate the culture even more. Even though, there were mostly Communication Disorder students in this study abroad, I was able to bring new perspectives and share that with my peers. This is an experience I will never forget and I encourage people to embrace other cultures that are not familiar to you."

 


 

Current Student Update: Jillian Heller (Class of 2016)

Jillian Heller has been interning at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz since June 2015. In her position, Jillian has been writing a series of blogs focusing on some of the material contained in the Huguenot Street collections, highlighting not only to their connection to Huguenot Street, but also its broader historical context. Here are some of Jillian's posts:

Post-mortem photography
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/20 … ance-fade/

Opera glasses
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/20 … the-opera/

Spices
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/20 … y-history/

1800s woman's etiquette book
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/20 … rian-lady/

A mechanical engineer's set of tools
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/20 … gineering/

1890s American Flag
https://hhscollections.wordpress.com/20 … llegiance/

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Fran Mascia-Lees (Class of 1976)

Fran Mascia-Lees was recently highlighted in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Newsletter. Professor Mascia-Lees recounts some of the key influences on her education at New Paltz and what how this laid the foundation for her career in Anthropology. You can read the full article at: https://sites.newpaltz.edu/collegelasne … hropology/

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Jessica Schoonmaker (Class of 2013): From September 9th 2014 until September 11th 2015, Jessica attended the University of Bradford in Bradford, England for a Masters of Science in Human Osteology and Palaeopathology. Jessica took courses in Analysis of Human Remains, Musculo-skeletal anatomy, Archaeozoology, Funerary Archaeology, and her favourite, Palaeopathology. For the final degree requirement, Jessica examined skeletal collections from the Bronze, Iron, and Roman occupation periods of England for evidence of gout.

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Chris Manoharan (Class of 2012 )

Chris Manoharan and Victor DeMunck recently had an article published in the Journal of Mixed Methods Research. The article, titled The Conceptual Relationship Between Love, Romantic Love, and Sex: A Free List and Prototype Study of Semantic Association, examines how love, romantic love, and sex are intertwined using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Manoharan is now a graduate student at Queen's University Belfast at the Institute of Cognition and Culture.

 


 

Faculty Research: Some of the recent work by Ken Nystrom is featured in this blog post (http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml).

It highlights his research on structural violence: harm experienced by certain groups stemming from fundamental social inequalities. Nystrom discusses how the passage of anatomy laws during the 19th century that legalized the dissection of unclaimed bodies from poorhouses reflects an underlying social inequality. By examining skeletal remains of poeole buried in poorhouse cemeteries that exhibited evidence of dissection, Nystrom demonstrates how this inequality actually manifested.

 


 

Faculty Research: Joseph Diamond's field school project on Huguenot Street was recently featured on SUNY New Paltz News.

The field school has dug at this site for twenty years, shedding light on both the prehistoric and historic occupation of the area, and is an excellent example of the close connection our department and university has with the local community. You can read the article here (https://sites.newpaltz.edu/news/2015/07 … new-paltz/) and get more information on the fieldschool here.

 


 

Alumni Update: Hannah Rose Van Wely (double major in Anthropology and Art History, 2009)

Hannah Rose Van Wely has been accepted at and has received two fellowships to attend the University of Oxford as a DPhil student in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. The fellowships are the Rausing Studentship in association with Linacre College, and a bursary from the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. Her area of interest is in material culture studies and in particular Pacific featherwork. Van Wely graduated summa cum laude, with honors in both majors)

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Jeremy Borrelli (Class of 2012)

Jeremy Borrelli, a graduate student in Maritime Studies Program at East Caroline University, was recently featured in the College of Liberal Arts and Science Newsletter. You can read about Jeremy's background and current research at this site: (https://sites.newpaltz.edu/collegelasne … hropology/)

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Jacqueline Masseo (Class of 2012)

"While attending New York University's Museum Studies program I was taught a combination of museum theory and applied practice. I concentrated on Museum Education where I chose specialized courses that focused on both anthropological museums and historic houses. The Museum Studies program at NYU has left me with a well-rounded education and first hand approach in which I learned about Museum Management, Exhibition Design, and Collections care. I completed my Master's Thesis on the use of authenticity within historic house museums entitled, Historic House Museums: Patriotism and Preservation in the Age of Industrialization. In the Spring of 2015 I began working in the Education Department at the National September 11th Memorial Museum" (https://www.911memorial.org/)

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Tisa Loewen

Tisa Loewen (Class of 2015, pictured here excavating on Huguenot Street) has been accepted into the Master of Arts program in Anthropology in the Human Skeletal Biology track at New York University.

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Emily Brackett
Emily Brackett (Class of 2014) was accepted into the forensic anthropology program at the University of Montana

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Brenna McCaffrey
Brenna McCaffrey (Class of 2014) was accepted into the PhD Program in the Department of Anthropology at CUNY/Graduate Center. Her acceptance comes with five years of full funding, and she will be studying in one of the most prestigious, cosmopolitan graduate programs in the country. She begins her studies this fall.

 


 

Anthropology Alumni Update: Aaron Leo (Anthropology Major, 2009), currently working on his PhD at the University of Albany, wrote an article for a recent issue of Anthropology News (published by the American Anthropology Association) in which he discusses some of his experiences interning with Workers United. You can read the full article at this link: http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2014/10/31/reflections-from-the-field/


 

FACULTY RESEARCH: Ben Junge recently publishing some of his research in a special issue of the Latin American Research Review. Professor Junge had several roles including (1) co-editor; (2) co-author of the introductory essay ("Lived Religion and Lived Citizenship in Latin America’s Zones of Crisis: Introduction”); and then finally (3) he was the author on original research article (““The Energy of Others”: Narratives of Envy and Purification among Former Grassroots Community Leaders in Porto Alegre, Brazil”).


Brenna McCaffrey (class of 2014, double Anthropology / Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major) gave an oral presentation based on original research in November at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, D.C. In her talk, she presented ethnographic research conducted with activists affiliated with a reproductive health clinic in the mid-Hudson Valley, focusing on how suggestions for activism coming from feminist scholarship are integrated into activist practice and how activists working in abortion care and clinic defense struggle with representing the realities of their work while reflecting the acceptable discourses of mainstream feminist activism. Among her major findings was that as activists grapple with controversial topics such as fetal life, ethics, and repeat abortion patients, their thinking is influenced by norms of “acceptable discourse” within the public face of activism. While at the conference, Brenna also received the 2014 Sylvia Forman Prize for an undergraduate essay from the Association for Feminist Anthropology.