This program uses the theories and methods of social and cultural anthropology to examine contemporary processes related to the changing global order. Our goal is to prepare students to participate in these matters both as scholars and as engaged citizens. Our programmatic emphases center on the cultural and social dimensions of such issues as distribution and inequality, production and reproduction, citizenship and statecraft, human-environmental interactions, religion, and media from the perspective of an engaged anthropology. Our regional interests are broad and include a special focus on California, an ethnically diverse “borderland” within the Americas and destination for a wide variety of diasporic community formations. As one of the world’s largest economies, and as a regional center within the Americas and the emerging Pacific Rim zone of socio-cultural, political and economic interaction, California is an ideal site for understanding the cultural, economic and political dimensions of the changing global order.
Faculty research and teaching emphases include:
- Political economy / economic anthropology: Our interests include relations among state, market and civil society in contexts of global economic change including issues of labor and migration, service and knowledge sectors, technology and society, development, sovereignty.
- Political ecology/environmental anthropology: Research emphases include biodiversity, natural resources and property regimes, tourism, agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture.
- Relations among culture, ideology and power in historical and contemporary contexts: Research areas include media and cultural studies, intersections of gender, race and class, new religious movements, history and cultural memory.
Our program incorporates strong foundations in theory and methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. Central to our research and graduate training is the traditional ethnographic approach of close observation, full immersion in social life, and long term fieldwork. Our program values intellectual linkages across the traditional subfields of anthropology. As well, we stress connections to other departments (Chicano Studies, Latin American and Iberian Studies, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Studies, History, Linguistics, Marine Science, Music, Religion, Sociology, Women’s Studies) and research institutes through both research and programmatic connections that include graduate emphases, joint graduate programs, interdisciplinary research groups and seminars.
Graduate study, outlined in the Sociocultural Program Guidelines, includes required core courses in social and cultural theory, research methods, and research design. The core program is designed to be completed within a two-year cycle, culminating in the award of the MA. During one year, the two required theory courses (AN 235A, Foundations of Modern Social Theory, and AN 235B, Issues in Contemporary Anthropology) are offered during Fall and Winter quarters, respectively. During the alternate year, a two-quarter sequence (Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology, AN 240A and Research Design and Writing in Sociocultural Anthropology, 240B) is offered during Fall and Winter quarters. During the spring quarter of the second year and following completion of all of the core courses, students participate in the capstone MA seminar, (AN 240C, "Research Seminar in Cultural Anthropology") during which they write an MA research paper, either an article-length work based on original research or a detailed draft of the PhD research proposal. The award of the MA is based on successful completion of core course requirements and acceptance of the MA paper by the committee.
During the third year of graduate study, students are expected to advance to doctoral candidacy; during that year, students are expected to enroll in seminars and directed readings, in Anthropology and other departments, appropriate to their research interests. Qualification for advancement involves the successful completion of a detailed proposal for doctoral research and two literature review papers (one dealing with the theoretical literature pertinent to the research proposed, the other a review of areal scholarship relevant to the research proposed). An oral defense of the proposal is required of all students. The defense is open to other students and faculty; the candidate is expected to present an oral summary of her or his proposal and to answer questions posed by the committee and by others in attendance. Students formally advance to doctoral candidacy upon the committee’s approval of qualifying papers and successful completion of the oral defense.