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About UNM Anthropology

THE MISSION the Department of Anthropology is to create, disseminate, preserve, analyze and apply knowledge about human sociocultural, biological, and linguistic diversity and change in past and present environments for the betterment of society.

At UNM, Anthropology is focused on four themes that cross-cut the subfields:

1. environment, ecology, and evolution
2. ritual and performance
3. resources, development, and landscape
4. culture, history, transformation

We challenge students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to explore the dimensions of culture and biology in their lives and those of others, along with the role that human diversity plays in understanding ourselves and adapting to various environments. Research informs our teaching at every level, and public service provides one means for applying our knowledge to the world around us.

Anthropology is the most inclusive discipline in the arts and sciences with the greatest breadth of interests encompassing the entire human experience studied in the humanities, social and natural sciences. Our field is a microcosm of disciplinary diversity. We do this by virtue of the long time depth (in the millions of years), geographic span (the planet), and variety of peoples included in our studies.

The three subfields of Archaeology, Ethnology, and Evolutionary Anthropology provide the organizational structure by which our discipline’s breadth is expressed in Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. As anthropologists we share the unifying concept of culture—the means by which we as humans transmit learning across generations, on which we are extraordinarily dependent for our ongoing survival, and through which we express ourselves, our worlds and connect with a variety of environmental settings.

Simultaneously, these subfields encompass a variety of perspectives and methods through which the lens of culture is applied to human diversity and change in the past, present and future. This diversity is a strength of the discipline providing anthropologists with several different frameworks for their studies. At UNM, we have built a tradition of empirically-based field and laboratory work across Archaeology, Ethnology, and Evolutionary Anthropology that we believe enlivens our work, reinforces our commitments to diversity, and provides opportunities for our students to learn in realistic settings.

OUR VISION OF ANTHROPOLOGY AT UNM articulates its long and distinguished history in New Mexico with the expectations of a modern research-intensive university that also functions as one of the leading Hispanic- and Native American-serving educational institutions in the country. It can be summarized as follows:

  • Anthropology's 90-year history is closely inter-twined with the University and State. Anthropologists have been essential partners in the development of New Mexico and its educational institutions over the past century.

  • Anthropology is one of the top programs, not only within Arts and Sciences but across all of UNM. Its graduate and archaeology programs are ranked among the best in the country, among the highest rankings for any department at UNM. Faculty and graduate students are active in conducting highly regarded research, publishing, and other professional service regionally, nationally, and internationally.

  • Anthropology plays a key role in examining culture, language, and biology; the future, present, and past; across humans, their ancestors, and related species.

  • At UNM, Anthropology is organized by the subfields of archaeology, ethnology, and evolutionary anthropology, each of which contributes its view of human nature and experience. The Department of Anthropology and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology are partners in research, teaching, and service. Anthropology is quintessentially interdisciplinary and integrative, especially with diverse programs such as History, Biology, Sociology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geography, and Psychology.

  • We have made good use of our geographic advantage, near the international border, in a region where many native groups have maintained their distinctiveness, and in a State that promotes its multicultural-bilingual heritage and commitment to intercultural understanding. Our work in Anthropology is focused on the Greater Southwest, Latin America, Hispanic cultures in the Old and New Worlds, Native Peoples of the Americas and Oceania, and portions of Africa and Asia.

  • Excellence in Anthropology at UNM has been achieved by setting exacting standards for faculty, staff, and students in instruction, research and service. Our faculty members are known as leaders within the University for their international and national contributions. Programs in Anthropology are supported by award winning staff members who go beyond our expectations.

  • We are also central to the mission of liberal arts education. One in every 10 students at UNM enrolls in one or more of the five general education undergraduate core classes that we teach an indication of our commitment to demonstrating the relevance of anthropology today.

  • We are one of the largest anthropology programs in the country—with over 150 graduate students (the largest in Arts and Sciences), nearly 300 undergraduate majors, and several thousand alumni and friends who live and work in New Mexico and throughout the country.

  • We expect our research and service to promote understanding and will help people to positively transform their communities, and societies.