Sociocultural & Linguistic Anthropology


Does change create more difference than it effaces? This fundamental question shaped the birth of anthropology and continues to frame the discipline’s theoretical and empirical work. In light of this question, Ethnology at UNM focuses on cultural resurgence and globalization in the Americas, primarily the US Southwest and Latin America. Mindful that anthropology is no longer limited to a textual or written analysis of peoples in situ, ethnologists explore various forms of representation with participant communities, institutions, interest groups and individuals in regional and global contexts through an intersection of common goals.


The Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology subfield emphasizes working with participant communities. Our studies include: the transformation of cultural and linguistic heritages; identities (racial, ethnic, indigenous, religious, and gendered); inequalities and the social movements that address them (indigenous rights, human rights, democracy movements, access to health and legal rights); land, water and the politics of place; narrative and memory; expressive culture and cultural poetics; and media and representation.

Educational Program

The training Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology students receive at all levels (BA through PhD) prepares them to research issues that confront local, national and international communities and governing bodies with respect to conflict, identity, inequality, development and cultural representation. Training emphasizes rigorous and theoretically diverse approaches to sociocultural phenomena, the development of strong writing skills, and the use of a broad range of research methods including interviewing, life-history, video and photographic documentation, and participant observation.


Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology’s areas of specialization set the anthropological agenda for larger disciplinary conversations about ethnicity and race, health, the use of resources, systems of inequality, culture history, and the material manifestations of expressive culture. Work in the US Southwest and Latin America complements that of the Archaeology subfield, particularly with respect to the study and analysis of material culture, ritual theory, sociocultural theory, place and space, intellectual and cultural property rights, cultural resource management, and the representation of indigenous peoples in media, museum, and public culture. Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology, Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology also share a focus on human knowledge and management of ecology and environment through history and cross-culturally as well as the dynamically changing manifestations of human diversity.