Anthropology is the study of humankind, of all people—ancient and modern—and their (political) ways of life. What holds anthropology together as a discipline (and in particular the cultural anthropology taught at Marlboro) is a history of theoretical approaches to cross-cultural and intersectional understanding, and field research as a common methodology. Anthropologists can therefore be found studying concepts of space and place among the Western Apache, questions of gender in Mexico City, sustainable development projects in Indonesia and tourist markets in West Africa. Historically, anthropologists have worked with small groups of people living in places such as Amazonia and Papua New Guinea. However, today anthropological research is also being conducted in retirement communities in California, Turkish immigrant neighborhoods in Germany, and bluefin tuna fishing ports and markets in Maine, Spain, and Tokyo.

Three key skills that come into play in anthropology are reading, field research, and writing. Anthropology students read abundantly to gain a sense of the history and fundamental ideas of the discipline, to familiarize themselves with different ethnographic studies and to prepare themselves to design their own research projects. As part of anthropology classes and Plan work, students are encouraged to read across disciplines to be productively equipped with theoretical lenses contributing to their understanding of intersectionality, do field research projects, which can be large or small, conducted over the course of a weekend at the college or over the course of a semester spent abroad. Finally, writing is central to anthropology and includes documenting ideas and observations as a part of research and then writing papers that argue for a particular understanding of a social situation or cultural meaning. The skills learned in anthropology encourage students to reflect on their own positions and voices in the world as well as appreciate the degree to which we come to know ourselves through others.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • Cultural anthropology
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Urban anthropology
  • Visual anthropology
  • Transnational gender and sexuality studies
  • Queer studies
  • Modes of belonging and citizenship, nationalism
  • Construction of inequalities
  • Social change
  • Social movements
  • Autoethnography
  • Ethnographic writing
  • Field methods

Good Foundation for Plan

Students who want to graduate with a degree field in anthropology should consider taking:

  1. Introduction to Cultural Anthropology or Introduction to Sociology
  2. Anthropological Thought and Theory or Classical Sociological Thought
  3. Additional anthropology courses
  4. Courses in other disciplines that relate to their interests in anthropology
  5. Research Methods in Social Sciences, or Feminist Ethnographic Methods, or Designing Fieldwork
  6. A foreign language

Many anthropology students also spend a semester abroad (typically during their junior year). As is the case with preparations in any discipline, it is important for you to talk with faculty early and begin planning a course of study that will allow you to take the classes you need and thus enable you accomplish what you want to do on Plan.

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Autoethnography Informed by Critical, Indigenous, Queer, and Radical Feminist Theories
  • Language and Europe’s Migration Crisis
  • Exploring Narrative Form and the Possibility of Something Else
  • A Comparative Analysis of Colonial and Post Colonial Language Policy in Algeria and South Africa
  • A Linguistic Study of Colonialism
  • Ethnographic Writing


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)