What is Anthropology?

We asked a bunch of Unimelb students what they thought anthropology was.



‘The Project’: Notes from a Novice

By Alice

So now you know a little about anthropology…how do you do an anthropological project? Let me walk you through using my thesis as an example.

Firstly its about choosing what you are really interested in, and what you want to focus on. This is really hard! Broadly, I was interested in the intersection between religion, landscape and cultural practice – that’s a pretty big intersection when you think about it! But thinking big is often a good start, it gives you more to work with when you start to narrow things down to a manageable project size.

So how exactly do you narrow down  topics like the  ‘intersection of religion, landscape and cultural practice’? Look at categories within those broad themes and be practical! Now for an honours project you only have a matter of months to come up with a research project, do your actual research, process the data and write it all up – practicality is essential. So I started to think along the lines of – where do I want to go? Who do I want to speak to? where do I find these topics in action?


By Josh Rose.

It must be said that in all the social sciences there exists a myriad of conceptualisations for communities. It’s a hard concept to pin down. I’m going to try and talk about how communities are formed in the minds of people. I think communities exist in the minds of their members and will be presenting anthropologists that back that up. If you disagree please please please comment below.

Understanding the 99%

By Josh Rose.

I’m a big fan of David Graeber, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault and any other academic that isn’t afraid to momentarily leave the ivory tower to get stuck into the mud of politics. There’s something brave about academics trying to reach out to an electorate at a time when, in Australia, despite the number of people enrolled between 18-24 (increasing by 20%) there will still be 400,000 people between these ages that won’t have put their names on the roll to have their say on election day. When academics step into the political fray they often offer the type of logical commentary that is unfortunately often so lacking in our democratic institutions and encourage the disillusioned to get involved in the process.

Important peeps you should know about

This list is not intended to be fully comprehensive; we have only included Anthropologists who have undertaken fieldwork, leaving out many early thinkers. There is a proliferation of sub-fields and specialities in current anthropology which makes choosing significant ‘voices’ difficult so again recent names are limited.  This is a small selection, but some important people who have contributed significantly to the discipline.