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Anthropology 1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University

Anthropology at Laurier


nthropology opens students to the many ways in which people in different places and different times have gone about the task of being human. Anthropologists explore human nature and human society through the comparative study of such things as family, marriage, religious and spiritual practices, livelihoods, creativity, settlement of legal disputes, humanenvironment interactions, social power and inequality both locally and globally, and much more.

While in the past anthropology only studied non-Western cultures, now anthropologists are found everywhere, whether in a large city, remote village, an online community, scientific laboratory or an immigrant community. Anthropology connects social and cultural analysis to everyday life by means of participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork — the process of involving oneself in the lives of

people in a culture different than one’s own. Anthropology challenges the way in which non-European people have been represented in Western thought. As well, it questions the uneven distribution of power between the North and the South. If you are interested in multiculturalism and human diversity, then think about majoring in anthropology or combining anthropology with another program of study. Current department members develop their fieldwork experiences in Amazonia, Brazil, Canada, Iceland, India, South Africa, Hungary, Poland, Sri Lanka and Ukraine into ethnographic studies of environmental politics, biomedical body imaging, migration and transnationalism, plantation workers, art and material culture, and the changing lives of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas. Much like anthropologists in the field, anthropology students learn to reflect critically about the multiple, interconnected means by which people (ourselves included) make sense of their lives in the ever-changing communities and world they inhabit. Laurier’s anthropology program specializes in sociocultural anthropology which focuses on the study of the cultural acquisition of diverse beliefs and behaviours.

During their first year, anthropology majors take two introductory courses: sociocultural anthropology and one other course chosen from a list of options.

Anthropology as a combined major Anthropology combines well with other programs because it provides a comparative, cross-cultural perspective on any field of study. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in media and the culture industries, consider combining anthropology with communication studies or cultural studies. If you are interested in international law, foreign affairs, or international development, or you want to work with refugee and immigrant communities both here and abroad, then combine anthropology with political science or global studies. Those working in museums, heritage consultancies, or First Nations title and land claims negotiations have pursued a traditional four-fields anthropology degree by combining anthropology and prehistoric archaeology. During their first year, combined majors take sociocultural anthropology and one other introductory course from a list of options.

Everything happens for a reason. For David Borcsok, it was a car accident in the summer before his first year at the University of Ottawa that changed everything. “I had to take a semester off school for rehab and when I was looking at schools, Laurier stood out as a place that was close to my home in Burlington,” he recalls. Having planned on taking political science at the University of Ottawa, Borcsok found himself interested in studying anthropology after taking the introductory course in his first year. “I had no knowledge of what anthropology was before I took the course, but after I became more and more interested in both the subject matter and the anthropological process I decided that it was something I had to pursue further.” Borcsok found the courses to be both challenging and rewarding. He cites Visual Anthropology as one of his favourite courses, a course which vindicated his decision to study anthropology. Borcsok has deferred his postgraduate studies in Management at Imperial College in London, England and has accepted a position in investment banking. His goal is to pursue a career in intellectual property law.

Options to enhance your degree

Co-op at Laurier

Honours arts students in co-op complete two work terms of at least 10 weeks each, usually in the summers following their second and third years. Participants receive training in job search techniques and assistance in finding employment related to their studies or career goals.

Why should you consider co-op? • • • • •

Put theory into action Apply your technical skills Clarify your career goals Develop marketable skills Gain valuable contacts

Recent employers of Anthropology co-op students include: • Castle Kilbride, Baden • Doon Heritage Village at the Waterloo Region Museum, Kitchener • Homer Watson House & Gallery, Kitchener

Dr. Anne Brydon became a cultural anthropologist after her experience studying music as an undergraduate student.

The Management Option

Honours arts students are also eligible for the Management Option. This option will give you fundamental training in key areas of business such as business organization, accounting, marketing, management skills, operations and the fundamentals of finance, macroeconomics and microeconomics, interpersonal communications, business law, personal finance and business management. For more information, visit

Ancient Languages Option

The Ancient Languages Option is open to all Honours students who have achieved a minimum GPA of 7.0 (B-) in at least 1.0 credit in ancient languages (Greek, Latin or Semitic). It is intended primarily to offer a solid background in ancient languages in preparation for graduate work, but may also be of interest to students studying in history, global studies, archaeology, medieval studies or ancient mediterranean studies.

Strong Reputation In the 2009 Maclean’s reputational survey, Laurier ranked in the top three in its category nationally for Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative and Overall Reputation.

Understanding how people make their world meaningful is for me a never-ending source of fascination.

“I kept questioning why we were only taught about Western classical music and not about other cultures’ music,” she says. “I wondered how it is that people learn to like and dislike certain types of music, art, food and ways of thinking about doing things. When someone told me I was asking questions like an anthropologist, I was hooked. Understanding how people make their world meaningful is for me a never-ending source of fascination.” Since 1988, Brydon has researched the cultural politics of environmental issues in Iceland where she continues to conduct ethnographic fieldwork. She first studied the debates about whale hunting sparked by international protests against Iceland’s whaling industry. More recently, she has focused on the Icelandic environmental movement that arose to protest hydroelectric development in the highland wilderness. As part of her fieldwork she joined an artist-led trek through the region north of Europe’s largest glacier, which is now being flooded to power heavy industry in the region. The trek was to teach Icelanders to understand and appreciate rare Arctic ecosystems, and to consider the consequences of their destruction. “What I love about anthropology is the way in which it gives one the opportunity to learn about what is going on behind the scenes, away from the headlines of the world media, by spending time living with and talking to ordinary people,” says Brydon. “I have learned not only the different understandings that Icelanders have about nature, the environment, and the uses of nature for livelihoods and profit, but also how they engage in debate, think about their past, and strategize their future in a quickly changing world economy.”

Your future starts here

Excellence in the classroom

Dr. Anne Brydon Cultural politics of nature and the environment, art and visual culture, ethnographic writing. Dr. Anne-Marie Colpron Gender, Indigenous Peoples, shamanism, cosmologies. Dr. AndrĂŠ CzeglĂŠdy Business, science and technology, city space, museums. Dr. Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston Performance ethnography, socialism and postsocialism, violence. Dr. Amali Philips Class and caste, kinship and marriage, development, gender and citizenship. Dr. Natasha Pravaz Ritual and performance, racialization, nationalism and transnationalism, the body. Dr. Tanya Richardson Postsocialism, history, memory, space and place, conservation and natural resources.

What can you do with a degree in Anthropology?

People with undergraduate degrees in anthropology frequently enter fields such as sustainable development, foreign service, public relations, multiculturalism and immigration, social work, law, land claims research, teaching and non-governmental advocacy. Anthropology also provides excellent undergraduate preparation for graduate work in museology and curatorship programs. Anthropology teaches skills useful in such fields as journalism, publishing, documentary filmmaking, advertising and marketing, and teaching English as a second language.

Sample courses offered City Life and Urban Space Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism Transnationalism and Cosmopolitanism Cultures of the Modern Imaginary Anthropology of Nature and the Environment Cultures of Business and Work Anthropology and Visual Culture Foundations of Anthropological Thought Culture as Performance Art, Anthropology and Material Culture Key Concepts in Contemporary Anthropology Aboriginal Peoples of Canada: Contemporary Issues Anthropology of the Lifecourse Writing Cultures Ethnographic Methods in Cultural Anthropology Symbolic Systems and Ideologies The Anthropology of Politics Religion, Ritual and Magic Anthropology of Latin America Kinship, Marriage and Gender Folklore, Myth and Oral Narrative

Admission information For the most up-to-date information about admission to Laurier, go to

Tel: (519) 884-0710 ext. 3385 | Fax: (519) 747-2106 | Email: |

10 0 Y E A R S I NSPI R I NG L I V E S OF LE A DE R SH I P A N D PU R P O SE While every effort has been made to ensure this publication is accurate at time of printing, the information contained herein is subject to change without notice.


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1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University 1911-2011 | Wilfrid Laurier University While in the past anthropology only studied non-Western cultur...