Research Streams

Explore the sub-disciplinary streams within UBC Anthropology that can be areas of specialization for your degree.

Anthropological Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of material remains of past cultures. UBC archaeologists conduct research in British Columbia, subarctic Canada, Mesoamerica, and eastern Asia.

Our courses explore the fascinating archaeological past of these areas as well as the methods and theories of archaeological research. The program stresses hands-on experience, through the direct study of artifacts in classes and labs. Students also have a direct opportunity to participate in archaeological surveys and excavations in the summer field school.

Linguistic Anthropology

Linguistic Anthropology is concerned with two related fields of study: the study of communication in social and cultural contexts and the linguistic analysis of particular (usually non-Indo-European) languages.

Linguistic anthropologists at UBC conduct research relating to oral traditions, literacy, language revitalization, the use of digital media, cognitive linguistics, and language pragmatics in First Nations languages, and languages in other languages in Canada, Asia, and Melanesia.

Students who wish to pursue studies in this field can take advantage of the graduate courses in linguistics offered by the Department of Linguistics at UBC, as well as courses in socio-cultural anthropology offered in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Students of linguistic anthropology are able to develop a program of studies tailored to suit their research interests.

Medical Anthropology

Medical Anthropology is one of the field’s most rapidly expanding sub-disciplines. It employs anthropological theory and methods in the study of health, illness, and healing in a cross-cultural perspective, and has practical applications to health care in Canada and abroad. Medical Anthropologists are interested in ethnomedicine, international health, comparative health systems, disability, the impact of medical technologies in community and clinical contexts.

Medical anthropology courses taught by department faculty focus on such topics as:

  • Cultural interpretations of illness, healing, and disability
  • Comparative medical systems
  • Ethnomedical systems
  • Social and cultural impact of Medicine and health technologies
  • Globalization and the pharmaceuticalization of health
  • Narrative representation of illness
  • Disability
  • Social organization of health services
  • The political economy of HIV/AIDS in Africa
  • Maternal and child health

Our ethnographic focuses are Canada and the US, Northeastern and sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Melanesia.

Museum & Visual Anthropology

Museum and visual anthropology explores the interrelated fields of cultural heritage (tangible and intangible), material culture and art. It covers museum-centred practices such as collecting, community collaboration, digitization, conservation, repatriation, education, and display (including new multimedia applications), while the closely related visual anthropology examines the politics of representation, aesthetics and the production of visual culture, including film and other media.

In focusing on museum and visual anthropology students learn about the history of museums and ethnographic collections and engage in contemporary heritage debates on decolonizing institutions, critical exhibitions, and the repatriation or return of objects to source communities. In addition, students have the opportunity to examine the ways in which visual media is being transformed, contested, critiqued, and deployed by anthropologists as well as other individuals and social groups.

Many courses are held in the Museum, allowing students direct experience of the issues and techniques they discuss in class.

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) forms a unique part of the anthropological experience at UBC. The collections, exhibitions and collaborative programs sponsored by the Museum provide archaeology and socio-cultural anthropology students with opportunities to participate in ongoing research and educational projects.

Socio-Cultural Anthropology

Socio-Cultural Anthropology is the study of contemporary human cultures. UBC anthropologists conduct research across the globe, including  among First Nations of North America and Indigenous peoples in South America, Japan, South Asia, Melanesia, and the Himalayas, as well as among workers, refugees, scientists, museum curators, farmers, patients, and numerous other groups spanning numerous countries, including Russia, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Tanzania, India, Iran, and Canada.

We offer courses on the cultures of these regions, and we have particular strengths in politics, ethnohistory, religion, expressive cultures (art and oral traditions), language, health, technology, law, migration, social inequality, violence, rights, and place.

Students also receive training in anthropological research techniques in our ethnographic methods courses.

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