In the very broadest sense, Anthropology is the study of human cultural diversity. It seeks to understand phenomena such as gender, economics, politics, religion, human mobility, urban life, medicine and healing, violence, family relations, communications and media from diverse cultural perspectives, without assuming that contemporary Western understandings are superior.
In the quest for an understanding of human societies, anthropologists have been drawn to examine social environments which are very different from their own, and have developed the methods and tools to make such examinations. In this way, the study of Anthropology equips students with the skills to gain a higher level of perception of the contemporary world.
In a world where problems of increasing seriousness are being caused by conflicts between social groups, Anthropologists are thinking scientifically about the role of cultural difference in such problems, and are working towards solutions to them.
Students will explore anthropological issues across a range of areas and societies including Australian, Asian, African, Pacific, European, Middle Eastern and American examples, challenging students to reflect on their own cultural world from perspectives that may differ radically from their own.
Our introductory semester familiarises students with the anthropological concept of culture, as well as the concepts of Anthropology and ethnography. Our first year program of study continues with a unit that focusses on anthropological approaches to cultures of drugs and medicine.
At second year level, students engage with anthropological challenges in the fields of human mobility, international development, and the cultures of magic, science and religion.
In the final year of undergraduate study, students enrol in units that take anthropological approaches to corporations, human rights, and global indigenous political discourse.
Throughout the major, students are taught the elements of anthropological thinking and ethnographic method, as well as the reflexivity that has become a critical and innovative feature of Anthropological practice.
Our teaching approach creates pathways for students to progress from an undergraduate interest in Anthropology, to pursuing the discipline through Honours, and then graduate research.
To see the full list of undergraduate, graduate and graduate research courses within the School of Social Sciences, see our course page.
Monash Anthropologists enjoy supervising research projects in a wide range of fields of anthropological inquiry. We have published original research in the following areas of specialisation:
- Biomedicine in its local, national and global contexts; social constructions of illness; everyday experiences of chronic conditions and disability;
- Social and ethical contexts of medical technologies; global medical trade; reproductive travel and biotechnologies;
- Transit migration, human smuggling and piracy; maritime security in Southeast Asia;
- International development;
- Human biological and cultural diversity;
- Peace, conflict and post-conflict studies; gender and development in post-conflict situations;
- Cultures of representation, media and cyber anthropology;
- Anthropology of religion; social and political meanings of religious practice;
- Practices and politics of indigeneity, identity, gender and culture in Southeast Asia.
Our area specialisations include Indonesia, Timor Leste, Thailand, Southeast Asia generally, and Mexico. For more information about the range of research specialisations within our program, please take a look at our staff profiles.