Anthropology is the comparative study of human cultures, how customary ideas, actions, and institutions shape and give meaning to individual and collective experience.

MIT Anthropology faculty conduct research all over the world, from Mexico to Mongolia, and within the United States. We live and work among the people we study, participating in daily activities and rituals, conducting interviews, and using multimedia tools such as photography and videography to collect data. We analyze how social identities and hierarchies are established or contested, cultural values are transmitted and transformed, and community and state organizations operate. We bring together expertise in such topics as magic and ritual, migration and race, medicine and health, family and gender, class and inequality, globalization and development, science and technology, food and eating, language, and material culture and urban environments. Our program provides students with training in field methods and social theory, critical thinking skills, and cross-cultural understanding.

Watch our video, Doing Anthropology: Thoughts on Fieldwork From Three Research Sites.

The Anthropology program offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses. For details about our undergraduate offerings, including resources for majors, minors, and concentrators, please visit our Undergraduate page. For graduate offerings, please visit our Graduate page.

MIT Anthropology is dedicated to diversity and inclusion for our students, faculty, and staff with regard to their backgrounds and opinions. We applaud MIT's nearly-met 2004 goal of doubling the percentage of underrepresented minority faculty over ten years and we vigorously endorse the as-yet-unmet 2004 aim of tripling the percentage of underrepresented minority MIT graduate students over the same period. We are working with our colleagues in the History Faculty and the Program in Science, Technology and Society to increase the number of under-represented minority students in the HASTS Ph.D. Program.

In fall 2019, members of the MIT Indigenous community, including students, staff, visiting scholars, and alumni, as well as officials from local tribal organizations and staff from the ICEO and the Office of Intercultural Engagement, undertook a project of drafting a land acknowledgement statement for MIT. The group completed the project and posted the following text on the ICEO website in March 2020:

“MIT acknowledges Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of the land, and the enduring relationship that exists between them and their traditional territories. The land on which we sit is the traditional unceded territory of the Wampanoag Nation. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced occupation of their territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse indigenous people connected to this land on which we gather from time immemorial.”

Based on feedback MIT has received since this statement was released, including disagreements among Native American tribes regarding historical land claims in Cambridge and surrounding areas, the Institute is initiating a formal process to develop a new statement. This statement will build on the initial work and further engage with subject-area experts and other stakeholders.
For more information on this acknowledgement and the effort to develop and adopt a formal MIT land acknowledgement statement, please contact iceo@mit.edu.

Explore Anthropology at MIT