Anthropology is the systematic study of human beings and their relationship to particular social, politico-economic, medical and environmental contexts. Anthropologists make connections between local-scale studies, global processes and the historical conditions which produced them. What makes anthropology unique is its insistence on long-term intimate participation in the lives of the peoples it studies in order to understand their life-worlds, as much as possible, from within.
We train students to critically analyse their own social-cultural situations, and understand those of others. This skill set of being able to identify the longitudinal and latitudinal connections in social situations makes a degree in anthropology an asset in working at all levels of government, NGO’s, the heritage sector, media, trade and tourism and the corporate world.
The Anthropology Department is housed in the historic ‘Selwyn Castle’, a Gothic style mansion built in 1836 by Captain Selwyn who was commandant of the British Royal Engineers. It served as the government house and was the official residence of the Lieutenant General of the Eastern Cape. The department has been home to a number of internationally renowned anthropologists, including A.R. Radcliffe Brown, Monica Wilson (nee Hunter), Jack and Eileen Krige, Philip and Iona Mayer, and David Hammond-Tooke. Today we are a diverse and transforming department, working in a range of contemporary fields across the humanities and sciences.