Welcome to the Department of Anthropology

Prof. Linda Connor photo - Chair of Department

We are a focal point of academic anthropology in Australia, with the distinction of being the nation’s first Anthropology department, founded in 1925 by Professor A. R. Radcliffe-Brown. We originally developed as an integrated department of Prehistory, Social Anthropology and Ethnolinguistics. In 1992 the Prehistory section established a separate department (now amalgamated with the Department of Archaeology) and the teaching of anthropological linguistics was incorporated into the Department of Linguistics by the early 1990s. Our flagship journal, Oceania, was established in 1930. Professor A. P. Elkin was editor of the journal from 1933 until his death in 1979. The journal continues as an internationally renowned venue for anthropological scholarship on societies and cultures of Australia and the Pacific.

Over more than 85 years, we have maintained a strong international reputation for theoretical innovation, excellence in ethnographic fieldwork, and an outstanding commitment to the training of postgraduate research students. Many of the senior anthropologists working in Australia today undertook their undergraduate and/or their postgraduate training at the Sydney Anthropology Department. In recognition of this commitment to postgraduate research, and in support of it, the Department is the recipient of two major bequests (Carlyle Greenwell Bequest Fund and the recently endowed Peter Lawrence Memorial Scholarship) for student fieldwork funding.

We have a large and enthusiastic cohort of undergraduate majors which supports a lively Anthropology Society. Our postgraduate research student cohort is building steadily, consolidating our longstanding strengths in Australia, Asia and the Island Pacific, as well as new areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. We coordinate a Masters, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate in Development Studies, which are the result of productive interdisciplinary collaboration with other departments in the School and Faculty.

The Department has a Thursday afternoon seminar program, the longest running seminar series among Anthropology Departments in Australia. We invite you to participate in this event, which is an occasion for intellectual engagement with the discipline and social interaction with colleagues, honorary associates, students and alumni.

Linda Connor
Professor of Anthropology and Chair of Department

Research Strengths

The Department’s research strengths, reflected in publications, funded grants, postgraduate student projects and collaborative activities, span both ethnographic regions and topical areas informed by a variety of theoretical orientations in conjunction with critical social and philosophical inquiry.

The main areas of regional expertise are contemporary Australia including Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander anthropology, Southeast Asian Anthropology, East Asian Anthropology, and the anthropology of Melanesia and comparative cultural anthropologies. There is also an emerging strength in the anthropology of Latin American and the Caribbean.

The strong areas of topical specialisation are phenomenology and psychoanalysis, the anthropology of development and globalisation, rural and regional areas, consumer and youth culture, history and metatheory of anthropological thought, medical anthropology, urban studies, and environmental change.