Key Benefits of the Certificate Program

Key Benefits of the Certificate Program

Our program fosters close collaboration between students and their mentors, working together to create a coherent program of study to obtain the Certificate. Mentors—from both the Cultural Anthropology and History departments—have diverse backgrounds which enable you to work with someone more aligned to your interests and needs. 

Synergy Between Anthropology and History

For several decades, historians have been turning to cultural anthropology, and anthropologists to history, for methodological and substantive guidance. By now a relatively large number of historians and anthropologists work within a shared framework, asking similar questions, and seeking answers to these questions from similar kinds of evidence. In both disciplines, it is widely understood that cultural diversity and cultural change cannot be accounted for either by the traditional narrative techniques of historians or by the traditional ethnographic descriptions of anthropologists. 

Historians realize they must look beyond action, intention, and event, to underlying patterns, unspoken presuppositions, institutional and discursive structures. Anthropologists realize that kinship, ritual, social role, discourse, and belief are all subject to improvisation, contestation, politicization, and thus to change. Scholars in both disciplines have looked to practice theory, as developed by Bourdieu, Giddens, Ortner, and Sewell; to postcolonial studies, as developed by Stoler, Dirks, Spivak, Das, and Burton; to performance theory, as developed by Sahlins, Butler, Sedgwick; and to other, related approaches.

Drawing on these streams of theory, anthropologists and historians strive to come to grips with the full implications of cultural diversity and change. The challenge is to understand what all actors in a given context consciously know and intend as well as what they unconsciously take for granted, what they do on purpose and what they do without reflection, and to see how action and conflict have both intended and unintended consequences.