Anthropology - M.A.

Master of Arts in Anthropology

Program Director

Loretta Cormier, Ph.D.
Fax: 205.975.4510

UAB’s Department of History and Anthropology offers an M.A. in Anthropology in cooperation with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Students apply for admission to the program through the Graduate School in Tuscaloosa, indicating on the application the intent to participate in the joint UA/UAB M.A. program. Once admitted, students are free to take courses and work with faculty in either department. Together, the UA and UAB departments have twenty-four regular faculty members, sixteen at UA and eight at UAB. The discipline’s four traditional subfields (cultural anthropology, archaeology, physical anthropology, and anthropological linguistics) are all represented among the faculty of both departments, as are many areas of geographic, methodological, and topical expertise.

You can find information about research opportunities supported by faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Tuscaloosa. The sections below briefly summarize the research activities supported by faculty in the UAB Department. If you have additional questions about research opportunities at UAB, freely contact any of the faculty members noted below. Questions about application procedures or program requirements should be directed to Dr. Lori Cormier, Anthropology Program Director.

Areas of Specialization

Biological Anthropology: Physical anthropology seeks to understand the biological nature of humans. Historically, there are several foci of interest within physical anthropology, including primate (including human) evolution, human biological variation, and comparative primatology. At UAB, Lori Cormier's historical ecological research encompasses human and wild primate interactions, including disease transfer. Sharyn Jones also works on issues involving bioarchaeology and biological anthropology, including zooarchaeology, cannibalism, and forensics.

Cultural Anthropology: Cultural anthropology seeks to understand the underlying causes of similarities and differences in human patterns of thinking and acting. Topical areas of expertise represented among UAB faculty include human ecological adaptations (Drs. Cormier and Kyle), medical beliefs and practices (Dr. Cormier), political behaviors (Dr. Kyle), and human religious and symbolic systems (Dr. Cormier). Faculty have geographic specializations in Latin America (Dr. Kyle), Amazonia (Dr. Cormier), Fiji and the Pacific (Dr. Jones),and the native cultures of the southeastern United States (Dr. Cormier).

Archaeology: Archaeology shares the broad aims of cultural anthropology but differs in methods of analysis. Where cultural anthropologists conduct direct observational studies of living human groups (a practice known as ethnography) and archival research with written records, archaeologists specialize in interpreting the material debris and other physical traces produced by human activity. This specialization enables archaeologists to consider extinct as well as historical and contemporary societies. The UAB department has specialists in analyzing faunal remains to reconstruct past diets and ecological conditions (Dr. Jones), in understanding prehistoric political and economic systems (Drs.Jones and Mumford), and using satellite and other imagery to detect past and present human activity (Dr. Parcak). Geographic areas of specialization include ancient Egypt and the Near East (Drs. Mumford and Parcak) and island cultures of the Caribbean and Pacific (Dr. Jones).

Linguistic Anthropology: Linguistic anthropology is the study of human language. It includes the study of the bio-evolutionary basis of language, including the bio-evolutionary basis of language and the relationship between language and culture. Linguists engage in a wide range of subspecialities including the study of symbolism and semiotics, myth and folklore, structural lingustics, language change, non-verbal communication, wild primate communication systems, and all aspects of the relationship between language and culture. Dr. Cormier teaches linguistic anthropology.