What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is a science of humanity that addresses human issues both from a cultural and from a biological point of view. The narrowest concern of anthropology is the survival of humanity; its broadest is the conditions of continuity and change for all human life. While broadly educated, individual anthropologists generally specialize in a particular approach to this whole view of humanity.  Our University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in four approaches, or "sub-disciplines" of anthropology:

Cultural Anthropology or Ethnology systematically compares diverse cultures and societies around the world, from small groups of Arctic hunters to complex industrial nations. The objective is to understand the complex conditions and consequences of environmental, social, economic, political and cultural changes rapidly altering our world.


deals with the reconstruction of past ways of human life through the recovery and analysis of artifacts and other material remains from past cultures. Archaeologists help us understand processes such as domestication, ancient urbanization, and long-distance trading. Archaeologists often require special training in zoology, botany, and/or history.


Biological or Physical Anthropology is concerned with the evolution of the human species, and the biological characteristics of past and present human populations. Today, there are new opportunities to bridge the division between the cultural and biological points of view, especially in the area of medical anthropology. Training in human biology as well as human social life and in a range of cultures both past and present uniquely equips anthropologists to research the human condition.



Anthropological Linguistics is the study of language as the primary mechanism of human communication. At the University of Manitoba, this subfield is offered primarily through the Department of Linguistics.





Students who study anthropology develop research skills and have an increased knowledge and understanding of human cultures, past and present. Many students find that anthropology broadens their thinking and gives them perspective on interpretations offered by other disciplines.