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/ Department of Anthropology

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Careers in anthropology

Anthropologists can work anywhere:

  • In laboratories, to analyze evidence left by now-disappeared populations.
  • In small villages and large cities, to gather testimony and observe the trappings of daily life.
  • In refugee camps, to document radical changes.
  • In libraries and archives, to decode languages and other evidence of the wealth of forms of expression of the human species.

This means that anthropologists may do their fieldwork in settings as varied as:

  • Now-forgotten, once-populated sites, for studying how less-complex technologies made it possible to devise ingenious solutions to life's problems.
  • An abandoned temple, to understand how the people who worshipped there expressed their relationship with the universe.
  • A shipwreck, to reconstruct how trade in goods led to trade in ideas and values.
  • Modern and ancient monuments, to decode how constantly evolving societies attempt to immortalize themselves and use social time as an instrument of control.
  • Shopping malls, to study how individuals may conform to such phenomena as fashion and music.
  • An elegant dinner, a book launch or a gallery or museum opening, to see how "culture" (in this sense "high" culture) can serve to erect barriers within a community.
  • Living rooms and kitchens, to observe how important cultural dynamics are played out within the intimacy of people's homes, but become commonplace with habit.
  • Households, to see how new and traditional forms of kinship intersect and are formed.
  • A blog site, to study how people create false identities that sometimes end up defining them.
  • Ceremonial and ritual sites, to study how people belong to a community.
  • A New Age meeting, where people attempt to channel religious spirits as a way of finding themselves.
  • A laboratory, to analyze how DNA and the morphological features of dispersed modern populations show that they once had a genealogical connection.
  • Caves, to see how our biological ancestors became humans.
  • A museum, to compare various examples of cultural productions, projections of social identities.
  • Company boardrooms, to study how a purportedly "rational" economic decision may be governed by idealized feelings.
  • A clinic, to document how people and medical institutions may portray diverging visions of the body and well being.
  • A school, to better understand how we transmit rules for living by training students' bodies, language and memories.
  • A courtroom, to analyze how the law and people's sense of justice are often misaligned.
  • An informal council of elders in a village clearing, to observe how people resolve issues surrounding access to resources.
  • Politicians' and bureaucrats' offices, to study how power is wielded.
  • A bilingual village, to study how switching between languages can paradoxically unite a community.

The profession

There are no corporations of anthropologists in Quebec or the rest of Canada. There are no bodies that govern the profession. This in part explains the small number of positions specifically tailored to anthropology graduates.

There are a number of professional associations of anthropologists, bringing them together and creating networks, in addition to providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and intellectual debates. The following are a few local and international links:



North America (USA)