Who We Are and What We Do

Most of the faculty in the Department are trained in sociocultural anthropology. A few have training in linguistics and linguistic anthropology. Two are archaeologists, and several came to anthropology having first worked in another discipline. Drawing from these different backgrounds, and the backgrounds of our graduate students, we’re continuously refining our shared expertise in many corners of the contemporary world — and innovating ethnographic approaches to understanding its most pressing concerns. We place our work within different conceptual framings, though a few do stand out, like Science and Technology Studies (STS), feminist theory, Marxist theory, and semiotics. We use a range of methodologies, too, like digital ethnography; film, photography and multimodal methods; experimental design methods; and even comics. Importantly, though, there’s no dogmatism here. All of these approaches are not only valid, they’re often quite useful in tandem.

Our Place in Anthropology

UCI Social Sciences Plaza's Fountain
UCI Social Sciences Plaza's Fountain

Anthropology departments don’t typically get ranked by popular national outlets like US News & World Report, which is probably for the best since there are known problems with their methodologies. So to understand UCI’s position within the wider realm of academic anthropology we have to turn elsewhere. It’s been quite a while since any reputable organization has published rankings of anthropology programs, so the most recent rankings we share now are from the early 2000's:

Between 2000 and 2006, the Department was ranked first (1st) statistically in placing research articles in the top three (3) academic anthropology journals. And in 2006, the Center for a Public Anthropology ranked the Department eighth (8th) nationally in disseminating its research to a broader audience.  In 2010 the National Research Council (NRC) released rankings of academic departments in the United States, covering the period between 2000 and 2006. This was the first time the NRC had released such rankings since 1995, only a year after our PhD program was established (which left us out of that batch). This means that the 2010 NRC rankings were the first — and most recent, and possibly last — set in which UCI Anthropology has appeared.

The NRC used a complicated methodology in their survey, but here’s what matters:
in their assessment of 82 doctoral programs in the United States, UC Irvine ranked among the top eight (8) programs in the country.

And this is something we’ve tried to maintain or improve upon ever since.




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