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The Department

The Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine is at the forefront of innovation in anthropological research. It has become recognized as one of the top anthropology programs for graduate work in the United States. It is the second largest sociocultural program in the University of California system and among the twelve largest nationally. Between 2000 and 2006, the department ranked first in placing research articles in the top three academic journals in anthropology. In 2006, the Center for a Public Anthropology ranked the department eighth nationally in disseminating its research to a broader audience. The department's faculty and graduate students routinely receive significant awards and grants. Since 1998, the department has received continuous graduate student and faculty research funding from the National Science Foundation and other extramural agencies. In 2007, the department became home to the editorial offices of American Anthropologist and the book review editorship of American Ethnologist.

The Department focuses on social and cultural anthropology, with a strong emphasis on understanding emergent processes and systems at a number of scales, including the local, national and transnational level. The Department fosters a critical empiricism that employs a range of ethnographic, historical, and quantitative methods to address questions of subjectivity, political economy, and social inequality. Follow the links to the left and above to learn more about our vision and our programs.


How We Do Anthropology

We believe that a theoretically and methodologically engaged anthropology of the contemporary must engage in research at the intersection of the local the global as well as the past and present, coming to grips with the large-scale cultural transformations and the institutions and practices of modernity.

Accordingly, given our emphasis on empirical research based on long-term fieldwork, we are doing anthropology in a way that would have been recognizable to our disciplinary forebears, but certainly unanticipated by them. We conduct ethnographies of modern societies using new methodological and theoretical tools that challenge anthropology's traditional notions of culture, time, space, and fieldwork methodology. In critically engaging the discipline's past, we are building its future by redefining what doing anthropology can entail.

Central to our work is the understanding that we must critically reflect on the constitution of the social sciences and the disciplines, as we push the boundaries of our own field and link up with interdisciplinary studies, both in our scholarship and in our pedagogy.


UC Irvine Anthropology Department Ranked among the Top 10 by the National Research Council

The 2010 National Research Council assessment of U.S. doctoral programs has placed UC Irvine's Department of Anthropology near the top of the 82 anthropology departments surveyed. UCI anthropology was ranked as in the top eight programs in the nation, ranked closely behind UC Berkeley and UCLA. It is remarkable for a young sociocultural department to be in the company of such established, larger, four-field departments. Based on this assessment, the UC Irvine program sits alongside the prestigious and much larger programs at Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, Chicago, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Davis, outranking some of these programs on many of the measures used in the NRC assessment.

The National Research Council released its new rankings of academic departments in the United States in early October 2010, covering the period 2000 to 2006. This is the first time the NRC has released such rankings since 1995. At that time, fifteen years ago, the Department of Anthropology at UC Irvine was not included because our graduate program began only in 1994. For its 2010 rankings, the NRC used a complicated methodology. Two overall rankings, labeled "R" and "S," were used (the exact methods are discussed below). 

The UC Irvine Department of Anthropology's R ranking was 8 to 29 and the S ranking was 5 to 17 (based on the April 2011 revision of the NRC data). In other measures, Research was 23 to 48, Student Outcomes was 9 to 51, and Diversity was 10 to 28. The R measurement is based on a small sample of faculty rating actual programs using regression; this stresses national reputation and favors larger programs. Typically, anthropology departments feature the traditional four fields (sociocultural, linguistic, biological anthropology, archaeology), yet UC Irvine's sociocultural department achieved this high R ranking without a large faculty and without the grant opportunities associated with biological anthropology and archaeology. The S ranking directly surveyed faculty from all participating programs and asked them to assign weights to variables, thus stressing performance rather than reputation, and again UC Irvine's Anthropology department did exceptionally well. Since the data was compiled, the Department has added three new faculty members and has expanded its graduate cohorts from around 5 per year to around 10. In addition, our PhDs have gone on to positions at excellent universities and colleges. These placements are not reflected in the NRC data.

We are very proud of this recognition for the Department of Anthropology at UC Irvine and look forward to building on our achievements and making further contributions to the field.

To explore the data and the rankings, please visit The Chronicle of Higher Education's interactive website.







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