Over the past decade, the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine has established and consolidated a distinctive reputation among world anthropology departments (and related disciplines) as a leader in trends of research that focus on the diverse forms that cultures take in kaleidoscopic global movements toward emerging transnational and translocal complex societies. With strengths in the anthropology of medicine and science, media and new technologies of communication, religion, money and finance, environmental studies, law and governance, and the experience of immigration and diaspora, the department encourages both methodological experimentation and grounding in anthropology’s tradition of fieldwork research, now enmeshed in diverse collaborations and large-scale interdisciplinary partnerships. While keenly sensitive to the creative shifts in myriad locally situated lifeways and worldviews, the department’s faculty and students have a special interest in how these shifts figure into broader debates about the legal, ethical, and political implications of dramatic and large-scale social changes. Cutting across all of the subfields to which the department’s faculty and students have distinctively contributed, we are engaging with a range of current issues. These include but are not limited to:
- a new concern with ethics, both in the broad sense as ethics emerges as a form for governance and critique in the world at large, and in the more specific sense of the ethics of ethnographic research;
- on a new interest in methods, in the sense of a fluency with an array of methodologies, their frictions and harmonies; and
- on a new interest in expert knowledges outside the academy that enlist anthropological data and theory for ends other than anthropology itself.
On a personal note, since coming to Irvine nine years ago, I have found that through these now established and developing tendencies the department possesses a liveliness and sustained creative openness that I have rarely experienced in other academic settings. Our thematic directions are clear, yet they unfold each year anew with variety and surprise.
George Marcus, Chancellor's Professor & Department Chair