Archaeologists study the surviving evidence, or material culture, of people’s activities. From the excavation and distribution of artifacts and other cultural residues, archaeologists draw conclusions about the organization of social groups, their adaptations to environments, and their spatial and temporal relations.
At University of Toronto, archaeology is found in the departments of Anthropology, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Art, and in the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and St. Michael’s College. The University also has strong connections with archaeologists at the Royal Ontario Museum . The St. George campus has an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in archaeology, administered by Anthropology, while at the graduate level Anthropology offers its own program, involving all three campuses. There are also undergraduate courses in archaeology at Mississauga and Scarborough, and many public lectures and special events in archaeology take place on campus. The Archaeology Centre coordinates archaeological activities at the University of Toronto and sponsors lectures, workshops, and visiting fellows. University of Toronto faculty represent a wide variety of archaeological specialties.
Evolutionary (or Biological) Anthropology
Evolutionary (or Biological) Anthropology is the study of humans and non-human primates in their biological, evolutionary, and demographic dimensions. As in Biology generally, the central, unifying theory of evolutionary anthropology is evolutionary theory. While many of the research programs of our faculty are directly informed by evolutionary theory (paleoanthropology, bioarcheology, human biology and genetics, health, growth, development and demography), evolutionary anthropologists also apply their expertise to more applied disciplines such as crime scene investigation (forensic anthropology) and development policy studies involving the nutrition, growth and health in living populations. In all cases, evolutionary anthropologists apply their unique perspective of the evolutionary biology of humans to answer questions about our past and to inform policy in current human biology and behaviour.
The graduate and undergraduate curricula provide access to related science fields, including human biology and anatomy. Faculty currently pursue field research in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, South America, North America, and Madagascar. The work of evolutionary anthropology faculty in the department is diverse, with foci on paleoanthropology (David Begun, Michael Schillaci, Bence Viola), human and primate evolution (David Begun, Shawn Lehman, Susan Pfeiffer, Esteban Parra, Michael Schillaci, Daniel Sellen, Mary Silcox), primate evolutionary ecology (Shawn Lehman, Michael Schillaci, Daniel Sellen, Julie Teichroeb), forensic anthropology (Susan Pfeiffer, Tracy Rogers), molecular anthropology (Esteban Parra, Michael Schillaci) and the nutrition and health of past and present human populations (Tracey Galloway, Esteban Parra, Susan Pfeiffer, Larry Sawchuck, Daniel Sellen, Michael Schillaci). Recent research projects have been funded by NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, CRC, NIH, CIDA, and WHO. Faculty are active in numerous university, provincial, national and international scientific societies, research collaborations, training initiatives, editorial boards and grant agency review panels, and students have access to a wealth of professional networking opportunities .
Evolutionary/Biological anthropology students may focus their research on human genetics, on the behaviour of non-human primates, on primate and especially human palaeontology, on Medical Anthropology, or on evidence in human skeletal remains for disease, nutrition, trauma and human variation.
Linguistic & Semiotic Anthropology
Linguistic and semiotic anthropologists study how language and other systems of human communication contribute to the reproduction, transmission, and transformation of culture. They are concerned with the role of language and other communicative systems in reproducing and transforming such aspects of society as power relations, ideology, subcultural expression, as well as class, gender and ethnic identity.
Linguistic anthropologists study language as an integral aspect of social life. Because, language is a primary vehicle for social interaction and social interaction in turn is the medium through which the major institutions of any society (the family, the law, the polity, the economy) are implemented, linguistic anthropologists study a broad swath of human social life. At the University of Toronto , linguistic anthropology is conceptualized as one aspect of a broader study of semiotic systems. Semioticians study the way sign systems organize meaning and culture within communicative practice, as well as the way such sign systems articulate with other aspects of social life.
In terms of methodology, linguistic anthropologists combine ethnographic techniques of long-term participant observation through fieldwork with the use of audio or video recording technology. While fieldwork provides the broader context and temporal span that is crucial to interpretation, recordings allow linguistic anthropologists to focus in on particular details of language and social interaction. Linguistic anthropologists have also increasingly turned to the study of written texts in their socio-historical contexts of production and dissemination. By this combination of methods and analytic techniques linguistic anthropologists are able to examine how language and other systems of human communication contribute to the reproduction, transmission, and transformation of culture, as well as the role of language and other communicative systems in reproducing and transforming power relations, ideology, class, gender and ethnic identity. Moreover, linguistic anthropologists have developed a unique approach to the details of linguistic form itself – seeing it not as an abstract representational medium or as a reflection of inner cognitive process but rather as a public practice and instrument of social action.
Medical Anthropology is a research area at the crossroads of the biological and social sciences dedicated to the study of human health and health care cross-culturally and over evolutionary time, in diverse social, political, economic, cultural, and gender contexts. Recently, the Department added medical anthropology as an approved field in its graduate program. Graduate students interested in medical anthropology can work with faculty in physical and/or social anthropology. Undergraduate courses in Medical Anthropology are offered at UTSC and St. George campuses.
Anthropologists at U of T investigating socio-cultural dimensions of health include Holly Wardlow, whose research focuses on international health, gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS and Papua New Guinea. Hilary Cunningham ‘s research interests include bioethical aspects of recent research on, and commericalization of, human genetics. Research following these factors over time include Susan Pfeiffer ‘s work on health change from an evolutionary perspective and Larry Sawchuk ‘s historical demographic research on social and economic determinants of health. Janice Boddy ‘s and Michael Lambek ‘s research focuses on cultural and gender dimensions of physical and mental health. Krista Maxwell’s research is broadly concerned with the ethnographic and historical analysis of Canadian settler colonialism and indigenous sovereignty in the domains of healing, healthcare and social welfare. Bianca Dahl ‘s work in Botswana explores the social effects of international humanitarian organizations’ efforts to provide aid during Africa’s HIV pandemic. Katie Kilroy-Marac focuses on transcultural psychiatry and postcolonial transformations in Senegal.