Sociocultural Anthropology at UCSD

Program Description

The faculty and graduate students in sociocultural anthropology at UCSD share a basic concern with the shaping and reshaping of human life. We examine the forces and structures that regulate life as well as the ways that groups of people instantiate, modify and occasionally overturn such powerful geographical and historical tendencies and logics. Among the concerns reflected in our teaching and research are: colonial and imperial relations; capitalist restructuring and state transformation; rivalries around definitions of progress and development; shifts in paradigms of knowledge production as well as ethical and aesthetic benchmarks; struggles over how to mark and record competing histories, memories and desires, and the uneven patterning of life around such distinctions as age, ethnicity, citizenship, gender, nationalism, race, religion, and sexuality.

Beyond our varied regional and topical expertise, we share a general interest in the way that particular aspects and qualities of social life have been pulled out and held still as dominant standards and models, suppressing other durable modalities and ways of being human in specific contexts. How and why have certain places, time periods, populations, and definitions of personhood become established as exemplary templates?  Where, when, what, and who counts as being part of the leading edge. What are the effects and consequences of such material and discursive narratives of normativity?   In what ways do contradictory alternatives often emerge alongside these, existing in less regnant, but sometimes more widespread fashion?  How to explain their limited visibility from some perspectives and their glaring appearance from others?   What kinds of theoretical and methodological approaches are appropriate for developing more dynamic and inclusive accounts of human life, acknowledging, explaining, and perhaps even altering the domination of some modalities over others?  These fundamental questions orient much of the work undertaken by scholars associated with the Sociocultural Anthropology Program at UCSD.

The Program features a faculty and graduate student workshop series called 'New Directions’ for which participating students may receive credit. Similarly, many faculty and students maintain an affiliation with the interdisciplinary Studio for Ethnographic Design (SED) on campus.

The Sociocultural Anthropological program at UCSD holds a broad approach to examine the differences and similarities of cultures within and outside of society.  In addition it houses two allied fields of Psychological and Linguistic Anthropology.