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Inside the Public Anthropology Program


Do you have a desire to expose social problems and pursue justice? The MA in Public Anthropology from American University is for students like you with a passion for inspiring change in the world around them. Our students explore culture, power, and history in everyday life while sharpening their skills in critical inquiry, problem solving, and public communication for careers in public service, community organizing, and social advocacy.  

MA in Public Anthropology

Welcome from the Chair

Welcome! In the Department of Anthropology at American University, our collective mission centers on doing public anthropology in the service of social justice. Whether the social issue is racism, sexism, environmental degradation, social discriminations, class struggle, community displacements, human and animal rights, or anything else, we marshal the professional rigor, the tools and methods, and the theoretical perspectives of anthropology to contribute to real progressive change in the world. Ours is a department with a deep and pioneering history of doing engaged and socially-impactful anthropological research.

Each member of our faculty is essential to our undergraduate, master's in public anthropology (MAPA), and doctoral (PhD) programs. In our department, students are trained to be public intellectuals. Our graduates are very successful and can be found in university, private-sector, and government positions around the globe.

Through this web site, you can find out about our two main social justice conferences, Lavender Languages and the Public Anthropology Conference. You can peruse the requirements for our various degree programs, including our new MAPA International Peace Corps track and our accelerated 5-year BA/MA track. If you look at the individual faculty and graduate student pages, you will see the many ways that we put our social justice mission into practice in our research, in our department community, and, in our teaching and classroom practices.

It is a dynamic and exciting time for our department as we continue to enhance our social justice mission and work to train the next generation of public anthropologists. If you are interested in learning more about our department we would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and do enjoy our site.

Daniel O. Sayers

Department Chair

Understanding the Lived Experience


By doctoral student Harjant Gill.

Taking Conversations into the Real World


By doctoral student Harjant Gill.

Rebecca Gibson

Research ·

Corsets: Male Desire or Female Agency?

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Becca Peixotto

Science ·

The Discovery of Homo Naledi

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David Vine's 2016 assessment of American military base expansion was quoted in an Arab Weekly article about the possibility of new terrorist insurgencies. Vine wrote in his assessment, "[American] bases have fueled radicalism, anti-Americanism and the growth of the very terrorist organizations now targeted by the supposedly new strategy."