Anthropology imageSince opening its doors, Monash University has been a centre for studying the world’s diversity. Traditionally, studies have focused on the societies of Australia, Asia and the Pacific, but more recently we have become interested in a far greater range of areas of phenomena. Studies in Anthropology will enable you to reflect on your own cultural world from perspectives that may differ radically from your own. This reflection is a two-way process, anthropology can make the strange seem familiar but it can also make the familiar seem strange as it challenges our assumptions about the way the world works.

Handbook entry: Anthropology

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What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the comparative study of different ways of life.

It explores an ‘insider’ perspective on interpreting human behaviour by asking questions about what people do, why they do it, what they mean by it, what motivates them to do it and what people value in diverse societies and cultures. Anthropologists gain this knowledge and understanding experientially by immersing themselves in the lives of others. Through a method called fieldwork they observice the lives of others by living with them, sharing their experiences and discussing their perspectives to gain a detailed understanding of their cultural world.

Student profile

Dr James Barry is a current Monash PhD student who ahve written a thesis about Iran’s Armenian community. Although Iran’s population consists of mostly Shiite Muslims, the country’s ethnic and religious makeup in diverse. James’ research has been dedicated to understanding the various ways in which this minority form part of the greater Iranian nation, as well as those points at which they distinguish themselves from it.

After studying basic Armenian, James spent a long fieldwork period living in Tehran and mingling with Iranian-Armenians as they went about their routines. While awaiting graduation, James is teaching part of the anthropology program and working to publish his research findings.

Exciting career prospects

Anthropologists are playing an increasingly important role in the modern world.

In fields as diverse as journalism, climate change, mining, dispute-resolution and peace-building, social policy, Indigenous issues, development aid and emergency assistance, anthropologists are called upon to contribute their specialised knowledge and understanding.

The skills you develop in anthropology can lead to careers in a wide variety of sectors including:

  • Indigenous affairs
  • health and education
  • research and teaching
  • curation and collections work
  • roles within the development industry (state and private)
  • any role in which cross-cultural knowledge and behavioural insight is of value.

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