Sub-disciplines and Research Areas

The following subfields represent some of the prominent areas of research conducted by our full-time faculty. A list of faculty that conduct research in each field is given, along with a brief description of each subfield. Links to individual faculty pages—where you can view CV's and lists of publications—can be found on our Faculty page.

African Studies

The Department of Anthropology hosts the African Studies Minor. More information about this minor can be found here or by contacting the faculty who conduct research in Africa.
David Crandall

Anthropology of Religion

All of our faculty deal with issues of religion to varying extents in their research. However, the Anthropology of Religion is an important subdiscipline and the Society for the Anthropology of Religion constitutes a section of the American Anthropological Association ( Some of the areas of religious practice researched by our faculty include:

     Ancestral Practice (David Crandall, Jacob Hickman)

     Christianity (Jacob Hickman, Charles Nuckolls, Greg Thompson)
      Islam (Cyndy Finlayson, David Johnson)

     Mesoamerican Religion (John Clark, Mike Searcy)

     Religious Iconography (John Clark, Cyndy Finlayson, David Johnson, Mike Searcy)

     Shamanism (Jacob Hickman)
     Spirit Mediumship (David Crandall, Charles Nuckolls)

Asian Studies

The BYU Kennedy Center offers both a major and a minor in Asian Studies. The following faculty conduct research in Asia and teach courses that count toward the Asian Studies programs:
    Jacob Hickman, Charles Nuckolls

Medical Anthropology

Medical anthropology is the study of health and healing practices and beliefs as they vary in different cultural contexts. Our department offers courses in medical anthropology and related areas of interest, and several of our faculty conduct research on these topics. These research interests range from traditional herbal remedies to shamanic healing rituals to analyzing American Psychiatry.
     David Crandall, Jacob Hickman, Charles Nuckolls

Mesoamerican Studies

Mesoamerican archaeology and ethnography have historically been a concentrated area of research in our department. The New World Archaeology Foundation (NWAF) is an affiliate entity of the Department of Anthropology, and the NWAF maintains an on-site research center in Chiapas, Mexico. Our current faculty carry this tradition with a host of books, articles, and papers series based on the region. For 15 years, John Hawkins also directed an ethnographic field school in Guatemala that spawned a series of volumes on this research with Oklahoma Press.
     John Clark, Mike Searcy

Linguistic Anthropology

Linguistic anthropologists study the linguistic dimensions of cultural experience. These go beyond the mere expression of culture through language, and include that ways that humans' thinking is shaped by linguistic processes and investigating the linguistic resources that people draw on as they engage in cultural practice.
     Greg Thompson, Janis Nuckolls (Dept. of Linguistics)

Psychological Anthropology

Psychological Anthropology research occurs at the intersection of mind and culture. Researchers in this subfield argue that psychological processes can not be adequately understood without investigating the cultural contexts in which they develop and are expressed, and likewise that culture cannot be properly understood without a rich theory of how individuals experience and interact with 'society,' including the psychological processes that underpin these interactions. Our department offers courses in psychological anthropology, and perspectives from this subdiscipline are expressed in the range of courses taught by psychological anthropologists in our department.
     Jacob Hickman, Charles Nuckolls, Greg Thompson

Southwest Archaeology

In addition to conducting their own research in the American southwest (this region includes the northwestern portions of Mexico, such as the Casas Grandes site), our department has offered a number of field schools in southwestern archaeological sites, including the Utah Great Basin, Wolf Village, and the Provo mounds.
     Jim Allison, Mike Searcy

Near East Archaeology

Faculty in our department conduct research in Jordan and Syria, and the 2014 Archaeology Field School will also be held in Jordan.
     Cyndy Finlayson, David Johnson