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Anthropology at AU

The Department of Anthropology combines the practical application of anthropological knowledge alongside rigorous theoretical study, equipping students to address complex human issues in diverse contexts with a commitment to social justice.

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

News and Events

Thurka Sangaramoorthy spoke with the Post and Courier about the dangerous working and living conditions of migrant workers.

Francesa Emanuele published an article on Peru’s president in Jacobin

David Vine received a $5,000 grant from the Jubitz Family Foundation for the project "Dismantling the Military Industrial Complex."

Public Anthropology MA students Elise Ferrer and Madison Shomaker and recent alum Nada Baghat published a four-part series titled "We Are Not Alternative: A Communal Take on Theorization and Canon in Anthropology Theory Courses" in American Anthropologist:

Thurka Sangaramoorthy spoke with Associated Press about the growing Haitian community in the Eastern Shore.

Daniel Sayers spoke with PBS about his research into Maroon communities.

David Vine received a grant from the Jubitz Family Foundation for the project “Dismantling the Military Industrial Complex Coalition.”

Orisanmi Burton received a favorable review in The Progressive Magazine on his new book, Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt (University of California Press, 2023)

Thurka Sangaramoorthy received supplemental funding of $49,941 from University of Maryland (for a new total of $88,079) for “Research Employing Environmental Systems and Occupational Health Policy Analyses to Interrupt the Impact of Structural Racism on Agricultural Workers and Their Respiratory Health (RESPIRAR).” She also spoke with KCBS Radio and The Daily Yonder about her new book Landscapes of Care.

Manissa Maharawal spoke with NPR about the history of tech companies interfering with intracity transportation.

See PhD candidate Heba Ghannam the Middle East Institute's 2022 Arab Barometer Report: Attitudes and Trends toward Gender.

David Vine published a commentary on “build back better” in The Progressive Magazine.

Prof. Thurka Sangaramoorthy Published Underpaid and Overlooked, Migrant Labor Provides Backbone of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Local Economy

Hear prof. Dan Sayers in the Ideas podcast: The Marrow Nature: A Case for the Wetlands.

PhD candidate Maya S. Kearney is the recipient of the 2022 AAA Dissertation Fellowship for Historically Underrepresented Persons in Anthropology


Justin Sisk


Justin SiskMA, Public Anthropology

"American University has furthered my academic training as a scholar of anthropology and religion,” says Public Anthropology MA candidate Justin Sisk. “It allowed me to work closely with religious communities and to showcase those findings in an academic fashion.”

Justin focuses his master’s research on Norse Paganism — a religion that emphasizes community building through the worship of the Norse pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, ritual, and a close tie to nature.

During his studies at AU, Justin completed an internship with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, where he explored the economic, cultural, environmental, and social implications that surround ginseng digging in Appalachian communities. The experience gave him an opportunity to hone his skills as an interview transcriber and immerse himself in the rigorous Smithsonian research process.  

Justin plans to pursue a PhD and ultimately teach at a university, research institute, or museum and continue his work on religious beliefs, ritualistic behavior, identity, and counter-cultural narratives. “AU is helping me accomplish this goal by providing me with a wonderful learning environment that will not only help me receive my master's degree, but also help further my knowledge-building as a scholar,” he says.

Jacket cover of Tip of the Spear

Social Sciences ·

‘An Epochal Act of Abolitionist Worldmaking’: New Book Recounts Attica Uprising

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Tim Doud with his Art at Amtrak mural “A Great Public Work”

Research ·

College Faculty Receive 80 Awards Totaling Over $11 Million in 2023

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