Rethinking Combined History Departments: An Argument for History and Anthropology

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Learning and Teaching

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Many opportunities for more integrated teaching that better capture the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary scholars' work and better achieve the aims of liberal arts education still remain untapped, particularly at smaller schools where combined departments are often necessary. The disciplinary boundaries between history and sociocultural anthropology have become increasingly blurred in recent decades, a trend reflected in scholarly work that engages with both fields, as well as dual-degree graduate programmes at top U.S. research universities. For many scholars, this interdisciplinarity makes sense, with the two disciplines offering critical theoretical tools and methods that must be used in combination to tackle effectively the questions they pursue. This article asks why this interdisciplinarity, so central to professional pursuits of both historians and anthropologists, is significantly less present in the undergraduate classroom. Housed in one of the only joint History and Anthropology departments in the U.S., we detail our own efforts to make the chance joining of our disciplines pedagogically meaningful.


The version of record can be found through Berghahn Journals.