Department of Anthropology

The Anthropology Department offers cutting edge emphases for both undergraduates and graduates. Combine your studies in anthropology with medicine, nursing or public health or concentrate in international studies and business.


As a student in the anthropology program at Case Western Reserve University you will be involved in a discipline that challenges you to form a unique perspective on human behavior, institutions, and biology. These skills of investigation, discovery, and critical thinking prepare you for a wide range of careers from health and international affairs, to public service, education, and law, to management and industry. Job opportunities in the subdisciplines of cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology will be abundant in the next ten years. Read more.



Annual Kassen Lecture featuring Dr. Claire Wendland

Date posted: September 26th, 2016

Each year the Department of Anthropology presents the Kassen Lecture, featuring a top female scholar in the social sciences to present a lecture to the department and to the campus community.

The Kassen Lecture for 2016 will feature


Dr. Claire Wendland

Professor, Departments of Anthropology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Dangerous Care: Reproductive Violence, Fast and Slow”


October 13, 2016 from 4:15 to 5:30

reception to follow


In Malawi, public attention to high maternal death rates has often prompted people to bolster their own authority by blaming others for dangerous care. It has also prompted considerable blame directed at pregnant women themselves. More recently we have seen similar patterns of blame in the United States. Drawing on ethnographic research in Malawi both within and outside the formal health sectors, Dr. Wendland uses Berlant’s “slow death” and Nixon’s “slow violence” to reconsider maternal death. Reproductive violence can be fast or slow, or fast and slow at the same time. To represent it as an acute crisis can be politically useful. That representation also risks drawing our attention away from the slow injuries that happen within health systems, between them, or outside them entirely.


As a medical anthropologist, Dr. Wendland focuses on the globalization of biomedicine, particularly in Africa. Related work includes the anthropology of reproduction, sexuality and the body. Dr. Wendland’s first book, A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical School, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010. That book explores the experiences of medical students learning to be doctors in Malawi, and argues that their responses challenge several longstanding assumptions about biomedicine and about African healing. Dr. Wendland’s current research project looks at changing concepts and loci of risk in childbirth in southeast Africa, in a setting in which very high maternal mortality rates force professionals and lay people alike to develop explanations for the link between birth and death. Dr. Wendland seeks to understand how the narratives of maternal death they produce reflect experiences of a rapidly changing social, economic, and biomedical context.

Generously supported by an annuity from the late Drs. Aileen and Julian Kassen.

CWRU Anthropology and Engineering Students Collaborate on Global Health Issues in Uganda

Date posted: March 24th, 2016

As featured in The Daily, 10 Case Western Reserve University anthropology and engineering students traveled to Uganda to work alongside 11 biomedical engineering students from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. The students are participating in a course titled “Interdisciplinary Solutions to Global Health Problems,” a collaboration between biomedical engineering and medicine professor, Andrew Rollins, and anthropology professor, Janet McGrath.

Melvyn Goldstein receives Distinguished Faculty Research Award

Date posted: February 24th, 2016

Congratulations to John Reynolds Harkness Professor of Anthropology Melvyn Goldstein for being awarded the Distinguished Faculty Research Award for his internationally recognized research in Tibet. The presentation was made by President Barbara Snyder, Provost Bud Baeslack, Vice President for Research Suzanne Rivera and Dean Cyrus Taylor during Professor Goldstein’s Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology class.  …Read more.

Cynthia Beall Co-Organized Symposium at the AAAS 2016 Annual Meeting

Date posted: February 18th, 2016

Cynthia Beall co-organized a symposium on “Evolutionary Biology Impacts on Medicine and Public Health” at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). …Read more.

Cynthia Beall elected to serve on the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Board of Directors

Date posted: December 30th, 2015

Cynthia Beall was elected to the Board of Directors in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2015 election. AAAS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people. …Read more.

Page last modified: October 6, 2016