Anthropology is the study of the human condition from the deep past to the emerging present. The field is unified by its commitment to engaged field research that seeks to enhance understanding across boundaries of culture, nation, language, tradition, history and identity. A holistic discipline, anthropology regards economy, politics, culture and society as inseparable elements of humanity’s complex long-term history. A bridge between the humanities, social, and natural sciences, anthropology documents the diversity of our communities and examines the consequences of our commonalities. Because it engages directly with communities around the world, anthropology has a unique capacity to bring the entire human experience to bear on vital questions of sustainability, equality, and mutual understanding that will shape the future of the planet.

Cornell’s Department of Anthropology is one of the most respected programs in the world with a long tradition of innovation and a legacy of leadership in the discipline. The work of its faculty traces the human career from the emergence of the species to the formation of 21st century post-colonialism. Our ethnographic, archaeological and biological research links empirical observations to critical theoretical approaches. Key themes in ongoing research projects and teaching profiles include: medicine and culture; politics, inequality and sovereignty; economy, finance, corporations and law; materiality and aesthetics; gender, personhood and identity; ethics and humanitarianism; humans and animals; colonialism and post-coloniality. Our students and faculty work around the globe from Ithaca, India and Indonesia to the Caribbean and Central America, from Japan, Africa and Nepal to China and the Caucasus, from the circumpolar North to the Global South. The Anthropology Collections, housed in McGraw Hall and used in a range of courses, include over 20,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects whose origins span the globe and represent over 500,000 years of human history.

Department website

Meredith F. Small

Professor Emerita


Academic Articles

  • 2003 How Many Fathers Are Best for a Child?. Discover 24(4):54-61.
  • 2002 Mother's Little Helpers. New Scientist 176(2372):44-49.
  • 2002 So Near and Yet So Far. Natural History 111(5):76-78.
  • 2002 String Theory. Natural History 111(3):14-16.
  • 2002 The Happy Fat. New Scientist 175(2357):34-39.
  • 2002 What You Can Learn From Drunk Monkeys. Discover 23(7):40-46.
  • 2001 Do Animals Have Culture?. Scientific American 284(4):104-106.


  • 2001 Kids: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Raise Our Children. New York: Doubleday.

Amiel Bize

Assistant Professor


Peer-Reviewed Articles and Chapters: 

2020 “The Right to the Remainder: Gleaning and Fuel Economies along Kenya’s Northern Corridor,” Cultural Anthropology 35(3).  

2019 with Basil Ibrahim. “Waiting Together: The Motorcycle Taxi Stand as Nairobi Infrastructure.” Africa Today 65(2): 72-91. 

2017 “Jam-Space and Jam-Time: Traffic in Nairobi,” The Making of the African Road (K. Beck, G. Klaeger, M. Stasik, eds.), Leiden: Brill, 58-85.  

2017 “Rhythm, Disruption and the Experience of African Roads,” review article, Mobility in History Vol. 8: 28-34. 

Public Scholarship: 

2019 with Basil Ibrahim. “Les « shimo », lieux de toutes les attentes des taxis-motos de Nairobi” [“Shimo: Where Motorcycle Taxis Wait.”], Le Monde Afrique website, May 7.   

2019 “On Ethnographic Desire: A Response to Phantom Africa,” Syndicate website, April 1. 

2019 “Gleaning,” Part of series on Temporary Possession. Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, March 29. 

2018 with Soo-Young Kim. “Beyond Precarity.” Member Voices, Fieldsights, Cultural Anthropology website, March 21.  

2016 with Wendell Marsh, Elliot Ross, Safia Aidid, Natasha Shivji, and Basil Ibrahim. “Reflections on #CadaanStudies.” CSAAME Borderlines, February 13. 

2009-2011 Regular contributor to “Findings,” column in Anthropology Now Magazine. 

Marcos Ramos Valdés

Ranya Perez

Karina Edouard

Ami Tamakloe

Nia Whitmal

Iman Ali

Sarah Besky

Associate Professor



2020. Tasting Qualities: The Past and Future of Tea. Oakland: University of California Press.  

2019.  How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet.  Sarah Besky and Alex Blanchette, editors.  Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research (SAR) Press.  

2014.  The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India.  Berkeley: University of California Press.   


Forthcoming (2021). “The Plantation’s Outsides: The Work of Settlement in Kalimpong, India.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 63(2). 

Forthcoming (2021). “Teawords: Experiments with Quality in Industrial Tea Production.” American Anthropologist 123(1).  

2020. “Empire and Indigestion: Materializing Tannins in the Indian Tea Industry.” Social Studies of Science 50(3): 398-417. 

2017. “Fixity: On the Inheritance and Maintenance of Tea Plantation Houses in Darjeeling, India.”  American Ethnologist 44(4): 617-631.   

2017. “The Land in Gorkhaland: On the Edges of Belonging in Darjeeling, India.” Environmental Humanities 9(1): 18-39. 

2017. “Tea as ‘Hero Crop’?  Embodied Algorithms and Industrial Reform in India.” Science as Culture.  26(1): 11-31.  

2016. “Placing Plants in Territory” (co-authored with Jonathan Padwe). Environment and Society: Advances in Research 7: 9-28.  

2016. “The Future of Price: Communicative Infrastructures and the Financialization of Indian Tea.” Cultural Anthropology 31(1): 4-29. 

2015. “Agricultural Justice, Abnormal Justice? Fair Trade’s Plantation Problem.” Antipode 47(5): 1141-1160.  

2015. “Looking for Work: Placing Labor in Food Studies” (co-authored with Sandy Brown).  Labor: Studies of Working-Class History of the Americas 12(1-2): 19-43. 

2014. “The Labor of Terroir and the Terroir of Labor: Geographical Indication on Darjeeling Tea Plantations.” Agriculture and Human Values 31(1): 83-96.  

2008. “Can a Plantation be Fair?  Paradoxes and Possibilities in Fair Trade Darjeeling Tea Certification.”  Anthropology of Work Review 29(1): 1-9. 

Book Chapters 

Forthcoming. “Seaweed.” In Solarities: Inflections and Refractions, edited by Amelia Moore, Cymene Howe, and Jeff Diamanti. Santa Barbara, CA: Punctum Books. 

2020. “Can’t Get There from Here? Writing Place and Moving Narratives.” In Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment, Carole McGranahan, editor. Pp. 83-86. Durham: Duke University Press. 

2020. “Monoculture.” In Anthropocene Unseen: A Lexicon. Cymene Howe and Anand Pandian, editors. Pp. 277-280. Santa Barbara, CA: Punctum Books.  

2019. “Introduction: The Fragility of Work” (co-authored with Alex Blanchette). In How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet, Besky and Blanchette, editors. Pp. 1-22. Santa Fe: SAR Press.  

2019. “Exhaustion and Endurance in Sick Landscapes.” In How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet, Besky and Blanchette, editors. Pp. 23-40. Santa Fe: SAR Press.  

2018. “Subnational Occupations: Managing Darjeeling Tea.” In Darjeeling Reconsidered: Histories, Politics, and Environments. Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman, editors. Pp. 197-218.  New Delhi: Oxford University Press India.  

2010. “Colonial Pasts and Fair Trade Futures: Changing Modes of Production and Regulation on Darjeeling Tea Plantations.” In Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies. Sarah Lyon and Mark Moberg, editors. Pp. 97-122.  New York: NYU Press. 

Selected Essays and Public Scholarship 

2020. “What’s in a Cuppa?” Queen’s Quarterly (Winter): 554-565        

2020. “Afterword: Work, Place, and the Value of Ethnography.” Anthropology of Work Review 41(2): 129-132. 

2020. “Tea Time for the Pandemic.” University of California Press blog, May 21. 

2018. “The Naturalization of Work” (co-edited with Alex Blanchette).  Collection for Cultural Anthropology’s website series “Theorizing the Contemporary.”   

2018. “Introduction: The Naturalization of Work.” In “The Naturalization of Work,” edited by Besky and Blanchette. Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website. July 26. 

2018. “Sickness” In “The Naturalization of Work,” edited by Besky and Blanchette. Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website. July 26. 

2017. “Monoculture.”  In “Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen,” edited by Cymene Howe and Anand Pandian. Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website. June 28. 

2017. Preface to the Chinese edition of The Darjeeling Distinction. Chapati Mystery. May 16.  

2017. “Ten Questions with Sarah Besky.” Chapati Mystery. January 27. 

2016. “The Materiality of Finance: An Interview with Sarah Besky” (with Ned Dostaler). Dialogues, Cultural Anthropology website. March 17. [LINK]  

2016. Response to Daniel Münster’s review of The Darjeeling Distinction on Allegra Laboratory. January 25.  

2015. “Inheriting the Hill Station.” Essay on “Edge Effects.” May 19. 

2015. “Can’t Get There from Here? Writing Place and Moving Narratives.” Essay in the 

“Writer’s Workshop” Series on “Savage Minds.” March 26. 

2014. “The Promise of Fair Trade for Plantation Laborers.”  For a Better World.  Fair World Project: Portland, Oregon. Issue 9 (Fall): 15-16.  

Selected Media 

BBC Radio 4. “Thinking Allowed.” December 2, 2020. 

CaMP Anthropology Interview on “Tasting Qualities.” October 23, 2020. 

Science for the People” Podcast. October 5, 2020.  

The Slowdown” June 13, 2020. 

World101x: University of Queensland MOOC module, July 13, 2017. 

Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” episode on tea plantations. December 14, 2016.  

Working Concepts.” Interview and podcast on “Edge Effects.” March 29, 2016 

New Books in South Asia.” January 14, 2015.  

BBC Radio 4. “Thinking Allowed.” October 22, 2014. 

The Farm Report.” Heritage Radio News. May 22, 2014. 

It’s Hot in Here.” WCBN Ann Arbor. January 17, 2014. 

Against the Grain.” KPFA Berkeley, CA. November 22, 2010.    

Maik Wiesen

Subscribe to Anthropology