The program and its goals
Vanderbilt University has created a unique program of education and research focused on the social relations, culture, biology, and history of past and present peoples of Latin America. The graduate program in anthropology provides intensive training and research opportunities to a small, select group of graduate students with the objective of producing scholars who will be successful in obtaining teaching and research positions. A high faculty-student ratio allows small seminars, close interaction, and collaboration with faculty in field and lab research. While the regional focus of the department is Latin America, formal training stresses broad preparation in the discipline of anthropology. Students are introduced to all of the four subfields of anthropology, with an emphasis on social theory. The goal of the department is to educate professional scholars with experience in field research, who have the theoretical breadth to teach and produce work that is of significance beyond their specializations. This strategy has proven to be successful, as measured by graduates' publications, research, and placement in academic and government positions.
The department has one of the largest teams of Latin American anthropologists in the nation, with 13 full-time faculty in addition to several research professors, lecturers, and adjuncts, as well as anthropologists in other departments and schools of the University. The Department of Anthropology’s research and training resources include artifact and osteological collections, a Spatial Analysis Research Lab (SARL), a Bioarchaeology Isotope Lab, and laboratories for genetic and cognitive anthropology research. In addition to graduate fellowships, students have access to internal competitive funding for research, travel, and dissertation writing. Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-run field- and lab research projects and may collaborate on resulting publications. At present, faculty members are conducting major cultural, biological, historical, and archaeological projects in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil, and among Hispanic populations in Tennessee. The department has institutional affiliations with the universities and research facilities in each of these nations. The department is also the editorial seat of Ancient Mesoamerica (published by Cambridge University Press).
Vanderbilt and its facilities
Vanderbilt University is a private institution enrolling approximately 6,900 undergraduates and 6,000 graduate and professional students in ten schools. The University has a traditional and growing strength in Latin American studies, as reflected in its faculty, library holdings, and campus activities. Students and faculty with interests in Latin America come together in the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), which maintains its own publication and lecture series and provides student funding. Collections in the anthropology of Latin America are one of the strengths of the Vanderbilt library. The Department of Anthropology also has strong ties to Medicine, Health, and Society (MHS), where several anthropologists are on faculty and may serve on the dissertation committees of Anthropology graduate students. Several anthropology faculty also have research collaborations with faculty in Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), so graduate students often participate in those research endeavors.