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The Anthropology Program

Anthropology is a broad and complex social science discipline that includes four distinct subfields as means for studying human beings at all times, in all places and circumstances.

  • Anthropologists study the remains of past cultures through archaeology. Archaeologists recover artifacts and other data by painstakingly excavating sites of past human occupation and looking through the pieces left behind by the people who lived there.
  • Anthropologists study the physical aspects of what it means to be human through biological anthropology. Biological anthropologists study skeletons, DNA, disease, non-human primates and fossil hominids to provide a complete picture of the evolutionary record and the effects of cultural changes like agriculture on the human body.
  • Anthropologists study contemporary human communities through cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropologists typically spend an extended period of time living in a community and writing descriptions of their experience.
  • Anthropologists study the relationships between culture and language through linguistic anthropology. Linguistic anthropologists typically spend time in communities recording language and cultural data and looking for connections between the two sets of data.

All of anthropology’s subfields can be brought out of the classroom and into the community through applied anthropology, which seeks to use the knowledge gained through academic research to solve social problems. Some domains of applied anthropology include forensic anthropology, medical anthropology, anthropology of tourism, language revitalization, and most archaeology practiced in the U.S. and its territories.

Archaeology at Georgia Southern is regionally focused in the American Southeast, providing accessible, hands-on educational and research opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students and faculty together explore cultural expressions and adaptations spanning the peopling of the continent to the modern era, through field, laboratory, and classroom activities.

Camp Lawton was a Confederate camp for Union POWs built in the summer of 1864 and abandoned by December. Now managed by GA DNR and the USFWS, in 2009, Georgia Southern University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology was invited to investigate the archaeology of Camp Lawton. These investigations uncovered substantial evidence showing day to day life at Camp Lawton as experienced by Confederate guards and Union POWs. Archaeology continues at Camp Lawton, which has become a time capsule, locking into the soil the stories and experiences of those who were guarded, and those who guarded them in the lonely Georgia pines as war raged ever closer.
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Applied anthropology uses knowledge gleaned through participant observation to develop projects desired by communities to mitigate local issues. Applied anthropology projects at Georgia Southern University involve language revitalization, behavioral health, sustainable seafood systems, oyster production and tourism.
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Anthropology Faculty

Dr. Heidi Altman

Heidi Altman

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Carroll 1059A, Statesboro Campus
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Jacqueline Berger

Jacqueline Berger

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Carroll 1018, Statesboro Campus

Dr. Kara Bridgman Sweeney

Kara Bridgman Sweeney

Lecturer of Anthropology
Armstrong Campus

Dr. Matthew Compton

J. Matthew Compton

Director, Laboratory of Archaeology and Curator, R M Bogan Archaeological Repository
Carroll 2256B, Statesboro Campus
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Ryan McNutt

Ryan McNutt

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Carroll 1050, Statesboro Campus
Curriculum Vitae

More Information

Dr. McNutt earned his B.S. in Anthropology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2006, and his Mlitt (2010) and PhD (2014) in Archaeology from the University of Glasgow, where he specialized in conflict archaeology. His research interests include utilizing technology such as LIDAR and GIS to answer questions about battlefield and conflict sites, power and dominance in the landscape, and the impact of violence on non-combatants. This includes the archaeology of internment and POW camps, where place becomes transformed through social interaction into a space of the dominant and dominated, with landscapes and architecture spatially arranged in a grammar of control and constant observation.

His past research has focused on developing and implementing a predictive GIS model for the most probable location of battlefields within wider landscapes. This GIS model was successively applied to battlefields ranging AD 1296 to 1745. Working with the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, he participated in projects on various types and periods of conflict sites, ranging from the Battle of the Somme, to Bannockburn, to POW camps in Poland, to WWII aircraft crashes in remote locales of Scotland.

Several of these projects were part of documentaries, and sparked another of his research interests, which is the communication of archaeology public. Archaeology, is at its heart, a communal endeavor, and communicating its importance to the wider public should remain one of its guiding tenets. He also works as a consultant on development projects for television documentaries.


Jennifer Sweeney Tookes

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Carroll 1015, Statesboro Campus
Curriculum Vitae


M. Jared Wood

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Anthropology Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Carroll 1049, Statesboro Campus
Curriculum Vitae

Anthropology Faculty in Other Departments

Dr. Matthew A. Williamson

Matthew A. Williamson

Associate Professor of Kinesiology
Herty Building 0103, Statesboro Campus


Last updated: 2/17/2023