A History of the Anthropology Department
Approximately 100 years after their origin(s) in the mid/late 19th century, the distinct and separate disciplines of anthropology and sociology became part of the Kenyon curriculum in the early 1970s. This addition was made possible by three principal factors: first, the fact that both disciplines had reached full maturity by the mid-20th century; second, the growing recognition that each discipline would enhance Kenyon's long term commitment to the liberal arts; and third, the fact that the advent of coeducation—and concurrent expansion in the size of the college—made an increase in faculty size and curricular diversity both possible and desirable.
After offering its first coursework in the 1972-73 academic year, the department expanded quite rapidly to five faculty positions (3 anthropology/2 sociology) by 1975-76. The first anthropology majors graduated in that year, and the first majors in sociology followed shortly thereafter (1977).
In building the program, the department has from the beginning focussed not only on subdisciplinary breadth but also on theoretical depth, in an attempt to provide students with both a balanced and a rigorous encounter with each discipline. Thanks to a strong and positive response by students, as well as an enthusiastic and productive faculty, the department grew to eight faculty positions by the mid-1980s. In anthropology, this included two cultural anthropologists (Profs. Kipp and Suggs), two archaeologists (Profs. Schortman and Urban) and one physical anthropologist (Prof. Smail). Sociology expanded to incorporate a diversified set of interests in social thought and social theory, social organization and institutions, and social psychology (Profs. Sacks, Macionis and McCarthy) as well as a shared appointment with legal studies (Prof. Sheffield). A fourth position in sociology was added in the late 1990s (Prof. Kohlman).
During the 1990s, in addition to graduating some 30 to 40 majors annually, the anthropology and sociology departments developed a strong set of relationships with a wide range of newly-formed academic "concentrations" at Kenyon: Integrated Program in Humane Studies; Women's and Gender Studies; International Studies; Latin American, African, Asian and American Studies; Legal Studies; Environmental Studies; and Neuroscience. The department also led a successful faculty effort to initiate a "disciplinary minors" program, first available to students in the 1992-93 academic year. Within the department, two field programs emerged: the Kenyon-Honduras Program, focusing on archaeology and cultural anthropology, led by Profs. Schortman and Urban; and the sociologically oriented Rural Life Center, led by Prof. Sacks.
In July of 2000, following a broad-based review of past successes, present trends and future aspirations within each discipline, anthropology and sociology formally—and amicably—separated into two administratively distinct departments. At the present time (September 2001), thanks to continuing growth in course enrollments and gains in the number of majors, both anthropology and sociology appear to have a bright future at Kenyon. (J. Kenneth Smail)