Get to know the field

Anthropology examines humans as cultural beings. The field consists of cultural anthropology, archaeology, bioanthropology, and linguistic anthropology. The University of Oulu offers degrees in cultural anthropology and archaeology; bioanthropology can be studied as part of archaeology. In Oulu cultural anthropology and archaeology have shared basic level studies. Students choose their major by the time they begin their intermediate studies.

Cultural anthropology studies humans, communities, and the social construction of behaviour during different times and at different corners of the globe. Our aim is to learn to understand different kinds of cultures and to analyse how culture shapes human lives. 

Cultural anthropology is interested in the unique aspects of specific cultures, as well as in the similarities between cultures. A comparative perspective is central to the field. Comparing various cultures, cultural anthropologists strive to construct general theories on culture and society. 

Importantly, anthropology seeks both to understand foreign cultures and to throw into sharper relief our own cultural practices.

Special fields in cultural anthropology include, for example, the anthropology of religion and economic anthropology. Typical for many special fields is close collaboration with related fields of study in other disciplines. Cultural anthropological knowledge is frequently used to solve concrete social problems.  

The Cultural Anthropology programme in Oulu specializes in northern cultures, contemporary cultural trends, cultural interaction, and environmental, medical, and applied anthropology. 

Fieldwork holds a central place in training and research.  “Ethnographic fieldwork” brings cultural anthropologists into close contact with the people they study: we spend time with them, live with them, talk with them, participate in their lives, and document it with notes, recordings, photos, and videos. In addition to fieldwork, cultural anthropologists commonly analyze various kinds of archival materials and popular media in their efforts to grasp the customs, values, worldviews, and politics shaping human lives in different societies.

Training in cultural anthropology prepares a student to work as a researcher, as well as in diverse positions in the cultural field, NGOs, media, museums, and administration. Read more.

Cultural anthropology has been taught at the University of Oulu since 1985, first under the leadership of Acting Professor Outi Tuomi-Nikula. In 1987 she was followed by Jukka Pennanen, whose professorship was regularized in 1989. Professor Pennanen retired in 2009 and was succeeded by Taina Kinnunen as the Acting Professor. Docent Hannu I. Heikkinen took over the professorship on August 1, 2011.

See here for more information about anthropology.


Last updated: 22.11.2012