Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Anthropology

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic needs 

Anthropology is the study of humankind, in all places, aspects and time periods. American anthropology traditionally is based on the “four fields” which are cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archeology and linguistics. Anthropology takes a holistic approach to understanding human existence and culture, and as such it is a very broad and interdisciplinary field. It also often includes subdisciplines such as paleoanthropology, primatology, medical and forensic anthropology.   

While the department at MSU includes linguistics as a component of their program, linguistics has its own library collection fund separate from Anthropology and is generally not included in the scope of this collection policy. The other three of the four fields are included. Subdisciplines that are prominent at MSU include historical archeology, medical and forensic anthropology and these areas receive extra attention in the collection.  

Geography is also important to anthropology, as place and environment are important components of understanding human beings. Areas of particular interest in the MSU department include but are not limited to South/Latin America, North America, Africa and the Middle East.  

The Anthropology department at MSU offers a BS, a BA and a minor in Anthropology at the undergraduate level. The graduate program is a PhD program, with MA degrees only being encouraged as part of the PhD program.   The Department of Anthropology participates in several interdepartmental Graduate Specializations. Examples include: the interdisciplinary Specialization in Infancy and Early Childhood and the interdepartmental Master of Science degree in Forensic Science Master of Science which includes a specialization in Forensic Anthropology. 

This fund also includes funds for purchasing in the subject of Classics. Classics as a discipline includes literature in Latin and Greek, archeology of the Roman and Greek empire and relevant territories during those periods, and history and philosophy of the Greeks and Romans. Works pertaining to social, economic, and political concerns of the period are also collected, particularly if they have application to the rest of the ancient world. The emphasis in collecting currently is on classical archeology because of faculty interests, and this is where it intersects with anthropology as a discipline. 

While there is no department or degree of Classics at MSU, portions of that collection support instruction and research in other fields or departments such as philosophy, comparative literature, religious studies, history, art and art history, archaeology and historical linguistics. Classical literature, especially in translation, supports several WRAC and English classes or programs as well as the general cultural interests of the University community. 

B. History of the Collection/Existing Strengths and Emphases 

To support instruction, teaching, and research for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate programs in cultural (social) anthropology, physical anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology. Major areas of interest are Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America. Specific subject areas include medical anthropology, cultural change, and language.  

This collection also includes the subject area of Classics. Historically, the purpose of classics collection was to support the undergraduate Latin major, Latin and Greek language and literature as a minor at the graduate level, and the interdisciplinary Classical Studies undergraduate program. The collection emphasized basic texts and criticism in the languages and literatures, with an emphasis on Greek comedy and drama and the scholia on the primary authors. Currently there is a turn to emphasis classical archeology and social history following faculty interests and curriculum.