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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Founded in 1967, the Department of Anthropology at Durham is now one of the largest integrated anthropology departments in the UK carrying out innovative research on cutting edge topics spanning social anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, and the anthropology of health. Our academics and postdoctoral researchers employ a wide range of social science and natural science perspectives to explore questions about human life in its evolutionary, environmental and cultural contexts. Our taught programmes offer students the opportunity to pursue general and specialist anthropology programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, while our PhD students study topics from primate behaviour to rhetoric culture and indigenous knowledge to internet technologies. With our first-class facilities, innovative programmes, and world-leading academics, Durham is setting the agenda for 21st century anthropology.

World Rankings

Record success in QS World Subject Rankings

Durham is one of the world’s leading universities as shown by our world top 100 position in the QS World University Rankings 2019, where we are ranked 74th

A record 18 Durham subjects are also in the world top 100 of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019, including ten in the world top 50 and three in the world top ten.

Men's testosterone levels largely determined by childhood environment

Co-authored by Durham Anthropology's Prof Gillian Bentley, a Durham University-led study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that men who grow up in more challenging conditions where there are lots of infectious diseases, for example, are likely to have lower testosterone levels in later life than those who spend their childhood in healthier environments.

To read the study in full please click the link below:

Childhood ecology influences salivary testosterone, pubertal age and stature of Bangladeshi UK migrant men

And visit the links below for recent press coverage of the study:

Men’s testosterone levels determined by childhood conditions not genetics, study claims (Independent)

Healthier childhoods linked to increased prostate cancer risk (Telegraph)

Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (DurhamARCTIC)

DurhamARCTIC is a doctoral training centre at Durham University, funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust to support Interdisciplinary Understanding for a Changing Arctic (DS-2017-070). Between 2018 and 2023 DurhamARCTIC is supporting 15 doctoral students at Durham University, each of whom is pursuing a research project that contributes to and benefits from a blend of disciplinary expertise and interdisciplinary enquiry.

Laidlaw Scholarship for Undergraduate Students

Opportunities for funded research placements in the department, see link for further information:

“Our Lives with Electric Things”: Durham anthropologists publish a new collection of writing to extend the energy humanities.

Inspired by a Wenner-Gren funded workshop held at Durham in 2016, this new collection has been published in the Cultural Anthropology journal series ‘Theorizing the Contemporary’. The full collection includes 51 contributions, whose authors reflect on our lives with electric things, using electric artefacts to generate novel ethnographic insights.

Editor Professor Simone Abram says, ‘This collection is an inspiration for anthropologists and others to rethink how we live with electricity and reconsider the possibilities and limits of life with electric things’. With three co-editors from Edinburgh and Copenhagen, the collection covers electric fictions, backups, infrastructures, electric sustenance, electric air and more, making up 17 themes.

‘We are excited to bring together anthropologists from around the world to think about such pressing issues and invite readers to enjoy the collection and the inspiration it offers’ adds Prof Abram.

The collection can be read at:

Testing electric cookstove prototypes, Myanmar

Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet Oct 28-29 2017

A hundred and forty two people from twenty countries attended this two day symposium at Durham. It was the fifth such symposium to be organised on behalf of the Energy Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists Participants were drawn from a range of academic disciplines engaged in energy research as well as representatives from industry and third sector organisations. The Saturday programme for the first day of speakers and discussion panel is now available online (see below). The first day also featured twelve organisations with stands and publicity materials. These included two anthropology consultancies from Scandinavia; the EASA Energy Ethics Network; Low Carbon Energy for Development; Mygrid; Energethics and Access for Women in Energy. Sunday featured five well attended workshops located across the Durham campus, covering energy and development, corporate responsibility, local history and careers for anthropologists beyond the academy.

Thanks to all those at Durham who helped make the event such a success and to our several sponsors see

(11 Dec 2017) » More about Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet Oct 28-29 2017

Layton Dialogue: Is violence at the heart of human-wildlife coexistence?

11 December 2019 15:00 in D110, Dawson Building

A Dialogue between:

Dr Juno Salazar Parreñas, Assistant Professor, Department of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies; Ohio State University

Prof Catherine Hill, Professor in Anthropology, Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University

With Discussant:

Dr Ben Cambpell, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Durham University

The Anthropocene mass extinction is distinct from all its predecessors in that it is caused largely by the activities of a single species. Among the great apes, ours is the only species not currently considered endangered. As human populations and ranges have expanded, increasing overlap between humans and wildlife raises the potential for conflict over shared space and resources. For example, wild primates can threaten human livelihoods and safety with damage to crops and physical attacks, while human activities substantially reduce primate populations through extensive hunting and habitat destruction. Conserving species, therefore, requires navigation of complex, multidimensional ecological and cultural landscapes. Huge amounts of effort are invested in the conservation of large and charismatic species through protected reserves, rehabilitation centres and breeding programmes, often involving a high degree of control over the individual animals’ lives, significantly restricting their freedom to range, interact and reproduce as they would in the wild. These programmes can have substantially detrimental effects on local populations who may lose access to land and resources critical for subsistence, raising the questions of who is conservation for and how should it be done? At the 2019 Layton Dialogue we will discuss the question of whether multispecies violence is inevitable in human-wildlife coexistence in the Anthropocene.

Contact for more information

Contact Details

Department of Anthropology
Durham University
Dawson Building,
South Road,
Durham, DH1 3LE
Queen's Anniversary Prize 2017

Gold rated for teaching excellence and student outcomes

Royal prize for Parent-Infant Sleep Lab