If you’ve been inspired by an anthropology course to learn more about the subject, there are a wide range of free materials out there that can can help you to do so. Here are 100 anthropology lectures that will help you learn more about human culture, history and our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom.
These lectures cover a wide range of anthropological topics, and many are a great introduction to subjects with which you might be unfamiliar.
- Forensic Applications in Anthropology: Professor Ann Marie Mires discusses some of the intricacies of forensic anthropology in this lecture.
- What is the Natural Human Diet?: Nutritional Anthropology: Discover what humans are actually meant to be eating in this lecture.
- Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology: This lecture is a great introduction to the fundamentals of cultural and social anthropology.
- Theories in Anthropology: Learn some of the basic underlying theories that support anthropological work in this lecture.
- Introduction to Culture: If someone asked you to define culture, could you? This lecture will help to give you a better idea of what culture really is.
- Medical Anthropology: Take a look at some basic medical anthropology in this lecture.
- Cultural Change: Through this lecture you can gain a better understanding of how cultures change over time.
- Family, Residence and Kinship: Here, you’ll find helpful information on some of the basics of cultural and social anthropology focusing on the family and relationships.
- Applied Anthropology: Once you’ve learned the theories of anthropology you might be wondering how it can be applied to real life. This lecture will show you.
- Studying the Human Condition: This lecture discusses the basics of being human.
- What Does it Mean to Be Human?: This is a question that doesn’t always have a clear answer, but you can gain some thoughtful insights into it through this lecture.
Take a look at these lectures to study cultures around the world.
- Wade Davis on Endangered Cultures: Learn more about cultures around the world that are being threatened with extinction.
- Wade Davis on the worldwide web of belief and ritual: See stunning photos of the beliefs and rituals that unite us and make us human in this lecture.
- Artists As Activists: Muslim Women Artists: Many don’t know much about the role of women in Islamic cultures, but this lecture offers a chance to learn more.
- Sidney Mintz on Puerto Rico: Discover the history and culture of Puerto Rico through this lecture.
- How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change: Listen to this lecture to better understand how art truly does affect society at large.
- The Dignity of Difference: This lecture will show you that there is value to having differences in the world.
- The Museum of the 21st Century: Part of preserving culture is sharing it in museums. This lecture will give you an idea of what museums will be like in the coming decades.
- Religion in the World: Learn more about the role of religion around the world from this lecture.
- Cultural Norms: Find out what cultural norms are and how they function in this lecture.
- The Failure of Both Multiculturalism and Assimilation: This professor believes that both of these processes have failed in bringing together cultures.
- Why Is Sexuality a Moral Experience?: Gain some interesting insights into the moral side of sexuality from this lecture at Emory.
Take a look back at ancient Greeks, Egyptians, shamans, and Native Americans in these lectures.
- Greek Gods, Human Lives: Our Fascination with Myths: Find out why the myths of the Greek gods are a perfect way to understand human societies.
- Native Americans and the Boston Harbor Islands: Through this lecture you can learn more about the native people living in the Boston Harbor.
- The Americas Before Columbus: Take a new look at the history of America, with evidence that shows that cities in the New World were large and rivaled those of Europe.
- Ancient Teachings of Tribal Shamanism: Through this lecture you can learn more about what shamanism is and the impact it has had an societies throughout history.
- Estranged Brothers: Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity: Learn where the rift between these two religions began in this lecture.
- Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness: Here, you can explore the biography of Alexander the Great.
- When Did Culture Begin?: Where did culture come from anyway? This lecture offers you a chance to answer that question.
- Early Metallurgy Around the World: Find out how the ability to manipulate metals changed many cultures and groups around the world.
- Nefertiti: Queen of Egypt, Daughter of Eternity: Michelle Moran talks about her book which examines the life of one of Egypt’s most intriguing queens.
- Art, Gender and Politics in Egypt: Queen Hapshetsut: Learn more about this woman who was to become the first female pharaoh and how her reign was removed from artistic history in this lecture.
- The Greco-Roman World: Gain a more thorough understanding of the society of the Greco-Romans by listening to this lecture from Yale.
These lectures take a look at how people function within a society.
- Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution: Heard of smart mobs? You can learn more about them and what they mean for society in this lecture.
- Nina Jablonski Breaks the Illusion of Skin Color: Do you know why there is a variation in human skin colors? If you don’t, this lecture will explain it well.
- Transforming Cape Town: Catherine Besteman, chair of Anthropology at Colby College, talks about the radical transformations in South Africa after the end of apartheid in this lecture.
- Homosexuality and Civilization: Learn more about the rich and sometimes violent history of homosexuality across cultures and time in this lecture from Louis Crompton.
- The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature: Stephen Pinker shares why he thinks gaining a better understanding of human nature is a good thing– not a bad one as many people fear.
- Steven Pinker Chalks it Up to the Blank Slate: Expanding on this topic, this lecture explains some of the innate traits humans are born with.
- James H. Kuntsler Dissects Suburbia: We all have a mental image of suburbia, but do we really know how the social norms and cultural expectations work? This lecture can give you some insights.
- Jared Diamond on Why Societies Collapse: Author of Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond discusses the reasons why some societies flourish and others implode in this lecture.
- David Logan on Tribal Leadership: This lecture discusses the main tribes humans naturally form as they interact with one another.
- Societies in Transition: Industrial Transformation: Find out more about how industry has transformed societies through this lecture.
- Our Buggy Moral Code: Listen to this TED talk on the logical gaps in our moral code.
- Noah Feldman says politics and religion are technologies: In this lecture, you’ll hear Noah Feldman make the case that politics and religion function similarly in society.
Check out these lectures to learn more about the biological side of anthropology.
- Darwin’s Legacy: Learn what legacy Darwin left behind 150 years after his groundbreaking discoveries.
- The Evolution of Trichromatic Color Vision: Watch this lecture from Jeremy Nathans on where and why trichromatic color vision came from and why it’s such a big deal.
- Evolution: From the Fossil Record to Genomic Revolution: Learn more about how human evolution has been documented both in fossils and from our own DNA in this lecture.
- Spencer Wells Builds a Family Tree for Humanity: This lecture will explain the work being done to figure out just how humans are all interrelated from a genetic standpoint.
- Zeresenay Alemseged looks for humanity’s roots: Paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged talks about new discoveries being made in Ethiopia’s badlands– the cradle of early human ancestors.
- Louise Leakey digs for humanity’s origins: Daughter of the iconic Louis Leakey, Louise takes listeners through the origins of mankind, starting in Eastern Africa.
- The Evolution of Sex: Learn how sexual reproduction came to be the norm for humans and our nearest relatives in this lecture.
- Evolution vs. Creationism: This lecture from Stanford provides a strong argument for evolution.
- Evolutionary Dynamics: Professor Martin Nowak gives this lecture on the mathematics behind evolution.
- Human Origins: Complexities and Controversies: In this lecture you’ll learn how fossils add to our understanding of human origins.
- Genomic Approaches to Human Origins: In this lecture given at Princeton, you’ll learn some of the techniques being applied to DNA to better understand where humans came from.
- The Human Body as an Evolutionary Patchwork: Here, you can learn how the human body is home to features that evolved at different times and different rates over our history.
- Hunting for Hominid Fossils in Ethiopia’s Afar Desert: Yohannes Haile-Selassie talks about the work being done to find new fossilized remains of humans in the Ethiopian desert.
- Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding: Anthropologist and primate sociobiologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy talks about the origins of human child rearing in this lecture.
- Ardipithecus: Human Evolution Takes a Step Back: In this lecture you can learn more about the amazing remains of the Ardipithcus, an early human ancestor.
Uncover new facts about human history by listening to these great lectures on archaeology.
- Civil War High Tech: Excavating the Hunley and Monitor: In this lecture, you’ll get a chance to learn about some of the earliest submarines and iron war ships.
- The City of Sardis: Approaches in Graphic Recording: Take a look at this lecture to better understand how modern technology is helping archaeologists understand their findings.
- Julia Forbes: The First Emperor: Learn more about the great terra cotta army unearthed in China from this lecture.
- Tutankhamen: Golden King, Great Pharaoh: This lecture from Clare Fitzgerald discusses the recent exhibitions of artifacts from King Tut’s tomb.
- What Mummies Tell Us: Take a look at this lecture to learn what the mummies of the world, from Peru to Egypt, have to tell us about human society.
- Ancient Olympics: Gods and Athletes: Here you can learn more about the origins, settings and events in the ancient Olympics.
- The Bible’s Buried Secrets: Find out what archeologists found when they went searching for historical evidence of the events of the Bible in this lecture.
- Eighth Wonder: The Library of Alexandria: This lecture will teach you just what made the library of Alexandria so amazing.
- Peruvian Mummies: Take a look at this lecture for a chance to learn more about the mummies of Peru.
- Digging Up Jerusalem: Through this lecture you’ll get a chance to study the archaeological record of ancient Jerusalem.
Study human language usage and acquisition through these great videos and lectures.
- The Computational Nature of Language Learning: Partha Niyogi incorporates evolutionary theory into his ideas about language learning in this lecture.
- The Biology of the Language Faculty: Its Perfection, Past and Future: Noam Chomsky explains his own thinking on the syntax theory, and much more, in this lecture.
- Alphabet Juice: Celebrate an exploration of our language in this lecture on the book Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount Jr.
- Mark Hauser: Monkeys Solving Mysteries: In this lecture, you’ll learn how studying monkeys and apes can help us unlock the mysteries of language evolution, conceptual representation and communication.
- The Idea of Universality in Linguistics and Human Rights: Noam Chomsky explores the relationship between inborn abilities for language and morality in this lecture.
- Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language: Steven Pinker discusses the relationship between learned language and language rules, as well as delving into some of the biggest questions in modern language study in this lecture.
- Have We All Been Right? Looking Backwards at Linguistic Theory, Statistics, and Language Acquisition: This lecture brings together linguists and computational scientists to see if there would be any common ground on teaching language to machines.
- Explorations in Language Learnability Using Probabilistic Grammars and Child-directed Speech: Professor Joshua Tenenbaum uses this lecture to talk about induction and abstraction in language learning and the usefulness of developing a greater understanding of how these problems are so successfully solved by the human mind.
- Steven Pinker on Language and Thought: Learn how the words you choose could communicate more than you realize in this lecture from Pinker.
- Murray Gell-Mann on the Ancestor of Language: Here you can get a glimpse at the complexities behind finding a common ancestor for modern language.
- Are Creoles Exceptional Languages?: Listen to this lecture to learn who a Creole is and what it means linguistically.
Technology and Society
Gain a better understanding of how technology is changing the ways in which human societies and individuals interact from these lectures.
- The Internet Enables Intimacy: While we might think of the internet as something that denies or limits intimacy, this lecture from Stefana Broadbent shows that the opposite just might be true.
- Intercultural Communication and Media: Learn how our perceptions affect the media and how the media affects our perceptions in this lecture.
- Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures: In this lecture, you’ll learn how technology is creating a networked culture, similar to that of folk culture.
- The Gutenberg Parenthesis: Oral Tradition and Digital Technologies: This lecture discusses the period of time where print ruled, and how it’s slowly being replaced by digital culture.
- Philip Rosedale on Second Life: Check out this lecture for insights into this virtual world and the interactions people can have within it.
- Seth Godin on the tribes we lead: In this lecture, Seth Godin argues that social media has changed the way we market and relate to one another — perhaps for the better.
- The Hidden Influence of Social Networks: Learn how traits buried in social media networks can travel from person to person in this lecture from Nicholas Christakis.
- Culture, Technological Change and Development: Through this lecture, you’ll learn more about how these three elements have become intertwined in society.
- The Ethics of Social Networking: Given at Stanford, this lecture addresses some of the more pressing ethical issues that have arisen through the growth of social networking.
In these lectures, you’ll be able to learn a bit more about humans’ closest genetic and evolutionary relatives.
- Representation of Value in the Primate Brain: This lecture will show you how primate brains, human and ape, are able to recognize and pursue something of value.
- Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes: Here, Elaine Morgan defends her theory that humans evolved from apes in semi-aquatic habitats.
- Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on Apes: An expert on our nearest relative the bonobo, Savage-Rumbaugh will demonstrate that not all of our abilities are determined by biology.
- Jane Goodall on what separates us from the apes: Acclaimed researcher Goodall explains that there are minimal differences between us and the apes in this video.
- Robert Sapolsky: The uniqueness of humans: Find out more about the behaviors that set humans apart in the animal world from this lecture.
- Frans De Waal: Our Inner Ape: Bonobo expert and anthropologist Frans De Waal explains the similarities between us and our ape relatives in this lecture.
- The Predatory Ape: Humans and other apes have been known to display predatory behavior when trying to find food or mates. This lecture will further explore that aspect of our and our nearest relatives’ behavior.
- Monkeys, Apes and Primitive Man: How Darwin Got It Wrong: Listen to this lecture to learn how Darwin might have been wrong in this theories about evolution.
- The Great Apes: Find out what sets gorillas, orangutans and chimps apart from other primates in this lecture.
- Primates: Monkeys and Apes: Learn about the basic groups of primates and some of their characteristics from this lecture.