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Department Introduction

The Department of Anthropology has been officially established for more than 60 years. It is the oldest anthropological teaching and research institution in Taiwan with the most diverse range of fieldwork and the most complete teaching methodology in the country. It has also cultivated many anthropological professionals for Taiwan. The current staff has inherited rich ethnological and archaeological materials along with research on Taiwanese history and aboriginal peoples dating back to the Japanese occupation.
The department is committed to taking responsibility for their work through constant self-examination and adjustment. At the same time, with evaluation from both internal and external perspectives, we hope to obtain more profound and objective suggestions. In this way, we can continue the academic traditions carried out by the department and respond to the needs and developments of modern society.

History of the Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University

The Department of Anthropology at National Taiwan University has over eight decades of history. In the 17th year of the Republic of China (1928), Dr. Shigawako, a Doctor of Anthropology from Harvard University and the Chair of the Department of Humanities and Political Studies at Taipei Imperial University, began planning and building classrooms for ethnography, research, laboratories, and specimens. He also began teaching courses on folklore and ethnography. The curriculum, collectively referred to as the “Lectures on Local Peoples”, was the predecessor of the current department. In the same year, fieldwork was carried out to collect first-hand data and specimens on Taiwan’s ethnology and archaeology. It was the first professional teaching and research anthropology institution in Taiwan, especially in regards to studies on Taiwan’s aboriginals and Austronesian ethnic groups.

In the 34th year of the Republic of China (1945), Taipei Imperial University was reorganized into National Taiwan University. The Department of Humanities and Political Studies was divided into the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Law. The College of Liberal Arts set up three departments Chinese, History and Philosophy. The lectures on folklore and ethnology were reorganized into the “Office of Ethnic Studies” under the Department of History.

In the 38th year of the Republic of China, (1949), after a group of outstanding archaeologists and ethnic scholars migrated from mainland China to Taiwan, President Fu Sinian asked the Ministry of Education to add the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology to the College of Liberal Arts. The Department was officially founded and the related resources from the original “Lectures on Local Peoples” along with the subsequent resources from the “Office of Ethnic Studies” were merged. Professor Li Ji, a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University, served as the first dean of the department. He introduced a curriculum designed from the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, uniting archaeology, ethnology, linguistics and physical anthropology, and recruited a large number of scholars from the Academia Sinica to teach. He was in charge of the department for 12 years and actively strove for funding from the school. He was committed to continuing the spirit of collecting, organizing and researching specimens during the period of ethnographic and ethnological research, and advocated for the bachelor’s class to study fieldwork methods and practical courses.

In the 42nd year of the Republic of China (1953), the academic journal “Archaeology and Humanities” was published. It currently has a history of fifty-six years. It established an important publishing field is not only for the department but also for Taiwanese anthropological research, as a whole.

In the 71st year of the Republic of China (1981), the Department changed its name to the Department of Anthropology in response to current trends. In the 45th year of the Republic of China (1956), the Master’s Program was established. In the 86th year of the Republic of China(1997), the doctoral program was established. Since then, the Department has become one of the first anthropological teaching and research units in the country to provide a complete course from bachelor to doctorate degree. The department emphasizes an integrated approach to anthropological research. The bachelor’s program teaches the foundations of the four major branches of anthropology; archaeology, cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, and linguistics. The master and doctoral programs are divided into archaeology or cultural and social anthropology. In the 82nd year of the Republic of China (1993), the department added courses in the field of museum studies. The department is responsible for the cultivation and transfer of knowledge, along with the academic development of many of Taiwan’s anthropology professionals.

Development Goals

(1) The teaching and research development goals of this department emphasize three characteristics: (1) cross-cultural perspectives; (2) time and depth; and (3) research on social practices.

  In order to achieve the above goals, the development direction of the Department of Educational Landmarks, Curriculum Planning and Research, and Student Counselling is set:

(1) Bachelor’s Program

On the one hand, through basic theoretical courses, regional ethnography, and specialized courses, graduates are expected to have the ability to understand the developmental process of human society and culture. They are also expected to be able to understand cultural diversity, tolerance differences, as well as care for and reflect on contemporary social issues.

  On the other hand, the Department encourages students to broaden their horizons through electives, double majors or other supplementary methods across departments, in order to cultivate students’ knowledge in many fields of study, and serve as the basis for students’ future research.

(2) Master’s Program

Graduates should have skills in the exploration and application of knowledge which will form the basis either for further academic research or participation in the promotion of cultural development policies at all levels.

(3) Doctoral Program

This program forms the foundation for training teachers and researchers in the professional field. Our department aims to cultivate professional archaeology and sociocultural anthropology scholars with forward-looking and international perspectives.

  The department enjoys a rich collection of ethnological, archaeological, and other related work experiences. In  1997, the training objectives of the Master’s program were revised to includes classes such as , “Archology-related Practices”, “Museums” and “Cultural Administration” . These classes further strengthened the knowledge and practical ability of master’s students to enter relevant fields.

(II) Research and Development Goals

  According to a survey conducted by the National Science Council in 1995, issues such as “the formation and re-creation of culture and ethnic groups” and “local society and regional development” are considered to be forward-looking due to historical research and dynamic analysis of social culture. Therefore, when planning the developmental direction of the anthropology department, this department incorporates issues regarding contemporary sociality and needs, such as the professional development of this discipline, cultural rights and social movements of indigenous peoples in Taiwan, and the application of globalization and anthropology. We hope to further strengthen the foundation of the department’s research, development, and social participation in contemporary socio-cultural issues. 

In the field of archeology, teachers in this department are engaged in “analysis of ancient settlement patterns” as viewed by the National Science Council or “origins and distribution of ethnic groups and cultures in Austronesia”. They work to actively cooperate with relevant international and campus units to try to develop a research basis for cross-disciplinary topics in order to reflect the developmental trends of archeology across the world.

  In addition, the specimen exhibition room attached to the Department of Anthropology is also one of the developmental priorities of this department. This specimen exhibition room contains important historical images, materials, and cultural specimens of various ethnic groups in Taiwan from the Japanese rule to the present day and has become a valuable teaching and display resource.  In recent years, with the development of issues such as digitization and application of archives, how to give new anthropological significance to anthropological collections has also become one of the main development focuses of this department. 


As the earliest anthropological teaching and research institution set up in the country, this department has accumulated a wealth of research materials and academic achievements. It not only covers the four branches of human science and museum science but also places emphasis on both theoretical and field training. It has museums and academic journals, providing a complete teaching and research training system.

It not only continues traditional research fields such as Taiwanese archeology, Austronesian culture, and Han society but also extends fieldwork to Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, Oceania, Africa, South America, and other places. This research contributes to new perspectives on kinship, ethnic groups, gender, social memory, and material culture and is a unique aspect of the department. Among the graduates, there are already 2 academics; there are also more than 100 people who hold positions such as university supervisors and teachers, researchers at all levels, or museum directors, and others have played their roles in various industries. 

  This department’s cross-cultural and social practice courses, in addition to providing the department’s students with rich cross-cultural thinking training,  are also provided in general courses, and have successively joined the Faculty of Arts’ Classical Humanities Program, Taiwan Studies Program “, and ” Leadership Program “. In this way,  more students are exposed to anthropology courses, expanding the multicultural perspectives among students outside the department, and developing their respect for different cultures along with self-reflection.

  The Institute of Archeology actively conducts interdisciplinary and trans-national research and teaching cooperation projects. On the one hand, it cooperates with the teachers of the Department of Geology and the Department of Geographical Environment and Resources of our school to provide courses in “Geology and Archeology” and “Human Geography and Information Science”. It also conductes small-scale cooperation programs (such as “Study on the 13th row of pottery ornamentation and marketing strategy application-Analysis and research plan of the 13th row of pottery related sites in the Taipei Basin” Painting: ceramic specimen commissioned sectioning and preliminary analysis and research project “); On the other hand, it has participated in exchange projects with professors, masters, and doctoral students with the University of Oxford, the University of Southampton, and the University of Hawaii. Research teams from Oxford University, the University of Taiwan, and the Faculty of Medicine attempt to develop research topics for students and for the analysis of archeology. It is expected that the results and knowledge of the topic discussions will be deepened through this cross-disciplinary research integration.