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From Accounting to Anthropology, Chinese Applicant Sample

I am a final year Accounting student and so it is probable that my academic background is unusual for an applicant for a course in Anthropology. I have had a long-standing interest in human behaviour and how it arises, develops and changes and my study of economics created a deeper interest in these matters along with the reading of books relating directly to Anthropology and, most especially, ‘Tristes Tropiques’ by Levi-Strauss. This reading fired a determination to pursue the formal study of the subject with the goal of working for a body involved in providing information about Chinese history and cultural development. I am especially interested in passing on my passion to young people, and so to form and develop an understanding and appreciation of our rich and unique heritage.

Apart from reading widely on the subject, I have taken steps to expose myself to the practical side of the specialty. In 2016, I planned a ‘Summer Social Practice’ and led a team of 10 in a visit to Dun Huang, the place of cultural integration, to investigate the local cultural brand construction. I was exposed to many of the glories of Chinese culture and achievement. To read about Dun Huang is fascinating but to be there, to see the many beautiful artefacts, to see the topography that provided such effective defensive and trade opportunities and to hear the ‘singing sands’ was wonderful and I will never forget the experience.

As an intern with Huachen Auctions, I arranged thousands of photographs and documents created by Weigh Gold, a German ornithologist who explored land to the west of Sichuan. These images and records, preserved for over a century, provided a window into a part of China as it was over a century ago and brought a remote civilisation ‘to life’ for me. It was a privilege to organise these records so that others would share my wonder and fascination. I would be very interested in taking part in such projects in the future. I also have a strong interest in film and music, both historic and modern, as being reflections of a society’s contemporary mores, priorities and concerns. As a result of this interest, I became a volunteer for the World Organization for Video Culture Development which works to preserve and catalogue visual records of cultural interest.

Although a study of Accounting may seem fairly irrelevant to Anthropology, however it does call for an analytical mind, a facility for numbers and statistics that will aid my future studies and research and an understanding of the great affect that trade and competition for resources has in human activities and development. I also believe that I possess the characteristics necessary to assist in research projects. I am capable of original and creative thinking, I am determined, I have numerical skills, I happily co-operate with others to reach a common goal, and I am diligent with an eye for detail.

I have researched the programs available to me and am confident that the Anthropology Dept. at UXXX will provide the kind of challenging but supportive environment that I seek. The program offers the opportunity to learn about Chinese culture from world experts in the field and which is my main area of interest. I am also aware, of course, that the department has a prestigious reputation and faculty.

I can assure the reader that I shall apply myself with exceptional diligence and enthusiasm and I thank you for considering my application.

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Samples of My Work for the Master's Degree in Anthropology

Statements of Excellence for Admission to Graduate School in Anthropology

Anthropology from a Womanist Perspective.

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I want to help you get accepted to graduate school in Anthropology.

I have helped many applicants to graduate school over the years in the area of anthropology. This has helped to enrich my own understanding of human culture in perspective, including evolution, and prehistory. By working together with you as a team, we are better able to demonstrate a superlative grasp on the basic principles and processes of anthropology. I have worked in both physical (biological) and cultural, including ethnology, linguistics, and prehistoric archaeology in an integrated, holistic manner. Personally, I am most interested in the challenge of human survival, the connections between biology and culture, and the impact of globalization on peoples and cultures around the world. I am particularly fond of what is sometimes referred to as "real world" anthropology.

Anthropology at the London School of Economics

It is a special pleasure for me to help applicants in Anthropology, Archaeology, and all related areas because I particularly appreciate the broad and diverse intellectuality of this field, which allows us vast opportunity for creativity in your statement, aspiring to to new heights in eloquence, making each statement a work of art in its expression of the human spirit and its drive for increasingly cogent understandings of self in and through community.

Launching a career in Anthropology is most challenging and, at times, it can be intimidating. To be successful in Anthropology, it is important to identify your career goals early on and follow through on them. We look forward to helping applicants to articulate their personal and professional histories in light of their goals in Anthropology, special abilities, and career interests. We urge applicants to adopt broad perspectives and to imagine an evolving anthropology career as a lifetime endeavor.

Women, Judges and Law: An Anthropological Study of the Sahri'a Court of Gaza by Shehada, Nahda.


Heroines of Anthropology

You'd think the study of humans would be a little more equitable when it comes to gender, because, after all, women make up half of all the humans that have ever lived and will ever live. However, since the dawn of anthropology as an official social-science discipline, its members have skewed male and white. Its "informants," or the subjects being interviewed by the foreign "experts," have also tended to be male. Why interview a bunch of women about what they do all day when you could just take men's word for it? Hm.

There are many women who whose work changed the discipline, and lived to inspire us for many generations to come: Alicce Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923), Elsie Clews Parsons (1875-1941), Maria Czaplicka (1884-1921), Ruth Benedict (1887-1948). There are countless others. Let´s check out a few of our favorites here.

Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960

Perhaps most widely known as a talented Harlem Renaissance writer, Zora Neale Hurston also trained under Franz Boas as an anthropologist. She studied at Barnard in the 1920s and was the only black student at the school. In 1928, she became the first to graduate. When she pursued a graduate degree at Columbia, Boas encouraged her interest in African-American folklore and it was this research that informed her fiction, particularly her use of dialect and "folk speech" in works like "Their Eyes Were Watching God”. Hurston grew up in the town of Eatonville, Florida, an all-black community established in the wake of the Civil War. She returned home to chronicle the folklore, sermons and music she'd grown up listening to.

She didn't stay stateside for too long, though: in addition to her work in the Southeast, Hurston traveled to the Caribbean to study voodoo practices. Her major 1935 anthropological work, "Mules and Men", was the first collection of black folklore by an African-American (male or female) and "Tell My Horse" captured her experiences in Jamaica and Haiti. She also pioneered anthropological theories and methods through her study of the African diaspora. She traced cultural links between black people in Africa and those in Europe and the Americas.

Margaret Mead, 1901-1978

Margaret Mean built upon the work of her predecessors, particularly Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict and Elsie Clews Parsons. But Margaret Mead's influence cannot be overstated. Her research into Polynesian cultures -- among other peoples, uncovering a more relaxed approach to premarital sex -- helped jump start America's sexual revolution and second-wave feminism.

This woman was also well-versed in education, personality, nutrition, mental health (and many other subjects) as they applied to culture and relationships.

Born to progressive Quaker parents and educated primarily by her grandmother, Mead was encouraged to not only observe the world around her, but also to take detailed, extensive notes from a young age. By the time this curious student was at Barnard and taking a class under Boas (she later got her master's and PhD at Columbia under him), there was no stopping her. She was born to be an anthropologist.

In "Sex & Temperament," she explored the roles of nature and nurture among cultures in Papua New Guinea and asserted that, yes, sex and gender are two very different forces worth exploring. In "Coming of Age in Samoa," her first and arguably most important work, she pointed to relaxed attitudes toward sexual exploration and sex/gender roles as playing a beneficial role in adolescent girls' development in the region.

Through a career of travel and discovery, three marriages and endless controversy, she maintained a lifelong romance with her teacher, friend and mentor Ruth Benedict. You can read their love letters, but be forewarned: they might bring a tear to your eye more than a couple of times.

Mary Leakey, 1913-1996

A fossil hunter extraordinaire, Mary Leakey was interested in art and archaeology from the beginning. Her father took her to see ancient cave paintings in France and museums where she participated in archaeological digs. When her dad died and her mom moved her back to London, Leakey started taking university classes in archaeology, prehistory and geology.

Three years later, Leakey was already a master of flint points and scientific illustration. This worked out perfectly for future husband Louis Leakey. He invited her to come to Africa to draw the tools he'd found.

She didn't give a hoot about pursuing a formal education, which worked out just fine. Over the course of her career, Leakey earned numerous honorary degrees thanks to the incredible work she and husband Louis performed. In Africa, she discovered Proconsul africanus, Zinjanthropus boisei (aka Australopithecus boisei [the discovery of which, in 1959, earned her and Louis funding from the National Geographic Society]), Homo habilis (in 1960) and a fossilized trail of early human footprints stretching 89 feet long (in 1979).

One thing this trailblazing archaeologist didn't like was questions about her gender, which she told a Scientific American reporter had no bearing on her work. "I was never conscious of it," said Leakey. "I never felt disadvantaged."

Pearl Primus, 1919-1994

Pearl Primus was a dancer, choreographer, activist, teacher and lecturer who helped bring African and Caribbean dance to American audiences—but first and foremost, she was a scientist.

The Trinidadian, who moved to New York with her family aged 2, earned her undergraduate degree in biology and pre-med from Hunter College. When no lab jobs would take black applicants, she applied to the National Youth Council, a New Deal agency that installed her in the New Dance Group.

She'd found a passion there, even if it meant putting science on hold for a little while. Primus quickly became a teacher, created her own choreographies and performed them extensively. She used dance to tell painful stories of African-American lives. Performances in 1943 included "Strange Fruit" (about lynching) and "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", depicting the lives of black people along the Mississippi.

After touring and founding her own company, Primus received a scholarship to study dance in Africa. She married a fellow dancer and became the director of a performing arts center in Liberia. In 1978, she earned a PhD in anthropology (African and Caribbean studies) from New York University.

In addition to sharing African-American stories through performance, she drew on her research in the Caribbean and in Nigeria, Ghana, Zaire and Rwanda, combining her passions for dance and culture. Her right brain and left brain both in full effect, she was the perfect candidate to participate in "The Black Tradition in American Dance," a program that sought to preserve and revive black dance later in her career.