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PHD Anthropology Statement of Purpose Examples

PHD Anthropology
PHD Anthropology Statement of Purpose Editor

I want to be remembered as an Anthropology professor intensely in love with medicinal plants, understanding and protecting both the plants and the forest people for whom they serve as medicine. As a doctoral student in Social and Cultural Anthropology, I look forward to a full immersion experience that will lay a solid foundation for lifetime study in ethnobotany and ethnomedicines from around the world, especially the Guianas in South America. I want to be part of the next generation of ethnobotanical surveyors that document medicinal plants, especially those in danger of extinction, natural medicine in use for thousands of years at risk of being lost forever. The University of ____ is my first choice for studying for the PHD because of my research interests, which fit best with your program. 


The central field research focus that I look forward to pursuing at the doctoral level is my study of the Wayana people and their vegetal gods, particularly as far as they are or relate to the feminine. I will map out Wayana women’s transmission and usage of traditional plant knowledge and analyze its cosmological implications, especially for our discussion of plant biodiversity conservation efforts. I first became aware of Wayana cosmology and the relationship with plants within the larger context of ethnobotany in the Guianas during the Ethnography of Forest Peoples lectures at University College London where I earned my master's degree in Anthropology. My master's dissertation was entitled ‘Man Face’: exploring gender and beauty construction among female strength trainers in Brazil, resulting in fieldwork in urban Brazil with female bodybuilders. I spent a semester reading literature on gender, feminist, and women’s studies, which will help me to unpack gender bias and its implications for an ethnography of Wayana women and their relationships with plants.  


PHD Anthropology
PHD Anthropology Statement of Purpose Examples

One of my three elective courses at UCL was Documentary Film-making, taught by film-maker Dieter Deswarte, and my final project was a 10-minute documentary about a Brazilian woman’s journey to heal the emotional rifts in her family via Family Constellations, a form of therapy theater which draws on Zulu attitudes toward family and has gained popularity in urban Brazil in recent years. I look forward to shooting ethnographic film in the Guianas, using this story-telling medium to help popularize awareness of plant knowledge conservation and biodiversity. I am especially taken with Vivieros de Castros’ Perspectivism, as I evaluate methods for engaging with and studying the Wayana people. Once I am notified of acceptance into your doctoral program, I will immediately begin learning the Wayana language in preparation for my doctoral research. I will be attending the Middlebury Language Institute this coming summer, 2020, completing an intensive, 7-week course to improve my reading ability in French, so that I will be able to fully digest the large body of literature about the Wayana people written in this language. 


A naturalized citizen originally from Romania, I came to America with my parents as a small child, fleeing the political turbulence of our country nearing the end of Communism. I hope to earn the PHD Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago because I aspire to distinguish myself as a creative, well-published anthropologist, also making my mark as an accomplished writer and filmmaker. I spent 2014 traveling in Europe and Asia, from Thailand to Romania, passing through SE Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe, taking extensive personal notes on the dozens of communities of local people that I met along the way, writing a 350-page travel blog about my experiences. Awarded a Rise DAAD Physics Fellowship through CERN, I was able to study in Dortmund, Germany where I earned my undergraduate degree and was able to spend a full semester studying Engineering Physics in Sweden. Also thankful for the experiences of spending a full year in Taiwan as an English teacher and 6 months in Malaysia. Earning my master's degree in Anthropology at the University College of London could not have been more complimentary to my travels, interests, and career goals, providing me with a solid foundation for doctoral study at the University of Chicago. 


PHD Anthropology
PHD Anthropology Statement of Purpose Ethnobotany

It would be an enormous honor to study under several faculty members. Dr. ____, for example, and his work on Afro-Caribbean cultures and Afro-Cuban religious formations as they relate to broader historical patterns in the wider Atlantic world: “systems of slavery and unfree labor, constructions of race and ethnicity” and “embodiment and moral personhood, medical anthropology, and the anthropology of food and cuisine.” Human-plant relationships in the Guianas are closely tied to religious practice and cosmology. 


Dr. ____’s research focuses on critical studies of Caribbean cultures and has special relevance for my research since the Guianas are considered part of the Caribbean. It was a profound privilege to visit with Dr. Francois Richard in person on one occasion and to speak at length mostly about French Guiana as we share a most keen interest in French Colonial History.  


The University of ____ also has the Center for Latin American with a certificate program offered running parallel to the PHD in related fields. This center would prove to be an important asset as I seek grounding in Indigenous language learning, the Wayana language being the principal vehicle for my PhD research with the Wayana people. I also appreciate the presence of the Center for Race, Politics, and Culture. Chicago itself is full of important resources for research, especially in terms of collections of herbaria. Chicago’s museums are home to many South American plants, including palms from the Guianas and other rare specimens.  


The especially rigorous nature of the Anthropology Program at the University of Chicago will inspire me, making me a more creative thinker and writer, with increasing levels of competence and agility in research. I want to contribute to popular access to anthropology in a way that incorporates fiction as well as science, especially with respect to the knowledge of forest peoples, creating a style of my own, and contributing to a raising of awareness of the fact that indigenous people and their medicine, especially in South America, are facing genocide and ecocide, and threatened with extinction. All of us are threatened with the permanent loss of many centuries of accumulated wisdom about plants. Much of the Amazon rain forest burned a few months ago, the most devastating fires in recorded history in the region.  


I seek to earn the PHD to chronicle the relationship between human beings and their plant wisdom on the verge of erasure, while the natural environment of the plants, especially in the rainforest, sees its life ebbing away with little to nothing yet being done to stop it. I aspire to become a field researcher in Anthropology affiliated with a major research university, while I also contribute to "pop anthropology" through creative writing, non-fiction writing, and independent filmmaking about forest peoples, ethnomedicine, and ethnobotany, and their implications for our global health. 


I founded a successful company which I now serve only in an advisory capacity. Thus, I can give top priority to my doctoral studies. Our employees are international, working in Asia, Brazil, and Europe and I am proud of the multi-cultural, highly collaborative environment that we have fostered in the workplace. I have visited over forty countries in my twenties, many of them alone. In addition to my first two languages, Romanian and English, I also speak German on an advanced level and French at an introductory, conversational level. I am especially proud of the fact that I won the Lewis Prize in Fiction for my first historical fiction novel.  


Thank you for considering my application to Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of ____. 

PHD Anthropology Statement of Purpose Examples


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