Anthropology traditionally deals with so-called pre-modern societies. It comparatively documents and analyzes the totality of social and cultural manifestations of life and forms of manifestation in their current manifestation and in their historical development: from the production and distribution of goods to kinship and political structures and strategies to the forms of religious and ritual life. Since the late 1960s, anthropology has greatly expanded and diversified its fields of work. It is no longer limited to the study of local communities, but also focuses on the regional, national and global contexts in which, for example, rural and urban population groups are today. Everyday economic strategies are examined as well as religious and ethnopolitical movements in the new nation states; the different forms of transnational mobility as well as globalization and localization processes, such as multiculturalism and ethnicity.
The traditional fields of ethnosociology, anthropology of religion, economic anthropology and cultural ecology are constantly being joined by new ones. The study of gender relations is now just as firmly anchored in our discipline as medical anthropology, developmental anthropology, urban anthropology, legal anthropology and art anthropology. This list alone indicates that research into complex social contexts requires an interdisciplinary approach. Preferred subjects with which anthropology today cooperates are sociology, history, geography, economics, political science, law and anthropology.
Through its scientific and cultural events, the Swiss Anthropological Association (SAA) promotes basic anthropological-ethnological research in collaboration with other specialist institutions. As a member of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences, it pursues museographic tasks by making inventories of collections, photo, sound and film archives; it organizes scientific thematic colloquia; it cultivates relations with public and private development aid organizations; it maintains a series of publications and supports the distribution of ethnologically relevant productions, such as World Music CDs, documentaries and the promotion of festivals; through its numerous expert commissions - the editorial, scientific, museum, audiovisual and ethnomedical commissions - the SAA provides a broad platform for the wide-ranging commitment of its members; it publishes an annual scientific newspaper Tsantsa, which is an important mouthpiece for current debates, presents thematic dossiers and reports on ongoing research. The society takes a stand on social problems and supports its members in pursuing a socially engaged anthropology. It is dedicated to the training of young scientists and explicitly promotes interdisciplinary cooperation in the fields of medicine, nutrition, ecology, migration, human rights, improving the world of work and combating increasing intolerance.