Is there such a thing as ‘human nature’? This course is an introduction to cultural anthropology (also known as social or socio-cultural anthropology), the study of human society in all its profound variety. Through deep, sustained, systematic participation in and observation of a particular social context, anthropologists seek to comprehend and illuminate the human condition. Anthropologists’ insights into the ways in which human institutions-language, economy, religion, social stratification, law, sexuality, art, the state, and many more-are culturally constructed and reproduced have transformed the way the world is understood. Puncturing ethnocentrism, anthropology’s attentiveness to the ideas and practices of cultures in every part of the globe vastly enriches the archive of human answers to human problems. The distinctive methods of the discipline enable anthropologists to discover patterns and phenomena not discernible in other modes of enquiry. With such findings anthropologists are able to make critical interventions in public discourse and to demonstrate how deeply we are all shaped by cultural forces.
Format: lecture; Hybridity is a beautiful and productive thing. In Fall 2020 we will have regular in-class lecture-and-discussion sessions once a week with virtual learners projected into the classroom and fully participant. The second meeting of the week will be a combination of ethnographic film viewings, synchronous and asynchronous group exercises and group presentations.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
weekly posts in response to readings, two group presentations, several short writing exercises, final exam
first-year students and sophomores
first-year students; sophomores may enroll if there is room
Difference, Power, and Equity
The course is an introduction to cultural anthropology and deals extensively with race, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc., as cultural constructs creating social difference, hierarchies of power, and the creation of inequities in communities and societies. Readings in ethnography, social theory, and sociology are designed to give students a deeper appreciation of all these issues.