Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

img_2246Course Description: 

In an ever-more globalized and interconnected world, how can we cope with what sometimes seems like overwhelming levels of diversity?  This course presents cultural anthropology as a social science that offers the conceptual tools necessary to help you understand the nature and value of human diversity.  Throughout the semester, you will become comfortable exploring many different cultural systems – including your own – and you will become proficient at interpreting how these systems are symbolically and meaningfully constructed.  Along the way, we will examine global flows, ethnic and religious diversity, systems that either promote or discourage environmental and political sustainability, and the challenge of working for social justice in the face of unequal resources and systems of economic inequality.  Tackling these critical issues will help you explore how we as humans construct meaning in our lives, and will help make you become an informed global citizen.

Class Schedule: 

Week 1: Doing Anthropology and Engaging with Ethnocentrism

Week 2: What is Culture?

Week 3: Identity, Inequality, and Race

Week 4: Identity, Inequality, and Race, Part II [Film Screening]

Week 5: Mobilizing Language

Week 6: The Cultural Construction (and Power) of Gender

Week 7: Sex, Marriage, and the Meaning of Family

Week 8: The Politics of Knowledge and Its Relationship to Reality and Power

Week 9: Anthropology of Economics

Week 10: Anthropology of Religion, Ritual, and Magic

Week 11: Visual Anthropology and the Value of Art and Objects

Week 12: The Anthropology of Food and Eating

Week 13: Culture Change, Globalization, and Cultural “Flow”

Week 14: Personal Anthropology – Using Anthropology to Understand “Yourself”

Week 15: Thematic Wrap-up – Anthropology and the “Big Picture”