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Anthropology 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

John Collins

(Submission #5)

Course Description

This course provides a general introduction to major topics in cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology addresses and attempts to explicate cultural, social, religious, economic, political and other characteristics and systems of societies from various parts of the world. In other words, anthropology is, at base, a discipline concerned with what it is to be human and students are expected to develop the ability to examine social phenomena from a cross-cultural point of view while developing critical perspectives on their own culture(s). Over the course of the semester we therefore concentrate on theory and methods related to approaches to human unity and diversity, with some attention to language as developed in linguistic anthropology. Readings typically include three to four ethnographies, (an ethnography is a written description and often analysis of a community, institution, or group of people in which data is obtained through firsthand field research). Some instructors also include a coursepack which contains articles and primary source documents.

As becomes apparent to students as a result of the diversity of ethnographies read, anthropology is a diverse field concerned with values, social structures, attempts to find meaning in a complex universe, and, especially, with human variability across space and time. Lectures and readings are intended to help students become aware that anthropology is not simply the study of primitive, simple, or marginal peoples but rather a way of seeing, being in, and representing a world constantly in transition even it may also be united by certain shared traits and experiences. And as part of our study of this extraordinary diversity and these tensions between the general and the particular, we look closely in this class at issues of religion and magic; marriage and family; race, gender, and class; public and private space and their ostensible divisions; semiotics and the production of meaning; tradition and perspectives on the past; state power; urban planning; health and illness; politics; social structures; material culture; technology; space/time; and conceptions of personhood and community.


Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Analyzing Social Structures (SS)
Context of Experience: World Cultures (WC)
Extended Requirement: Pre-Industrial Society (PI)

Additional Course information

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Existing Course: Existing
Existing Course Number: Anthropology 101
Course Anticipated to be offered: Every Semester
Other (if specified): 
Number of Sections: 13
Number of Seats: 50-120


[Justification, Materials, Assessment, and Administration (PDF)]   [Sample Syllabus (PDF)]  

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