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Summer 2012 Instructor: Jennifer Carroll June 18 – Aug 16: 9 weeks
This course is intended to provide a general introduction to socio-cultural anthropology. While there are many general concepts that will be covered in this course (such as kinship, gender, symbols, structure, etc) anthropology as a discipline more closely resembles a conversation than it does a growing list of rules and axioms like many mathematical or ‘natural’ sciences. This means that our textbooks will be different from other textbooks. We will be getting our feet wet, so to speak, in many academic ‘conversations’ about human life and culture. For every text that we read in this course, there are dozens of others that are equally relevant and informative. This means that we will be merely breaking the surface of topics that have been in discussion for decades. Anthropology is a human endeavor that focuses on human relationships and human behavior. The subject matter of this course and its materials will range from inspirational stories of human support and innovation to deeply moving tales of human cruelty and injustice. Part of the aim of this course is to examine the breadth of human action in the world, from the very good to the very bad, and to highlight how even the definitions of what is “good” and what is “bad” are highly varied throughout the world. The focus of this class is human cultural diversity, and our own culture(s) will be considered as one part of the broad spectrum of human behavior and organization that exists around the globe. This means that American cultures will be open to investigation and interpretation just like every other culture that we may come across during the course of the semester. Likewise, students are encouraged to reject binary ideas like “us and them”, “modern and traditional”, “advanced and primitive” as false and misleading, and to explore with an open, tolerant, and inquisitive mind the ways in which all people are equally unique and basically the same.
Lutz, Katherine (2001) Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century. Boston: Beacon Press Spradley, James and David McCurdy, eds. (2008) Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology. 13th Edition. Allyn & Bacon. Taussig, Michael (1980) The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. RaleighUniversity of North Carolina Press. (any edition or reprint of this book is acceptable) Course Reader (Available at Print Shop TBA)
During this course, we will also be viewing several films. Students who, for whatever reason, are unable to view these films in class are required to view these films independently. Many of these titles are available in the library. Others may be acquired through Interlibrary Loan. Students experiencing unusual difficulty in acquiring these films for viewing should talk to the instructor. Films for this course include, but are not limited to, the following: The Beauty Academy of Kabul. Dir. Liz Mermin. Magic Lantern Media, Inc, 2004. The Devil’s Miner. Dirs. Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani. Urban Landscapes Productions, Inc; La Mita Loca Films, 2005. Mardi Gras: Made in China. Dir. David Redmon. 2005.
Course Assignments and Grading Grading
Final grades for this course will be determined as follows: 3 Film Response Papers: 15% (5% each) 2 Ethnography Response Papers: 50% (25% each) Ethnography Project: 10% Case Study: 5% Participation: 20%
Film Response Papers (15% of final grade, 5% each)
During weeks 2, 3, and 4, our last class will end with the viewing of a documentary whose subject matter relates to the readings for that week. By midnight on Friday of each of these weeks, students will submit a response paper of 600-800 words in length that addresses how each film illustrates key theoretical concepts that we have learned in that week’s readings. Specific prompts and/or questions to be answered in this response paper will be distributed at the beginning of the week, so that students can keep them in mind when reading for class and watching the film.
Ethnography Response Papers (50% of final grade, 25% each)
We will be reading two book-length ethnographic works in this class. After completing each ethnography, students will submit a paper of 1200-1500 words in length that ties that ethnography to the major theoretical concepts that have been covered in class. Paper prompts will be distributed as we begin to read each of these ethnographies.
Ethnographic Project (10% of final grade)
During week 6, students will conduct a small ethnographic project on campus and submit a written report of their findings. The topic of this week is kinship, family, and gender, and this project will allow us to explore a bit deeper the idea of gender in our own culture, by examining
and analyzing the most basic, everyday performances of gender: our clothes. To complete this project, students must spend at least ONE HOUR in Red Square taking observations on what they see people wearing. You should observe the types of clothing, cut of clothing, colors, fabrics, textures, accessories, how people wear their clothes, where on their bodies they wear their clothes, and what sorts of things people are doing with their clothes as they go about their business. In particular, students should take clear, organized notes on the clothing that women wear and the clothing that men wear. Are they the same? Are they different? If so, when? And how? After taking their observations, students should search for patterns in their observations, and write a short paper (600-800 words) that summarizes their findings, provides a “theory” based on their observations about patterns of clothing among men and women, and discusses what this might mean about gendered social identity at the University of Washington.
Case Study (5% of final grade)
During week 7, we will be discussing ecology and environmentalisms. Students will be presented with a particular case in which cultural heritage and environmental protections appear to clash: whale hunting among the Makah. Students will be introduced to this issue in class, provided with information about the history of the hunt, and given documentation of a campaign launched by an activist group with the intention to bring the hunt to an end. Students will compose a short (600-800 word) position paper on whale hunting among the Makah. This paper should approach the ‘problem’ of the whale hunt from an anthropological perspective, and apply the key concepts from that week’s readings to their analysis of the issue. A structured prompt for this paper will be provided when we begin our discussion of the Makah whale hunt in class.
Participation (20% of final grade)
Since dialog and debate are central to the discipline of anthropology, the grade for classroom participation in this course is weighted the same as a paper. Satisfactory participation requires students to come to class prepared to discuss all of the readings assigned and to actively engage in discussion about those readings and the topics at hand. Active engagement in discussion does not simply mean talking. Asking questions, active listening, making room for and inviting others to participate, and making other meaningful, if small, contributions to class are all appropriate forms of classroom engagement. Being a part of a class of this size (especially a cultural anthropology class!) requires each of us to recognize that different individuals have different reaction times, different speeds of speech and lengths of conversational pauses. Some students may not be native speakers of English or may process information differently and at different speeds. Some people take a longer time to consider their words, and others sometimes speak without thinking! There is no concrete outline for how a student should participate in class, but everyone is required to make a consistent, concerted effort to actively engage.
Extra credit assignments may be given at the discretion of the instructor. If the instructor specifies a due date for an extra credit assignment, no extensions will be allowed, and the assignment will not be accepted after that date.
The University of Washington has procedures in place to handle grading disputes and appeals. This and other information about grading policies can be found online at
Student Expectations Anticipated Absences
If you are unable to come to class due to illness, personal or family emergency, or any other reason, you are responsible for informing the instructor prior to that class period. If you miss class for a reason that was unforeseen (traffic accident, etc.), you are responsible for informing the instructor as to the reason for your absence as soon as possible. It is expected that the instructor will be informed as to the nature of every absence, regardless of the cause. The excusing of absences is at the discretion of the instructor. If you are ill, you must bring a doctor’s note in order for that absence to be excused.
Classroom Behavior and Preparation
Please be on time for class. If you cannot be on time for class, for whatever reason, please enter class without causing too much of a disturbance. This means enter the classroom quietly and sit in the first available seat. The same goes for those who need to leave class early. Please select a location close to the door of the classroom and leave quietly so as to keep the inevitable disruption to a minimum. By acting in such a manner, you are showing respect to your fellow students and the instructor. It is expected each student will be prepared for class. Preparation is defined in this course as having read all of the material prior to the class period, cell phones either turned off or put on silent, possession of a functioning writing utensil and something which to write on, and have on their person the relevant textbooks/reading material for the class period. The student can determine the relevant information for the class period by referring to the course schedule, which is available on the class website. Students are welcome to bring laptops to class for note taking and accessing relevant on-line references and course materials. Email checking, chatting, game playing, and web surfing are highly inappropriate uses of class time and are disrespectful to the instructor and the other students in class. Students blatantly misusing technology in the classroom (including cell phones) will be asked to leave and will receive no credit for classroom participation on that day.
Electronic Document Submission via Catalyst Dropbox
Whenever an assignment is submitted as an electronic document, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that the file is correct and complete. If an electronic document is submitted and is unreadable or in anyway corrupted, the assignment will be considered incomplete and late penalties will apply until a proper, functional document is submitted. All written assignments should be submitted in .doc or .pdf format. All filenames should reflect the student’s name and the assignment.
Individual Student Needs and Disability Support
Every student deserves the opportunity learn in the best and most appropriate environment possible. If you have a question, concern, comment, request or other need please come and talk to me in person or send me a detailed e-mail as soon as possible. I can make adjustments or
accommodations for individuals or the entire class, but only if I am made aware of them. Students with medically recognized and documented disabilities and who are in need of special accommodation have an obligation to notify the University of their needs. Students in need of accommodation should contact the Office of Disability Resources for Students at 206-543-8924 (Voice) or 206-543-8925 (TTY) You can also find more information online at http://www.washington.edu/students/drs/. If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.
I take academic honesty very seriously. When flagrant cheating or plagiarism occurs, it is an insult to me, to the students in this course, and to the guilty student. It is an insult to the time we spend here teaching and learning from each other. Academic instruction, particularly in the liberal arts, is unique in its focus on intellectual fluency and collaborative effort rather than taskbased competition and self-promotion. Your college education does not consist of a collection of ‘hoops’ that you need to get through. This course requires you to engage with course materials, with other students, with the instructor, and with the greater academic community in a productive and innovative fashion. Academic dishonesty defeats the purposes of this class and of this institution, and it will not be tolerated. Especially in a discipline that requires you to be able to engage with the ideas of others and to cite multiple unique sources, plagiarism is an incredibly self-defeating activity. Plagiarism is, at the very least, grounds for a zero grade for that assignment. If a student is suspected of deliberate plagiarism on an assignment, that student will be reported to the Dean’ Representative on Academic Conduct in accordance with UW’s Academic Honesty Policy. More information on UW’s academic honestly policies can be found online: http://www.washington.edu/uaa/advising/help/academichonesty.php
All readings labeled C&C may be found in the course textbook, Conformity and Conflict. WEEK 1 – Introduction: Anthropology and the Culture Concept Tuesday June 19 Discussion: Introduction to American anthropology and the study of human culture; Franz Boas and four-field anthropology; a brief, troubling history of anthropology in and out of the academy Thursday June 21 Readings: C&C: Section 1 Intro: “Culture and Ethnography” C&C: #33. Miner, H. “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” Discussion: Defining culture; emic and etic perspective, cultural relativism, the “work” of anthropology WEEK 2 – Social Identities and Social Difference Tuesday June 26 Readings: C&C: #24. Fernea, E. and R. Fernea “Symbolizing Roles: Behind the Veil” Said, E. Selections from Covering Islam. Discussion: Identity, individuality, and the self; the Other; Edward Said’s Orientalism. Thursday June 28 Readings: C&C: #25. Fish, J. “Mixed Blood” Smeldley, A. (1999) “Race” and the Construction of Human Identity. Amer. Anthropologist 100(3): 690-702 Discussion: The social construction of race and other taxonomies of human difference Film: Beauty Academy of Kabul (74 min)
Film Response #1 Due Friday at midnight WEEK 3 – Economies of Exchange: Trade, Gifting, and Markets Tuesday July 3 Readings: C&C: #14. Cronk, L. “Reciprocity and the Power of Giving.” Malinowski, B. Selections from Argonauts of the Western Pacific Discussion: Gifting and the social relations of exchange Thursday July 5 Readings: Marx, K. Selections from Capital Discussion: Capitalism and the modern Market. Film: Mardi Gras Made in China (72 min)
Film Response #2 due Friday at midnight WEEK 4 – Religion and Systems of Belief Tuesday July 10 Readings: C&C: Section 8 Intro: “Religion, Magic, and Worldview” C&C: #31. Gmelch, G. “Baseball Magic” Discussion: Systems of belief as systems of explanation. Thursday July 12 Readings: Evans-Pritchard, E. E. Selections from Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande Discussion: Religion and tradition, magic and ritual—are they or aren’t they the same? Film: The Devil’s Miner (82 min) (See Trailer at www.thedevilsminer.com)
Film Response #3 due Friday at midnight WEEK 5 – Ethnography: The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America Tuesday July 17 Readings: Introduction and Chapter 1 Thursday July 19 Readings: Chapters 5, 8, and 10 Ethnography Response Paper #1 due Sunday, July 22, at midnight. WEEK 6 – Kinship, Family, and Gender Tuesday July 24 Readings: C&C: Section 5 Intro: “Kinship and Family” C&C: #20. Goldstein, M. “Polyandry: When Brothers Take A Wife” Schneider, D. Selections from American Kinship. Discussion: Defining family; kinship analysis Thursday July 26 Readings: C&C: #18. Scheper-Hughes, N. “Mother’s Love: Death Without Weeping” Weston, K. Selections from Families We Choose. Discussion: Gender roles, family ties, and the meaning of “relatedness” ETHNOGRAPHIC PROJECT: Gender in Red Square. Due Sunday, July 29, at midnight WEEK 7 – Ecology and Environmentalisms Tuesday July 31
C&C: #11. Diamond, J. “Adaptive Failure: Easter’s End” C&C: #13. Reed, R. “Forest Development the Indian Way” The nature/culture divide; debunking the Noble (and Ecological) Savage
Thursday August 2 Readings: Guha, R. “Radical Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique” Discussion: American environmentalism, environmental preservation, and other sticky situations CASE STUDY: The Makah whale hunt. Due Sunday, August 5, at midnight WEEK 8 Part 1 – Ethics in the Practice of Anthropology Tuesday August 7 Readings: Illich, I. “To Hell with Good Intentions” Price, D “Anthropologists as Spies” Discussion: The roles and limits of anthropological advocacy; a brief history of radical activism within the AAA. WEEK 8 Part 2 – Ethnography: Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century Thursday August 9 Readings: Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2
WEEK 9 – Ethnography Con’t: Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century Tuesday August 14 Readings: Chapters 3 and 4 Thursday August 16 Readings: Chapters 5 and 6 Ethnography Response Paper #2 Due Sunday, August 19, at midnight. No extensions!!
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