ANT 302 • Cultural Anthropology
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
During the late 19th century, the world reached a new, heightened level of contact among cultures as the United States and European powers exerted their political, economic, and cultural influence in remote parts of the globe. Anthropology arose as a discipline in order, first, to record cultural practices that many saw as vanishing from the Earth; and second, to cope with basic questions about what it means to be human, questions we continue to ask with increasing urgency. How is it we are all human and yet so at odds in our ways of thought and behavior? How can we make sense of ways of life that are so far removed from ours that they seem utterly alien? For that matter, why do we think and act as we do, given that the world's diversity teaches us that our way isn't simply natural? Anthropology's outlook on these problems involves a unique combination of three key elements: history, interpretation, and relativism. We will study the development of anthropological techniques associated with this way of understanding the social world , both by reading about remote cultures and by exploring some of the conflicts that surround us today. Overview: The course is divided into three parts that roughly trace a history of anthropology. The first third of the semester begins with an introduction to cultural relativism and the ethnographic method, then reviews basic models of how society works. Topics include kinship, social organization, subsistence, trade, and change. Next, we will turn to anthropology's exploration of symbolism, language, witchcraft, ritual, festival, and systems of meaning. We will end the semester with anthropology's current engagement with historical-materialism, which is a way of understanding political-economic processes, consumer culture, cultural representations in mass media, ethnic identity and conflict, class inequalities, and what we are sometimes taught NOT to know about our own social conditions.
Students must also register for one of the following discussion sections: (28216) F 9-10:00, RLM 5.120; (28217) F 10-11:00, BEN 1.124; (28218) F 11-12:00, GAR 203; (28219) F 12-1:00, WEL 3.422