Stephen C. Brown
Comparison of lifeways of various non-Western and Western peoples. Introduction to basic theories and methods used in the field.
Anthropology 202: Principles of Sociocultural Anthropology
Anthropology as a discipline is perhaps as heterogeneous as its subject: all the cultures of the world. There are, however, certain established concepts, methods, and tools for describing and understanding human social behavior which have proven to be of durable worth. The most famous anthropological concept is undoubtedly culture, and we will start by unpacking some of the history and implications of this deceptively common noun. The usual method of anthropology is fieldwork or participant observation, and we will begin to gain an understanding of what that entails. Finally, the primary tool of anthropology has been writing, especially in the form of ethnographies, though sound recording and documentary films have also proved important. We will become better acquainted with all these forms of representation and the critical issues they have in common by the end of the quarter.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
The course is organized topically by week, surveying a broad range of subjects, as is the nature of a survey course. The student will, however, learn fundamentals which are applicable throughout. In addition, some focus will be provided by geographical concentrations in North Africa and Indonesia. A concise overview text is available in the bookstore (not required), but the most important readings are generally in the form of monographs, articles, or chapters from more specific works. Lectures will discuss and supplement, but not reiterate, the readings. A crucial aspect of the course is to develop a critical perspective on familiar knowledge; not all of the readings should be accepted at face value. Class discussions will be essential to sorting out these issues.
Class assignments and grading