Jessica A. Johnson
An introduction to the study of race, class, gender, and sexuality in anthropology. Through ethnographic and theoretical readings, students are introduced to the concept of identity as intersectional construction and social performance.
This course is an introduction to basic concepts and topics in cultural anthropology as examined through the lens of contemporary American culture (e.g. politics, media, film). While examining ethnographic, theoretical, and visual texts, students will explore how the concept of culture organizes difference through classifications of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in anthropological study. The key questions framing our inquiry are: 1) what are the historical conditions in which culture first arose as a concept with which to understand identity and difference? 2) What are the stakes when culture is invoked today as an explanatory principle for the behavior of oneself and others? 3) How does culture shape our understandings of modern identity, particularly in relation to race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, and sexuality? Topics to be covered include the social construction of race, U.S. immigration and citizenship laws, the same-sex marriage debate and politics of family, and the effects of globalization on labor, trade policies, and consumption practices.
Student learning goals
Students will examine how cultural understandings and representations of identity are narrated in ethnographic studies, exploring relationships between ritual and myth, migration and citizenship, and media and values. We will ask how national, racial, class, religious, gender, and sexual identities are social, intersectional processes affected by fluctuating political and economic conditions. During this anthropological investigation students will: 1) gain an understanding of ethnographic methods as a tool for considering the formation and narration of identities; 2) learn how to critically examine representations of subjects; 3) reflect on ways of thinking, acting, and being in the world in relation to questions of identity and difference
General method of instruction
This lecture course will integrate media and entail class discussion. Each week, we will establish key terms and examine course topics using theoretical, ethnographic, and visual texts.
Class assignments and grading
Students will be evaluated through pop quizzes, a mid-term exam, and a mini-ethnographic final paper.
Class Participation 10% Quizzes 30% Mid-Term Exam 30% Final Paper 30%