Chief features of nonmonetary and simple monetary economics. Impact of central or metropolitan market economy and industrial technology as peripheral systems, especially of small-scale and limited monetary circulation. Development and application in anthropology of economic concepts, including Marxian. Prerequisite: either one 200-level ANTH course or LING 203.
How can we understand the social life of money and the material world of people? How can we explore the complex relationship between economy and culture? Economic anthropologists study notions of value, wealth, material culture, and human capital in terms of economic behaviors, like reciprocity and exchange, and through economic processes of production, circulation, distribution, and consumption. In living in a material world, we are linked to a global political economy shaped by national and ethnic locations, gender and sexuality, and socioeconomic class.
This course will present the issues and core concepts of economic anthropology through an introduction to its formalist-substantivist, neoclassical, political economy, cultural economy, gift-giving, and feminist approaches. Our goal is to place the study of economic features, such as markets, commodities, and currency, into a larger cross-cultural context by exploring relations of power, morality, and social transformation. We will explore diverse topics ranging from gift exchange in the Pacific Islands, alternative Islamic banking practices, to the financial markets of Wall Street, and contemporary commerce centers in Asia and across the globe. Through these readings, we will attend to the ways in which people organize human effort to survive, compete for resources, and create meaningful systems of value.
Student learning goals
Be able to evaluate core concepts on economic anthropology, such as currency, capital, and value.
Be able to articulate and critically analyze how individuals and communities around the globe are responding to various economic crises.
Be familiar with a range of theoretical contributions to the study of economic systems and empirical case studies of cultures of capitalism.
General method of instruction
As an upper division seminar, there will be a mini-lecture at the beginning of each class meeting followed by in-depth discussion of theoretical and ethnographic readings as well as film screenings.
Prerequisite: either one 200-level ANTH course or LING 203
Class assignments and grading
Requirements: class participation, weekly response papers, ethnographic research project, and oral presentation