Michael Vincente Perez
Introduces perspectives from sociocultural anthropology on the diversity and the dynamics of collective human life. Examines how individual lives are shaped by broader social and cultural contexts, how people make meaning, and how power relations work. Introduces ethnography as a method for documenting and understanding social and cultural life.
This course will introduce students to the discipline of cultural anthropology by examining the diversity of human cultures. The principles, methods, and unique perspectives of anthropology will be explored with examples drawn from a variety of human communities including our own. This course will assess what anthropologists mean by the term culture including its definition and application to the study of meaning and power in human relations and experience. Thematically, the course will highlight the approach of anthropology in dealing with questions of conflict both at the collective (between states and minority communities, for example) and individual (between women and men, for example) level. We will seek to understand how anthropological knowledge and analysis contributes to our understanding of conflict and its relationship to culture.
Student learning goals
Students will understand the discipline of cultural anthropology: what it is, what makes it different from other social science disciplines, how it produces knowledge about human social life, and what practical use it has for understanding and addressing real world problems.
Students will be able to identify key conceptual and methodological approaches to the study of human social life including “the culture concept” and “the ethnographic method” (participant observation).
Students will develop an understanding of the wide range of human cultural variability through ethnographic case studies and understand what it means to appreciate and respect other ways of social life.
Students will be able to critically examine the meaning of culture and its relationship to questions of identity (gender, race, ethnicity, nation), language, marriage and family, economics (in/equality), environment and subsistence, religion and ritual, power (hierarchy and the state), and conflict (individual and collective).
Students will identify the unique perspective of anthropology on real-world issues and problems and its potential for addressing them.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading