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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jason P. De Leon
ANTH 469
Seattle Campus

Special Studies in Anthropology

Delineation and analysis of a specific problem or related problems in anthropology. Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty.

Class description

ANTH 469A (Spring 2010) Doing Ethnography in "Dangerous" Settings. This course is intended to introduce advanced undergraduates to ethnographic field methods using case studies from difficult, non-traditional, and "dangerous" research settings. This quarter will focus primarily on how ethnographers have studied drug dealing and undocumented migration.

Students will be taught the basics of ethnographic field methods. Additionally, each student will be responsible for carrying out a small ethnographic research project over the course of the quarter.

This course is intended to get students thinking about how to do ethnography and how to deal with all of the ethical and methodological dilemmas that arise during the course of field work.

This course has an optional service-learning component.

ANTH 469 A (Fall 2009) is "The Ethnography and Ethnoarchaeology of Borderlands." This cross-listed course (ANTH/ARCH) is an upper-division seminar focused on the physical and cultural traits of ancient and modern borders. Topics to be discussed include the development of the US/Mexico border and the 20th century construction of "illegal" immigrants, the ethnoarchaeology of modern undocumented migration in southern Arizona, the archaeology and ethnohistory of the cultural and political boundaries of the Aztec empire, etc. This course has a mandatory service-learning component whereby students will volunteer at a Latino-based immigration organization. Additionally, there is an overnight field trip to the US/Canada border.

ANTH 469 F is "The Anthropology of Urban Environments" This course is designed to give advanced undergraduate students an introduction to various theoretical issues in anthropology as studied in urban places. We will focus on health, class, and identity issues within urban contexts. In addition to reading ethnographic studies of urban areas, we will also examine how archaeologists and ethnoarchaeologists study ancient and modern urban environments. Particular attention will be paid to the anthropology of University Avenue. This course has a mandatory service learning component, whereby students will receive additional credit for volunteering at an organization that focuses on some of Seattle's "urban" issues (e.g., immigration, health, poverty).

This course has a mandatory service learning component that will require students to volunteer with an organization that deals with health, poverty, or immigration issues in the greater Seattle area.

ANTH 469 H is "The Ethnography and Ethnoarchaeology of Objects." Ethnoarchaeology involves the use of archaeological and ethnographic research methods to study the behavioral relationships that underlie the production and consumption of material culture. “Material culture" here refers to the physical things (i.e., objects) that we create, modify, use, and discard on a daily basis. Whether it is the megaliths of Stone Henge, a pair of chop sticks, or the Berlin Wall, human existence has always been characterized by interactions with the objects that make up our physical world. These “objects" may be inanimate, but they act upon people and people act up them. More importantly, these objects come to be imbued with significant cultural meaning by the people who interact with them on various levels (individual, national, cultural, etc.).

This course is an introduction to the theories and methods that anthropologists use to study material culture. Part of this course will involve the students analyzing and writing the life histories of their most cherished possessions. Students will also carry out small group projects focused on: 1) how people use and interpret various types of objects (varying from ipods to beer bongs); 2) the relationship between cultural activities and built environments (e.g., tailgating at a football game); 3) the difficulties of inferring dynamic human behavior from static material culture (e.g., what do farmer’s markets look like the day after?).

Student learning goals

To understand the basics of how to do ethnographic field work.

To carry out an independent ethnographic field work project.

To understand some of the key ethical and methodological issues and dilemmas that arise while conducting ethnographic research.

General method of instruction

Primarily seminar format with discussions based on weekly readings and independent projects. Some powerpoint lectures and ethnographic films will also be presented. Much of the class will be devoted to discussing student ethnographic projects and in-class exercises.

Recommended preparation

This course is intended for advanced undergraduates.

Class assignments and grading

Weekly reading activities, field journal, and final ethnographic project/ presentation.

In-class participation, field journal, final ethnographic project/presentation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jason P. De Leon
Date: 01/29/2010