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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

K. Sivaramakrishnan
ENVIR 371
Seattle Campus

Anthropology of Development

Development refers to social, economic, cultural, political transformations viewed as progress. Studied from anthropological perspectives. Historical, social context for emergence of ideas of development. Role of development in promoting national cultures. Impact of development on individual citizenship, families, rural-urban relations, workers, business, environment. Prerequisite: one 200-level ANTH course. Offered: jointly with ANTH 371.

Class description

At the grossest level development problems are easy to identify. It does not take much to say some place needs to increase the productivity of agriculture, or that in another place primary education has to be provided. But beyond that first diagnosis, the specification of the problem, its magnitude, possible amelioration strategies, and the likely outcome of particular approaches to its solution, are all topics on which we find considerable disagreement. In this disagreement we have encountered politics. How people articulate and justify their politics will reveal further the cultural values that shape their perceptions and the social interests that drive their action. Politics, culture, and social organization, are three of the most important things we have to understand if we are to define development problems, identify just and viable solutions, and propose ways and means to carry out those solutions in a fair and humane manner. Which means we need to develop some specialized skills of social analysis. To help students develop some of the requisite skills this course will:

Introduce key approaches and debates in social and anthropological theory

Discuss specific topics like kinship, the household, identity, health, technology, exchange, power, participation, and governance from anthropological perspectives

Examine in detail selected cases so that the approaches and topics can be understood in terms of concepts and ideas specific to social-anthropological analyses

The objective of the course is to give students an opportunity to grasp what is meant by sociological and anthropological approaches to development as processes (economic change, social transformation), as moral imperatives(reduction of poverty, promoting human rights, conserving nature), and as institutions (World Bank, Oxfam, Grameen Bank) is now an even more multi-faceted and pervasive set of ideas and practices.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This class will be taught in lecture/discussion format with opportunities for active student participation in the class. In addition to lectures from the instructor, there will be guest speakers and films for selected topics.

Recommended preparation

All students will be expected to read assigned materials - a mix of books and short articles/chapters - in preparation for class. In the case of group projects preparation will include readiness for a brief presentation of the class project.

Proof of equivalent preparation, usually in a cognate social science course, can lead to the waiver of the 200-level anthropology course prerequisite for interested students.

Class assignments and grading

There will be three or four short in-class writing assignments, one small group project assignment, and a final examination/paper to be completed as a take-home assignment due on the first day of examination week.

Grades will be assigned as follows: participation 15%, in-class writing assignments 15%, small group project 20%, final exam/paper 50%.


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 K. Sivaramakrishnan
Date: 11/09/2001