Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 201 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course is an introduction to cultural anthropology. Through this course, we will examine and engage with some of cultural anthropology’s major theories, concepts, methods, and topics, including: the concept of culture, historical and cross-cultural comparison, ethnographic fieldwork and ethnography, race and ethnicity, language, social and economic organization, gender, kinship, colonialism, development, and globalization. The instructor will encourage students to think about cultural anthropology as a set of stories about humans and “human nature,” and she will help students develop ways to contextualize and critically examine these stories.

Class time will consist of lecture and team-based learning activities with occasional films or guest speakers. Lectures will be devoted to the presentation of new material that is not covered in the reading and to deeper exploration issues raised in the reading.

Learning Objectives

This course introduces cultural anthropology and its fundamental concepts, methods, data, and questions. Upon successful completion of the course, students will demonstrate that they are able to do all of the following:

  1. Explain and apply fundamental concepts such as culture, cultural relativism, universalism, evolution, race, gender, and class.
  2. Communicate an understanding of how cultural anthropologists develop research questions and answer them using ethnographic research methods, participant observation, and cross-cultural comparison.
  3. Communicate an understanding of the range of human diversity and similarity across space and through time.
  4. Communicate an understanding of human evolution and the central idea that humans are biocultural animals.
  5. Analyze, interpret and evaluate scholarly writing in cultural anthropology, including ethnography, and also analyze, interpret, and evaluate assumptions and arguments about culture, race, ethnicity, class, and gender that appear in popular media.

Required Texts:

Schultz, E. A. and Lavenda, R. H. Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition, 8th Ed.New York: Oxford UP. ISBN: 0199760063.

Brown, K. M. (2010) Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn (Updated Edition). Berkeley: U of California P. ISBN: 978-0-520-26810-4.


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