Anthropology 100 (Section 04):  Cultural Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Spring 2015

Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:00-11:15 am; Bailey 102


Instructor        Jennifer R. Guzmán, PhD

Office hours    Bailey 108, Mondays 2:30-4:00, Thursdays 11:30-1:00, and by appointment. Feel free to visit office hours to discuss any questions you have about anthropology, course content, assignments, or your academic progress.

Email      Feel free to email questions that can be answered briefly. If you have a complex question or situation, please visit me during office hours. I read e-mail once daily Monday-Friday. Allow 1-2 days for a response. When sending email, include ANTH 100 and a topic in the subject line.  

Office Phone   (585) 245-5174

Course TA        Erin Lamouret (


Course description

Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. Within anthropology, the subfield of sociocultural anthropology is specifically concerned with human life in the contemporary world. Researchers in the subfield take a cross-cultural perspective to examine social practices and social patterns. This approach affords insights about universal and particular features of human society. Sociocultural anthropologists are interested in both material and ideological aspects of how people organize themselves in groups. In other words, we are interested in culture! Some of the issues that anthropologists study within and across different societies include: race, class, gender, sexuality, kinship, religion, politics and power, economic systems, health and illness, and migration. In this course you will learn about anthropological theory concerning each of these domains. You will also learn about ethnography, the principal methodology that anthropologists use to investigate these sociocultural phenomena. Class will include lecture, films, small group exercises, and discussion of assigned readings.


This course fulfills a basic requirement of the Bachelor of Arts major in anthropology and the SUNY Geneseo General Education requirement in Social Sciences, as described in the Undergraduate Bulletin. As such, the course is designed “to deepen students’ understanding and awareness of important aspects of human behavior and social organization, to increase students’ understanding of the human condition and human institutions, and to introduce them to the different approaches and methods used by the various social science disciplines. These goals are pursued through theoretically and empirically based course work” (50-51).


The course also fulfills the general education requirement in Other World Civilizations. Courses in this M/ series “focus the student’s attention on ideas, experiences, and concepts existing outside the Western world. The wide variety of applicable courses from across the academic departments offers students numerous perspectives from which to investigate non-Western cultures and ideas…This requirement encourages in students the development of a well-rounded understanding of the various ideas, experiences, and concepts in the world in which they exist and interact.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will develop familiarity with cross-cultural variation in the domains of race, class, gender, sexuality, kinship, religion, politics, economic systems, health and illness, and migration. 
  • Students will become familiar with ethnographic research methodology, including ethical considerations and the historical development of ethnography as a tool for social science research.
  • Students will gain basic proficiency in ethnographic interviewing and ethnographic writing.
  • Students will develop critical thinking skills for evaluating contemporary sociopolitical events and processes in their local, national, and global community.


Required Texts

  • Kenneth J. Guest. 2014. Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age. WW. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Han, Clara. 2012. Life in Debt: Times of Care and Violence in Neoliberal Chile. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Composition notebook, 9.75" x 7.5" (college- or wide-ruled). You will use this notebook as a journal for in-class writing assignments and will turn it in periodically, so it should not be the same notebook you use to take notes during lecture.
  • All other course readings will be posted to MyCourses


Course Requirements

  • Comprehension of course readings & lectures: demonstrated in two midterms and a non-cumulative final exam. Exams will have multiple choice, matching, and true/false questions. Exams will cover material from lecture, readings, and films and will focus on conceptual understanding of the materials and their potential applications (e.g. key concepts, main arguments, case examples).
  • Thoughtful and articulate participation: accomplished through participation in class discussions & in-class written assignments. Bring your journal to every session of class for this purpose. Journals will be collected periodically and your written responses will be marked + (strong), ✓,(adequate), or (poor). These grades are provisory and meant to give you a sense of whether you are on track. At the end of the semester you will turn in your journal for a final grade.
  • Familiarity with relevant current events: accomplished by participating on the SUNY Geneseo ANTH 100 Facebook page []. To participate, “like” the page, read articles posted by classmates, and comment on articles you have read.
  • Engagement with civic issues and local cultural events: accomplished by writing a 1-page reflection paper after attending each of the following events:
    • Campus screening of the film “Who Is Dayani Cristal?”
    • Talk by Pia Barros, Chilean author and activist
    • Empirical data collection, analysis, and ethnographic writing: accomplished by interviewing someone from a different cultural background than your own and writing an ethnographic portrait reporting what you learned and tying it to anthropological theory.


EXTRA CREDIT: You may earn up to two points extra credit in the following ways:

  1. Post an article about a topic that is relevant to course themes on the course facebook page and respond to posted comments. Acceptable sources of articles: New York Times, NPR, CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post. Articles may be traditional news articles, editorials, or opinion pieces (op-eds). To receive credit for posting to the facebook page, write a one-page, single-spaced report in which you summarize the article and relate it to anthropological theory. Submit reports to the appropriate dropbox in MyCourses no later than April 24. Maximum credit 1 point per article post and report.
  2. Attend a cultural event on campus and write a a one-page, single-spaced report in which you describe the event and discuss how it relates to theoretical concepts we have learned about in class. Submit reports to the appropriate dropbox in MyCourses no later than April 24. Events must be approved by the instructor in advance. Maximum credit 1 point per event report.


Grading structure








Midterm 1 (Feb 12)

Midterm 2 (Mar 26)

Final exam (Friday, May 8, 12:00-3:00 pm)

Participation (in-class discussion, journals, activity on ANTH100 FB page)

Essay 1 (due Feb 26) following “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” film screening (Thurs, Feb 19)

Essay 2 (due Mar 5) following talk by author Pia Barros (Monday, Feb 23)

Ethnographic Portrait (due April 16)




Grading: Grading for this class follows the standards for letter grading that appear in the Geneseo Undergraduate Bulletin.

A  / A-                         Excellent work

B+, B, B-          Very good work

C / C+              Satisfactory work (i.e. work that fulfills all stipulated requirements for an assignment and is turned in on time)

C-                     Work demonstrating minimal competence

D                     Marginal work

E (failure)      Inadequate work

Other possible grades are: P (pass), F (fail), S (satisfactory), U (unsatisfactory), and W (withdrawn). Consult the Bulletin for details about these latter grades. Gradebook will generate grades according to the following scheme for exams:

A = 94% +

A-= 90- 93.99%


B+= 87-89.99%

B =83-86.99%

B-= 80-82.99%

C+= 77 -79.99%

C = 73 - 76.99 %

C-= 68-72.99%

D = 58 - 67.99 %

E =0-57.99%


Accommodation: If you need classroom accommodations due to a documented or suspected learning difference, please contact Dean Buggie-Hunt ( at the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and bring me a letter outlining the accommodations you require. Do so as early as possible.

Laptop Policy: Use of laptops during class is not permitted. Come to lecture prepared to take notes the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. Recent studies indicate we learn better during lectures when we are not working on a computer. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we are more likely to think about, synthesize, and remember information when we write longhand than when we type notes on a computer.[1] Second, with easy access to the internet most of us succumb to the temptation to electronically multi-task during lectures, and this significantly diminishes learning,[2] not to mention distracting others who happen to be nearby. We are incredibly privileged to participate in higher education. Please respect the opportunity that class sessions offer for learning, analyzing, and discussing issues that impact our lives as members of civil society. Keep your laptop and phone stored in your bag during class and turn your cell phone ringer off. Students who violate this policy will be asked to leave the lecture hall for the rest of the class session. If you have extenuating circumstances that require you to keep your ringer on during class, please let me know in advance.

Assignment submission: Students will turn in hard copies of assignments at the beginning of class on the day each assignment is due. Assignments turned in after this deadline will be docked a half-grade per day of lateness (e.g. a grade of B will be registered as a B-). To turn in a late assignment, take it to the Department of Anthropology and ask the department administrator, Beverly Rex-Burley, to put the assignment in my faculty mailbox. LATE ASSIGNMENTS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED AT LECTURE.

Academic Honesty

Familiarize yourself with the SUNY Geneseo policies on academic honesty. You are responsible for abiding by them.

Studying tips: Research shows we learn best when we make learning active. Due to the large size of this course, a lot of information will be presented in a lecture format. As a result, you will need to take a proactive role to ensure you learn the material well. Helpful hints: refer to the list of key terms at the end of each textbook chapter; you may wish to quiz yourself on defining these terms and identifying examples for each; attend lecture regularly and keep organized, legible notes in a single notebook that you can review easily; find a study partner or group; ask questions during lecture or visit Dr. Guzmán during office hours when you need clarification; keep up with course readings and assignments. Writing assistance: Academic writing is a skill that, like any other, requires a lot of practice. Becoming a better writer involves persistence and the help of others. Please avail yourself of the excellent assistance that is available at the Writing Learning Center on campus. For information or to schedule a one-on-one appointment with a writing consultant visit:



Students should complete each required reading assignment prior to class on the day the reading is listed. The relevant material from readings that are listed as “recommended” will be covered in lecture. Reading recommended texts is not required but will reinforce information presented in lecture. 


Week 1

January 20      INTRODUCTION

                        Cultural Anthropology ch. 1 “Anthropology in a Global Age” (recommended)

                        In class: “The Danger of the Single Story” (TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie)

January 22     Cultural Anthropology ch. 2 “Culture”

“Advertising Missionaries” clip



January 27     “Bodywork among the Nacirema”

                        In class: “Franz Boas” clip

January 29     Cultural Anthropology ch. 3 “Fieldwork and Ethnography”

                        In class: “A Wife among Wives” clip


Week 3           RACE AND RACISM

February 3     Cultural Anthropology ch. 6 “Race and Racism”

                        In class: “Breaking the Illusion of Skin Color” (TED talk)

February 5     Visit the “RACE: Are We So Different?” ( website and review the materials available there. View/do at least two of the activities in the “Lived Experience” section. Come to class prepared to discuss what you learned.

                        In class: “Multiracial Identity” clip



February 10   Cultural Anthropology ch. 7 “Ethnicity and Nationalism”

In class: excerpts from “Returning Home: Revival of a Bosnian Village” (film)

February 12   MIDTERM 1


Week 5           MIGRATION   

February 17   Cultural Anthropology ch. 13 “Migration”

                        In class: “Brother Towns” clip

February 19   Introduction to Seth Holmes’s Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies (pp 1-29)

ATTEND film screening “Who is Dayani Cristal” 7:00 pm (location TBA)


Week 6           POLITICS AND POWER

February 23   ATTEND Talk by feminist Chilean author Pía Barros (time and location TBA)

February 24   “Introduction” & Ch. 1 “Symptoms of Another Life” Life in Debt          

February 26   Cultural Anthropology ch. 11 “Politics and Power” (recommended)

                        DUE: Essay 1


Week 7           HEALTH AND ILLNESS

March 3          Cultural Anthropology ch. 5 “Health and Illness” (recommended)

Ch. 2 “Social Debt, Silent Gift” Life in Debt

In class: “The Most Distant Places” clip

March 5          Ch. 3 “Torture, Love, and the Everyday” Life in Debt

                        In class: “Dead Mums Don’t Cry” clip

                        DUE: Essay 2



March 10        Cultural Anthropology ch. 11 “Class and Inequality” 

                        Ch. 4 “Neoliberal Depression” Life in Debt

In class: “Homeless in Paradise” clip      

March 12        Ch. 5 “Community Experiments” Life in Debt

In-class: “Machuca” film


March 17, 19 No classes - SPRING BREAK


Week 9          

March 24        Ch. 6 “Life and Death, Care and Neglect” & Conclusion “Relations and Time” Life in Debt           

March 26        MIDTERM 2


Week 10         GLOBAL ECONOMY

March 31        Cultural Anthropology ch. 12 “The Global Economy”

                        In class: “Birdsong and Coffee” clip

April 2            Jeanne Arnold (2012) Mountains of Things. In Fast Forward Family. University of California Press.

                        In class: excerpts from “China Blue” (film)


Week 11         RELIGION       

April 7                        Cultural Anthropology ch. 15 “Religion”

                        In class: “For Those Who Sail to Heaven” clip

April 9             Visit “The Pluralism Project” website ( and review the materials there. Be sure to visit the “On Common Ground” section of the website and read about at least three of the religions featured in the “Religion” section. Come to class prepared to discuss what you learned.

                        In class: “The Great Gathering” clip


Week 12         GENDER

April 14          Cultural Anthropology ch. 8 “Gender”

                        In class: “Community” clip

April 16          Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2002. Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others. American Anthropologist 104(3): 783-790.

DUE: Ethnographic Portrait


Week 13         SEXUALITY

April 21          GREAT Day (no class)

April 23          Cultural Anthropology ch. 9 “Sexuality”


Week 14         KINSHIP

April 28          Cultural Anthropology ch. 10 “Kinship, Family, and Marriage”

                        In class: “Marriages in Heaven” clip

April 30          Yarris, Kristin. 2014. “Quiero ir y no quiero ir” (I want to go and I don’t want to go): Nicaraguan Children’s Ambivalent Experiences of Transnational Family Life. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(2):284-309.

                        In class: “A Wife among Wives” clip

                        DUE: Journal of in-class writing assignments


Week 15

May 5              Review for final exam


FINAL EXAM   Friday, May 8, 12:00-3:00 pm, Bailey 102






[1] Mueller, P. A. and D. M. Oppenheimer (2014). "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking." Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614524581.

[2] Hembrooke, H. and G. Gay (2003). "The Laptop and the Lecture: The Effects of Multitasking in Learning Environments." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 15(1): 46-64.

[3] This schedule is subject to change as necessary according to course progress.