Anthropology 100 (Section 04):  Cultural Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Fall 2015


Class Meetings:  Tuesday and Thursday 2:30- 3:45 Bailey 102

Instructor:  Dr. James Aimers

Office:  Bailey 148

Office Hours:

Please visit me in Bailey 148 if you have any questions regarding the content or organization of the course, or for other reasons related to your academic progress.  My office hours are:

Tuesday 12:50 -1:50 pm

Wednesday 2:30 - 3:30 pm

Thursday 12:50 -1:50 pm

You can also meet with me by e-mailing for an appointment 2-3 days in advance.

E-mail:  Questions I can answer in three sentences or so can be e-mailed, but please speak to me for more complex questions and problems.  I read e-mail as often as possible but please allow 1-2 days for a response, not including weekends and holidays.   Please include ANTH 100 and a topic in the subject line and sign your message.

Office Phone: 245-5276


Course Overview

Despite the interconnected nature of the contemporary world, distinct and often perplexing differences persist among people from different places and groups.  Cultural anthropologists attempt to describe and explain these differences in aid of cross-cultural understanding.   In this course we read chapters and articles that indicate the world’s diversity in social structure, kinship, marriage, gender roles, language, religion, economics, and politics.  We will address issues of anthropological method and theory such as fieldwork techniques, cultural advocacy, and broad questions about objectivity in descriptions of human culture.  The class will also examine historical and contemporary processes of culture contact and change, including colonization, industrialization and globalization.


Learning Outcomes

In this course students will demonstrate

  • Comprehension of basic and useful anthropological concepts like ethnocentrism.
  • Familiarity with some of the diversity of human beliefs and practices as illustrated by course readings.
  • The ability to research and critically evaluate anthropological issues in a written group project.


Social Science Core

Besides fulfilling your multi-cultural graduation requirements, this course also fulfills one course in the social science general education requirements. The guidelines for a social science core course stress the development of the following characteristics of a responsible member of society:

(1) an acquaintance with major empirical, analytical, or theoretical approaches to human behavior, institutions or culture;

(2) an acquaintance with social, economic, political, or moral alternatives;

(3) an acquaintance with major problems, issues, institutions, practices or trends in the social world;

(4) a capacity to express ideas clearly, coherently and grammatically in written form  as one component of the evaluation process. This written work must total at least 1500 words, at least half of which must be prepared outside of class.



SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional or learning disabilities. Students should consult with the Director in the Office of Disability Services (Tabitha Buggie-Hunt, 105D Erwin, and their individual faculty regarding any needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester.


Diversity and Debate in Our Classroom

I am trying to create an interactive class with a tolerant exchange of information and opinions about complex issues.  In a class on global cultures we will inevitably confront difficult and controversial questions of power.  The ways in which power is acquired, maintained, and challenged are the subject matter of politics, as well as a major focus in anthropology since the 19th century.  Our class discussions will therefore occasionally become “political” in some sense.  The following excerpt from Geneseo’s Statement on Diversity will help you to understand my approach to debate in our classroom:


“Although they share common goals, the members of the Geneseo community also differ in many ways. Diversity at Geneseo is defined in part as differences in individuals that are manifested in their race, ethnicity, national origin, language heritage, world-view, religion, gender, sexual orientation, class, physical ability, learning style, geographic background, mental health, age, and relationship status.”


“Geneseo recognizes that the individuals who make up our community bring to it unique perspectives and knowledge that contribute to its richness and vibrancy. Because Geneseo also holds educational excellence among its core values, it recognizes that its progress as a community toward such excellence is predicated on its ability to embrace both the diversity of its members and the vigorous exchange of their ideas. “


If you are learning to think critically, you are unlikely to agree with everything you hear and read in this class.  Please inform me in class, during my office hours, or by e-mail if you believe that an issue has been misrepresented.  I will also set aside time at the beginning of each lecture for students to ask questions and make comments about the previous lecture. You will not be penalized for respectfully disagreeing with me or anyone else in the class, and I will be pleased if you express a clear counter-argument based on more than your emotions.


Required Books

Welsch, Robert L., and Luis A. Vivanco

   2015   Cultural Anthropology:  Asking Questions About Humanity.  Oxford University Press, New York.

This is the core text and it covers fundamental concepts.  There are online tests on each chapter.


Woodward, Ian

   2007   Understanding Material Culture.  Sage Publications, London.

This book is written for undergraduates but it is fairly challenging.  Give yourself some time to read each chapter.


Most weeks we will discuss readings from:

Angeloni, Elvio. Editor  (2009)  Annual Editions:  Anthropology.  Mc Graw-Hill/Dushkin, Guilford.

This is a collection of articles on various anthropological topics written for a general audience.  “Angeloni Readings” are in my Outbox.  Go to, click ANTH à aimersà anth 100 angeloni readings


MyCourses Website

Access to a computer and the internet are essential in order to take this course. If you do not regularly check your e-mail account you will not receive announcements from me.


Value of Course Components:

Participation (you will record this)                                                                   10%

Weekly online reading tests                                                                             15%

Midterm 1        (Weeks 1-5)                                                                                         10%

Midterm 2        (Weeks 6-10)                                                                                       10%

Annotated Bibliography Wiki entry (350 words)                                  10 %

Object Analysis essay (850 words)                                                                    15 %

Action Project Report (300 words)                                                                  10%

Final exam (all course material)                                                                       20 %


Grading Scheme

Geneseo Undergraduate Bulletin :   Final grades are recorded as A, A- (excellent); B+, B, B- (very good); C+, C (satisfactory); C- (minimal competence); D (marginal); E (failure); F (failure in courses elected under the pass-fail option which are not completed successfully); P (pass in courses elected under the pass-fail option which are completed successfully; P is equivalent to a grade of C- or higher); S (satisfactory is equivalent to a grade of C- or higher); U (unsatisfactory); and W (withdrawn).

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 %


See MyCourses -> Course Materials for a document that describes my grading criteria (e.g., what kind of work receives a grade of A in my classes).


Assignments, Attendance and Lateness

Regular attendance is the easiest way to ensure success in this course.  Please arrive on time.


Late assignments will be penalized 5% per day, including weekends.


Make-up tests and exams are available only under extraordinary circumstances, and will require medical or other documentation.



Online Reading Tests

            Online tests on Welsch and Vivanco (2015) are due by 11:55 pm the Sunday before the readings are discussed in class.  You can take each test up to three times and the software will record your best score.  Each time you take the test the order of the answer options will be shuffled.  There are 16 tests but you may ignore up to two during the semester without penalty.  If you complete all the tests I will drop the lowest two scores.  Tests can be found in the Course Materials section of the MyCourses website.  The best strategy to succeed with these tests is to do the reading first and then complete the tests while referring to the reading.  Note:  MyCourses grades are only accurate for assignments/ categories that are completely finished (e.g., a midterm grade after the midterm) so you cannot assume the MyCourses grade display is accurateYou can, however, create a report that shows each test score and this will be accurate.  Class averages are also inaccurate because students who have dropped the class or did not complete the assignment are included.


Annotated Bibliography Contribution

            You will contribute an entry to our annotated bibliography on the Geneseo Wiki.     See the Written Assignments document in the Course Materials section of the MyCourses website.  The wiki space is here:


Object Analysis Essay

            Drawing on Woodward (2007) Understanding Material Culture and other sources you will use an explicit theoretical perspective to analyses an object.  See the Written Assignments document in the Course Materials section of the MyCourses website.


Action Project Report

            For this assignment you are asked to foster change.  In 300 words (posted to the wiki) you will describe what you did and the results.  This assignment, along with the annotated bibliography and your essay will fulfill the 1500 word M/S writing requirements of the General Education Curriculum.   See the Written Assignments document in the Course Materials section of the MyCourses website.










Academic Honesty

Students are urged to read the policies on Academic Honesty at:


As the policy notes, “Any one of the following constitutes evidence of plagiarism:

  • direct quotation without identifying punctuation and citation of source;
  • paraphrase of expression or thought without proper attribution;
  • unacknowledged dependence upon a source in plan, organization, or argument.”


I also consider reusing your own work from another class to be plagiarism.  I take academic honesty very seriously and I follow up on instances of cheating and plagiarism to the fullest extent that the university allows.  If I believe the offense is very serious, I can—and will—recommend suspension or dismissal to the Student Conduct Board.


Facebook-Free Zone

Please respect our face-to-face time in the classroom and use your laptop only to take notes.  You are not permitted to access Facebook, other social networking sites, play games, view photos, watch videos etc. in my class.  I have adopted this rule because photos and moving images distract other students.


Topics and Readings

You are responsible for each week’s readings and you should be prepared to discuss them.  I will take questions at any time during the lectures.  Please feel free to raise your hand at any time.


Week 1:  Tuesday Sept 1, Thursday Sept 3

Goals of the Course and Preliminaries; Introduction to Anthropology

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 1:  Anthropology

Angeloni: Linton (1937) One hundred Percent American; Miner (1956) Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

  • Review of syllabus
  • Thursday:  Research skills discussion, introduction to American Antiquity citation style.
  • Online tests begin this week:  Chapters 1 and 2 are due by 11:55 pm Sunday, Sept 6.


Week 2:   Tuesday September 8, Thursday September 10

The Concept of Culture

            Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 2: Culture

            Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 3:  Beyond Nature and Nurture

Angeloni: Nelson (1993) Understanding Eskimo science; Shenk (2010) Can White Men Jump?


Online test for Chapter 2 due Sunday Sept 6, 11:55 pm; note that this is BEFORE class).

Online test for Chapter 3 due Wednesday, Sept 9, 11:55 pm; we will discuss Chapter 3 on Thursday

Don’t forget that the online test for Chapter 4 is due by 11:55 pm Sunday Sept 13.

  • Critical thinking handout


Week 3:  September 15 ONLY, I will be at the Maya at the Playa Conference on Thursday.

Annotated Bibliography: The bibliographic reference is due on the Geneseo wiki in American Anthropologist style by Monday September 14 at 8am.  See the Written Assignments document in Course Materials (MyCourses website) for detailed guidelines.  The annotation itself is due later.


            Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 4:  Linguistic Anthropology

Angeloni:  Lutz (1987) Language and Doublespeak; Tannen (1987) Fighting for Our Lives

  • Plagiarism Quiz.  There is an online quiz on plagiarism due by 11:55 pm Sunday September 20  This is required but it is not counted toward your final grade.  I will not grade your written work if you have not completed this quiz.
  • Notre that there are two online tests (Chapter 5, Chapter 16) due Sunday Sept 20.




Week 4:  September 22 and 24

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 5: Ethnography

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 16: The Arts

Angeloni:  Lee (1969) Eating Christmas in the Kalahari; Sterk (2000) Tricking and Tripping;

  McFate (2005) Anthropology and Counterinsurgency

  • Object analysis discussion


Week 5:  September 29 and October 1

Your ANNOTATION is due on the wiki by Tuesday September 29 at 8 am.


Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 6: Globalization and Culture

Angeloni:  Taylor 2001) Ancient Teachings, Modern Lessons; Bodley (1998) The Price of Progress

Woodward (2007) Preface and Chapter 1 (Definitions and perspectives)


Note that the online test for Welsch and Vicanco Chapter 7 is due after the midterm (by 11:55 pm Wednesday Oct 7)


Week 6: October 6 and 8

Midterm 1 on Tuesday covers Weeks 1-5

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 7: Foodways (due after the midterm--11:55 pm Wednesday Oct 7)

Angeloni:  Gadsby (2004) The Inuit Paradox, Lappe and Collins (1977) Why Can’t People Feed Themselves?


Week 7: Thursday October 15 ONLY; Tuesday is fall break.  

            Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 8: Environmental Anthropology

Woodward (2007) Chapter 2 (Origins and premises)


Week 8:  October 20 and 22

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 9: Economics

Angeloni:  Counts (1990) Too Many Bananas

Woodward (2007) Chapter 3 (Marxism)

Woodward (2007) Chapter 4 (Structuralism and Semiotics)          


Week 9:  October 27 and 29

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 10:  Politics

            Woodward (2007) Chapter 5 (“Cultural” theories)

Woodward (2007) Chapter 6 (Objects and social distinction)

With Angeloni readings in my Outbox:  Gosden, and Marshall (1999) The Cultural Biography of Objects.

     Part 1 (proposal) of your Object Analysis Essay is due on the wiki at 8 am Friday October 30.


Week 10:  November 3 and 5

Woodward (2007) Chapter 7 (Objects and the self)

Woodward (2007) Chapter 8 (Objects in context)

Woodward (2007) Chapter 9 (Conclusion)


Note that the online test for next week’s Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 11 is due after the midterm (by 11:55 pm Wednesday November 11)


Week 11: November 10 and 12

Midterm 2 on Tuesday Covers Weeks 6-10

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 11: Race, Ethnicity, and Class (online test due after the Midterm; Wed Nov 11, 11:55 pm)


Week 12:  November 17 and 19

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 12:  Gender, Sex, and Sexuality  

Angeloni:  Williams (1986) The Berdache Tradition         


Week 13:  Tuesday November 24 ONLY; Thanksgiving break begins Wednesday Nov 25

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 13: Kinship. Marriage, and the Family

Angeloni:  Scheper-Hughes (2011) Death Without Weeping; Goldstein (2011) When Brothers Share a Wife; Nanda

(2000) Arranging a Marriage in India.

  • Part 2 of Object Analysis Essay is due by 8 am Monday Nov. 30


Week 14:  Tuesday December 1, Thursday December 3

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 14: Religion

Angeloni:  Del Guercio (1986) Haiti’s Living Dead

  • Part 2 of Object Analysis Essay is due by 8 am Monday Nov. 30


Week 15:  December 8 and 10

Welsch and Vivanco (2015) Chapter 15:  Medical Anthropology

Angeloni:  Diamond (1992) The Arrow of Disease; Watters (2010) Americanization of Mental Illness

For Thursday:  Angeloni:  Mankiller (2009) Being Indigenous in the 21st Century; Davis (2010) Last of Their Kind


  • Action Report is due by midnight Thursday Dec 10.   Assignments posted after class time will be penalized 5% per day including weekends.

Final Exam (all course material): Friday December 18, 2015, 8-11 am in regular room