Anthropology 100 (Section 04):  Cultural Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Fall 2013


Class Meetings:  Monday and Wednesday 1- 2:15 pm  Welles 24 

Instructor:  Dr. James Aimers

Office:  Sturges Hall 13H

Office Hours:

Please visit me 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:

Monday 2:30- 4 pm

Thursday 2:30- 4 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 value, 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.


Geneseo calls all members of our community to share responsibility for the ongoing work of continually recreating a sense of inclusion, belonging, and empowerment, so that together we will achieve our individual and collective aims, and experience the intellectual liberation that is at the heart of the educational enterprise.  (


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

Kottak, Conrad Phillip

            2012   Mirror for Humanity, 8th Edition.  McGraw-Hill, Boston.  BUY EIGHTH EDITION ONLY

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


 “Angeloni Readings” in MyCourses (Course Materials Section)

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, usually written for a general audience. 


Other readings will also be in MyCourses


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)                                                                   15 %

Weekly online reading tests                                                                             10 %

Midterm 1        (Weeks 1-5)                                                                              10%

Midterm 2        (Weeks 6-10)                                                                             10%

Annotated Bibliography Wiki entry (500 words)                                                 10 %

Group Wiki entry (500 words/student)                                                                15 %

Action Project Report (500 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 Kottak Mirror for Humanity 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 13 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 appropriate 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 a 500-word entry on the Geneseo Wiki.   See the Written Assignments document in the Course Materials section of the MyCourses website.


Group Project

            You will work with other students to produce a group project (for an average of 500 words/student).  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 500 words (posted to the wiki) you will describe what you did and the results.  This assignment, along with the annotated bibliography and your contribution to the group wiki project 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:  Monday August 26, Wednesday August 28

Goals of the Course and Preliminaries;  Introduction to Anthropology

            Kottak Chapter 1:  What is Anthropology? (online test due Sunday  September 1 by  11:55 pm)

      Angeloni: One hundred Percent American;  Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

  • Review of syllabus
  • Wednesday:  Research skills discussion
  • Online tests begin this week:  Kottak Chapters 1 and 2 are due by 11:55 pm Sunday  September  1


Week 2:  Wednesday September 4 only; Monday September 2 is Labor Day

The Concept of Culture

            Kottak Chapter 2:  Culture (online test due Sunday September 1 11:55 pm; note that this is BEFORE class).

            Angeloni:  Understanding Eskimo science; Can White Men Jump?

  • Review of research, citation, and critical thinking.  Discussion of group projects.
  • Note:  as is the case throughout the semester, the online test for Chapter 2 is due by 11:55 pm Sunday September 1—before we discuss it in class.  This week two tests are due because Chapter 1 is also due.
  • Plagiarism Quiz.  There is an online quiz on plagiarism due by 11:55 pm Sunday  September 8  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.
  • Critical thinking handout





Week 3:  September 9 and 11

Annotated Bibliography wiki CITATION is due on the Geneseo wiki in American Anthropologist style by Monday  September 9 at 8am.  See the Written Assignments document in Course Materials (MyCourses website) for detailed guidelines.  The annotation itself is due later.

Ethics and Methods

            Kottak Chapter 3:  Ethics and Methods (online test due Sunday  September 8  at  11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Eating Christmas in the Kalahari; Tricking and Tripping; A Dispute in Donggo; Anthropology and                                    Counterinsurgency


  • Plagiarism Quiz (MyCourses) is due Sunday September 8 by 11:55 pm.


Week 4:  September 16 and 18


            Kottak Chapter 4:  Language and Communication (online test due Sunday September 15 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Language, Appearance, and Reality:  Doublespeak in 1984; Fighting for Our Lives


  • Groups 1, 2 and 3 report on their preliminary research on Wednesday.  See “Written Assignments” handout in MyCourses for details.


Week 5:  September 23 and 25

Your ANNOTATION is due on the wiki by Monday September 23 at 8 am.

Material Culture

Woodward  (2007) The Material As Culture:  Definitions, Perspectives, Approaches

Angeloni:  Cell phones and African Society;  Webster (2009) Red Shoes (p. 174 is missing but it does not contain text); Boremanse (2000) Q’echi’ Maya Sewing Machines


  • Groups  4, 5, and 6 report on Wednesday.


Note that the online test for Kottak Chapter 5 is due after the midterm (by 11:55 pm Tuesday October 1)


Week 6: September 30 and October 2

Midterm 1 on Monday covers Weeks 1-5


            Kottak Chapter 5:  Making a Living (online test due Tuesday October 1 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Too Many Bananas

  • Begin Video The Corporation (2 hrs 25 min)


Week 7: October 7 and 9   (Academic advisement period begins Thursday)

Political Organization

            Kottak Chapter 6:  Political Systems  (online test due Sunday  October 6 at 11:55 pm)

  • Groups 7, 8, and 9 report on Wednesday
  • If there is time, we will watch more of The Corporation.


Week 8:  Wednesday October 16 Only; Monday is fall break 2013

Benson and Kirsch (2010)  Capitalism and the Politics of Resignation.  This will be a difficult article for many students.  Give yourself plenty of time to read it.

Finish The Corporation video (2hrs 25 min)

  • Don’t forget about the online test for next week.


Week 9:  October  21 and 23;  Cultural Harmony Week  events Thursday to Sunday

Ethnicity, Race, and Culture

            Kottak Chapter 11:  Ethnicity and Race (online test due Sunday October 20 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  The Inuit Paradox

  • Groups 10, 11, 12, report on Wednesday


Week 10:  October 28 and 30

Religion, Belief, and Ritual

            Kottak Chapter 9:  Religion     (online test due Sunday October 27 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Haiti’s Living Dead


Note that the online test for Kottak Chapter 7 is due after the midterm (by 11:55 pm Tuesday November 5)


  • Groups 13, 14 and 15 report on Wednesday


Week 11: November 4 and 6

Midterm 2 on Monday Covers Weeks 6-10


 Kottak Chapter 7:  Families, Kinship, and Marriage (online test due Tuesday Nov 5 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Death Without Weeping; When Brothers Share a Wife, Arranging a Marriage in India.


Week 12:  Monday November 11 only; I will be en route to Calgary on Wednesday: no class


            Kottak Chapter 8:  Gender (online test due Sunday November 10 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  The Berdache Tradition

  • Groups should meet to work on project on Wednesday.


Week 13:  Monday November 18, Wednesday November 20

  • Group Project wikis due by 5 pm Wednesday
  • If needed, we will finish our discussion of gender

Applied Anthropology

Kottak Chapter 12:  Applying Anthropology (online test due Sunday Nov 17 at 11:55 pm)

Angeloni:  Ancient Teachings, Modern Lessons; The Price of Progress


Week 14:  November 25 ONLY thanksgiving break begins Wednesday Nov 28

Sociocultural Change

Kottak Chapter 10:  The World System and Colonialism (online test due Sunday Nov 24 at 11:55 pm)

Angeloni:  Why Can’t People Feed Themselves?; The Arrow of Disease; Americanization of Mental Illness


Week 15:  December 2 and 4

Global Issues

            Kottak Chapter 13:  Global Issues Today (online test due Sunday Dec 1  at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Being Indigenous in the 21st Century


  • Action Report is due by midnight Wednesday Dec 4.   Assignments posted after class time will be penalized 5% per day including weekends.


Week 16:  Monday December 9 is last day of class

            Angeloni:  Last of Their Kind


Final Exam (all course material): Wednesday December 11, 2013,  12-3 pm in regular room