S/M/Anthropology 100 (Section 04):  Cultural Anthropology
Spring 2016

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Mondays & Wednesdays 10:00-11:15 am; Bailey 102



Instructor      Jennifer R. Guzmán, PhD

Office hours Bailey 108, Mondays 2:30-4:00, Tuesdays 12:45-2:15, and by appointment. Feel free to visit office hours to discuss any questions you have about course content, assignments, or your academic progress.

Email              guzman@geneseo.edu. 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 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 description

In our increasingly interconnected world, many of our most intractable social problems stem from differences in ideology as well as from inequalities related to race and ethnicity, gender, political and economic processes, and globalization. Addressing the pressing social problems of our time will require that we first learn about these facets of human social life and explore how they vary in communities that are similar to and different from our own. This course introduces students to cultural anthropology, the branch of the social sciences that uses a cross-cultural comparative approach to study contemporary human society and culture. Through readings, films, and assignments, students will gain familiarity with findings from anthropological research about globalization, race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion, political systems, economic systems, and health and illness. Students will also learn about ethnographic fieldwork, the principal methodology that cultural anthropologists use to investigate these issues. Class sessions will include lecture, quizzes, 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, religion, political systems, economic systems, and health and illness. 
  • Students will gain awareness about their own ethnocentrism and cultivate an attitude of cultural relativism: a deliberate effort to understand the behaviors and beliefs of others in terms of that group’s or that individual’s own culture, rather than the student’s culture.
  • 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 social scientific writing.
  • Students will develop critical thinking skills for evaluating contemporary sociopolitical events and processes in their local, national, and global community.


Required Materials

  • Kenneth J. Guest. 2015. Essentials of Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age. WW. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Reifenberg, S. 2008. Santiago’s Children. University of Austin Press.
  • All other course readings will be posted to MyCourses
  • 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.
  • Set of 3x5 index cards. These will be used for pop-quizzes.


Course Requirements

  • Comprehension of course readings & lectures: demonstrated in pop-quizzes, two midterms and a 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, activities, & 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.
  • Engagement with current research in sociocultural anthropology: accomplished by attending the all-college speaker lecture by anthropologist Jennifer Hirsch on March 2 and writing a 1-page reflection paper on the talk. Reflection papers should synthesize the speaker’s main points, describe the evidence that was provided to support these points, and discuss the research in light of themes we are addressing in the course.
  • Empirical data collection, analysis, and ethnographic writing: accomplished by interviewing someone who immigrated to the United States and writing an ethnographic portrait reporting what you learned and tying it to anthropological theory.



Grading structure








Participation (class discussion/activities, journals)


Midterm 1

Midterm 2

Final exam (Wednesday, May 11, 8:00-10:30 am)

Essay following all-college speaker presentation by Dr. Hirsch

Ethnographic Portrait





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 (note that work that fulfills all stipulated requirements and is turned in on time may fall into this category)

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%



If you need classroom accommodations due to a documented or suspected learning difference, disability, or medical condition, including in relation to pregnancy or parenting, please contact Dean Buggie-Hunt (tbuggieh@geneseo.edu) at the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as soon as possible, and bring me a letter outlining the accommodations you require.


Electronics policy: Use of laptops during class is permitted, but I encourage you 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. Limit laptop use to class-related work and put your phone away during class. If you have extenuating circumstances that require you to keep the ringer on your phone turned on during class, please let me know in advance.


Assignment submission: Students will turn in the essay and the ethnographic portrait to Dropboxes on the MyCourses page. Assignments turned in after the deadline will be docked a half-grade per day of lateness (e.g. a grade of B will be registered as a B-).


Academic Honesty

Familiarize yourself with the SUNY Geneseo policies on academic honesty: http://bulletin.geneseo.edu/first/?pg=01_Student_Affairs_policies.html

If you have any questions about whether something is permissible or whether writing in a particular way would constitute plagiarism, feel free to ask me over email or in person. I appreciate your questions and will not judge anyone negatively for seeking clarification. If you find yourself in a personal crisis and are unable to finish assigned work by a deadline, please contact me to work out a solution for turning in a late assignment, rather than resorting to plagiarism. In order to maintain the integrity of the course, everyone will be held responsible for their actions.


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 place, so that you can review easily before exams; 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 as scheduled.


Writing excellence: 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 at the Writing Learning Center on campus. For information or to make an appointment for a one-on-one meeting for feedback on a piece of writing go to: http://www.geneseo.edu/english/writing_center



Schedule - subject to change as necessary according to class progress


Week 1           INTRODUCTION

Jan 20             -Review syllabus

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



Jan 25 & 27    -Cultural Anthropology ch. 1

-In class: “Advertising Missionaries” clip              


Week 3           CULTURE

Feb 1 & 3       -Cultural Anthropology ch. 2

                        -“Bodywork among the Nacirema”

                        -In class: “Franz Boas” clip



Feb 8                          -Cultural Anthropology ch. 3

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

                        -In class: “A Wife among Wives” clip

Feb 10                        MIDTERM 1


Week 5           RACE AND RACISM           

Feb 15 & 17   -Cultural Anthropology ch. 5

                        -Visit the “RACE: Are We So Different?” (http://www.understandingrace.org) website and review the materials available there. View/do two of the activities in the “Lived Experience” section. Be prepared to discuss what you learned.

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

                        -In class: “Multiracial Identity”



Feb 22 & 24   -Cultural Anthropology ch. 6

                        -In class: excerpts from “Returning Home: Revival of a Bosnian Village”


Week 7           GENDER

Feb 29             -Cultural Anthropology ch. 7

                        -In class: “Community” clip

Mar 2              Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2002. Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others. American Anthropologist 104(3): 783-790.

Fri., Mar 4      Essay on Hirsch’s all-college lecture due to dropbox by end of calendar day



Week 8           SEXUALITY

Mar 7             -Cultural Anthropology ch. 8

Mar 9              MIDTERM II


March 14, 16 No classes - SPRING BREAK



Mar 21 & 23  -Read Chs. 1-6 of Santiago’s Children

                        -Lecture on historical, political, and cultural backgroun for Santiago’s Children

                        -In-class: “Machuca”



Mar 28 & 30  -Cultural Anthropology ch. 10 

                        -Read Chs. 7-12 of Santiago’s Children

                        -In class: “Homeless in Paradise” clip


Week 11        THE GLOBAL ECONOMY  

Apr 4 & 6       -Cultural Anthropology ch. 11

                        -Read Chs. 13-18 of Santiago’s Children

                        -In class: “Birdsong and Coffee” clip

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



Apr 11 & 13  -Cultural Anthropology ch. 12

                        -Read Chs. 19-Epilogue of Santiago’s Children

Fri., Apr 15   -DUE: Ethnographic portrait (turn in to dropbox by end of calendar day)



Week 13        RELIGION

Apr 18 & 20  -Cultural Anthropology ch. 13

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

                        -Visit “The Pluralism Project” website (www.pluralism.org) 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



Apr 25 & 27   -Cultural Anthropology ch. 14 “Health and Illness”

-In class: “The Most Distant Places” clip

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

                        -Journal of in-class writing assignments (due in class on Wed., April 27)


Week 15        SYNTHESIS

May 2             Review for final exam



FINAL EXAM - Wednesday, May 11, 8:00-10:30 am, 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.