Anthropology 100 (Section 02):  Cultural Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Spring 2014


Class Meetings:  Tuesday and Thursday 11:30- 12:45 Welles 121

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:

Tuesday   12:45- 1:30 pm

Wednesday   12:45- 1:30 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. 

            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.


Library Research Help

            I strongly encourage you to use the Milne Reference Librarians for assistance with your research for this class. You can speak with the reference librarian on duty between 10am and closing time most days (ask for help at the service desk) or chat with a librarian online by clicking the "IM a Librarian" button on the library website ( You can also contact the Milne Librarian dedicated to Anthropology, Kim Hoffman, by emailing her ( or requesting an in-person meeting (


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)                                                                   10 %

Weekly online reading tests                                                                             10 %

Midterm 1        (Weeks 1-5)                                                                                         10%

Midterm 2        (Weeks 6-10)                                                                                       10%

Annotated Bibliography Wiki entry (500 words)                                  15 %

Group Project wiki entry (average 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).



A Warning about MyCourses Grades on the Course Homepage

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 on the course homepage is accurate.  You can, however, create a report that shows each grade for completed assignments (e.g., online tests you have finished) 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.  Your overall average will not be accurate until all the assignments in the course are completed.


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.  Tests can be found in the Course Materials section of the MyCourses website.  You can take each test up to three times and the software will record your best score (you must use the MyCourses Report function to check this).  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.  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.  


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:  Tuesday January 21, Thursday January 23

Goals of the Course and Preliminaries; Introduction to Anthropology

            Kottak Chapter 1:  What is Anthropology? (online test due Sunday  January 26  by  11:55 pm)

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

  • Review of syllabus
  • Thursday:  Research skills discussion
  • Online tests begin this week:  Kottak Chapters 1 and 2 are due by 11:55 pm Sunday  January 26


Week 2:  Tuesday January 28, Thursday January 30

The Concept of Culture

            Kottak Chapter 2:  Culture (online test due Sunday January 26 by 11:55 pm; note that this is BEFORE class).

            Angeloni:  Understanding Eskimo science; Can White Men Jump? 

            Paul Farmer on health care in context:


  • 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 January 26—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  February 2  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:  Tuesday February 4, Thursday February 6

Annotated Bibliography wiki CITATION is due on the Geneseo wiki in American Anthropologist style by Tuesday February 4 at 8am.  See the Written Assignments document in Course Materials (MyCourses website) for detailed guidelines.  The annotation itself is due later.

Tuesday’s class will be led by a guest lecturer.

Ethics and Methods

            Kottak Chapter 3:  Doing Anthropology (online test due Sunday February 2 by 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 February 2 by 11:55 pm.
  • Are you brining your participation card to class and recording your participation?  Don’t forget its worth 10%


Week 4:  Tuesday February 11, Thursday February 13

This week’s classes will be led by guest lecturers.


            Kottak Chapter 4:  Language and Communication (online test due Sunday February 9 by 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Language, Appearance, and Reality; Fighting for Our Lives; Lost for Words


  • Group 1 reports Tuesday,  Group 2 reports Thursday


Week 5:  Tuesday February 18, Thursday February 20

Your ANNOTATION is due on the wiki by Tuesday February 18 at 8 am.


            Kottak Chapter 5:  Making a Living (online test due Sunday February 16 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Too Many Bananas

            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.

  • Start the film The Corporation (2hrs 25 min)
  • Group 3 (Tuesday) and Group  4 (Thursday) report on their preliminary research this week.  See “Written Assignments” handout in MyCourses for details.


Note that the online test for Kottak Chapter 6 is due after next week’s midterm (by 11:55 pm Wednesday February 26)


Week 6: Tuesday February 25, Thursday February 27


Midterm 1 on Tuesday covers Weeks 1-5

Political Organization

            Kottak Chapter 6:  Political Systems  (online test due Wednesday February 26 at 11:55 pm)

  • Group  5 reports Thursday


Week 7: Tuesday March 4, Thursday March 6  (Academic advisement period begins Thursday)

  • Finish the film The Corporation (2 hrs 25 min)
  • Groups 6 and 7 report Thursday


Week 8:  Tuesday March 11, Thursday March 13

Ethnicity, Race, and Culture

            Kottak Chapter 11:  Ethnicity and Race (online test due Sunday March 9 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  The Inuit Paradox

  • Group 8 reports Tuesday, Groups 9, and 10 report Thursday
  • Don’t forget about the online test for the week after spring break!


SPRING BREAK Monday March 17- Friday March 21


Week 9:  Tuesday March 25, Thursday March 27

Religion, Belief, and Ritual

            Kottak Chapter 9:  Religion     (online test due Sunday March 23 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  Haiti’s Living Dead;  Understanding Islam

            Beeman:  Fundamentalism and Religious Revival:

  • Group 11 reports Tuesday, Group 12 reports Thursday


Week 10:  Tuesday April 1, Thursday April 3


 Kottak Chapter 7:  Families, Kinship, and Marriage (online test due Sunday March 30 at 11:55 pm)

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



Week 11: Tuesday April 8 IS GREAT DAY,  Thursday I will be at the Maya at the Lago Conference in North Carolina.


Midterm 2 on Thursday Covers Weeks 6-10





Week 12:  Tuesday April 15, Thursday April 17


            Kottak Chapter 8:  Gender (online test due Sunday April13 at 11:55 pm)

            Angeloni:  The Berdache Tradition

  • If there is time, groups will meet to work on their projects on Thursday.


Week 13:  Tuesday April 22,  No class Thursday due to the Society for American Archaeology Meeting

Applied Anthropology

Kottak Chapter 12:  Applying Anthropology (online test due Sunday April 20 at 11:55 pm)

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


  • Group Project due on wiki by 5 pm Friday April 25


Week 14:  Tuesday April 29, Thursday May 1

Sociocultural Change

Kottak Chapter 10:  The World System and Colonialism (online test due Sunday April 27 at 11:55 pm)

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

  • Action Report is due by midnight Monday April 28.   Assignments posted after this time will be penalized 5% per day including weekends.



Week 15:  Tuesday May 6 is the last day of class

Global Issues

            Kottak Chapter 13:  Global Issues Today (online test due Sunday May 4  at 11:55 pm)           

            Angeloni:  Being Indigenous in the 21st Century, Last of Their Kind


Final Exam (all course material): Thursday May 8 at 8-11 am in regular room