Anthropology 100 (Section 02):  Cultural Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Fall 2015



Instructor: Dr. Melanie Medeiros Email:

Class Meeting: Mondays & Wednesdays 8:30am-9:45am Office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 3:00-4:30pm You may also email me to make an appointment.

Teaching Assistant: Angus McCrumb,


Cultural anthropology is the study of humans, particularly the many ways people around the world today and throughout human history have organized themselves to live together. Due to increases in global flows of people, products and ideas we are increasingly encountering the world's diversity in our own communities. The study of cultural anthropology helps us develop the skills we need for engaging and navigating the multicultural, global and continually changing world in which we live. In this class we will learn about the theories and tools that anthropologists use to study human behavior and diversity. We will examine the cultural, social, economic and political structures that shape human behavior and identity, including social constructions of race, ethnicity, gender and class. We will also address the issues and opportunities that come with globalization and modernization, including social inequality and global health disparities. Finally, we will learn the ways anthropologists use their tools to address local and global challenges.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the field of cultural anthropology, particularly in

regard to learning the diverse beliefs, practices and challenges facing living people in a global context, through examinations, in-class writing assignments, and class discussions and debates.

  • Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills and the ability to effectively communicate their

ideas and arguments surrounding themes and issues in cultural anthropology, through in-class writing assignments, class discussions and debates, and a final paper.

  • Students wili demonstrate creative expression, cross-cultural skills and global engagement, as well

as the ability to reflect on their civic, personal, and professional lives through in-class writing assignments and a final paper.

A Participatory Learning Environment

This course deals with extremely sensitive topics and material. Please be respectful of your classmates -- listen with interest and be open to ideas and opinions that may differ from your own. Treat your classmates just as you would like to be treated in classroom discussions and outside the classroom as well. This class should be a comfortable and open environment for you to learn, so please contribute to that environment.

Although this course already has objectives and a structure, I encourage your input on its direction. Please email me if you have any particular topic you are interested in learning more about, an assignment or project not listed in the syllabus that you would be interested in doing (to replace one already listed), etc. I will do my best to accommodate student requests, but cannot guarantee that I will be able to fulfill all of them.______________________________

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK (available at the bookstore):

-  Kenneth J. Guest. Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age. WW. Norton & Company, Inc.

• I strongly recommend that you purchase the printed rather than electronic version of this book. [See the class computer policy below]

-  Additional Reading Assignments will be posted to myCourses

-  Please purchase a Composition 100-sheet notebook to be used exclusively for in-class writing

assignments (your Course Journal). This notebook will be handed in periodically and should be separate from the notebook in which you take your lecture and reading notes.


Reading Assignments [Complete the assignment before coming to class]

The reading assignments are mandatory. Students should be prepared to discuss these assignments in class and in their written assignments. The completion of all the reading assignments is essential to your grade in this class.

Participation, [attendance, in-class small group & entire class discussion]

Your participation grade includes coming to class prepared to discuss the reading assignments, as well as preparation for and performance in in-class activities such as debates, small-group discussions, entire class discussions, presentations, etc. In order to succeed in this course you must participate in class discussions and class activities. If you miss more than 2 classes with unexcused absences, your participation grade will be a zero. For an absence to be excused you must either receive advanced approval from the professor via email OR in the case of illness email the professor and then present a doctor's note at the next class meeting. Approving an absence as unexcused is at the professor's discretion.

In-Class Short Written Assignment Journal

You will often have short writing assignments that you work on in class. You will complete these assignments in a notebook separate from your lecture and reading notes. Your notebooks will be collected periodically and given grades of /+, /, /-. The "/s" are used to inform you as to whether you need to put more thought and effort into the reading you do at home and writing that you do in class. At the end of the semester your notebook will be given a cumulative grade. Failure to attend class and complete an in-class writing assignment will lower your assignment grade.

Dia de Los Muertos Procession Participation [11/2]

Participate in the Day of the Dead procession from the College Union to Newton Hall on 11/2 at 5:00pm. Participation includes dressing in a Day of the Dead costume. We will discuss this further in class.

Exam #1 [9/28]

This exam will be multiple-choice and matching questions and cover the material from classes 1-7.

Exam #2 IT 1/41

This exam will be multiple-choice and matching questions and cover the material from classes 9-17.

Exam #3 IT2/141

This exam will be multiple-choice and matching questions and cover the material from classes 19-27).

Ethnographic Portrait: [12/7]

The description and details of this assignment are available in the file "Ethnographic Portrait of An Immigrant Assignment Description" at myCourses/CourseMaterials/EthnographicPortraitAssignment/.

Paper/Project Grading Rubric:

  • A = Paper fulfills the requirements of the question and assignment, demonstrates excellent understanding of the concepts, is well-written (carefully proofread, no grammatical errors), and provides clear examples and strong insights into the assigned material.
  • B = Paper fulfills the requirements of the question and assignment and demonstrates adequate understanding of the concepts involved.
  • C = Paper fulfills the requirements of the question & assignment.
  • D = Paper fulfills some but not all of the requirements of the question and assignment.
  • E = Paper does not fulfill any requirements; Paper/project was not submitted

ALL Assignments must be completed by the start of class on the due date. Late assignments will be marked down one letter grade for each day late. It is your responsibility to complete course requirements to pass this course. Please contact me if you are having problems with the course assignments.

Exam Review Sessions

I highly recommend you attend the exam review sessions to help you prepare for the three exams in this course. The sessions will be lead by the teaching assistant. The exam review schedule will be posted to myCourses in the Announcements section.

Extra Credit: You may receive up to 1 percentage point of extra credit for each essay. You can receive up to a maximum of 2 percentage points of extra credit for the entire semester.

(1) Attend an approved (by the professor) film viewing, play, or speaker presentation and write a 1-page (single-spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font) essay describing the content of the film/play/talk and how it relates to themes from the course. The response essay is due 1 week after the event via EMAIL. Here are three events already on the schedule that qualify for extra credit:

-       Thursday, 9/17: Film Screening: "Denying Brazil," with Dr. Melanie Medeiros, 7pm at the Riviera Theater.

-       Monday, 10/19: Presentation by Dr. Lynn Boles, 2:30pm in the Union Ballroom

-       Thursday, 10/22: Film Screening: "They Are We," 7pm at the Riviera Theater.

Thursday, 11/12: Film Screening: "God Loves the Fighter," with Dr. Maria Lima, 7pm at the Riviera Theater.


Attendance and Participation: 5%

Dia de Los Muertos Procession Participation: 5%

In-Class Short Written Assignments: 10%

Exam #1: 15%

Exam #2: 20%

Ethnographic Portrait Paper: 20%

Final Exam: 25%

TOTAL: 100%

Standard Grade Curve:

A (94-100%): Exceptional work: Meets all the course requirements and demonstrates exceptional

comprehension and application of the material; also demonstrates strong writing, analytical and communication skills.

A - (90-93.99%): Excellent work: Meets all the course requirements and demonstrates excellent comprehension

and application of the material; also demonstrates strong writing, analytical and communication skills.

B+ (87-89.99%): Great work: Meets all the course requirements and demonstrates very good comprehension

and application of the material; also demonstrates adequate writing, analytical and communication skills.

B (83-86.99%): Very good work: Meets all the course requirements and demonstrates good comprehension and

application of the material; also demonstrates adequate writing, analytical and communication skills.

B- (80-82.99%): Good work: Meets all the course requirements and demonstrates good comprehension and

application of the material; demonstrates adequate writing, analytical and communication skills.

C+ (77-79.99%): Satisfactory work: Meets all course requirements and demonstrates comprehension and

application of the material

C (73-76.99%): Farley satisfactory work: Meets all course requirements.

C- (70-72.99%): Work demonstrating minimal competence: Meets some, but not all the course requirements.

D (65-69.99%): Marginal work: Meets few of the course requirements.

E (0-64.9%): Inadequate work: Does not meet course requirements.


Plagiarism constitutes a violation of academic honesty and will be dealt with very strictly. Plagiarism is the representation of someone else's words or ideas as one's own, or the arrangement of someone else's material(s) as one's own. Such misrepresentation may be sufficient grounds for a student's receiving a grade of E for the paper or presentation involved or may result in an E being assigned as the final grade for the course.

Any one of the following constitutes evidence of plagiarism:

1. direct quotation without identifying punctuation and citation of source;

  1. paraphrase of expression or thought without proper attribution;
  2. unacknowledged dependence upon a source in plan, organization, or argument.

You can read the college's academic dishonesty and plagiarism policy on-line at:


SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities. Accommodations will be made for medical conditions related to pregnancy or parenting. Students should contact Dean Buggie-Hunt in the Office of Disability Services ( or 585-245-5112) and their faculty to discuss needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester.


From Monday through Friday I respond to emails within approximately 12 hours from receiving them. I respond less quickly to emails sent during the weekends. Please plan accordingly. Please use proper email etiquette: address the email Dear or Hello Professor/Dr. Medeiros, and sign your name at the end of the email.


In this class, the use cell phones is prohibited. Phones should not be out on students' desks or laps. If a student is witnessed using their cell phone or it visible, they will be considered absent for that class. The use of Facebook, You Tube, Vimeo and other media that does not pertain to this class is prohibited as well. The Teaching Assistant will be walking around the room during class; if she sees that you are using your computer or tablet for anything else than taking notes she will tap you on the shoulder and ask you to speak with me after class. After the first time this happens you will be given an absence for each time this occurs.


Class 1) Monday, 8/31                       Course Introduction

- In-Class Video: The Danger of a Single Story (19 min)

[Stream here:

Class 2) Wednesday, 9/2                    Cultural Anthropology & Globalization

Key concepts: anthropology, ethnocentrism, ethnographic fieldwork, four-field approach,

holism, physical anthropology, paleoanthropology, primatology, archaeology, prehistoric archeology, historic archeology, linguistic anthropology, descriptive linguists, historic linguists, sociolinguists, cultural anthropology, participant observation, ethnology, globalization, time-space compression, flexible accumulation, increasing migration, uneven development, rapid change, climate change.

Key questions: What is anthropology? Through what lenses do anthropologists gain a comprehensive view of human culture? What is globalization, and why is it important for anthropology? How is globalization transforming anthropology?

- Read: Chapter 1 "Anthropology in a Global Age" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 5-31.

Monday, 9/7 No Class Labor Day

Class 3) Wednesday, 9/9                    Defining "Culture"

Key concepts: culture, enculturation, norms, values, symbol, cultural relativism, unilineal cultural evolution, historical particularism, structural functionalism, interpretivist approach

Key questions: What is culture? How has the culture concept developed in anthropology? - Read: Chapter 2 "Culture" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 33-49.

Class 4) Monday, 9/14                       Culture, Power and Globalization

Key concepts: power, stratification, hegemony, agency, cosmopolitanism, nature versus nurture

Key questions: How are culture and power related? How is culture created? How is globalization transforming culture? How much of who you are is determined by biology and how much by culture?

-Read: Chapter 2 "Culture" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 50-71

Class 5) Wednesday, 9/16                   Ethnographic Fieldwork

Key concepts: ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation, reflexivity, literature review, anthropologists toolkit, quantitative data, qualitative data, rapport, key informant, interview,

life history, survey, kinship analysis, social network analysis, field notes, mapping, built environment, mutual transformation

Key questions: What is unique about ethnographic fieldwork, and why do anthropologists conduct this kind of research? How did the idea of fieldwork develop? How do anthropologists write ethnography?

-  Read: Chapter 3 "Fieldwork and Ethnography" in Cultural Anthropology, pp.73-96.

Class 6) Monday, 9/21                       Ethics and Ethnography

Key concepts: emic, etic, ethnology, polyvocality, informed consent, anonymity.

Key questions: What moral and ethical concerns guide anthropologists in their research and writing? How are fieldwork strategies changing in response to globalization?

-  Read: (1) Chapter 3 "Fieldwork and Ethnography" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 97-110.

(2) AAA Response to the Human Terrain System [MyCourses]

Class 7) Wednesday, 9/23                   Ethnographic Film

Key concepts: ethnographic film, holism, goal of truth

Key questions: What are the essential features of ethnographic film? What are the differences between ethnographic film and other film?

- Read: (1) Heider, Karl. Chapter 1: Introduction. In Ethnographic Film. University of Texas Press, pp. 1-14.

(2) Klein, Patricia. Review of "The Ax Fight" (1975). American Anthropologist 79(3): 747.

Class 8) Monday, 9/28                 Exam #1

Class 9) Wednesday, 9/30                   Race and Racialization

Key concepts: race, genotype, phenotype, colonialism, miscegenation, white supremacy, whiteness, Jim Crow, hypo descent, nativism, eugenics, racialization

Key questions: Do biologically separate races exist? How is race constructed around the world? How is race constructed in the United States?

-  Read: (1) Chapter 6 Race and Racism in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 195-222

(2) Selected Text from an "Interview with Nina Jablonski." [My Courses] Recommended:

Smedley and Smedley. 2005. Race as Biology Is Fiction, Racism as a Social Problem Is Real: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives on the Social Construction of Race. American Psychologist. 60(1): 16-24. [My Courses]

Class 10) Monday, 10/5                     Racism and Social Inequality

Key concepts: racism, individual racism, institutional racism, racial ideology Key questions: What is racism?

-  Read: (1) Chapter 6 Race and Racism in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 222-235

(2) To be posted to myCourses

Class 11) Wednesday, 10/7                 Ethnicity & Identity

Key concepts: ethnicity, origin myth, ethnic boundary marker, situational negotiation of identity Key questions: What does "ethnicity" mean to anthropologists?

■ Read: (1) Chapter 7 "Ethnicity and Nationalism" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 237-244

(2) K. Anthony Appiah, A. 1994. Identity, Authenticity, Survival: Multicultural Societies and Social Reproduction. In Amy Gutmann, ed. Multiculturalism. Princeton. Pp. 149- 164. [My Courses]

Monday, 10/12 No Class for Fall Break

Class 12) Wednesday, 10/14 Ethnicity & Conflict

Key concepts: genocide, ethnic cleansing, melting pot, assimilation, multiculturalism Key questions: How is ethnicity created and put in motion?

-  Read: Chapter 7 "Ethnicity and Nationalism" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 244-254.

Class 13) Monday, 10/19                    Race, Ethnicity, Class and Inequality

Key concepts: class, egalitarian society, reciprocity, ranked society, redistribution, potlatch, bourgeoisie, means of production, proletariat, prestige, life chances, social mobility, social reproduction, habitus, cultural capital, intersectionality,

Key questions: Is inequality a natural part of human culture? How do anthropologists analyze class and inequality?

-  Read: Read Chapter 11 "Class and Inequality" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 393-410.

Class 14) Wednesday, 10/21 Class and Inequality

Key concepts: income, wealth, caste, achieved status, ascribed status, dalits

Key questions: How are class and inequality constructed in the United States? What are the roots of poverty in the United States? Why are class and inequality largely invisible in U.S. culture? What is caste, and how are caste and class related? What are the effects of global inequality?

-  Read: Read Chapter 11 "Class and Inequality" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 410-435.

Class 15) Monday, 10/26                    Religion & Ritual

Key concepts: religion, martyr, saint, sacred, profane, ritual, rite of passage, liminality, communitas, pilgrimage, cultural materialism, shaman, magic, imitative magic, contagious magic, symbol, authorizing process,

Key questions: What is religion? What tools do anthropologists use to understand how religion

works? In what ways is religion both a system of meaning and a system ofpower? How is globalization changing religion?

-Read: Chapter 15 in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 573-617.

Class 16) Wednesday, 10/28 Sex, Gender & Sexuality

Key concepts: gender studies, sex, gender, sexual dimorphism, cultural construction of gender, gender performance, intersexual, transgender, sexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, sex tourism, sex work.

Key questions: Are men and women born or made? Are there more than two sexes? What is "natural" about human sexuality? What does a global perspective tell us about human sexuality? How has sexuality been constructed in the United States? How does globalization influence local expressions of sexuality?

- Read: Chapter 8 "Gender" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 269-286, Chapter 9 "Sexuality" pp.

310-330, 337-340,344-345.


Lucal, Betsy. 1999. What It Means To Be Gendered Me: Life on the Boundaries of a Dichotomous Gender System Gender & Society 13(6):781-796.[My Courses]

Class 17) Monday 11/2                     Gender, Power & Violence

Key concepts: gender stratification, gender stereotype, gender ideology, gender violence, structural gender violence, sexual violence.

Key questions: How do anthropologists explore the relationship between gender and power? How is sexuality an arena for working out relations ofpower? How is globalization transforming women's lives.

-Read: (1) Chapter 8 "Gender" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 287-307.

(2) Chapter 9 "Sexuality" Cultural Anthropology pp. 330-337

Class 18) Wednesday, 11/4                Exam #2

Class 19) Monday, 11/9                    Kinship, Family and Marriage

Key concepts: kinship, nuclear family, descent group, lineage, clan, affinal relationship, marriage, arranged marriage, companionate marriage, polygyny, polyandry, monogamy, incest taboo, exogamy, endogamy, bride wealth, dowry, family of orientation, family of procreation

Key questions: How are we related to one another? Are biology and marriage the only basis for kinship?

-Read: Chapter 10 "Kinship, Family, and Marriage" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 349-371 and


Class 20) Wednesday, 11/11 Kinship & Social Change

Key questions: Is a country like one big family? How is kinship changing in the United States? How is kinship changing globally?

- Read: Chapter 10 "Kinship, Family, and Marriage" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 377-391

Class 21) Monday, 11/16                   The Global Economy: Historic Roots and Contemporary


Key concepts: carrying capacity, barter, reciprocity, redistribution, leveling mechanism, colonialism, triangle trade, Industrial Revolution, modernization theories, development, dependency theory, neocolonialism, underdevelopment, core countries, periphery countries, semi-periphery countries. Fordism, flexible accumulation, global city, neoliberalism, commodity chain

Key questions: What are the roots of today's global economy? What role has colonialism played informing the modern world economic system? What is the relationship between the nation- state and the corporation in the global economy? What are the dominant organizing principles of the modern world economic system?

-  Read: Chapter 12 in Cultural Anthropology. Pp. 452-474.

Class 22) Wednesday, 11/18                The Global Economy: Flexible Accumulation & Consumer


Key questions: How does today's global economy link workers with consumers worldwide? Is today's global economic system sustainable?

-  Read: Chapter 12 in Cultural Anthropology. Pp. 474-487.

Class 23) Monday, 11/23                     Food & Food Production

Key concepts: economy, food foragers, pastoralism, horticulture, slash and burn agriculture, agriculture, industrial agriculture.

Key questions: What is an economy and what is its purpose?

-  Read: Chapter 12 in Cultural Anthropology. Pp. 441-452.

-  Film: Food, Inc. 2008.

Wednesday, 1 1/25 No Class, I lappy Thanksgiving!

Class 24) Monday, 11/30                    Migration

Key concepts: pushes and pulls, bridges and barriers, chain migration, hometown association, remittance, cumulative causation, labor immigrant, guest worker program, professional migrant, brain drain, social capital. How is immigration affecting the United States today?

Key questions: Why do people move from place to place? Who are today's migrants? Where do people move to andfrom?

-  Read: Seth Holmes. Introduction to "Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies" (pg. 1-29) [My Courses]

Class 25) Wednesday, 12/2                 Migration

-  Read: Chapter 13 in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 489- 519.

Class 26) Monday, 12/7                     Health and Illness

Key concepts: health, disease, illness, ethnomedicine, ethnopharmacology, biomedicine, human microbiome,

Key questions: How does culture shape our ideas of health and illness? How can anthropologists help solve health care problems?

-Read: Chapter 16 in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 619-642

-Assignment: Ethnographic Portrait is Due

Class 27) Wednesday, 12/9                 Wealth, Power & Health

Key concepts: health transition, critical medical anthropology, medical migration, medical pluralism, illness narratives

Key questions: Why does the distribution of health and illness mirror that of wealth and power? How is globalization changing the experience of health and illness and the practice of medicine?

- Read: Chapter 16 in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 642 - 655

Class 28) Monday, 12/14                     Exam #3

Class Activity Scheduled for the final exam period: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 from 12:00-3:00pm

NOTE: This syllabus is subject to change. Reading, film and written assignments may be removed or added when the instructor believes it necessary for the course.