Anthropology 100 (Section 02):  Cultural Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Fall 2014


Instructor: Dr. Melanie Medeiros
Class Meeting: Wednesday & Friday 1:00-2:15pm, Bailey 102
Office hours: Tuesdays: 2:15-3:45pm
              Thursdays: 2:15-3:45pm
              You may also email me to make an appointment.
Teaching Assistant: Kaitlyn Morgan:

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 will 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.

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 an additional notebook (can be as little as 50 pages) to be used exclusively for in-class writing assignments. 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.

Course Facebook Page
“Like” the course Facebook page [] and read the articles and watch the videos that are posted to the page.

Reading/Video Pop Quiz, 25 points

Throughout the semester 5 pop quizzes will be given in class to test whether or not you are completing the reading assignments.

Attendance and Participation, 25 points
    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, presentations, etc.  In order to succeed in this course you must participate in class discussion and class activities. If you miss more than 2 classes with unexcused absences, your grade in this course will decrease by one letter grade, (more than 4 classes by 2 letter grades, and so on).

Weekly News Media Assignment, 25 points [Due every week by 6pm Thursday]

Every week you will send an email to The email should consist of: 1) a link to an online news article from the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, BBC, or NPR. 2) 1 paragraph (200 words) summarizing the news article and connecting the article to what you are learning in class. These assignments will be grouped together and given a grade at the end of the semester.

In-Class Short Written Assignments, 25 points

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. At the end of the semester your notebook will be given a grade. Failure to attend class and complete an in-class assignment will lower your assignment grade.

“Who Is Dayani Cristal” Film Attendance & Short Essay 10 points
Attend the screening of the film “Who Is Dayani Cristal” (date to be announced). Write a 1 page single-spaced (1 inch margins, 12pt Times New Roman font) short essay. Questions will be posted in class on the day before the screening. The essay is due in class 1 week after the screening.

Participant Observation Assignment [Due 2/11], 40 points
This assignment will be explained in further detail in class. The written portion must be at least 500 words, typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. [See the "Participant Observation" handout available on the class myCourses page for more details].

Exam #1 [2/13], 20 points  
This exam will cover the material from class 1-7.

Exam #2 [3/13], 20 points
This exam will cover the material from class 9-15.

Final Exam [5/12], 50 points
The final exam will focus on material from classes 17-26. HOWEVER it will also have questions from material from the first two thirds of the course.

Self-Ethnography Paper/Project: [Due 5/1], 60 points
The description and details of this assignment are available in the file "Paper/Project Assignment Description" at myCourses/Course Materials/Self-Ethnography Paper or Project/].
    Option 1: 1000-word Paper. Must be typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. [See "Paper/Project Outline Guide" at myCourses/CourseMaterials/Self-Ethnography Paper or Project/Writing Tools/].

Option 2: Poster Presentation. Posters should contain at least 750 words of text and images, and be presented in a visually appealing way [See an example of a Research Poster at myCourses/Course Materials/Self-Ethnography Paper or Project/Sample Poster and Film].

    Option 3: Short Film.  Students have the option of creating a short film (10 minutes). A     film transcript of at least 500 words must be submitted with the film. [See an example of a Short Film at myCourses/Course Materials/Self-Ethnography Paper or Project/Sample     Poster and Film].

    Paper/Project Grading Rubric:
•    A = Paper/project 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/project fulfills the requirements of the question and assignment and demonstrates adequate understanding of the concepts involved.
•    C =  Paper/project fulfills the requirements of the question & assignment.
•    D =  Paper/project fulfills some but not all of the requirements of the question and assignment.
•    E = Paper/project does not fulfill any requirements; Paper/project was not submitted..

Extra Credit
(1)    Attend a library plagiarism workshop by February 28th and receive 1 point of extra credit. Visit the library website for the schedule of workshops.
(2)    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. You may receive up to 2 points of extra credit for each essay.
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 course teaching assistant Kaitlyn Morgan on the Tuesday before each exam from 8:45pm-10:00pm in the Milne Library (exact room to be announced).

Film Attendance & Essay: 10 points
Pop Quizzes: 25 points
Attendance and Participation: 25 points
Weekly News Media Assignment: 25 points
In-Class Short Written Assignments: 25 points
Participant Observation Assignment: 40 points
Self-Ethnography Paper/Project: 60 points
Exams #1 and #2: 40 points
Final Exam: 50 points
TOTAL: 300 points

Standard Grade Curve:
Earning 282-300 points = A
Earning 270-281.99 points = A -
Earning 261-269.99 points = B+
Earning 249-260.99 points = B
Earning 240-248.99 points = B-
Earning 231-239.99 points = C+
Earning 219-230.99 points = C
Earning 210-218.99 points = C- (70-72.9%)
Earning 195-209.99 points = D  (65-69.9%)
Earning 0-194.99 points = E    (0-64.9%)


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;
2. paraphrase of expression or thought without proper attribution;
3. 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.

In this class, the use of computers, tablets, cell phones and other electronics is prohibited. This is to ensure that the students around you are not distracted by what is on your screen. 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. Due to this policy I highly recommend you purchase the physical copy of the course text-book rather than the electronic version, so that you have the text book available for class discussions.


Class 1) Wednesday, 1/21        Course Introduction
- In-Class Video: The Danger of a Single Story (19 min)
[Stream here:]

Class 2) Friday, 1/23            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.
- In-Class Video: (1) What Is Globalization (8 min)
[Stream here:]
                  (2) Advertising Missionaries (6 min)

Class 3) Wednesday, 1/28        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.
- In-Class Video: America Through the Eyes of Sudanese Immigrants (4 min)
[Stream here:]

Class 4) Friday, 1/30         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
- In-Class Video: (1) Understanding Power (7 min)
[Stream Here:
 (2) Living Genomics (2 min) [Stream Here:]
      (3) Julian Baggini's TED Talk “What Makes The Real You” (12 min) [Stream here:]

Class 5) Wednesday, 2/4        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.
-In-Class Video: (1) Franz Boas (6:00)
     (2) Wife Among Wives (5:45)

Class 6) Friday, 2/6            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 [Read to prepare for In-class Debate]
-In-Class Video: Clips on the Human Terrain System (5 min)

Class 7) Wednesday, 2/11        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.
- Participant Observation assignment due [See the class's myCourses page for the "Participant Observation" assignment description handout].

- In-Class Film: The Ax Fight. 1975. Tim Asch & Napoleon Chagnon (30 min)


Class 8) Friday, 2/13         Exam #1 [Group 1: 1:00-1:35pm; Group 2: 1:40-2:15pm]

Class 9) Wednesday, 2/18        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                                                        374-377
- In-Class Video: (1) A Wife Among Wives (6 min)
      (2) Marriages in Heaven (5:52 min)

Class 10) Friday, 2/20         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
- In-Class Video: Saheri’s Choice (30 min)


Class 11) Wednesday, 2/25        Religion and Ritual                     
Key concepts: religion, martyr, saint, sacred, profane, ritual, rite of passage, liminality,     communitas, pilgrimage, cultural materialism, shaman, magic, imitative magic, contagious magic,
Key questions: What is religion? What tools do anthropologists use to understand how religion works?

- Read: Chapter 15 in Cultural Anthropology. pp. 573-598.
- In-Class Video: The Great Gathering (4:57)

Class 12) Friday, 2/27        Religion, Power & Globalization    
Key concepts: symbol, authorizing process
Key questions: In what ways is religion both a system of meaning and a system of power? How is globalization changing religion?

- Read: Chapter 15 in Cultural Anthropology. pp. 598-617.


Class 13) Wednesday, 3/4         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.”
-In-Class Video: The Illusion of Skin Color (20 min)
[Stream Here: ]

Class 14) Friday, 3/6              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) “Deep Tensions Rise to Surface After the Ferguson Shooting”  []
(3) “After Ferguson, Race Deserves More Attention, Not Less” []    
-In-Class Video: Race the Power of An Illusion (Selections from)


Class 15) Wednesday, 3/11      Ethnicity & Identity    
Key concepts: ethnicity, origin myth, ethnic boundary marker, situational negotiation of identity. genocide, ethnic cleansing, melting pot, assimilation, multiculturalism
Key questions: What does "ethnicity" mean to anthropologists? How is ethnicity created and put in motion?

    - Read: Chapter 7 "Ethnicity and Nationalism" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 237-254
    -In-Class Video: (1) Ethnicity & Identity (8min) [Stream: ]
    (2) Multiracial Identity (5 min)
 (3) Thandie Newton’s TED talk “Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself.”     (13 min) [Stream Here:]

Class 16) Friday, 3/13    Exam #2  [Group 1: 1:00-1:35pm; Group 2: 1:40-2:15pm]


Class 17) Wednesday, 3/25         Sex & Gender        
Key concepts: gender studies, sex, gender, sexual dimorphism, cultural construction of gender,     gender performance, intersexual, transgender.
Key questions: Are men and women born or made? Are there more than two sexes?

- Read: Chapter 8 "Gender" in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 269-286.
-In-Class Video: (1) Tough Guise  [Stream here: ]
                  (2) Me, My Sex, and I  (selections from, 49 min)
[Stream here:]

Class 18) Friday, 3/27         Sexuality
Key concepts: sexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, sex tourism, sex work.
Key questions: 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 9 "Sexuality" Cultural Anthropology pp. 310-330, 337-340, 344-345.

Class 19) Wednesday 4/1         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 of power? 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
-In-Class Video: (1) Community (6:30 min)
     (2) Three Sisters (5 min)


Class 20) Friday, 4/3        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, income, wealth, caste, achieved status,     ascribed status, dalits
Key questions: Is inequality a natural part of human culture? How do anthropologists analyze class and inequality. 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. 393-407, 410-415, 421-435
-In-Class Video: Homeless in Paradise (4:30)


Class 21) Wednesday, 4/8     The Global Economy: Food & Food Production                 
Key concepts: economy, food foragers, pastoralism, horticulture, slash and burn agriculture,     agriculture, industrial agriculture, carrying capacity, barter, reciprocity, redistribution, leveling mechanism,
Key questions: What is an economy and what is its purpose?
    -Read:  Chapter 12 in Cultural Anthropology. Pp. 441-452.
    -In-Class Film: Food, Inc. 2008. (selections from, entire film 90 min)

Class 21) Friday, 4/10    The Global Economy: Historic Roots and Contemporary Theories
    Key concepts: 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 in forming 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.
- In-Class Video: Birdsong and Coffee (5:26 min)

Class 22) Wednesday, 4/15     Global Economy: Flexible Accumulation & Consumer Awareness
    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.
- In-Class Film: China Blue. 2005 (selections from, 67 min)


Class 23) Friday, 4/17        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
    Key questions: Why do people move from place to place? Who are today's migrants? Where do     people move to and from?    
- Read:  Chapter 13 in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 489- 519.    
Class 24) Wednesday, 4/22         Migration and Immigration in the United States
Key questions: How is immigration affecting the United States today?            
    - Read:   Introduction to “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” (pp. 1-29).
- In-Class Video: Brother Towns (5:49)

Class 25) Friday, 4/24        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    
    - In-Class Video: (1) The Most Distant Places (4:46)
             (2) Dead Mums Don't Cry (6:07)

Class 26) Wednesday, 4/29        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    
- In-Class Film: Unnatural Causes. 2008. California Newsreel. (57 min)


Class 27) Friday, 5/1         Final Exam Review: Jeopardy

- Assignment: Self-Ethnography Due

The Final Exam is on Tuesday, May 12th 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.