Intro to Cultural Anthropology
SUNY College at Geneseo
Instructor: Kristi J. Krumrine
Office: Fraser 118
Phone: 585.245.5043 (office)
Office Hrs: MF 1-2:30 pm
or by appointment
This course is an introduction to the cross-cultural study of human social life and meaning. It is structured topically around the most basic issues shaping and shaped by human existence: language, family, subsistence, economic exchange, and religious and political organization. By examining the core vocabulary, personalities, research methods and theoretical developments in anthropology, this course is meant to provide a foundation on which students can build to a better understanding of, and greater tolerance for, worldwide diversity, unity, cooperation and conflict. Class will include PowerPoint lecture, films, small group exercises and discussions of readings.
Students will study of the ways of life of the living peoples of the world, and an overview of the development and practice of cultural anthropology as a primary tool for the accomplishment of that study.
There will be 3 exams in this course, the first two of which are worth 20% of the final grade. The 3rd exam (non-cumulative final exam) is worth 25% of the final grade. The exam format will include both multiple choice (80%) and essay (20%) questions. The exams will cover lectures, readings and films and will emphasize your conceptual grasp of the course material. All exams must be taken at the scheduled time unless worked out ahead of time with instructor. Due dates are outlined below.
Periodically, throughout the semester, students will be required to write a “one-minute paper”. These will be written during class and collected immediately. Questions will come from the assigned readings and are meant to foster discussion. There will be eight opportunities to write these short papers (I’ll actually give you more like 5 minutes) and each is worth 3 points. One point will be given for attempting an answer and 1-2 will be given based on how well the question is answered. Generally, these cannot be made up. We will also frequently break up into small groups to work on exercises and discussions. The participation grade at the end of the course will reflect student attendance and work effort in these small groups.
There will also be two short papers assigned in the course: the first is a self-ethnography; the second is in the form of a one page critique of a lecture, film or other event having to do with cultural harmony and diversity. There will be numerous opportunities to attend one of these events during the semester, especially during Cultural Harmony Week (10/24-11/2). Announcements will be made in class to inform students as to dates and times associated with these events. Critiques should be turned in the class after the event. One letter grade will be deducted for each class that papers are late. Papers will be graded on spelling, grammar, organization and content. These papers, combined, are worth 10% of the final grade. Descriptions of both assignments are listed at the back of the syllabus.
The final assignment will be in the form of a poster presentation. This poster will be worth 15% of the final grade and is due on the day of the final exam (a bibliography will be due in November). Due to the large size of the class, students are required to work in pairs- please let me know by mid-semester if you do not have a partner and I will try to pair students. We will have a poster session and contest in which you get to see and vote on your classmate’s posters. The top three vote getters will get 20 and 15 and 10 points extra credit, respectively, added to their final grades. Both partners are expected to contribute equally to the poster project- please see me ASAP if you feel that your partner is not putting in equal effort. See the last page of the syllabus for a description of the project.
Academic Honesty Policy
Plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Please refer to the Undergraduate Bulletin (pgs. 373-375) regarding SUNY Geneseo policies (available through the college webpage).
Course Requirements and Important Dates
Exam #1 9/27 100
Exam #2 11/4 100
Exam #3 (final) 12/11 125
Ethnography 9/13 40
Cultural Harmony Event Class after event 10
One-Minute Papers In class 25
Participation In class 25
Poster 12/11 75
Poster Bibliography 11/22
* The 3rd column above represents points for each assignment out of a total of 500 possible points for the course.
Weekly Schedule and Reading Assignments
The readings below should be completed prior to class each week. Keep current with the reading assignments! Doing so makes class more interesting and makes it easier to study for exams. PowerPoint presentations and outside readings are available on mycourses. I recommend that students print out presentations (handouts- 3 images to a page with note lines) before class so as to eliminate the need for copying each slide during class.
Week 1 8/26-30 Intro to Anth
Read: Nanda Ch. 1; Troost; Mangione Ch. 1-2
Film: “A Man Called Bee”
Week 2 9/2 Labor Day- no class
9/6 Ethnographic Method
Read: Nanda Ch. 3; Chagnon; Mangione Ch. 3-4
Week 3 9/9-13 Culture Concept
Read: Nanda Ch. 2; Bohannon; Mangione Ch. 5-6
9/13 Self-ethnography due
Week 4 9/16 Culture exercise
Read: Mangione Ch. 7-10
9/20 Language and Communication
Read: Nanda Ch. 4; Mangione Ch. 11-12
Week 5 9/23 Language and Communication (cont’d)
Read: Mangione Ch. 13-14
9/27 Exam #1
Week 6 9/30-10/4 Subsistence
Read: Nanda Ch. 5; Diamond; Lee Ch. 1
Film: “Pygmies of the Rainforest”
Week 7 10/7 Subsistence (cont’d)
Read: Lee Ch. 2-3
10/11 Economic Systems
Read: Nanda Ch. 6
Film: “A Poor Man Shames Us All”
Week 8 10/14 Fall Break!
10/18 Economic Systems (cont’d)
Read: Nietschmann; Lee Ch. 4
Week 9 10/21-25 Sex and Marriage
Read: Nanda Ch. 7; Small; Lee Ch. 6
Film: “Strange Relations”
Week 10 10/28-11/1 Kinship and Descent
Read: Wolf; Lee Ch. 5
Week 11 11/4 Exam #2
11/8 Political Organization
Read: Nanda Ch. 9; Lee Ch. 7-8
Week 12 11/11-15 Religion
Read: Nanda Ch. 11; Gmelch; Lee Ch. 9
Film: “Blood of Kings”
Week 13 11/18-22 Race , Ethnicity and Conflict
Read: Nanda Ch. 10; Lee Ch. 10
11/22 Poster bibliography due
Week 14 11/25 Film: “The Women’s Bank of Bangladesh”
Read: Nanda Ch. 12
11/29 Happy Thanksgiving!
Week 15 12/2-6 Globalization and Cultural Change
Read: Nanda Ch. 13; Lappe & Collins; Lee Ch. 11-12
Week 16 12/9 Poster Work Day
Read: Nanda Ch. 14; Lee Ch. 13-14
*** Final exam and poster contest will be held on Wednesday, December 11th, 8-11 am
1. Self Ethnography
Write a 900-1000 word essay (use your ‘review’ menu to keep track of word count) describing yourself from the three following perspectives:
1. From the view point of someone who has never seen you before. This observer can only see you- not speak to you or ask you or anyone around you any questions.
2. From the viewpoint of your best friend, who knows and loves you.
3. From your own personal viewpoint.
As you’re writing your paper, think about similarities and differences between these perspectives…how do you account for these? Are they valid views or are there things about you that others don’t know? Oh, and don’t ask your best friend what he or she thinks about you until AFTER you write your paper- I want YOUR perspective on how that person sees you.
2. Cultural Harmony Critique
You are required to attend a cultural harmony event or another event that addresses issues surrounding cultural diversity (be sure to clear the event with me if it falls outside of cultural harmony week) and write a 300-350 word paper critique. This critique should include a description of the speaker and the topic addressed as well as your assessment as to whether the speaker was successful in communicating his or her thesis. What did you think about the event and what did you learn? Students must have a signature showing that they attended the event and must attach to assignment.
The poster project is comprised of two main components:
1) You are required to conduct an interview of someone from a different culture (either non-American born or of a significantly different subculture). This person is your informant. The goal of the interview is to have your informant define his/her own culture. You should make a list of questions prior to your interview, beginning your interview by asking, “What cultural tradition do you define as your own?” Be sure to include background information on your informant, including his/her name, how long he/she has resided in America and why he/she came to America. A good question with which to end the interview is, “What is the most striking difference and similarity between your culture and mainstream American culture?” Be sure to ask about their experiences as visitors or immigrants to this country. It is very important that BOTH team members attend the interview.
2) Once you choose your informant and BEFORE you conduct your interview, you are required to conduct background research on that culture and/or country. This will allow you to ask more informed questions during the interview. You may want to follow up with additional research after the interview to clarify issues brought up during the interview. Your goal for creating the poster is to inform creatively an audience of your peers about your interviewee’s experience and culture.
The poster has a size minimum of 30 by 40 inches and should be placed on sturdy, self supporting poster board (you can purchase poster boards in the anthro dept for $5).
Written sections should be used to provide key information (both from the interview and background research), transitions and captions for images. All images and cited text must have bibliographic citations (i.e., Johnson 1992:32) on the front of the poster. Complete references are to be pasted on the back of the poster (this includes complete website references so that typing in this address would bring up the page or image). A minimum of 3 sources is required, of which only 1 can be from the internet (the textbook doesn’t count!).
Your poster will be graded on the following six categories:
1) Format = 15 points
- required size and sturdiness of poster board
- all images and cited text have shorthand references associated with them that tie into bibliography
- complete bibliography on back of poster
- your name and the name of your informant are on the front of poster
- all font is typed
2) Theme/Focus = 5 points
- appropriate for the course (i.e. related to our topics and concepts)
- expressed consistently throughout the poster through your text, sub-sections, and captions
- narrow topic (not too broad), that allows you to communicate a specific topic to the audience in the space allowed
3) Information/Background Research = 30 points
- includes informative text which summarizes/explains your topic
- sub-sections have appropriate transitions and communicate your topic
- evidence of research effort is present
- bibliography turned in for review
- minimum # of references are used
4) Images = 10 points
- images must be sharp with good contrast
- the images fit together stylistically to communicate/teach about your topic
- images have explanatory captions
5) Presentation/Layout = 10 points
- well designed thoughtful poster
- colors well coordinated, attractive and catches the eye
- background is appropriate, ties together poster
6) Clarity = 5 points
- your written sections are clear and concise
- your text is easily readable and grammatically correct
- text and images are clearly related
Together, these six categories create a rubric which sums to 75 points.