Anthropology 208   
Dr. Judkins
Spring 2014

Course Description

This course provides intensive reading experience with the most significant ethnographic writing describing non-Western ways of life.  The readings are a wide-ranging, select set of recognized "classic" ethnographic accounts, representing cultures world-wide and dating mostly from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century.  This reading familiarizes students with a samples from a broad range of the most influential anthropological writing, its intellectual significance, and its specific ethnographic content.

These readings provide a sound basis for study of social and cultural anthropology.  

Purpose and Objectives

This course is designed to fulfill a need for students to have an opportunity for experiencing and dealing with the major data resource and presentation technique used by cultural and social anthropologists, namely the written ethnography.  It also fills a need for undergraduate students to have an opportunity for becoming substantially familiar with key ethnographies which have influenced the growth and development of anthropology in the past century.  Teaching objectives include consideration of the following: what "ethnography" means; how to read an ethnography; the functions of ethnographies both within and beyond the domain of anthropology; the recognition and evaluation of general ethnographic techniques; the recognition and evaluation of intellectual content; and the intellectual implications of ethnographic writing.  The course enhances the student's ability to appreciate some of the most significant writing in the modern social sciences.  

Enrollment is for Anthropology majors and other seriously interested students during the sophomore or junior years, after having had introductory level courses in Cultural Anthropology.  Freshmen are not to enroll in this course, nor are those who have not successfully completed introductory anthropology course work.  Non-majors should consult with the instructor before taking this course, particularly if their anthropology experience is limited.

Office: Sturges 15   Phone: 245-5433
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs: 11:30-1:00    Wed: 11:30-1:00 (by appointment only)


Evans-Pritchard. The Nuer. Oxford University Press
Frazer. The Golden Bough.  
Kluckhohn & Leighton. The Navajo.  
Judkins. Morgan’s League of the Iroquois.  Persimmon Press
Malinowski. Argonauts of the Western Pacific.  Dutton
Radcliffe-Brown.  The Andaman Islanders. Various: Cambridge; Nabu; Forgotten; etc.
Rappaport. Pigs for the Ancestors. Yale University Press

Additional readings & handouts: TBA

***Unusually substantial reading is required by the nature and contents of this course.  
Each student is responsible for all of the reading and for adhering to the reading schedule as contained in the course outline and as announced and/or modified in class.  Regular and consistent attendance, along with positive contributions to class on a daily basis, are expected of every student – and will be reflected in the final grade. ***

Bibliographies, additional ethnographic reading materials and further reading suggestions are available from the instructor for the interested student.


Midterm Exam (essay format): 50 % of Final Grade
Comprehensive Final Exam (essay format): 50% of Final Grade
Regular class contribution is expected; its absence will lower final grade substantially.

Final Exam Date: Thursday, May 8 (12:00 Noon)


Date         Topics/Texts

Week 1    Introduction                                     (Jan 21 & 23)
        Setting the Stage; Introduction to readings; course
        overview; fundamental methods and objectives in
        ethnography; pre-modern ethnographic writing: Greek &
        Roman; Arabic & Persian; Chinese; Western exploration

Week 2    Formative Era of Ethnography I                         (Jan 28 & 30)
        Text: R. Judkins, Morgan’s League of the Iroquois, Books I & II
        Videos: “Longhouse People” (1951) National Film Board of Canada

        Essentials of ethnography; how to read an ethnography;
        intellectual and social functions of ethnography (manifest/latent;
        micro/macro); Ethnography: contemporary questions vs. enduring truths;
        The view from the inside: native writing & its contribution to
        modern ethnography; native informants & colleagues, exegesis
        Morgan’s anticipation of functionalist thought

Week 3    Formative Era of Ethnography II                           (Feb 4 & 6)
        Texts: R. Judkins, Morgan’s League of the Iroquois, Book III
        Video: “Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper,” (PBS: Oren Lyons/Bill Moyers interview)

        Morgan & Parker, NYS Iroquois and Modern Ethnography

Week 4    Ethnography: Psychology and Psychological Explanation       (Feb 11 & 13)
        Texts:     Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough [chapter assignments TBA]
        Video: “Nanook of the North” (1922) Robert Flaherty
        Ethnography and pattern seeking
        Ethnography & standards; finding significance in “the exotic” and “the alien”
        Social and cultural vs. psychological explanation

Week 5    Ethnography: The Transition to Functionalism                 (Feb 18 & 20)
        Text 1: Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough [chapters TBA]
        Text 2:    A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, The Andaman Islanders, Introduction and
                Chapters 1 & 2

        Functionalism of Sir James Frazer
French Functionalism: Fustel de Coulanges (La Cite Antique, 1864) and
    Emile Durkheim (Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 1912)
        Functionalism introduced into Social anthropology, by Radcliffe-Brown (1922)

Week 6    British Social Anthropolgy & Ethnography I:               (Feb 25 & 27)                        (Feb 25 & 27)
        Text: A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, The Andaman Islanders, Chapters 4-6    
        Examples of ethnographic contribution 1880s-1920s:
            Shway Yoe (Sir J. George Scott), The Burman: His Life & Notions (1882)
            Adolph Bandelier, The Delight Makers [Pueblo & Navajo] (1890)
            Henry Ling Roth, The Natives of Sarawak & British North Borneo (1896)    
            W.W. Skeat, Malay Magic (1900)
            Matilda Coxe Stevenson, The Zuni Indians: Their Mythology, Esoteric
                Fraternities and Ceremonies (1904)
            R.S. Rattray, Ashanti (1923)

Week 7    British Social Anthropology & Ethnography II                (Mar 4 & 6)
        Text: B. Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Preface-Chapter X
        Video: “Dead Birds” (1963) Dani (New Guinea) - Robert Gardner

        Introduction to readings; invention of the fieldwork tradition in anthropology

Week 8    British Social Anthropology & Ethnography III             (Mar 11 & 13)
        Text: B. Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Chapters XI-XXII
        Video: “Ongka's Big Moka: The Kawelka of Papua New Guinea” (1976)
        Kula and Prestation: Cf. Marcel Mauss, The Gift (1954 [1925])
        Malinowski, Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays (1948) ANTH 208

Week 9    British Social Anthropology & Ethnography IV             (Mar 25 & 27)
        Text: E. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, Intro and Chapters 1-3
        Video: “Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life” (1925)  Bakhtiari (Iran)
            Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
        Descent Systems: Pastoralism and Patrilineal kinship
        Social corporations; Unilineal Descent Groups (UCGs)

Week 10    British Social Anthropology & Ethnography V                   (Apr 1 & 3)
        Text: E. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, Chapters 4-6
        Video: “The Nuer” (1951) Hilary Harris, George Breidenbach, & Robert Gardner    
Week 11    American Cultural Anthropology I                        (Apr 8x & 10)
        Text: C. Kluckhohn and D. Leighton, The Navaho, Chapters 2-4
        Video: “Seasons of the Navajo”

        Descent Systems: Horticulture and Matrilineal kinship

Week 12    American Cultural Anthropology II                (Apr 15 & 17)
        Text: C. Kluckhohn and D. Leighton, The Navaho, Chapters 5-7 & 9

        Navajo myth, religion, and health

Week 13    Culture, Environment and Ethnography:
            Symbols, Systems Theory and Functionalism I          (Apr 22 & 24)
        Text: Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors

                Ecology, environment and landscape as part of ethnography
                Orchestration of ethnographic detail in analysis

Week 14    Culture, Environment and Ethnography:         
            Symbols, Systems Theory and Functionalism II     (Apr 29 & May 1)
        Text: Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors
        Video: “Three Worlds of Bali”

            Meta-processes: warfare, migration, long-term cycles and ethnography
            Cf. Social-Ecological System (SES) analysis: Stephen Lansing, Bali                        

Week 15    Culture, Environment and Ethnography:
            Symbols, Systems Theory and Functionalism III              (May 7)
        Text: Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors

FINAL EXAM: Thursday, May 8 (12:00 Noon)